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Court case mucks up meal claims for drivers: CTA

TORONTO, Ont. -- A recent court ruling involving B.C. ferry workers has created confusion regarding meal deductibil...

TORONTO, Ont. — A recent court ruling involving B.C. ferry workers has created confusion regarding meal deductibility for truck drivers.

The ruling appears to restrict the ability of meal allowances to those workers who stay away from home overnight and who have utilized lodging facilities – including sleeper bunks reports the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

The "Crawford" appeal was dismissed mainly because the employees working on B.C. ferries usually return back home on a daily basis. The decision in this case would have probably been otherwise if it was a trucker using a truck equipped with a sleeper cab, say CTA officials.

The CTA reports the judge’s conclusion of this case:
“Mr. Rachert argued for the Appellants that to give paragraph 8(1)(g) (of the Income Tax Act) its plain meaning would work hardship in a case where a truck driver, for example, took trips of several days, but incurred no expense for lodging because he was able to sleep in the cab of a tractor unit. No such hypothetical case is before me, and I do not propose to speculate upon it. For the present cases the legislative intent is clear. The deduction for meals is not intended to be available to workers who return to their homes each night as a matter of course. It is perhaps redundant to point out that if it were otherwise, these Appellants would be placed in a preferential position in relation to the many people who are employed in jobs where they do not leave the municipality in which they begin their work each day, but who for myriad reasons cannot return home for lunch.”

The CTA is quick to point out that if a transport employee does not meet the conditions set in paragraph 8(1)(g) of the Income Tax Act, he/she may be able to claim meals under paragraph 8(1)(h), provided the conditions of this paragraph have been met.

But the ruling still appears to restrict deductibility claims for meals of a short-haul driver who does not drive outside the municipality of his or her employer during the course of his or her workday.

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