The taxpayer, Jason Bell, told the tribunal that he was required to travel more than 100km from his home in western regional Victoria to a construction site in an eastern suburb of Melbourne and was required to transport heavy and bulky equipment as part of his job.
Mr Bell contended that he used his ute to attend to deliveries and collections while travelling between his home and workplace to achieve operational efficiency at the construction site, and sought to claim $24,865.
While accepting that the vehicle was used for employment purposes, the ATO only allowed a deduction of $3,300 — the maximum 5,000km under the cents per kilometre basis.
In rejecting Mr Bell’s appeal, AAT deputy president Frank O’Loughlin noted that while his travel between the construction site and other work-related places, such as hardware stores or the head office, was employment-related travel, travel between home and such places was not.
“A person whose duties require collection of supplies and materials consumed at a workplace location does not transform the travel between home and the place of collection of those items consumed in a workplace location simply by collecting those items on the way to work,” Mr O’Loughlin said.
“Similarly, such a person does not transform travel from a place of collection of a workplace consumable to home and the travel from home to work the following day merely by collecting a consumable supply on the way home, taking that consumable supply home and taking the supply from home to the workplace location the following day.
“The fundamental nature of the travel from the point of collection to the employee’s home, or from the employee’s home to the place of collection of the workplace consumable, is travel between home and workplace.”
Mr O’Loughlin noted the exception with bulky goods, but evidence from the construction site foreman showed that adequate arrangements were in place to store those tools securely at the construction site.
“Absent the bulky goods exception applying, the character of the travel between place of collection and place of home and vice versa is not altered,” Mr O’Loughlin added.
“If it were, a person who collected food consumables at a location close to home and then travelled an extensive distance to the workplace could transform the nature of the travel simply by choosing a place of collection for a consumable close to a home as opposed to a location close to the workplace.”
The tribunal said Mr Bell had failed to establish the proportion of the total travel in his vehicle for the year by failing to keep a proper log book, with Mr O’Loghlin noting that it was “not a record maintained in a way that could reliably be used to show employment-related use of a vehicle”.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.