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Publisher’s Comment: Double standard

The Meal tax issue. To bring everyone up to speed, last month we reported that the meal tax lawsuit was on its way to the Supreme Court of Canada. For some reason (I'll get to the bottom line of the i...


The Meal tax issue. To bring everyone up to speed, last month we reported that the meal tax lawsuit was on its way to the Supreme Court of Canada. For some reason (I’ll get to the bottom line of the issue in a minute) our government won’t allow truckers what they allow their own employees. In a nutshell, government employees qualify for a $75.40 per day tax-free meal allowance (we’re talking big ass steaks here.) As a trucker, you get to claim 50% of $45 per day (you’ll eat your oatmeal and you’ll like it.) Talk about a double standard.

To be fair, there are two sides to the story. Justice Alison Beames, who put a kibosh on the lawsuit, states that government employee benefits – including meal allowances – are negotiated between employer and employee. As such, they apply to them and them alone and do not entitle the plaintiffs to the same benefits. Sounds confusing and it is, especially since in this case the employer is our government.

Adding fuel to the fire is that 50% rule. Government employees are getting their allowance 100% tax-free. You are not. Again, a perk negotiated between the employer (our government) and its employees. So, what exactly are they telling us? As far as I’m concerned, it’s along the lines of do as I say, not as I do.

The financial impact a positive decision would have is mind boggling.

Estimates are workers would qualify for between $20,000 and $40,000 in cash that rightfully (in the plaintiff’s opinion) belongs to them. If I do the math, it tells me that on average, our government would be responsible for paying out $64,800,000 between the 2,160 plaintiffs (at an average of $30,000 each.) That’s not chicken feed.

In addition, you’ve got to factor in the future lost revenues this decision would represent to the government. Let’s see, there’s approximately 300,000 truck drivers, times the average meal expenditures, equals…forget it, I don’t have enough digits on my calculator – but it’s lots.

Tom Johnston, council for the lawsuit, brought up another valid point. We all know the problems we’re going through attracting the younger generation to trucking as a career. If a favourable decision were rendered, he notes truckers will realize approximately $10,000 on their bottom line…a hell of an incentive for new drivers (and old!) So there you have it. I don’t know when a final decision will be rendered but we’ll definitely keep you updated.

Rob Wilkins is the publisher of Truck News and he can be reached at 416-510-5123.


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