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Tax office cracking down on truckies

BEWARE: Truckies need to keep their receipts if they want to claim living away from home expenses. Photo: David Meredith
BEWARE: Truckies need to keep their receipts if they want to claim living away from home expenses. Photo: David Meredith

TRUCK driver Greg Peddell wants other truckies to be aware that the rules for claiming the living away from home allowance have changed.

He was selected for a random audit from the ATO this year, and then was subjected to a full audit.

What Peddell didn't know was that he was not able to claim the full living away from home allowance because of the way his company paid it.

Is the tax office being too hard on truck drivers?

This poll ended on 20 February 2013.

Yes, the ATO should give truckies some leway and let them get on with the job. - 84%

No, the ATO is only doing it's job. - 15%

I am unsure. - 0%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

According to Truckin' Tax Accountants owner Michael Carroll, Peddell could have claimed but only if he kept receipts.

"Each case is different, but 99% of the time you can get it," he said.

This year the ATO changed the way you could claim the allowance.

Mr Carroll said it was because of one case where a truck driver claimed the allowance but was not actually living away from home.

And now the ATO is cracking down on truck drivers.

You can still claim the full rebate which is about $87 a day without receipts, as long as your employer pays you a living away from home allowance and it is a separate allowance shown on your payslips.

If however, it is built into your base rate, or kilometre rate, then you need to keep receipts to claim.

But if your employer pays you the allowance, you can still only claim $87 if you spend that much.

Mr Carroll said he got his clients to sign a statement saying they had spent that much even if they didn't need receipts.

"It's really tough for drivers," he said of the crackdown.

Peddell said the 277 nights that he lived away from home last year did not qualify him to claim the tax deduction without documentation. He had not kept receipts for all his meals because he did not know he had to.

Now he owes the tax office $1100 and has to pay a $2200 fine.

"My accountant put in an objection to the decision which came back with the same result," he said.

"Basically they said I had to provide receipts for all meals and living away expenses rather than claiming the commissioner's set rate as every other year.

"The only option left is court, but that's not cheap so I suggest everyone speak to your accountant."

Topics:  ato, crackdown, truckies


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