ATO determination concerns for owner-drivers

The Victorian Transport Association (ATA), the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) and the Transport Workers Union TWU) are among industry groups concerned about a recent Australian Taxation Office (ATO) determination that will reduce the amount drivers can claim for travel on their tax returns.
ATO Determination TD 2017/19, issued on 3 July, has reduced the ‘reasonable amount’ that an owner-driver may claim for travel expenses without substantiation by $42.10, which translates to a 43 per cent reduction.
Peter Anderson, CEO, VTA, in his capacity as Secretary and Treasurer of the ARTIO, has written to the ATO to express concern about the lack of consultation with industry about the determination, along with the impact such a significant reduction will have on the individual drivers and their income.
“We are amazed the ATO has made such a far-reaching determination that will leave drivers and their families so significantly out-of-pocket without bothering to inform the industry,” Anderson said.
“Equally concerning are flow-on effects the determination will have on Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs) that had already factored in the previous rate. We have highlighted to the ATO that employers, who have had EBAs specifying amounts payable in these circumstances approved by the Fair Work Commission, could now be in breach of legal obligations because of the change.
“Regrettably, the impact of the ATO changing its view on what is a ‘reasonable amount’ for a driver to claim for a meal will be on their health and wellbeing because there is less money for them to spend on healthier foods, which usually cost more.”
The ARTIO has requested an urgent meeting with the ATO to discuss the determination, which it feels requires immediate review and amendment.

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