I need to eat to work, can I claim a tax deduction on my Income Tax Return?
‘I buy my lunch every day at work, and I need to eat to be able too do my job. Can I claim my food costs on my income tax?
Unfortunately, the tax man says you need to eat regardless of whether you are working or not. Therefore, this is a personal expense that can’t be claimed back in your tax return.
‘But I get a meal allowance’.
You still can’t claim your lunch as a tax deduction, however if you buy food and drink while working overtime (when your boss asks you to work back after your shift is finished for the day) you can claim this back on your Income Tax. But only if the overtime meal allowance is included in your Payment Summary and it is included in your tax return.
You must keep your receipts to prove how much you spent on your meals unless the cost is under the ATO overtime meal rate.
‘My meal allowance is not on my Payment Summary, but it is on my payslip’. In this case, you can claim the difference between the amount you spent on your meals less the amount shown on your payslips. For example, if you spent $20 on a burger and coke when you had to work overtime and your payslip shows a meal allowance of $12, you can claim the difference of $8. You still need to keep your receipts to be able to prove how much you spent.