ATA calls on Senate to pass fuel tax amendments

By: Rob McKay


Smaller operators face a burden they cannot afford, St Clair says

ATA calls on Senate to pass fuel tax amendments
Stuart St Clair warns of side effects.

 

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has urged the Senate to pass an amendment bill to the Fuel Tax Act to protect small trucking businesses in particular from the side effects of fuel tax indexation.

The ATA’s call is central to one of only five submissions to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee on what had been a controversial headline move by the Federal Government to return to the measure.

It had initially been thought there would be little impact from the changes but that view has shifted, not least because of the path the Government chose to implement it.

"The drafters of the Fuel Tax Act did not envisage that fuel tax would be reindexed," the ATA argues.

"They certainly did not foresee that the rate would be changed via tariff proposals.

"As a result, there need to be amendments to the Act to ensure that trucking operators can continue to claim fuel tax credits at the correct rate and are not overcharged."

The ATA calculates that the operators stand to lose between $750 and $41,000 by this time next year otherwise.

 "The Government has used what are called tariff proposals to increase the fuel tax rate from 38.143 cents per litre to 38.6 cents per litre," ATA CEO Stuart St Clair says.

"The rate will be indexed in line with inflation on 1 February and 1 August.

"The tariff proposals must be ratified by legislation within a year, but in the meantime they will create side effects for trucking operators and other businesses claiming fuel tax credits.

"Trucking businesses can claim fuel tax credits for the fuel they use. Their fuel tax credits are reduced by the road user charge, which is set in conjunction with state registration charges to recover the cost of the industry’s impact on the road network.

"Because of the way the Fuel Tax Act is worded, tariff proposals do not increase the industry’s entitlement to fuel tax credits, even though they effectively increase the fuel tax rate."

Unless amendments are passed, St Clair says an owner-driver stands to pay an extra $750 in fuel tax by October next year.

The figure rises to $4,100 for a small fleet operator, while a large fleet operator with 160 trucks will pay an additional $41,900.

"Small trucking businesses can’t afford the cashflow burden of paying extra fuel tax on top of what they already pay, even though they would be able to claim the money back later if the legislation needed to ratify the tariff proposals was passed," St Clair says.

Other submissions were sent by the Minerals Council of Australia, the Australian Institute of Petroleum, accountancy Pitcher Partners and the Department of Defence.

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