how to use a logbook for tax

Logbook Requirements

What your logbook needs to include

To be able to prove how you have used your vehicle to earn your income your logbook has to hit the key ATO requirements. There is no point giving your accountant a logbook that doesn’t cover the details that the ATO have to have, if it’s not valid than it won’t help you maximize your deductions.

These are:

  1. Cover a 12 week period
  2. Show the Odometer ready at the start and end of the time the logbook cover
  3. Detail each trip you made during that time that is for either your work or business


  1. Cover a 12 week period

You need to pick a time that is a good representation of the average use of your car.

Once you start your logbook you have to keep recording it continuously for the 12 week, you can’t stop and start during the year.

It can be any 12 weeks in the first year you want to claim your car expenses for.


  1. Include your Odometer Readings

Your logbook has to show the odometer reading at the start and end of your 12 week period. The odometer is the gauge on your car that tells you the total kilometres your car has travelled in its lifetime.


Once you have your logbook done the first year, you also need to record the odometer readings at the start and end of each year after that.


  1. Detail Each Trip

The details are an important factor in deciding if you have done enough in your logbook for it to be accepted by the ATO as valid, so don’t skimp on the details. If you get the job done well the first time it will last you for five years.

Each trip you make for work/business during the 12 weeks needs to be detailed with:

  • Date of the trip
  • Number of kilometers you travelled for work or business
  • Odometer Reading at start & finish of the journey
  • The purpose of the trip and be specific here as you have to describe the reason you used the car so that a third party ( like an ATO auditor) would agree that it really was for work. Don’t use terms like general, business or work trip. Say exactly why, for example “collect parts from XYZ” or “Meeting with client Ms Blue”
  • Record these details as quickly as you can, you cant backdate a logbook



Logbook Options

You can go old school and get yourself a logbook from the newsagents  OR

Use a spreadsheet that includes all the required info   OR

Use an app – the ATO MY Deductions trip feature is an excellent choice. Follow this link to download the Logbook App


What Else you need

If you want to claim your car expenses using the logbook method funnily enough we are going to need to know how much your car running costs are for the year.

You will need to keep your receipts for the running costs of your car including fuel, rego, insurance and repairs.

Posted in Business Tips, Frequently Asked Questions, Income Tax Returns.

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