ATO gets no rest from industry critics

TWU petition and ATA disbelief in latest developments

ATO gets no rest from industry critics
Geoff Crouch says the ATO has been good on other issues


The Transport Workers Union (TWU) and Australian Trucking Association show little inclination to give the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) a breather on the driver travel claims changes issue.

The TWU says it has started an online petition to give the trucking community, their families and supporters the chance to voice their opinion about the ATO changes.

The petition is directed at federal MPs to pressure them to seek a reversal of the ATO decision.

"We have had truck drivers and their families contacting us worried about these changes and what it will mean for their livelihoods and the stress it will pile on," TWU WA branch secretary Tim Dawson says.

"If the ATO believes this reduction is fair they are incredibly out of touch with the working people of this country.

"The impact of this decision will not only affect driver’s pay packets but also the pay packets of the truck stop owners who make a living from drivers spending their allowance.

"The move has the potential of heaping more pressure on transport operators and drivers, who are already operating under tight margins."

ATO 'epic fail'

And the Australian Trucking Association has expanded on its Friday critique, expressing dismay that the issue could have been handled in this way, given its contact with the industry elsewhere has been excellent.

Stating that a check of ATA member associations showed that none had received the consultation paper that the ATO says it issued on September 30, 2016, ATA chair Geoff Crouch focuses on failings of the process and the document itself.

"Even the tax office has now admitted that it did not receive a single response from trucking industry associations in response to the paper," Crouch says.

"The lack of responses should have been a red flag for the tax office that something had gone wrong with its consultation process.

"One of their highly paid staff, who all receive travel allowance without needing to lodge receipts, should have picked up the phone, sent a follow up email or called a meeting. But nobody bothered.

"By sifting through the tax office website, the ATA has now located the tax office’s copy of the consultation paper that we didn’t receive.

"The paper does not provide any evidence to support the decision to slash the reasonable amount for truck driver claims. There are no statistics, case studies or references to relevant court or AAT cases.

"There are just vague assertions and a question, completely unsupported by evidence, about whether the truck driver rate should be set as a percentage of what is called the ‘other country centre rate’.

"If the ATA had been asked, and we weren’t, we would have said the percentage should be 100 per cent.

"The tax office should reverse its determination, rewrite its consultation paper to include actual facts and consult again."

The ATA is "particularly disappointed in this epic consultation fail" because the tax office’s work with industry was generally "of a very high quality".

"The ATA has long been a member of the tax office Fuel Schemes Stakeholder Group," Crouch says.

"Its consultation with industry through this group has been exemplary, and as a result we have got some great results for trucking operators."

ATN is awaiting confirmation on a flagged NatRoad-ATO meeting potentially in a week’s time.

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