“The transport industry is under significant financial pressure, with no organisation it can turn to for redress, following the abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal,” Mr Kaine said.
“This move by the ATO shows how out of touch the Federal Government’s administration is on these realities in transport.”
In rare alliance with the TWU, NatRoad stood equally defiant against the change.
“At a time where the Federal Government and industry is working together to reduce the compliance burden, this change will negatively impact small businesses and their employees,” NatRoad chief executive officer Warren Clark said.
In response, however, the ATO claims it had consulted with the industry on the reasonable expense amounts, including for the transport industry.
When questioned by Big Rigs on the nature of the consultation, the ATO pointed to a consultation paper published on its website on September 30 and emails sent at the time.
“This paper provided an opportunity for all interested parties to respond to us with their feedback, opinions and suggestions,” an ATO spokesman said.
“As part of the consultation process, emails were sent directly to more than 60 industry groups requestion feedback on the consultation paper.
“Almost half of these emails were sent to federal and state-based organisations and associations within the transport industry.”
These included the ATA, NatRoad, Owner Drivers Association and a number of state groups.
The ATO spokesman said there were a number of practical issues highlighted by recent Administrative Appeals Tribunal decisions that also led to the change.
“For example, claims were being made for days not associated with overnight travel, and also the total daily rate was being claimed, including for meals that had not been consumed when travelling, for example, when the travel had concluded in the afternoon and dinner was consumed at home,” the ATO spokesman said.
The ATO did confirm a driver may still claim a higher amount of deductions for their meals if they retained a receipt.
ARTIO will be meeting with the ATO this month.
TRAVEL EXPENSE: The amount the determination considers reasonable has dropped from $97 to $55.30.