Coming up to the end of the financial year, I again have received various queries about what expenses for meals can be claimed while away from home. The usual discussion I have with truck drivers is, how much can be claimed while away.
Drivers often argue with me that they can claim up to $ 97-40 per night while away from home without receipts. I always explain to them that this is not 100% correct and it depends on various factors.
The first being that the driver must receive a bona fie allowance that could reasonably be expected to cover the cost of meals while away from. I.e. if a driver was paid $ 15-00 per day, this would not be expected to cover the cost of meals for a day therefore the driver would be required to keep all receipts for meals while away from home.
Secondly the allowance paid must be shown on the driver’s payment summary either in the allowance section or part of the gross wages. If it is not shown in either place, no amount can be claimed for meal expenses even though you were away from home. Thirdly, even if you satisfy the above scenarios you are still not entitled to claim $ 97-40 per day unless you can prove you have actually spent that much money per day on your meals.
If you have spent $ 97-40 per day on meals you are entitled to claim that much, but upon an audit from the Australian Tax Office you will be required to show proof that you have spent that much.
The trouble comes when drivers receive an allowance of $ 35-00 per night and then claim $ 97-40 per night without having the necessary receipts to back up the claim. This will usually equate to a large refund to the driver especially if they are away for 5 to 6 nights per week. The trouble begins when the ATO undertakes an audit or review 6 months after the driver has received their refund.
IF the driver does not have the necessary substantiation and receipts to confirm they spent $ 97-40 per day they will be required to pay back the refund and additional interest and penalties. This can lead to a large amounts being paid back to the ATO and all could have been avoided if the necessary documentation had been kept.