What is a travel diary?
You may have heard your accountant ask you for a travel diary in relation to your employee or business related expenses. The purpose of such a diary is to substantiate the business and private portions of a trip so you know how much you can claim as a deduction and will be required if the ATO should ever come knocking.
What does a diary need to show? It needs the following for each day you're away:
Primary activities on each day (e.g. meeting with Mr Smith to discuss project A, screening of new film, cocktails by the pool, etc.)
If you didn’t receive a travel allowance and you’re simply looking to back up the travel costs you want to claim you don’t actually need a travel diary if the travel is less than 6 nights in a row. That said, it’s often easier to simply keep a travel diary all year just in case you do need it. Many people simply use their Outlook calendars or iCal as the information is largely already there.
If you received a travel allowance the following applies:
Travel less than 6 nights in a row and not claiming more than the reasonable amounts – no travel diary required.
Travel more than 6 nights in a row and not claiming more than the reasonable amounts – domestic travel doesn’t require a travel diary, but overseas travel does require one.
Claiming more than the reasonable amounts – travel less than 6 nights in a row doesn’t require a travel diary, whilst travel over 6 nights in a row does require one.
Note the above doesn’t consider the requirement to maintain written records in relation to deductions claimed when receiving a travel allowance, it only contemplates the travel diary requirement. Information on the requirements relating to travel allowances and reasonable amounts can be found here.
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