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Drivers warned of ATO crackdown

Truckies are being warned to check deduction thresholds and keep accurate records when claiming meal allowances whilst at work to avoid fines and potential audits.

National Road Freighters Association (NRFA) vice president Trevor Warner told Big Rigs that many drivers just aren’t aware of what’s required of them and are risking heavy penalties as a result.

“The biggest issue we’ve got is that drivers buy their meals and while they keep some receipts, they don’t keep other receipts,” said Warner.

“They put in their tax and all of a sudden they find themselves getting audited. So, they send their logbooks and bank statements thinking everything is okay and then they find out the reality of the really world is different to what the gossip on the highway says.

“We’ve had one driver audited four years in a row.”

The meal deduction threshold is re-evaluated by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) each year but is currently just over $100 a day. However, the information available on the ATO website may differ when compared with the actual legislation when it comes to presenting financial records.

“On the ATO website, it mentions that if a driver doesn’t spend a certain amount, then they don’t have to keep receipts. I don’t know any driver that can afford to spend $100 a day,” said Warner.

“So, drivers go about thinking they don’t have to keep receipts, but when you go to the actual taxation determination, the first thing it says is that you must be able to prove that you actually spent the money.”

“It creates some ambiguity there.”

Transport workers are encouraged to check the finer details on the ATO website, so they aren’t faced with a mountain of paperwork. One driver, who only claimed $70 dollars a day for food was audited by the ATO because he couldn’t provide proof of the products he bought.

“The ATO is getting very picky, so drivers need to be acutely aware of doing things right in case you get audited,” said Warner.

“A lot of drivers think the reasonable amount you can deduct without receipts is an entitlement, rather than a threshold

The ATO have now provided an app that allows drivers to upload receipts and images as evidence of their transactions.

More information on deductions can be found here.

Update Dec 10 -The ATO is hosting two webinars on 16 December teaching critical cash flow management skills and strategies for improving your small business cash flow.

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