Be careful with Overtime Meal Allowances

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NatRoad is aware that at least one accountant is sending members a communication seeking information to establish a deduction for a meal allowance for the accountant’s truck driver clients. This newsletter provides general advice to members.

Please note that this is not legal advice but points to some of the issues that arise from the accountant’s communication.

The ATO clearly says that a truck driver can claim the cost of a meal he or she buys and eats while working overtime if:

  • The driver receives an overtime meal allowance under an industrial award or enterprise agreement
  • the overtime meal allowance is shown on the employer issued income statement and they declare the allowance in their tax return.

The ATO also says that overtime meal allowances are not required to be separately shown in income tax documents. For workplace law purposes, however, employees should see meal allowances on their payslips.  Not doing so could create the risk of a legal liability for the employer.

NatRoad’s advice to members receiving this accountant’s pro forma letter is to tread warily. It is up to you whether you complete it but first ensure that your payslips are compliant.

Also proceed with caution if you employ long distance drivers. The overtime aspect of this claim does not apply to drivers covered by the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2020.

If a long distance driver consumes a meal whilst travelling for work and is required to stay away overnight or at least take their long rest break away from home, however, they can claim meal costs as a deduction.

This document is a good guide for drivers who should be aware that there are limits on claims without receipts.  For more information, see this NatRoad article.