19th Dec, 2022
Yes, it’s that time of year again! As the so-called “silly season” gets underway, and with many employers reverting to pre-pandemic norms around meal entertainment, it is the perfect time to consider what benefits your business is going to provide to staff and how, with a little planning, employers might be able to avoid an FBT hangover.
During this time of the year, in addition to the typical end-of-year party, we generally see a marked increase in expenditure across meal and recreational entertainment, as well as gifts.
Employers must choose how they calculate their FBT meal entertainment liability. Most use either the “50/50” method or the “actual” method.
Using the “50/50” method
Rather than apportioning meal entertainment expenditure based on the proportion received by employees (and their associates) and non-employees (who aren’t associates of employees) and by reference to where food and drink is actually consumed under the actual method, many employers choose to use the simpler “50/50” method. Under this method, irrespective of where the meal entertainment occurs or who attends, 50% of the total expenditure is subject to FBT and 50% is deductible for income tax purposes.
Using the “actual” method
Under the “actual” method, only the entertainment provided to employees and their associates is subject to FBT. In addition, where food and drink are consumed by employees on the employer’s premises, there will be no FBT due to the property exemption -– this takes care of Friday night drinks in the office! But usually, the greatest reduction in FBT when using the actual method will come from the “minor benefits” exemption. Outside of a handful of exceptions, where a benefit with a notional taxable value of less than $300 (including GST) is provided to an employee or an associate, the minor benefits exemption will generally apply to exempt the benefit from FBT.
Usually, employers would save a considerable amount of FBT using the “actual” method; however, they usually don’t have the time to determine precisely who received the benefit in order to apply the exemption.
A common trap is where an employer has an employee who is considered a “frequent entertainer” for meal entertainment purposes and then is automatically considered a frequent entertainer for recreational entertainment, such that the minor benefits exemption doesn’t apply.
Accordingly, we recommend reassessing which employees should be eligible for the minor benefits exemption with respect to recreational entertainment.
Gifts provided to employees, or their associates, will typically constitute a property fringe benefit and therefore be subject to FBT unless the minor benefits exemption applies.
Gifts, and indeed all benefits associated with the end-of-year function, should be considered separately to the party itself in light of the minor benefits exemption.
For example, the cost of gifts such as vouchers, bottles of wine or hampers given at the function should be looked at separately to determine if the minor benefits exemption applies.
Gifts provided to clients are outside of the FBT rules, but may be deductible if they are being made for the purposes of producing future assessable income.
01st May, 2022
For many businesses, the line between employees and contractors is becoming increasingly blurred, partly due to the rise of the gig economy. However, businesses should be careful, as incorrectly classifying employees as contractors may be illegal and expose the business to various penalties and charges.
Recently, the High Court handed down a significant decision in a case involving the distinction between employees and contractors. In the case, a labourer had signed an Administrative Services Agreement(ASA) with a labour hire company to work as a “selfemployed contractor” on various construction sites.
The Full Federal Court had initially held that the labourer was an independent contractor after applying a “multifactorial” approach by reference to the terms of the ASA, among other things. The High Court, however, overturned that decision and held that the labourer was an employee of the labour hire company.
The High Court held that the critical question was whether the supposed employee performed work while working in the business of the engaging entity. That is, whether the worker performed their work in the labour hire firm’s business or in an enterprise or business of their own.
As a result of the decision, the ATO has said it will review relevant rulings, including super guarantee rulings on work arranged by intermediaries and who is an employee, as well as income tax rulings in the areas of PAYG withholding and the identification of employer for tax treaties.
24th Aug, 2021
From 1 July 2021, the rate of super guarantee increased from 9.5% to 10%. Businesses using manual payroll processes should be careful that this change doesn’t lead to unintended underpayment of super, which may attract penalties.
The new rate of 10% is the minimum percentage now required by law, but employers may pay super at a higher rate under an award or agreement.
Most payroll and accounting systems will have incorporated the increase in their super rate, but it’s always good to check. If your business is still using a manual process to pay your employees, you’ll need to work out how much super to pay under the new rate.
This latest increase to 10% is by no means the last time the super guarantee rate will change over the next few years. From 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023 (ie next financial year) the rate will increase to 10.5%, followed by another 0.5% point increase to 11% in the 2023–2024 financial year. So, employers will need to be on their toes to make sure the right amount of super guarantee is paid for the next few years.
30th Apr, 2021
If your business has provided any benefits to your employees, you may be liable for fringe benefits tax (FBT). This includes benefits to current, prospective and former employees,as well as their associates. It’s important to keep in mind that this applies no matter what structure your business has – sole trader, partnership, trustee, corporation, unincorporated association, etc. If a benefit was provided in respect of employment, then it may be a taxable fringe benefit.
Although the Australian income tax year runs from 1 July to 30 June, the FBT year is different, running from 1 April to 31 March the following year – so now is the time to consider your business’s FBT obligations and organise your records for the year 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
In total, there are 13 different types of taxable fringe benefits, each with their own specific valuation rules. The FBT tax rate of 47% may seem fearsome, but there are ways to reduce the amount of FBT your business may have to pay where a benefit has been provided.
One of the simplest ways to reduce the amount of your business’s FBT liability is for your employees to make payments towards the cost of providing the fringe benefit. This is known as employee contribution, and certain conditions still apply.
Your business can also take advantage of various exemptions and concessions to reduce FBT liability, but you’ll need to keep specific and careful records, including employee declarations and invoices and receipts. As a general rule, you should keep these documents for at least five years after the relevant FBT return is lodged.
19th Mar, 2021
Small employers with closely held payees have been exempt from reporting these payees through single touch payroll (STP) for the 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 financial years. However, they must begin STP reporting from 1 July 2021.
For STP purposes, small employers are those with 19 or fewer employees.
A closely held payee is an individual who is directly related to the entity from which they receive a payment. For example:
Small employers must continue to report information about all of their other employees (known as “arm’s length employees”) via STP on or before each pay day (the statutory due date). Small employers that only have closely held employees are not required to start STP reporting until 1 July 2021, and there’s no requirement to advise the ATO if you’re a small employer that only has closely held payees.
The ATO has now released details of the three options that small employers with closely held payees will have for STP reporting from 1 July 2021: