Travelling Workers Introduction
We have designed checklists and procedures that will allow workers on the move to have their tax returns prepared and help them keep track of their financial information no matter where they are. Even when they are constantly mobile. If you are considering working around Australia make sure you keep the information required in our travel diary, right from the start. This will help us get you the maximum refund when we do your income tax return. We also have a checklist that helps you prepare your information to post to us for lodgement of your return. We will arrange to have your refund cheque paid straight into your bank account so you can access it no matter where you are. If you have e-mail access we will simply e-mail your completed return to you for checking and signing. If you are required to pay tax we will e-mail you the assessment notice. If you do not have access to e-mail and are constantly on the move we will ring you when your return is completed or your assessment is received by us. You simply give us an address you will be at in two days time and we will post it to you express. We can also provide you with post office box facilities for your PAYG Summaries, whenever you take on a new job give them our mailing address for your PAYG Summary and they can post it to us at the end of the year. This way we are collecting them for you rather then risk losing track of them in your travels. If you use Mail Away www.mailaway.com.au will be able to forward to you anything we receive during the year that may be important. We also keep a copy of all your paper work so if you ever need to provide your financial information simply contact your nearest BAN TACS office.
The checklist must be completed individually by each person regardless of whether they are a member of a couple or not.
We specialise in tax returns for travelling workers and provide detailed information about little known deductions in our Claiming Your Trip Around Australia As A Tax Deduction Booklet which is available free on our web site www.bantacs.com.au. The following is a summary of the content of the booklet:
Fruit picking is not just an ideal lifestyle but an excellent way of claiming your basic living expenses as a tax deduction. So much so that you may find your after tax dollar to be as good as what you were getting working in a high pressure occupation.
If you are considering fruit picking or a similar circuit i.e. shearing your way around Australia, with careful planning and record keeping you can claim your motor vehicle expenses (including depreciation), meals and accommodation as a tax deduction against the income you earn. In all these expenses your argument for deductibility is strengthened by being self employed i.e. contract to the farmers and provide them with an ABN. If you take this option make sure you get advice on your tax withholding responsibilities.
As a result of Case S29 85 ATC 276 the ATO accepts that Shearers, on a circuit, are able to claim their motor vehicle costs, meals and accommodation from the moment they leave home. Fruit Pickers should do everything they can to align their circumstances to that of a Shearer. The ATO states in TR95/34 at paragraph 9 it is how you go about your work not your occupation that counts. A detail of the names and dates of every town you visit is also worth keeping in case you qualify for a Zone Rebate. There are six basic rules that need to be abided by to align yourself with Shearers, the first four are more important than the last 2:
- Have a web of workplaces. This means you must organise the next farm you visit before you leave the current one and go to more than one farm before returning home.
- Keep the necessary diaries, log books and written evidence to substantiate your claims
- Maintain a home other than the farms you visit i.e. a bedroom at your adult child’s home.
- Do not set up permanent accommodation where you are working i.e. do not take a lease on a house or flat.
- Improve your entitlement to claim travel expenses by justifying the need to carry more than 18kgs of tools or equipment that is large and awkward with you.
- Avoid staying at one farm for longer than 3 weeks but up to 6 months is ok if you are living in temporary accommodation
TR95/34, available from the ATO web site, is the foundational ruling in this regard. In particular consider paragraphs 43, 49, 55 and 42.
Before you embark on this adventure make sure you get more details by reading our booklet and don’t forget to fill in your travel record.