Work vehicles? Stay on top of tax with logbooks

CarLogbooks are useful records of business expenses relating to work vehicles and this is important when calculating what tax deductions you can claim. Depending on your business entity type, different tax rules apply when you use motor vehicles to earn income, and you might use a logbook to track expenses in different ways.

Sole traders and partnerships can claim income tax deductions for motor vehicle expenses if the vehicle is used to help earn income for the business. If you don’t use the vehicle exclusively for business, you can’t claim 100% of vehicle expenses. You need to work out the business use of the motor vehicle to calculate what deduction you can claim. You can do this either by using a logbook to track actual costs or using a logbook over a test period to establish the average business usage.

Companies are a bit different. Where company vehicles are used partly to earn income and partly for private use, vehicle costs associated with private use are liable for FBT. Companies can use logbooks to keep track of work-related costs and show either that the vehicles are work-related vehicles which don’t attract FBT where used for work purposes only, or that FBT is accounted for correctly where there is some private use of other vehicles. The logbook becomes a record of work-related use and of private use subject to FBT. Where a company restricts private use of the vehicle, a logbook is used as evidence that employees have complied with the restriction.

Whatever type of business structure you have, we can advise you on keeping good records and understanding what you can claim.

If you’re looking for a digital log book, Waka Kotahi – NZTA – recommend the Log Ninja app for easy logging.


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