Overtime Meals Allowance

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An overtime meals allowance should normally be itemised on your annual payment summary, identified separately (and in addition to) your gross wages.

When itemised in this way, it should be declared as income in your tax return, but if you have worked overtime, and subject to the following conditions, it may be claimable as a tax deduction.

If you work overtime, you can claim a deduction for overtime meal expenses (food and drink) if..

  • you purchased a meal when you worked overtime and
  • you received an overtime meal allowance under an industrial award for working overtime.

Where the tax deduction claimed is no more than the reasonable allowance amount, written evidence is not required in support of the claim. However, you could still be required to demonstrate the genuine basis of the claim, by showing how it was worked out, and the work circumstances.

If you have received an overtime meals allowance which is not shown on your payment summary, it does not have to be declared as income in your tax return providing:

  • you have spent all the allowance on deductible expenses and
  • you do not make any claim for the expenses in your tax return.

Claims which are for more than the reasonable amount, must be fully substantiated – supported by written evidence.

If an amount for overtime meals has been paid to you as an unspecified part of your normal salary or wages, it is not considered to be an overtime meal allowance. In that case, it would not normally be itemised on your payment summary and does not need to be separately declared in your tax return.

Each financial year the ATO updates the “Reasonable Overtime Meal Allowance Amount

Reasonable Overtime Meal Allowance
Year Amount per meal
2013/14 $27.70
2012/13 $27.10
2011/12 $26.45
PAYG Tax Withholdings on Overtime Meals Allowances

Tax is not required to be withheld from award overtime meal allowances unless they are more than the reasonable amounts set by the Tax Office each year. To be exempt from tax deductions, the allowance must be paid under an industrial instrument in connection with overtime worked.

More Information:

  • Income tax: substantiation exception for reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expenses – TR 2004/6
  • Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2013-14 income year? – TD 2013/16
  • Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2012-13 income year? – TD 2012/17
  • PAYG Withholding Variation: Allowances


* * * Disclaimer: The information is sourced from NTAA. * * *
Many of the comments in this publication are general in nature and anyone intending to apply the information to practical circumstances should seek professional advice to independently verify their interpretation and the information’s applicability to their circumstances.

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