Wait on ATO's flip

MEAL ALLOWANCE: Drivers were shocked when their claim threshold for overnight expenses was slashed.
MEAL ALLOWANCE: Drivers were shocked when their claim threshold for overnight expenses was slashed. Kirstin Payne

DRIVERS are still in the dark on the substantiated claim threshold, as they await the outcome of industry negotiations.

The industry is seeking to reverse a determination which slashed the expenses a driver claim without receipts for reasonable travel expenses by 43%.

NatRoad Adviser, Compliance and Workplace Relations Richard Calver said drivers should sit tight for now.

"First of all keep those work diaries - we are in discussions with the ATO about the amount you can claim without substant- iation,” Mr Calver said.

The groups of industry bodies represented in the negotiations have been informed the ATO is considering a split of the amount into a maximum amount of what can be claimed for breakfast lunch and dinner without substantiation.

"So long as you are paid an allowance, are required to stay over night and have spent that money,” he said.

"So they are considering our position that is be $99.60, instead of the lower amount.”

While the conversations now between the two parties have moved into an amicable to-and-fro, in stark contrast to the initial response when many drivers and assoc- iations were left unaware of the regulatory switch.

"It was pretty poor, you can't sugar coat this, they said it was to simplify the process for truck drivers - it didn't really,” he said.

"It confused everyone and people wanted to know why on earth drivers were treated like this.

"The issue is now getting back to some sort of equilibrium with the tax office to get the amounts back on track and have an amicable outcome, one that will lead to further consultation and break that nexus.”

Mr Calver said there was also a need for industry to be better educated about what these allowances mean.

"We need a lot more education about what is required,” he said.

"This is because drivers have a high number of adjustments or corrections to tax returns, even though 80% of those audited had been submitted through a tax agent.

"So it is a systemic problem and the tax agents themselves not knowing the rules, not just our truck drivers.”

An outcome is expected in October.

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