Meals While Working Around Australia

Question

Hi there,

Question is on claiming meal expenses when preparing food yourself in the RV.
We have read through the information first on No Boundaries (and purchased book) and then BANTACs but cannot find the info.

Q: Is there a general rule of thumb for self-prepared meal expense costs? These will predominantly be for breakfast and dinner I suspect, but maybe some lunches.

By way of example, before we left our ‘home base’, we did two big meat and seafood shops (essentially freezer stock up shops), totalling close to $300. We have receipts for this.
But using the Travelling worker travel records spreadsheet, how would we claim this progressively each day for our morning and evening meals?

Thanks

Jaimes


Answer

Jaimes,

Here is a link to our page https://www.bantacs.com.au/topics/travelling-workers/. there is no need to break down meals into type if you are not using the reasonable amounts set by the ATO. In your case as you are very unlikely to be being paid a travel allowance by your employer then you wouldn’t qualify for the reasonable amounts.

Your situation is all about claiming expenses for actual costs incurred. It makes no difference whether you eat the food in a restaurant or inside your van. So those receipts for stocking up before you leave will be fine, though make sure you apportion them. This may mean removing a portion of the expenses for people travelling with you who are not working and of course apportioning the expenses amongst the workers for their individual tax returns. As for the worksheet just make the entry on the day you do the shop.

The ATO are taking a narrower and narrower view of when you are itinerant. It is important that you move between workplaces within 2 months. The more frequently you move on the better.

They don’t like this claim and will poke around for faults. 2 months moving on is a must-have but also consider:

That it is nice to show a web of workplaces. So try to return to the same employers on a regular basis. Some meat works allow you to continue with the same employer but move around. It is important here to be able to show that it was your employer moving you on due to a need at another meat works. Not just that you wanted to see new places.

There was Walkers case a few years ago where the ATO claimed that they didn’t really have a home base other then their caravan and that it was their choice to travel. They could have got work close by to their home base. They didn’t need to travel to get work. Not a good idea to quit a perfectly good day job and start to travel but if you are made redundant that is an excellent start.

All in all keep it as business and necessity like as you can and keep records of everything, you never know when the odd email will be useful to show your intentions. Even if you are not sure you will qualify, it is worth keeping all these records just in case as you never know how the year is going to pan out.

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