If you use your car for work-related journeys, other than your trip to and from work, it’s likely that you can claim your car expenses.
Work-related car deductions are a very common type of deduction and not too complicated to claim correctly.
What can I claim?
The ATO states that you can claim car expenses if you:
- do work-related journeys during the day/night.
- drive to work-related conferences or meetings that aren’t held at your usual place of work.
- travel between two places of employment if neither of them is your home.
- drive from a normal workplace to a different workplace, then back to where you would usually work.
- drive from home to a workplace that isn’t your usual place of work and then drive to your usual workplace – or directly home.
- regularly work at more than one site each day so you drive between them before driving home.
- You have to carry bulky or heavy tools or equipment to and from work and you are not able to store them at work.
When you can’t claim a tax deduction for car expenses:
- You can’t claim car expenses for travel between home and work or vice versa, even if you live a long way from your work.
- You can’t claim car expenses on your tax return if you were reimbursed for the same costs by your employer. Only claim it if you paid for it yourself.
Car deduction methods
There are two methods to calculate car expense claims on your tax return:
- Cents per kilometre method, or
- Car Logbook method
Which car tax deduction method is best for me?
Claiming car expenses correctly on your tax return can put big $$$ back in your pocket at tax time, so knowing which method is best for you is important.
Claiming car expenses: Cents Per Kilometre method
How does it work?
- Claim up to 5000km per year using this method
- No log book required
- ATO can ask you to explain how you calculated your claim and how the use of your car was work-related
- The rate you can claim depends on the tax year you are claiming your car usage for, check the table below for the rates.
Cent Per Kilometre Rates
|2020 – 21||72 cents per km|
|2019 – 20||68 cents per km|
|2018 – 19||68 cents per km|
|2017 – 18||66 cents per km|
|2016 – 17||66 cents per km|
|2015 – 16||66 cents per km|
Example: Julie is an administration officer for a small business. In the 2020/21 tax year each day she does 4 trips in her car to collect/drop off the post and do the banking. She drives approximately 14km per day in work-related travel.
Therefore Julie can claim:
- 14km X 5 days = 70km p/week
- 70km per week X 48 weeks (Julie has 4 weeks leave each year) = 3360km
- 3360km X $0.72 = $2419.20
This means at the Car Expenses item on her tax return, Julie can claim a car expenses deduction about of $2419.20
NOTE: This method includes all expenses, including insurance, registration, annual repairs, maintenance and fuel costs. So remember, you can’t add these expenses on top of the cents per kilometre rate when working out your deduction.
Claiming car expenses: Logbook method
We’ve got a detailed article about the car logbook method so we’ll just cover the “car logbook basics” here:
How it works:
- Keep a logbook for 12 continuous weeks
- You must own the car
- You only need to complete the logbook process one time every five years (or less)
- Record all business trips AND all personal trips in your car logbook
- Keep receipts for all expenses related to your car, including
- Interest on loan costs
- Other running costs
Once you complete your logbook, it is possible to calculate your business-use percentage. (That is the ratio, or percentage split, between between work and personal driving.) Then, you claim the business percentage of all expenses related to your car.
Example: Jeff is a sales manager and he kept a logbook for 12 weeks recording both work and personal trips. After that 12 weeks, Jeff added up the total kilometres travelled on work-related trips. Then he added up the total mileage. Next he divided work kms by total kms and that is his work-related percentage.
Jeff traveled 1000 km in total during the 12-week logbook period.
He traveled 850 km on work-related trips.
- 850km divided by 1000km = 85%
Jeff adds up the receipts for all of his car expenses for the year, which total $8,350. Then he multiplies that by 85%, his work-related percentage.
- $8350 x 85% = $7097.50
Jeff can claim $7097.50 worth of deductions at the car expenses section of his tax return.
Free car logbook template
Download a free car logbook template
NOTE: If you claim car expenses for more than one car, you don’t need to use the same method for both cars.
What if I use a motorbike or a van for work-related travel?
There are different rules for vehicles such as:
- Utes, trucks or vans with a carrying capacity of a tonne or above
- or a minivan capable of carrying nine or more passengers
You need to keep a record and claim for actual work related travel expenses, such as petrol or diesel costs. Rather than claiming these expenses as car expenses, include them in the travel expenses section of your tax return.
It’s recommended that you keep a logbook and to record each expense so you can verify your claims at tax time.
If you’re not sure which method is best for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via live chat (from within your Etax account) call us on: 1300 693 829 or send us an email to: [email protected].