Canadian truckers want meal deductions to mirror U.S.

| 1/5/2007

The campaign is self-explanatory: "End Canada's Lunch Bag Let-Down."

Three groups representing a wide spectrum of 200,000 Canadian truck drivers want the government to allow truckers the same 80-percent meal deductions on their income tax forms that U.S. truckers will have by 2008.

The current rate allows Canadians to deduct 50 percent of their meal expenses while away from home.

Meal deductibility in the U.S. is currently at 75 percent, which was increased from 50 percent in 1999. The U.S. rate will be 80 percent by 2008.

Joanne Ritchie, executive director of the Owner-Operator Business Association of Canada, said the issue is about fairness across the board, and that's why OBAC, the Canadian Trucking Alliance and Teamsters Canada have joined forces on this issue.

"This is patently unfair to one of the largest groups of workers in Canada, many of whom, as a requirement of the job, spend much of their time away from home and must purchase all their meals - not just one per day like an office or factory worker - from restaurants and truck stops," Ritchie and the others stated in a letter to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Based on average wages, and using current federal and provincial tax guidelines, the 50-percent meal deduction costs Canadian truck drivers about $1,300 per year in income tax compared to a proposed 80-percent rate.

Estimates in the province of Quebec, where tax structures differ, show a $1,500 loss per truck driver.

Canada's current per diem for a truck driver's meal deduction from personal income taxes is $51 per day using the receipt-free allowance.

- By David Tanner, staff writer