Travel ex­pense change

Ques­tions raised about con­sul­ta­tion

Big Rigs - - NEWS - RE­PORTER KIRSTIN PAYNE kirstin.payne@bi­

THE truck­ing in­dus­try is in up­roar about the re­cent Aus­tralian Tax­a­tion Of­fice de­ter­mi­na­tion to slash the amount driv­ers can claim for rea­son­able travel ex­penses by 43%.

Pre­vi­ously driv­ers could claim up to $97.40 with­out re­ceipts for food and drink each overnight they were away. That amount has been re­duced to $55.30 from July 1.

The re­duc­tion is ex­pected to im­pact the ex­ist­ing EBAs of em­ploy­ers who make a com­po­nent of wages ‘non-tax­able’ to ac­count for the tax de­ter­mi­na­tion.

For ex­am­ple, some em­ploy­ers tend to deduct the amount from gross wages, tax the re­main­der, then add the $97.

The prac­tice pro­vides an em­ployee with a higher net pay week to week, as it was pro­vid­ing the driv­ers a non-tax­able com­po­nent to their wages.

In­dus­try bod­ies are con­cerned, claim­ing the de­ci­sion was made with­out dis­cus­sion or con­sul­ta­tion, and have sub­mit­ted let­ters of con­cern to the ATO sec­ond com­mis­sioner.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Vic­to­rian Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion Peter An­der­son said he was flab­ber­gasted by the move.

“There has been no con­sul­ta­tion we were aware of,” Mr An­der­son said.

“We are amazed the ATO has taken the ar­ro­gant per­spec­tive with­out in­form­ing the in­dus­try. No one was no­ti­fied – or­gan­i­sa­tions were left to stum­ble across the change.”

Mr An­der­son was con­cerned about the flow-on ef­fect to EBAs that had pre­vi­ously fac­tored in the rate.

“At the end of the day, the im­pact will be on the driver’s health – this means less money to spend on the health­ier foods, which are usu­ally more ex­pen­sive,” he said.

“We are dis­ap­pointed the ATO hasn’t con­sulted with the in­dus­try, the in­dus­try IL­LUS­TRA­TION: KIRSTIN PAYNE

has had to reach out first.”

His views came in con­cert with a num­ber of other or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing WARTA and the QTA, who have re­leased sim­i­lar state­ments to mem­bers.

TWU na­tional as­sis­tant sec­re­tary Michael Kaine has also sought an ur­gent meet­ing with the ATO on the mat­ter, stat­ing the change took place with­out warning or con­sul­ta­tion.

ATO DE­TER­MI­NA­TION: Meal al­lowances were one of the few breaks left for driv­ers.

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