Trailer Magazine

Associations attack travel expense cuts

  • Posted on Tuesday 1st, August 2017.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has incurred the ire of the country's transport associations with its lack of consultation on its latest Determination, which cuts employee truck driver travel expenses almost in half.

During the 2017-18 income year, the tax office will allow employee truck drivers to claim $55.30 per day in travel expenses (excluding accommodation) without detailed receipts, down from $97.40 in 2016-17.

Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chair, Geoff Crouch, said that a check of ATA member associations showed that none had received the consultation paper that the tax office says it issued on 30 September 2016, and NatRoad is urging the ATO to reconsider following an influx of complaints from members.

“Even the tax office has now admitted that it did not receive a single response from trucking industry associations in response to the paper,” Crouch said.

“The lack of responses should have been a red flag for the tax office that something had gone wrong with its consultation process.

“By sifting through the tax office website, the ATA has now located the tax office’s copy of the consultation paper that we didn’t receive.

“The paper does not provide any evidence to support the decision to slash the reasonable amount for truck driver claims. There are no statistics, case studies or references to relevant court or AAT cases.

“There are just vague assertions and a question, completely unsupported by evidence, about whether the truck driver rate should be set as a percentage of what is called the ‘other country centre rate.’

“If the ATA had been asked, and we weren’t, we would have said the percentage should be 100 per cent.

“The tax office should reverse its determination, rewrite its consultation paper to include actual facts and consult again,” he said.

Crouch said the ATA was particularly disappointed in the lack of consultation because the tax office’s work with industry was generally of a very high quality.

“The ATA has long been a member of the tax office Fuel Schemes Stakeholder Group. Its consultation with industry through this group has been exemplary, and as a result we have got some great results for trucking operators,” he said.

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said, “the move to reduce travel expenses for employee truck drivers to $55.30 per day is not doing the industry any favours”.

“At a time where the Federal Government and industry are working together to reduce the compliance burden on road freight businesses and their employees, this change negatively impacts small businesses and their employees,” he said.

After reaching out to Deputy Commissioner of the ATO, Erin Holland, Clark and NatRoad in-house legal adviser Richard Calver are meeting with senior representatives of the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to find a solution.

“It is important to get further clarity from the ATO on this difficult issue and have further consultation.

“NatRoad considers that the reduction will cause undue hardship to the industry. In meeting with the ATO, we hope to find a more practical solution for the industry,” Clark said.

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