The TWU often receives phone calls from members wanting to know whether the receipt of overtime meal allowance entitles them to claim the relevant meal expenses as a tax deduction.
Members often receive mixed messages from other sources and this may causes a lot of confusion as every taxpayer's circumstance is different.
The Australian Tax Office has an excellent publication titled: "Truck drivers - claiming work-related expenses."
It has a section 'Claiming Overtime Meal Expenses' which outlines who can claim, when you can claim and what you can claim.
This section applies to most transport workers regardless of whether they drive a truck or work on a loading dock.
As far as we can see the guts of the matter centres around a couple of points highlighted in the brochure which states:
If you are working overtime, you can claim a deduction for overtime meal expenses if you meet both of the following conditions:
Most TWU members have their meal allowances stated in their pay and conditions agreement or our awards.
How much can you claim
Each financial year the ATO updates the "Reasonable Overtime Meal Allowance Amount"
The rate for 2011/2012 is $26.45
Please note where the amount claimed is no more than the reasonable amount, substantiation of the claim with written evidence is not required.
However, the taxpayer may still be required to show how they worked out their claim, e.g. diary entry.
If the claim is more than the reasonable amount the whole claim must be substantiated, not just the excess. That is, you need to provide all receipts in the event of an audit.
An amount for overtime meals that has been included as part of your normal salary or wages is not considered to be an overtime meal allowance.
The above guidelines have been confirmed with our recommended tax agent Hewitt Turner & Gelevitis.
Hewitt Turner & Gelevitis have been dealing with the Transport Industry for over 20 years. We recommend that you seek professional advice in regards to you own taxation affairs.
They also offer discounted rates to TWU members.
They are located at Suite 4, 1st Floor 63 Shepperton Road, Victoria Park. Call 9362 5855.
If you would like a copy of the ATO publication referred to above, call the TWU and we will post one out. Phone 1800 657 477.