ATO targets Flight Attendants in 2011

The Tax Office has Flight Attendants and Cabin Crew in their sights in 2011. So it’s more important than ever for these workers to know exactly what they can claim for and what records they need to keep before lodging their tax returns this year.

Tracey Collins, from Personal Tax Specialists, says “the Tax Office has decided to target Flight Attendants because of the high amount of work related expenses they claim compared to other occupations. In particular they will be reviewing claims for domestic and overseas travel expenses.”

But just because the Tax Office is targeting your occupation this year, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t claim any deductions in your tax return. But you should be careful.

Tracey says “it is important that you continue to claim for legitimate work expenses, because the Tax Office will be looking closely at people whose deductions change significantly from last year. Just make sure you don’t claim for expenses that are not allowable or that you don’t have the records to prove.”

To help Flight Attendants who are not sure what they can claim or what records they need to keep, Tracey has provided a summary of the rules relating to travel expenses.

Motor vehicle expenses

Flight Attendants can claim for using their car to:

  • Travel to attend training courses not held at your usual workplace
  • Travel to attend meetings not held at your usual workplace

Flight Attendants can NOT claim for using their car to:

  • Travel to and from the airport, even if you have to carry luggage
  • Travel to and from the airport, even if you are on standby

If you only occassionally use your car for work travel, you should keep a diary record of all of these trips. You can then claim up to a maximum of 5,000km of work travel per year and you won’t need to keep any receipts for your car expenses.

Day travel expenses

Even if you receive a travel allowance, if you are not required to sleep away from home overnight, you will NOT be allowed to claim any expenses for meals or incidentals on your tax return.

Overnight travel expenses – allowance received

If you receive an Australian Daily Travel Allowance when you are required to stay away overnight and this allowance is shown on your Payment Summary, then you can claim:

  • For meals – up to $93.50 per night for stays in Australian capital cities or $84.90 per night for stays in most country areas
  • For incidentals – up to $16.85 per night
  • You can also claim for accommodation expenses (the amount depends on which city you are staying in) if your airline doesn’t provide accommodation for you

No receipts or other records are required to claim for domestic travel expenses, as long as your claim doesn’t exceed the reasonable amounts provided above and you are away for less than 6 nights in a row.

If you receive an Overseas Daily Travel Allowance when you are required to stay overnight and this allowance is shown on your Payment Summary, then you can claim:

  • For meals – between $65 and $215 per night, depending on the country that you are staying in
  • For incidentals – between $25 and $45 per night, depending on the country

Countries at the lower end include; Paraguay, Tonga, Vietnam and Malaysia and those at the top end include; Russia, UK, France and Brazil. For a complete list of countries and the daily allowance for each, contact info@personaltaxspecialists.com.au.

If your claim for overseas meals and incidental expenses doesn’t exceed the reasonable amounts and you are away for less than 6 nights in a row, you don’t need to keep any receipts or other records. But if your airline doesn’t provide accommodation when you are overseas, you should keep receipts to document your expenses.

If you want to claim more than the reasonable amounts for domestic or international travel expenses, you will need to keep receipts for all of your expenses (not just the excess).

Overnight travel expenses – NO allowance received

If you receive an allowance that is not shown on your Payment Summary or you don’t receive an allowance for your overnight travel expenses at all, then you can claim the cost of:

  • All meals
  • Incidentals
  • Accommodation

But only if you have kept receipts to prove your expenses and if you are away for more than 6 nights in a row you will also need to keep a travel diary. Your travel diary needs to show the dates, places, times and duration of your activities and travel.

These are only a few of the tax deductions that Flight Attendants can claim. For a complete list of the work related expenses, have a look at the Personal Tax Specialists’ website http://personaltaxspecialists.com.au/what-deductions-can-you-claim or contact Personal Tax Specialists Pty Ltd (admin@personaltaxspecialists.com.au or 1300 335 675) to get help with preparing your tax return this year.

As long as you know exactly what you are allowed to claim, you fill in your tax return correctly and you have kept the proper records, then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Tracey Collins, for the Personal Tax Specialists team

Personal Tax Specialists Pty Ltd
Your time and tree friendly tax accountants

Phone 1300 335 675 – Email admin@personaltaxspecialists.com.au
www.personaltaxspecialists.com.au