The ATO has back-flipped on its decision to slash the reasonable daily travel allowance for employee truck drivers who have to sleep away from home from $97.40 per day in the 2016-17 year to just $55.30 per day for the 2017-18 year.

The ATO has re-issued Tax Determination TD 2017/19 and updated its reasonable amounts for meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for employee truck drivers for the 2017-18 year as follows:

  • breakfast $24.25
  • lunch $27.65
  • dinner $47.70

The amounts for each of these meal breaks are deemed to be separate and cannot be aggregated into a single daily amount, nor can unspent amounts be moved from one meal to another. Truck drivers are required to keep a diary of when meal breaks were taken.

The deduction allowed for each meal is the amount actually spent and not simply the reasonable amount specified above. Although the formal substantiation requirements don't apply for claims up to the reasonable amount, taxpayers should still be able to demonstrate the basis for their claims. This could be by reference to diary entries, bank records and receipts kept for some (a representative sample) of their trips.

All accommodation expenses and incidental expenses (for example, the cost of a shower) incurred by employee truck drivers as part of work-related travel must be substantiated with written evidence (for example, a receipt).

The ATO has a free app called myDeductions that can be used to keep track of work related deductions. It can capture photos of invoices and receipts, record vehicle trips and keep a record of all expenditure.

At tax time the data can be uploaded to the income tax return or emailed to the tax agent. myDeductions can be downloaded to a smart device from the iTunes Store, Google Play or Microsoft Store.