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BREAKING NEWS: Meal tax rate for truckers restored
OTTAWA -- Who says carriers, owner-ops, and unions can't all work together to get something done in trucking? Thanks to ongoing lobbying efforts by the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada (OBAC) and the Teamsters, the Conservative government has reportedly announced in the federal budget it will restore the meal deduction claims limit to 80 percent for truck drivers. According to a report at 4:00 pm on Toronto news radio station CFRB, the budget being read today by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty includes the much sought-after tax amendment. There are no further details on possible implementation dates at this point.

The restoration of meal claims to 80 percent is welcome
news to drivers who spend a lot of time away from home
CTA, OBAC, and the Teamsters, with support from this magazine, recently launched the Lunch-bag Let-down Campaign, which inspired the mailing of nearly 5,000 postcards to Flaherty urging him to increase the allowable proportion of meal costs drivers can expense on their personal or small business tax forms. As Today's Trucking has been reporting for years, Canadian truckers were once allowed to deduct 80 percent of their meal costs. However, the former Federal Liberal government rolled the deduction limit back to 50 percent -- a mark that hasn't budged in over a decade, despite the fact that U.S. drivers have seen deductions gradually rise over the last few years. The U.S. rate will be at 80 percent for 2008. While the news is welcome to drivers who spend a significant amount of time away from home -- eating at irregular times in truck stops and diners -- the meal tax battle is still not over for some. Although they can now claim 80 percent of it, many truckers still say the actual daily total a trucker can claim continues to be far too low at $45 a day. Canada Revenue increased the limit from $33 a day to $45 in 2003 after a handful of individual truckers challenged the limit in court—and won. The Supreme Court of Canada is deciding if it will hear a case brought by 2,500 truckers and B.C. lawyer Tom Johnston, who claim the government should close the gap between the $45 a day limit it gives drivers and the $73 meal allowance it gives its own public employees.
 
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