ATO backflip on meal claims a commonsense win
TRUCK drivers will again be able to claim meal-by-meal expenses after common sense won out following a major U-turn by the Australian Taxation Office.
Earlier this year, the ATO announced that employed drivers would be able to claim only $55.30 per day for meal allowances without detailed receipts.
But after consultation with various industry groups, including NATRoad, TWU, ATA and more, the ATO has revised its decision, returning the meal-by-meal approach to reasonable meals.
The new meal-by-meal structure for the 2017-18 financial year includes breakfast at $24.25, lunch at $27.25 and dinner at $47.40.
These amounts are isolated to each meal, cannot be combined for a single amount or moved from one meal to another.
Australian Trucking Association chairman Geoff Crouch said the backflip from the government showed it no longer viewed drivers as “second-class citizens”.
“The new determination means truck drivers can claim, without detailed receipts, the same amount for meals as other comparable employees in what are called tier two and other country centres,” Mr Crouch said.
“One of the ATA’s highest priorities is to make sure that government agencies never treat truck drivers as second-class citizens. Our drivers are professionals and deliver the goods for Australia.”
The Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation said the decision was a win for drivers, their families and their wellbeing.
“The ATO’s revision means drivers will have more to spend on healthy meal options, which are typically much more expensive than fast-food alternatives,” ARTIO secretary and treasurer Peter Anderson said.
TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon said the Federal Government must ensure these unacceptable tax changes were not reintroduced, because of the confusion and anger they caused.
“The ATO is refusing to reverse the decision and has only given drivers a reprieve for this tax year,” Mr Sheldon said.
“Truck drivers need certainty on what they can claim and how.
“This is a disgraceful way to run a tax department and the Federal Government must take responsibility for it.”
The TWU said the tax office had demonstrated a profound lack of understanding about the working patterns of long-distance truck drivers, including the frequency of travel and the hours of work.