Tribunal: Senior Member Lisa Hespe
Mr Mitchell was employed as a site surveyor on a construction project in Melbourne’s CBD. He had to work long hours that included frequent overtime shifts and most Saturdays. His employer was party to an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) that required every employer who worked overtime for one and one half hours or more after working ordinary hours to be paid an amount to meet the cost of a meal. Mr Mitchell received 107 payments for overtime meal allowance in the 2013 financial year, amounting to $1,608.
Mr Mitchell claimed an $8,130 deduction in his 2013 tax return for overtime meal expenses. Mr Mitchell claimed he paid for meals during the year that should be covered by the meal allowance but were not included in the 107 payments. Mr Mitchell claimed he usually bought dinner on the way home from work, and that he bought breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturdays. Mr Mitchell provided no written evidence in relation to the amount and frequency of the meal purchases. He stated he came to the figure of $8,130 because the “reasonable overtime meal allowance expenses” was listed as $27.10 in a Determination that sets out the amounts that the Commissioner considers are reasonable in such circumstances. Mr Mitchell stated he multiplied that amount by 6 days a week and 50 weeks a year.
The Commissioner of Taxation allowed a deduction for the $1,608 included in Mr Mitchell’s assessable income but disallowed a deduction for the balance. Mr Mitchell applied to the AAT for a review of the decision.
In its decision, the AAT noted that there must be a connection between the circumstances in which the meal is purchased and Mr Mitchell’s employment for the purchases to be deductible. The AAT explained that a meal is deductible if consumed whilst performing overtime duties or consumed on a break in the course of performing those duties. The connection between the meal expense and overtime work is broken if the meal is not consumed whilst performing overtime duties.
Mr Mitchell’s employer did not pay overtime on Saturdays so the AAT found his meal purchases on Saturdays were not connected to his overtime duties and was not be deductible. The evidence was that Mr Mitchell generally finished work at 5.30 pm on Mondays to Thursdays and 3.30 pm on Fridays. He generally consumed dinner after finishing his working day. The AAT found this could not be considered as being during overtime duties or a break from overtime duties and so those meal purchases were not deductible.
The AAT affirmed the Commissioner’s decision.
Read the full written decision on AustLII.