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Keeping track of your work related car expenses with the logbook is simple. It could also boost your tax refund.
If you use your car for work purposes and travel more than 5000km for work, the best way to claim these expenses is using the log book method.
If you travel less than 5000km per year for work, then you are usually better claiming the Cents per KM method .
But either way you need to keep a record, so a log book will work for both methods.
The purpose of a logbook is to determine your business usage versus your private usage.
If we work out your work usage is 60% of the overall usage of your car, we can then claim 60% of your fuel, rego, insurance, tyres, repairs, etc., so if it costs $10,000 to run your car, we can claim $6000 as a tax deduction. but, you need a log book to do this., how to complete your car logbook.
You need to keep a logbook for a 12 week period . These must be 12 consecutive weeks (i.e. 12 weeks in a row).
Your logbook must include every trip you take – not just your business related trips.
Your logbook must contain:
- Speedo reading on 30 June each year
- the make, model, engine capacity and registration number of the car
- the car’s speedo readings at the start and end of the 12 week period
- the number of kilometres travelled for each journey. If you make two or more journeys in a row on the same day, you can record them as a single journey
- the business-use percentage for the logbook period
For each journey , record the:
- start and end date of the journey
- speedo readings at the start and end of each journey
- reason for the journey (such as a description of the business reason or whether it was for private use)
- kilometres travelled on each journey
Simply put, write down the date and speedo when you get in the car. Do your work or private travel. When your trip is complete, record the speedo reading again. Then records why you travelled. Usually travelling to and from work is private, but if you visit clients directly from home and then travel to work, that journey is claimable.
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Working the ATO Logbook Method with a Car Expenses Cheatsheet
Do you use your personal car for business most of the time? If so, the ATO logbook method will help you boost your tax refund .
Our Top Tax Refunding GOFAR Subscriptions
How does the GOFAR app help you claim more?
The more you drive for business, the more you’re eligible for reimbursement .
So, this is a heads-up to plumbers, electricians, painters, clergy, florists, and other Australian professionals who spend their day travelling between clients: you can get $4,250 plus back on your tax return .
Yet, when it comes to calculating the logbook method, it’s super important that you do it correctly. As long as you have your paperwork in order and a car log book template you’ll have nothing to worry about.
The ATO will be able to process your claim.
The problem is, it can be hard to wrap your head around all the complex logbook keeping rules , especially as the cents per km rates change each year.
By reading this article, you will learn:
- When multiple owners jointly share a car for business purposes, each individual can make separate claims for their expenses under the cents per kilometre method.
- A trip is considered business-related by the ATO only when you assign a particular purpose to it.
- You can deduct all your business-related car operating expenses, including car depreciation with the ATO logbook method.
What You’ll Learn
Is the ATO Logbook Method the Right Choice for Me?
You may be wondering: which method is right for you—cents per kilometre or the logbook method. So let’s work it out.
The largest deduction the cents per kilometre method can yield in the 2023-2024 income year is $4,250 .
That’s a fixed rate of 85 cents per kilometre, up to a maximum of 5,000 kilometres , that you can claim on each kilometre driven for business.
The logbook method, on the other hand, will help you work out the business‐use percentage of your car. Since the method is based on claiming a part of your actual expenses, it can give you a bigger tax deduction.
This especially holds true if you’re using your car for business on a regular basis. Note, however, that the logbook method does require you to maintain a logbook and keep receipts .
Now, let’s explore the two methods in detail. Then, you can decide which one better suits your circumstances.
Method 1: Cents Per Kilometre Method
If you use the cents per kilometre method to claim your work related car expenses, you can claim a fixed rate per kilometre. For the cents per km rate for the 2023-2024 tax year, is 85 cents.
You can claim a maximum of 5,000 business kilometres per car using this method.
If you share a car with another joint owner and use it for your business, each person can claim their expenses separately.
This method doesn’t require you to keep as much documentation as the logbook method. A word of caution though—you still need to provide evidence to the ATO to prove these are business kilometres.
You can keep a diary of records or use an ATO-compliant logbook app such as GOFAR to do this.
Best electronic log book going around and made even better by being Australian made. I’m super impressed with how much this app does and how easy to use it is. John Lisle, Verified Customer, Jun 2021
Method 2: The ATO Logbook App Method
Importantly, the ATO approved logbook app method allows you to claim your actual work-related car expenses .
The reimbursement amount can be larger, but just as it usually goes with great pay-offs, it can require more effort .
To claim a deduction for motor vehicle expenses ATO using the logbook method, you need to keep:
- A paper-based or electronic logbook
- Receipts of your actual fuel and oil costs (alternatively, you can calculate this using your odometer readings)
- Receipts of all your running car expenses
As a result, you can claim all your business-related car running costs as well as car depreciation. What you CAN’T claim is capital costs for car purchases or loans.
The table below compares the logbook method and the cents per kilometre method using various criteria, to help you choose the best one for your needs.
Check out this video to learn when you can, and when you can’t claim your car expenses.
Key Records You Should Keep to Claim Deductions
Now that you know how the two ATO methods work , let’s focus on what it takes to create accurate, compliant records.
There’s no two ways about it, it’s the only way to avoid facing penalties due to inaccurate tax record keeping.
In a similar vein, sticking to the ATO logbook method and keeping to the rules is a surefire way to get a solid amount of money back on your taxes.
So, let’s get down to the details of keeping a logbook for your car in terms of what you should record in your logbook:
- Start and end dates of the logbook period, with odometer readings
- The kilometres you travelled in total during the logbook timeframe
- The business kilometres you covered on each journey
Need an Old-School Paper Version? Download this free Vehicle Log Book template and record the:
- Start and end date of your trip
- Start and end odometer readings for each trip
- Kilometres travelled
- Reason for the trip
The ATO will regard a trip as business-related only if you attach a specific purpose to it. Stating it was “business” or “miscellaneous business” is not enough. Instead, use more specific phrases such as “client meeting”, “buying business supplies” , etc.
The table below highlights some trip examples and tags each one as either tax deductible or not.
The information provided above can help you avoid committing common mistakes when claiming ATO deductions.
For example, if a nurse works at a hospital and then does freelance health consulting from home, can they claim the trip from the hospital to their house, since travelling between two jobs is tax deductible?
In this case, the nurse cannot claim the trip. The ATO stipulates that to claim a trip between two jobs, it must be between two workplaces ; your home doesn’t count.
Download your vehicle logbook template here .
Figuring Out Your Deduction Amount
Now onto some number crunching.
You want to calculate your business use percentage to figure out your claim, right?
Once you’ve completed your logbook and have all the details at hand, use a simple ATO tax calculator to perform a simple calculation: take your business kilometrage and divide it by the total kilometres driven during the logbook period. Then multiply the result by 100.
Now that you’ve figured out your business use percentage, it’s time to compute the actual amount you can claim. This is how you do it:
- Add up your total car expenses for the logbook period (using the receipts you kept)
- Multiply your total car expenses by your business-use percentage
Or, let the ATO work-related car expenses calculator do the calculation for you.
Keeping a Valid Car Logbook to Maximize Deductions
The ground rule of claiming car expenses is that you’re eligible only if you’re using your own vehicle for work. In addition to that, you’re allowed to deduct your business kilometres as long as you paid for the expenses yourself and weren’t already reimbursed for them.
But now let’s get to the heart of the matter of keeping a valid logbook .
- You need to keep the logbook for 12 weeks in continuation.
- Once you’ve completed the logbook, it’s valid for five years. When that period is over, you’ll have to keep another one. The first year of logbook keeping is referred to as the “logbook year”. The remaining four years are referred to as “non-logbook years”.
- The logbook period must reflect your annual use of the car.
- If you’re keeping the logbook for two or more cars, you should log them during the same time frame.
- You need to keep odometer records during the “non-logbook years” as well.
Some mistakes that disqualify people from obtaining deductions include having incomplete log entries, not maintaining the logbook for the required continuous 12-week period, and failing to keep all car expense records.
You can avoid making similar mistakes by:
- Making it a habit to record your trip immediately after each trip or simplify this by using a logbook app
- Using reminders to help you stay on track and record trips during the 12-week period
- Getting a dedicated folder or digital storage for all car expense receipts
In a nutshell, this is the step by step process you need to follow for the ATO logbook method:
- Choose a continuous 12-week period that’s representative of your yearly travel.
- Record both business and personal trips including, the date, specific trip purpose, and start and end odometer readings.
- Update the logbook regularly, after each trip.
- Compile all car expense receipts including fuel, maintenance, and insurance.
- Calculate the business-use percentage.
- Multiply your car expenses by the business use percentage.
- Maintain the logbook for future use.
Use an ATO Logbook App Like GOFAR to Make Claiming Your Car Expenses a Breeze
Not knowing the nuts and bolts of the ATO logbook app method will render your efforts to claim your tax return worthless. Inaccurate record-keeping can get you in trouble with the ATO. And if they reject your claim, forget about that handsome tax refund .
Luckily, you now know how to play by the rules, so this doesn’t apply to you.
And now that large tax refund is just around the corner. Put in a little effort, and it’s yours.
And of course, you don’t need to use pen and paper to log your kilometres– that format is a relic of a bygone era. Instead, you should use an app like GOFAR , because it will allow you to easily claim your car expenses as you go along.
You won’t have to log each trip manually every time you get into your car – it’s on GOFAR now .
GOFAR developers went the extra mile to hone their competency so they could meet the needs of modern car owners. The app now makes the tax return of work-related car expenses dead simple. It:
- Automatically records every trip
- Classifies business trips in seconds
- Records everything. You only need to choose the best 12 week period within which to claim
- Immaculate records safeguard you against the ATO crackdown
This truly is a brilliant device and app. I’ve been using it for years now and it helps me track my car’s health and allows me to track business and personal rides . Extremely useful!!! Jaap Bijl, Verified Customer, Apr 2021
Ready to make the leap to simplified tax return lodging? Get your hands on the GOFAR app today !
Frequently Asked Questions
Who’s allowed to use the logbook method.
You can only use the ATO logbook method if you’re a sole proprietor or in a partnership—where at least one partner is an individual—claiming work-related car deductions from the ATO.
Do I need to fill a new logbook often?
No. Once a logbook is filled, it’s valid for 5 years.
When you use a logbook from an earlier year to establish your business percentage, you must maintain that logbook and record odometer readings in the ensuing years.
However, you can begin a new logbook at any point . For instance, if the way you use your vehicle changes, like if you change your job role, you’ll need to begin a new logbook.
If it’s the first time you’re using the logbook method, you’ll need to log your trips for a minimum, continuous 12-week period.
The 12-week period during which you log trips must be representative of your travel throughout the year.
What types of expenses can I claim using the logbook method?
You can claim the following expenses:
- Fuel and oil
- Maintenance costs i.e., repairs and servicing
- Motor vehicle loan interest
- Lease payments
- Insurance cover premiums
Now that you’ve settled on the ATO logbook method, consider our selection of GOFAR subscriptions.
With a 4.5 star rating on the App Store, join over 20,000 users worldwide tracking their travel allowances with our best-value GOFAR subscriptions.
Best-value GOFAR subscriptions
Co-founder of GOFAR and with a Computer Science background from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Aerospace, Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering (Honours), UNSW. I want to transform data from cars into useful services so -> drivers save time & money -> emissions fall -> Australian roads are safer. So we built an ATO-compliant logbook app called GOFAR . I write to help you understand how to use GOFAR to maximise business travel . Reach out via [email protected] .
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Download a vehicle logbook template plus other tax return expense trackers for free!
Tax Resources To Help Boost Your Refund
Expense tracking can be tricky, especially if you don’t keep everything in one place. let’s help you fix that.
Unfortunately, it’s common for many of us to leave money in the ATO’s pocket that should be in our tax refunds. Often, the reason is simply because we don’t have the right evidence to support a claim. At Etax, it’s our job to help you get the best possible tax refund each year, so we’ve created these tax resources to make it easier for you to keep track.
Use these tax resources, logbook templates and expense trackers to maximise your tax return this year – it can add $$$ to your tax refund.
The expense trackers and logbook templates on this page will save you lots of time and money! Use these resources and you’ll get the best tax refund possible on your next tax return.
Let’s get tracking:
Download our vehicle logbook template and other expense trackers for rental properties, uniforms, and other claimable expenses, anytime, for FREE!
How to use the expense trackers, logbook template and diaries?
Simply download whatever you need and pop them into your Tax folder, and you’re good to get tracking! Just remember to use them regularly.
Work From Home Diary
Use our work from home diary to track your work from home (WFH) hours. Just put in the date and the number of hours you worked at home each day and the diary automatically keeps a tally of all your hours throughout the year. Simple!
Download a WFH diary:
Read about changes to how you claim home office expenses
Vehicle Logbook Template
Our vehicle logbook template helps you get the most from your work-related car journeys. Get your hands on this free car logbook template to easily keep track of every business trip you take.
Download car logbook template
Read our “how to claim your car expenses using the logbook method ” article for step by step instructions on how to claim car expenses correctly on your tax return.
Rental Income and Expense Tracker
It’s super important to make sure you offset your rental income against your expenses at tax time. This rental income and expenses spreadsheet makes it simple to keep track of all your rental property finances in one simple to use spreadsheet.
Download a rental property income and expense tracker
Are you missing out on valuable rental property deductions on your tax return? Here are 27 refund boosting rental tax deductions you might be entitled to claim.
Business Income and Expense Tracker
Etax has prepared this business income and expenses spreadsheet to help you keep track of your business, freelance or contract finances (inc. share economy work). This simple spreadsheet will help you keep accurate records to support your claims on your tax return.
Download a business income and expense tracker
Etax has prepared a travel diary template so you can record your business travel and maximise your travel deductions on your tax return.
Download a travel diary PDF for you business trips
Be sure to read our work related travel expenses guide for more detail about the types of travel you can claim.
Use this laundry diary to help you keep a list all of your laundry expenses so you can claim them on your next tax return. They may not seem much, but it’s surprising how fast the cost of all those washes and dry cleaning mounts up over a year.
Download a laundry diary here.
Statutory Declaration Form
An official statutory declaration form you can use to declare that items on your tax return are true if you no longer have the official evidence.
Download a Statutory Declaration Form
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This Individual Tax Return Checklist contains a basic list of supporting documents you will need to complete your tax return. Need some extra help with tax deductions? Read our blog here.
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This Individual Tax Return Checklist contains a comprehensive list of supporting documents you will need to complete your tax return.
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- Tax Deductions »
- Work Related Car Expenses »
- Log Book Method »
- Log Book Vehicle »
Log Book Vehicle
Log book records of business journeys are used to substantiate actual business percentage claims for work related car expenses.
To be valid for tax purposes, a log book must contain specific information, but there is no compulsory format. Trips information must be recorded as soon as practicable after the completion of the journey.
Log Book claims are only allowed by a taxpayer who owns or leases the car for which expenses are being claimed.
A log book for tax purposes has the following key features:
- A log book record of car trips doesn’t need to be kept for the whole year. The minimum requirement is a continuous 12-week period which commences in or before the tax year.
- Unless there is a change of circumstances a log book claim established in this way is valid for 5 years, at which time the minimum 12-week log book record must be repeated.
- It is permissible to keep a vehicle log book in electronic form, such as a spreadsheet or other program. It can be quite convenient to keep the log book as a spreadsheet on your computer, and update it regularly with your journey records.
We’ve prepared a simple spreadsheet which serves this purpose. It does the basic arithmetic needed to work out the business expense percentage. It is an MS Excel (PC Windows version only) (.xls).
Spreadsheet Motor Vehicle Log Book Template
You can get it here for $1.97:
Immediate download : On completion of your payment your browser will be sent to a download link, and an email containing the link will be sent to your payment address.
Australia: Car logbook requirements
- When the log book period begins and ends.
- The car's odometer readings at the start and end of the logbook period.
- The total number of kilometres the car travelled during the logbook period.
- The number of kilometres travelled for each journey.
- The odometer readings at the start and end of each subsequent income year your logbook is valid for.
- The business-use percentage for the logbook period based on the business use of the vehicle.
- The make, model, engine capacity and registration number of the car.
- The date the trip began and ended
- Odometer readings at the start and end of each trip
- Kilometres travelled during the journey
- The purpose of the trip
- Home is your place of business (this does not include a home office).
- Carrying essential bulky tools and equipment that cannot be stored at your worksite.
- Travelling to or from an alternative place of work.
This article is issued as general commentary - please contact us about your specific circumstances.
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Track mileage automatically
Find the best ato compliant car log book app, in this article, keeping track of trips with a car log book app, must-have features of the best vehicle log book apps, extra features of the best vehicle log books apps.
The days of manually documenting a week's worth of information and struggling to remember that errand you were running around 6:30 p.m. last Thursday are long gone, thanks to mobile apps that track your trips and produce compliant mileage logs.
To claim reimbursement for the kilometres driven for business purposes, you need to retain proper records of them. Your records need to have the time, destination, odometer readings, and purpose of each journey you make for business.
Keeping a vehicle log book will be a lot easier if you use a car log book app , especially if you drive for work frequently.
We've also put together an ATO Mileage Guide if you want to learn more about mileage reimbursement in Australia.
Kilometre tracking made easy
Trusted by millions of drivers
There are a few features that you should not compromise on when choosing your car log book app.
Compliant ATO records
The best mileage tracking apps will be able to use and calculate the claimable amount for each journey based on the ATO standard rates for your mileage records automatically.
In the mileage reports you generate from the app, the correct amount for deduction or reimbursement should be shown, together with all other necessary information for adequate records, such as the time and destination of your trips (both personal and business), the distance travelled and odometer readings as well as their purpose.
Classifying purpose (business or personal)
If you use your car for work, you'll likely accumulate kilometres for both business and personal purposes. If you use a good vehicle log app, you'll be able to assign a purpose to your trips, such as whether they're personal or business-related. It will be important for you to be able to show the percentage of trips you took for business purposes to the ATO if you use the logbook method, which is why classification is a must-have feature.
Tracking is essential to any good car log app. Some apps will solely allow you to log information for trips, while others will use your phone's GPS to track your drives in real-time, documenting the route you took and when you arrived. The difficulty of remembering all the necessary details to enter at the end of the day will be removed thanks to real-time GPS tracking.
The above-mentioned features are rather common with every app. However, some apps have extra features that make them stand out. Here are some of the most common extra features that the best vehicle log books have:
Tracking automatically only car trips
Some apps provide automatic tracking, which will only track your trips when you are driving a particular vehicle. Trips will start and terminate automatically, usually with the help of a small device that you would put in your vehicle. When you enter your vehicle, the device establishes a connection with your phone and begins tracking. When you depart the vehicle, tracking will automatically come to a halt and the trip will be completed. This will ensure that your vehicle log contains only relevant trips.
If you use Driversnote, you can do this by using the iBeacon which is a small device you put in your car that allows you to track only the trips you need to.
Logging odometer readings
Logging your odometer at the beginning and end of a period is required by the ATO. However, you do not have to do it in between every trip. If your company reimburses you for business driving, odometer readings may be required. Having an odometer log feature can be useful and a good app will allow you to add them to your reports.
The best mileage tracker applications allow you to customize your mileage reports so that they contain information that is specific to you. If your employer reimburses you at a rate other than the usual ATO mileage rate for 2023/2024, you should be able to name a workplace and specify the custom per kilometre rates that you want to use.
There are lots of different apps to choose from when it comes to mileage tracking and keeping a log book. We recommend you consider all the features mentioned above when making your decision on which one to pick.
How to automate your mileage logbook
- ATO Cents per KM Rate 2023-24
- Work-Related Travel Expenses for Employees
- Claiming Motor Vehicle Depreciation for the Self-employed
Automate your logbook
Related posts, ato mileage guide.
Learn about the rules of reimbursing employees for their car expenses or deducting expenses as an employee or self-employed individual.
ATO Compliant Log Book Template
If you are claiming vehicle expenses for business purposes, you must keep proper records in order for the ATO to approve your claim. We will walk you through...
Find the Best Car Log Book App
The days of manually documenting a week's worth of information and struggling to remember the work errand you were running around 6:30 p.m. last Thursday are long gone, thanks to mobile apps that track your trips and produce compliant mileage logs.
Choose your Country or region
ATO approved logbook apps for work travel
If you use your own car for performing work related duties (including a car you lease or hire), you may be able to claim a deduction on your tax return for vehicle expenses.
If the travel was partly private, you can only claim the work related portion of the trip. If you are using someone else’s car for work purposes, you may be able to claim the direct costs (such as fuel) as a travel expense.
As the number of Australians making work related car expenses continues to rise, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) requires logbooks to be kept. By using a vehicle logbook, your tax deduction claim is based on your car’s “business use percentage”. Your business use percentage is the percentage of kilometres you travel in your car for business related purposes.
A logbook allows for easy calculation of business use percentage and easily provides evidence to the ATO. The ATO requires that logbooks are maintained for 12 continuous weeks, in which this period should be representative of your travel throughout the year.
If you started to use your car for work related purposes less than 12 weeks before the end of the income year, you can continue to keep a logbook into the next year to ensure its covers the required 12 weeks.
To be valid, your logbook must contain the following information:
- when the logbook period ends
- the car’s odometer readings at the start and end of the logbook period
- the total number of kilometres the car travelled during the logbook period
- start and finishing times of the journey
- odometer readings at the start and end of the journey
- kilometres travelled
- reason for the journey.
- the business use percentage for the logbook period.
ATO approved logbook apps
The ATO has created an app which has the ability to use GPS for a logbook, as well as approving a number of logbook and tracking systems which can be used to record work-related travel.
Whilst the following list is not all of the available travel recording systems, all have had a class ruling and received approval by the ATO.
ATO Logbook App
EZY2C GPS Tracking System
EZYCarLog Mobile App Logbook Solution
Smartrak Aust Pty Ltd Fleet Management System
GPSI ‘Vehicle Logbook Report’
TomTom Telematics System
LogbookMe In-Car Logbook Solution
MTData FBT Solution Telematics System (MTData Solution)
Helpten Pro Vehicle Telematics Solution (Helpten Pro)
Netstar Australia Pty Ltd telematics system
Fleetcare Pty Ltd telematics product
Quiktrak GPS tracking system
SmarTrak Aust Pty Ltd (PoolCar) booking system
Intelematics Australia Pty Limited CONNECT tracking and fleet management solution
If you have any questions in regards to any of the approved logbooks or for further assistance in keeping track of your work related travel, please give Samantha Oliver a call on 03 5443 0344.
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Cents per kilometre method
Check how sole traders and some partnerships can use the cents per kilometre method for car-related business expenses.
Last updated 29 June 2023
Only use this method if you are a sole trader or partnership (where at least one partner is an individual) claiming for a car .
The cents per kilometre method:
- uses a set rate for each kilometre travelled for business
- allows you to claim a maximum of 5,000 business kilometres per car, per year
- doesn't require written evidence to show exactly how many kilometres you travelled (but we may ask you to show how you worked out your business kilometres, for example diary records)
- uses a rate that takes all your vehicle running expenses (including registration, fuel, servicing and insurance) and depreciation into account.
Rates are reviewed regularly. The rate is:
- 85 cents per kilometre for 2023–24
- 78 cents per kilometre for 2022–23
- 72 cents per kilometre for 2020–21 and 2021–22
- 68 cents per kilometre for 2018–19 and 2019–20
- 66 cents per kilometre for 2017–18.
How you use this method
To work out how much you can claim, multiply the total business kilometres you travelled by the rate.
Things to remember
- Apportion for private and business use
- Understand the expenses you can claim
- Keep the right records