Costs of travelling in relation to the preparation of tax returns
The ATO has released a Taxation Determination confirming that the costs of travelling to have a tax return prepared by a “recognised tax adviser” are deductible.
In particular, a taxpayer can claim a deduction for the cost of managing their tax affairs.
However, apportionment may be required to the extent that the travel relates to another non-incidental purpose.
Example – Full travel expenses deductible
Maisie and John, who are partners in a sheep station business located near Broken Hill, travel to Adelaide for the sole purpose of meeting with their tax agent to finalise the preparation of their partnership tax return.
They stay overnight at a hotel, meet with their tax agent the next day and fly back to Broken Hill that night.
The full cost of the trip, including taxi fares, meals and accommodation, is deductible.
Example – Apportionment required
Julian is a sole trader who carries on an art gallery business in Oatlands.
He travels to Hobart for two days to attend a friend’s birthday party and to meet his tax agent to prepare his tax return, staying one night at a hotel.
Because the travel was undertaken equally for the preparation of his tax return and a private purpose, Julian must reasonably apportion these costs.
In the circumstances, it is reasonable that half of the total costs of travelling to Hobart, accommodation, meals, and any other incidental costs are deductible.
Although the ATO’s Determination directly considers the treatment of travel costs associated with the preparation of an income tax return, the analysis should also apply where a taxpayer is travelling to see their tax agent in relation to the preparation of a BAS, or another tax related matter.