What are Per Diems?
You may have come across the term per diem allowance and wondered what it means. In Latin, “per diem” means “by the day”, so a per diem allowance is a daily allowance.
These are commonly used to either cover or reimburse you for expenses incurred in your job. A per diem allowance only covers your expenses and does not include your spouse if they travel with you.
The per diem rates in Australia
Per diem allowances are used to cover food, travel and accommodation expenses incurred if you have to stay somewhere away from home overnight in the course of your employment. The ATO sets out per diem rates for accommodation, food and drink (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and incidentals.
Per diem rates 2023/2024
The cost of living varies from city to city, so the per diem rates are different depending on where you are staying. The ATO advises specific rates for each capital city and for country centres. Different rates also apply for accommodation depending on your annual salary range.
For salaries of $138,790 and under, the most recent per diem rates for the 2023/2024 tax year are:
- for accommodation in Australian capital cities range from $176 per night for Hobart to $220 per night for Darwin, while country centres can be as low as $141 per day.
- Food and drink rates are the same for all capital cities, with a per diem rate of $32.10 allowed for breakfast, $36.10 for lunch and $61.50 for dinner.
- A rate of $23 is allowed for incidentals in all locations.
Detailed tables of the ATO’s per diem allowance rates, which cover capital cities, country areas and other salary ranges are available on ATO's website.
When is per diem required to be paid?
Food, travel and accommodation per diem payments can be paid in one of two ways; as an allowance by your employer, or as reimbursement by your employer.
The allowance may be provided before the work-related travel, while reimbursement is provided to cover the expenses you've had post-travel.
To get reimbursed for your travel expenses, you will need to provide your employer with appropriate evidence such as receipts. Don't forget to also track your mileage if you are driving your personal vehicle for your business trip - Having a log book will ensure you are reimbursed for every kilometre you drove. See more about keeping a compliant business kms logbook in Australia.
Learn about the rules of reimbursing employees for their car expenses or deducting expenses as an employee or self-employed individual.
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