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ATO: Meal allowance and deductions

Overtime meal expenses – for food and drink when working overtime.

Overtime meal allowance can only be used where you receive an allowance to cover that expense. That allowance needs to appear on your PAYG Summary for the 2021–22 income year. The reasonable amount for overtime meal expenses is $32.50.

The reasonable amounts only provide the maximum amount you can claim without being required to substantiate your expenditure (refer to paragraph 33 of TR 2004/6). If you rely on the reasonable amounts and the ATO checks your tax return, you will still be required to show:

  • You spent the money in performing your work duties (for example, in travelling away from home overnight on a work trip)
  • How you worked out your claim (for example, you kept a diary)
  • You spent the money yourself (for example, using your credit card statement or other banking records) and were not reimbursed (for example, a letter from your employer), and
  • You correctly declared your allowance as income in your tax return.

Reasonable amounts for domestic travel expenses for employee truck drivers

Reasonable amounts are given for meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). The amounts are for all domestic travel destinations (that is, capital cities, regional and country centers), for the 2021–22 income year. The relevant amounts are as set out below.

Employee truck driver’s meals (food and drink)

The amounts for each of these meal breaks are separate and cannot be aggregated into a single daily amount. This is of particular importance for the days on which travel commences and ends, when some meals may not be deductible because they are not consumed in the course of work travel.

A driver’s work diary (as maintained for fatigue-management purposes) can be used to demonstrate when meal breaks were taken, since employee truck drivers may take meal breaks at different times of the day compared to other taxpayers. It should also be noted that amounts cannot be moved from one meal to another (for example, if the full amount for breakfast is not expended, it cannot be carried over to lunch or dinner)

The deduction allowed for each meal is the amount actually spent and not simply the reasonable amount specified in the above table. Although the formal substantiation requirements do not apply for claims up to the reasonable amount, taxpayers should still be able to demonstrate the basis for their claims.

For further information, please contact us & we’ll be happy to answer any question you may have on the topic.

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