Travel expense change
Questions raised about consultation
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.