Sunday 18th Mar, 2018

Linfox goes to court over toll roads as NSW spruiks WestConnex to builders

Photo: Linfox
Photo: Linfox

Trucking group Linfox is headed to Federal Court to challenge the effective application of a road user charge on privately-owned toll roads around the country.

Company founder Lindsay Fox estimates his company uses toll roads on 10% of its journeys, and has publicly challenged a number of issues over the past 18 months which he says have drastically increased the burden of tolls on his business.

A key complaint from Fox, and the rest of the trucking sector, is that the taxes applied to fuel to help repair public roads, are effectively also applied to fuel burned while driving on private toll roads, which are not repaired using government money.

And now Linfox, with the support of advisor Deloitte, has taken its case to the Federal Court, which will be tasked with clarifying the legislation’s use of the words ‘public road’.

“Currently a Linfox truck travelling on a toll road pays the road user charge for this journey even though toll road repairs are not funded by the government,” a statement from Linfox says.

“The Commissioner of Taxation takes the view that a toll road is a public road for the purposes of applying the road user charge … we have worked with the Commissioner of Taxation on this issue. In these discussions it was agreed that a court judgement was the best way to clarify the issue.”

To illustrate its case, Linfox will attempt to show how the M2 toll road in NSW does not meet the description ‘public road’.

Specifically, Linfox is asking the Federal Court to clarify section 43-10(3) of the Fuel Tax Act 2006, which states: “To the extent you acquire … fuel to use, in a vehicle, for travelling on a public road, the amount of your fuel tax credit is reduced by the amount of the road user charge for the fuel.”

If its claim is successful, Linfox hopes to gain a refund of any fuel tax credits it has under-claimed.

“The decision would also mean that any other taxpayers using fuel on any roads that do not meet the term ‘public road’ would also be eligible for refunds,” Linfox added.


$1bn p.a. WestConnex spruiked to buyers

Meanwhile, the NSW Government has reportedly refined its pitch to potential buyers of its WestConnex tollroad project, saying they expect the road to generate $1 billion in earnings every year once in operation.

According to a column in AFR’s StreetTalk, WestConnex bidders have been presented a set of numbers forecasting $126 million in EBITDA in FY18, rising all the way to $966 million in FY27.

Bidders said to be considering the WestConnex project include Transurban, IFM Investors and Plenary Group.