ATO back­flip on meal claims a com­mon­sense win

Big Rigs - - NEWS -

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.

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