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Minister disappointed in ATO handling of expense determination

THE Minister for Financial Services Kelly O'Dwyer has expressed her displeasure and distance from the ongoing saga between the Australian Tax Office and the trucking industry, over a controversial allowance decision.

"This is not a decision of the Australian Government. It is a decision of the ATO,” a spokesman for the Minister said.

"The Minister was disappointed to about this situation.

"However, the Minister is pleased the ATO have listened to stakeholders and are currently arranging meetings with representatives from the truck driving industry to discuss this matter further.”

The first formal discussions with the tax office on the matter took place mid-August,with industry associations presenting as a united front to call for a reversal of the travel expense determination.

NatRoad, the ATA, ARTIO, a number of state-based employer associations and the

TWU were among those present.

NatRoad has described the meeting as "a robust exchange of views for close to two hours”.

In his capacity as ARTIO Treasurer and Secretary Peter Anderson said the group reiterated the lack of any consultation or warning about the ATO's determination.

"Delegates also indicated that there didn't appear to be any logical explanation behind the reduction, and that it appeared the ATO had used the behaviour of extreme outliers to regulate the industry by cutting existing arrangements by almost 50%," Mr Anderson said.

"The industry also made the point that there are EBAs, contracts and over-award payments made by employers to employed truck drivers around meal allowance payments ($90 was confirmed as common), and that employed 'long distance' drivers are legally required to keep a work diary detailing in 15 minute increments of where, when and whether they are working or on a break."

The industry also pushed the point that there are existing EBAs, contracts and over-award payments made by employers to employed truck drivers around meal allowance payments - $90 was confirmed as common.

The ATO told participants it would

be able to provide an update on Monday, August 21.

The government department first came under fire in July, due

to its lack of consultation on its decision to slash

the amount a truck

driver can claim as a reasonable travel expense by 43%.

Previously drivers could claim up to $97.40 without receipts for food and drink each night they were away.

As of July 1, the price was reduced to $55.30.

Ironically, the meeting to reverse the decision took place the same week the travel allowance for Federal MPs rose from $276 a night to $285 a night when they stay in Canberra to attend parliament, only a month after they received a 2% pay rise.

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