The tax office has fixed truck driver meal allowances, following close consultations with the ATA, its members and other trucking industry associations.
In July, the tax office announced that employee truck drivers would only be able to claim $55.30 per day in meal allowances without detailed receipts.
In its revised determination, released today, the tax office has reinstated its former meal-by-meal approach to reasonable meal amounts. The new reasonable amounts for 2017-18 are:
- breakfast: $24.25*
- lunch: $27.65*
- dinner: $47.70*
ATA Chair Geoff Crouch said the revised determination would benefit 38,000 truck drivers and treat them as professionals.
“The new determination means that truck drivers can claim, without detailed receipts, the same amount for meals as other comparable employees in what are called tier 2 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.
“We took this argument into our initial discussions with the tax office. The decision reflects our approach.”
Mr Crouch emphasised that truck drivers could only claim for the amount they spent on a meal, despite the reasonable amount.
“If you spend $45 on dinner, you can only claim a deduction for $45, not $47.70. Because it is within the reasonable amount, however, you do not need to keep every receipt,” he said.
“The tax office fact sheet sets out the evidence you do need to be able to provide if you are audited.”
Mr Crouch said the ATA would now focus on the meal allowance amounts for 2018-19 and beyond.
“We want to work with the tax office to simplify the claiming system further. There were also a number of issues raised by our member associations and individual drivers in our consultations that we could not resolve in the urgent timeframe for getting this decision fixed,” he said.
Mr Crouch thanked the ATA’s member associations, other associations and the staff of the tax office for their work.
“The ATA, its members and other associations worked closely together to get this result. I’d also like to thank the staff of the tax office for their willingness to discuss and resolve our issues, once we had explained our concerns,” he said.
*These amounts are separate and cannot be combined into a single daily amount or moved from one meal to another. As a result of the discussions with industry, the ATO has accepted that some drivers eat their meals at unconventional times, depending on their work and rest hours.A drivers can claim (for example) for a dinner eaten in the morning after an overnight shift, but cannot claim a deduction for more than one meal of each type in a 24 hour period.