Archive for the ‘FBT’ Category

It’s time to consider FBT

Thursday, April 1st, 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.
TIP: Business FBT returns and payments are generally due by 21 May if you lodge yourself, or by 25 June if we lodge electronically as your registered tax agent.
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.

Small businesses: don’t forget your FBT concessions

Monday, February 1st, 2021

If you own a small business still recovering from the COVID-19 induced downturn, remember that you can take advantage of FBT concessions to lower the amount of FBT you may need to pay. The concessions include exemptions for car parking in some instances, and work-related portable electronic devices.
All this could mean more cash to invest in the revitalisation and ultimate success of your business.
TIP: Even if your business was not considered a “small business entity” a few years ago, it may be worth a reassessment, because the turnover threshold has recently changed, and will soon increase once more.
For small business employers, the car parking benefits provided to employees could be exempt if the parking is not provided in a commercial car park and the business satisfies the total income or the turnover test. This is the case if the business is not a government body, listed public company or a subsidiary of a listed public company.
The second exemption relates to work-related devices. Small businesses can to provide their employees with multiple work-related portable electronic devices that have substantially identical functions in the same FBT year, with all devices being exempt from FBT. Note, however, that this only applies to devices that are primarily used for work, such as laptops, tablets, calculators, GPS navigations receivers and mobile phones.

COVID-19 and FBT: updated ATO advice

Monday, October 5th, 2020
The ATO has updated its COVID-19 and fringe benefits tax (FBT) advice, providing a useful outline of some issues that may arise due to an employer’s response to COVID-19.
TIP: Although the following summary deals with FBT specifically, it is worth thinking through the related income tax consequences. Contact us to find out more.
Working from home devices
Items provided to employees to allow them to work from home (or otherwise offsite) due to COVID-19 will usually be exempt from FBT if they are primarily used by employees for work.
Also, the minor benefits exemption or the otherwise deductible rule may apply if an employer:
• allows an employee to use a monitor, mouse or keyboard that they otherwise use in the workplace;
• provides them with stationery or computer consumables; or
• pays for their phone and internet access.
The minor benefits exemption may apply for minor, infrequent and irregular benefits under $300.
In addition, the otherwise deductible rule may allow an employer to reduce the taxable value of benefits by the amount that an employee can claim as a once-only deduction.

Garaging work cars at employees’ homes, and logbooks
Employers may have been garaging work cars at their employees’ homes due to COVID-19. There may not be an FBT liability depending on:
• the type of vehicle;
• how often the car is driven; and
• the calculation method chosen for car benefits.
Employees’ driving patterns may have changed due to the effects of COVID-19. If an employer uses the operating cost method, it may have an existing logbook. If so, the employer can still rely on this logbook to make a reasonable estimate of the business kilometres travelled. However, the employer can also choose to keep a new logbook that is representative of its business use throughout the year.
The issue of logbooks is also addressed in more detail in the COVID-19 and car fringe benefits fact sheet.
There is also a separate ATO fact sheet on these matters.
Emergency accommodation, food and transport
An employer will not have to pay FBT if it provides emergency accommodation, food, transport or other assistance to an employee where:
• the benefit is emergency assistance to provide immediate relief; and
• the employee is, or is at risk of being, adversely affected by COVID-19.
An employer will also not have to pay FBT for benefits that are considered “emergency assistance”.
Items that help protect employees from COVID-19
An employer may need to pay FBT on items it gives employees to help protect them from contracting COVID-19 while at work. These include gloves, masks, sanitisers and antibacterial spray.
The ATO says, however, that these benefits are exempt from FBT under the emergency assistance exemption if employers provide them to employees who:
• have physical contact with – or are in close proximity to – customers or clients while carrying out their duties; or
• are involved in cleaning premises.
Where employment duties are not of this kind, the minor benefits exemption may apply if an employer provides an employee with minor, infrequent and irregular benefits under the value of $300.
Emergency health care
There is a limited exemption from FBT if an employer provides emergency health care to an employee who us affected by COVID-19.
If an employer pays for its employee’s ongoing medical or hospital expenses, FBT applies. However, if an employer pays to transport an employee from the workplace to seek medical help, that cost is exempt from FBT.
Flu vaccinations for employees working from home
Providing flu vaccinations to employees is generally exempt from FBT because it is work-related preventative health care.
COVID-19 testing
COVID-19 testing also qualifies for the FBT exemption for work-related medical screening, under ceration conditions.
Cancelled events
An employer will not have to pay FBT if it is required to pay non-refundable costs for cancelled events that its employees were due to attend.
However, an employer may have to pay FBT if its employees were required to pay for their attendance at the cancelled event and the employer reimbursed them. This would be an expense payment fringe benefit – unless the otherwise deductible rule applies.

FBT: cars garaged at employees’ homes during COVID-19

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020
The ATO has published a fact sheet to assist employers in determining if they have an FBT liability where cars are garaged at employees’ homes because of COVID-19.
The fact sheet states that the ATO will accept that an employer isn’t holding a car for the purposes of providing fringe benefits where the car isn’t being driven at all, or is only being driven for maintenance purposes. Provided that the employer elects to use the operating cost method and maintains odometer records, the employer will not have an FBT liability for a car. Without electing to use the operating cost method or not having odometer records, the statutory formula method applies and an FBT liability will arise as the car garaged at the employee’s home is taken to be available for private use.
Where a home-garaged car is being driven by an employee for business purposes, the ATO says the employer may be able to reduce the taxable value of the car fringe benefit by taking into account the business use, provided the employer has logbook records and odometer records for the period in question. Logbook records will need to be for at least:
• 12 continuous weeks; or
• until the car stops being garaged at home, if this is less than 12 weeks.
The fact sheet also provides information on logbook requirements for car fringe benefits and options for employers to consider where COVID-19 has impacted driving patterns.

Do you or your business need help?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

If you or your business need help with your financial arrangements during this difficult time, we can help you to work out which of the many coronavirus (COVID-19) related payments, concessions and arrangements apply to you, and how you can best make use of them. Contact us today.

ATO coronavirus administrative support

A series of administrative measures to assist businesses experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has been announced by the ATO. These include deferring the payment date and amounts due on Business Activity Statements (BASs), income tax assessments, FBT assessments and excise by up to four months. Businesses will also be allowed to change payment and reporting cycles for GST and vary PAYG instalment amounts. Any interest or penalties applied to tax liabilities incurred after 23 January 2020 may be remitted.
The measures that will apply are similar to those for taxpayers affected by the recent Australian bushfires. However, one important point of difference is that while the bushfire measures applied automatically to particular geographical areas, assistance for those impacted by COVID-19 will not be automatically implemented. Taxpayers who have been affected will need to contact the ATO to discuss their situation in order to come up with a tailored support plan.
The ATO has also clarified that emergency accommodation, food, transport, medical or other assistance provided by employers to employees affected by COVID-19 may be exempt from FBT, depending on the circumstances. However, employers will still need to meet their ongoing super guarantee obligations for their employees. The ATO says that by law, it cannot vary the contribution due date or waive the superannuation guarantee charge where super guarantee payments are late or unpaid.

Coronavirus stimulus: what’s in it for you?

In an effort to combat the economic effects of the global coronavirus pandemic, on 12 March 2020 the Federal Government announced an economic stimulus package worth $17.6 billion, which it said is expected to provide direct support for up to 6.5 million individuals and 3.5 million businesses. The package includes business investment initiatives, cash flow assistance payments to small and medium entities (SMEs), household stimulus payments and support for impacted sectors, regions and communities, as well as tax administration relief.

Business initiatives

The instant asset write-off threshold will be increased from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanded to include access for businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020.
A time-limited 15-month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) will also be provided to support business investment by accelerating depreciation deductions.
Eligible small and medium entities will receive a Boost Cash Flow for Employers payment of up to $25,000. The tax-free payment will provide cash flow support to businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020. Businesses will receive payments of 50% of their Business Activity Statement (BAS) or Instalment Activity Statement (IAS) from 28 April 2020, with refunds to be paid within 14 days.
Eligible small businesses employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of an apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to nine months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that same apprentice.

Household stimulus for pensioners

A one-off $750 stimulus payment will be made to pensioners, social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. Payments will be made from 31 March 2020 on a progressive basis, with over 90% of payments expected to be made by mid-April. This payment will be tax-free and not count as income for social security, farm household allowance and veteran payments.

TIP: In addition to this initial $750 stimulus payment, the Government announced on 22 March that a further $750 payment will be provided (as part of a secondary stimulus package) to social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. Payments of the secondary $750 amount will be made automatically from 13 July 2020.There will be one payment per eligible recipient under the first stimulus package, and one payment under the second. If a person qualifies for either or both payments in multiple ways, they will still only receive each payment once (ie there will be a maximum of two $750 payments per eligible person).

Coronavirus stimulus: round 2

To further support businesses and workers in riding out the COVID-19 pandemic and minimise the impact on the overall economy, on 22 March 2020 the Federal Government announced a second round of stimulus measures in addition to the initial announced on 12 March. This second package includes support for individuals and households, including casual workers, sole traders, retirees and people who receive income support payments.

Business measures

Cash payments for small to medium employers

Tax-free payments of up to $100,000 (with a minimum payment of $20,000) will be available for eligible small and medium entities (SMEs) and not-for-profits that employ people and have an aggregated annual turnover under $50 million. Employers will receive a payment equal to 100% of the withholding tax liability on their salary and wages, subject to monetary limits. This payment will be available to most employers from 28 April 2020.

SME loan guarantee scheme

A Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme will be established to support SMEs in getting access to working capital. Under the scheme, the government will guarantee 50% of new loans issued by eligible lenders. The scheme is able to support $40 billion worth of lending to SMEs.

Personal measures
Increase in income support payments supplement

A new temporary “Coronavirus Supplement” of $550 per fortnight will be implemented for people receiving certain income support payments. Eligible recipients will receive the full amount of $550 on top of their payment each fortnight, effectively doubling the current payment amount. The supplement will be paid for the next six months to existing and new recipients of the various Centrelink payments including the JobSeeker Payment (formerly called Newstart Allowance), Youth Allowance Payment for job seekers, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit Payments.

Further $750 for pensioners

In addition to the initial $750 stimulus payment previously announced, a further $750 payment will be provided to social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. This does not apply to those receiving the temporary Coronavirus Supplement.

Superannuation early release

Individuals in financial distress as a result of the pandemic will be allowed to access a tax-free payment of up to $10,000 from their superannuation in 2019–2020 and a further $10,000 in 2020–2021. Eligible individuals will need to apply online to the ATO through myGov before 1 July 2020 to receive the payment for the 2019–2020 income year.

TIP: Amounts withdrawn from super in this way will not affect any Centrelink payments.

Coronavirus concessions: state governments

Some states, including New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, have followed in the Federal Government’s footsteps to provide their own stimulus and concessions for mostly small to medium businesses and in some cases to individuals and families. Most of the measures are payroll-tax-related, aimed at giving small to medium businesses a cash flow boost during this difficult time, while other measures including fee waivers, grants, relief payments and concessional loans.

ATO’s FAQ helps to clarify coronavirus impacts

The ATO’s COVID-19 frequently asked questions (FAQ) is a resource tool for people and businesses in the community who need clarifications in relation to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAQ is broken into common questions for individuals, employers, businesses (including internationals) and self managed superannuation funds (SMSFs).
Common questions centre around issues relating to the nationwide shutdown – late or deferring payment obligations; deductibles from working from home; residence status due to travel restrictions; GST and FBT impacts from cancellations; and SMSF losses and strategies.
TIP:
The ATO will update this FAQ regularly and welcomes suggestions and more questions. See www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Dealing-with-disasters/In-detail/Specific-disasters/COVID-19/.



ATO scrutiny on car parking fringe benefits

Friday, March 13th, 2020

The ATO has started contacting certain employers that provide car parking fringe benefits to their employees to ensure that all fringe benefits tax (FBT) obligations are being met. Generally, car parking fringe benefits arise where the car is parked on the business premises of the entity, used by the employee to travel between home and their primary place of employment and is parked for more than four hours between 7 am and 7 pm, and where a commercial parking station located within 1 km of the premises charges more than the car parking threshold amount.
Employers have a choice of three methods to calculate the taxable value of the benefits: the commercial parking station method, the average cost method and the market value method. The method currently under ATO scrutiny is the market value method, which states that the taxable value of a car parking benefit is the amount that the recipient could reasonably be expected to have to pay if the provider and the recipient were dealing with each other under arm’s length conditions.

FBT, taxi travel and ride sourcing – ATO clarifies

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

For businesses, taxi travel by an employee is an exempt benefit if the travel is a single trip beginning or ending at the employee’s place of work. The ATO says taxi travel can also be an exempt benefit if it is a result of sickness or injury.
For Not-For-Profits, depending on the type of NFP organization, certain benefits they provide to employees may receive concessional treatment from FBT. However, some benefits may be exempt from FBT altogether.

Fringe benefits tax: rates, thresholds and ATO focus for 2019–2020

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

The ATO has issued its annual rulings about rates and thresholds that apply for the new FBT year (1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020), including the benchmark interest rate, the cents-per-kilometre amounts for calculating the value of a fringe benefit from private use of a motor vehicle other than a car, the threshold for the FBT record-keeping exemption, state-by-state amounts for valuing housing benefits, and the weekly amounts the ATO considers reasonable for food and drink expenses incurred by employees who receiving a living-away-from-home allowance.
TIP: We can help you reduce your business’s FBT liability with useful strategies like providing employee benefits that are tax-deductible or FBT-exempt, using employee contributions or providing cash bonuses.
The ATO will focus on monitoring a range of FBT issues this year, including looking for employers who fail to report motor vehicle fringe benefits or incorrectly apply exemptions for vehicles; identifying mismatches between amounts on FBT returns and the income amounts on the employer’s tax return; looking for incorrect classifications of entertainment expenses; monitoring issues around car parking fringe benefits; and following up with taxpayers who don’t lodge FBT returns on time.

Things to get right this FBT season

Friday, April 5th, 2019

Fringe benefits tax (FBT) returns will soon be due and as always, it’s vital to make sure you use the latest rates and rely on the correct information.
FBT rates have recently been updated for the year, and a range of other factors may be need to be considered, including using the best car parking valuations, correctly identifying which travel expenses are deductible, considering how FBT applies to your arrangements with employees and independent contractors, and making sure you keep within the entertainment benefits rules. Another issue to keep an eye on is employees’ private use of work vehicles.
TIP: We can provide advice on these matters and more, and help get your FBT return lodged on time.

Issues for individuals

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

No more Budget repair levy
The Budget repair levy (2% of the part of your taxable income over $180,000) no longer applies in 2018. This means that the top marginal rate for 2018 (including the 2% Medicare levy) is 47%, as opposed to 49% in 2017. The FBT rate is also 47% for the 2018 FBT year.

Deduct work-related expenses
People overclaiming deductions for work-related expenses like vehicles, travel, internet and mobile phones and self-education are on the ATO’s hitlist this year. There are three main rules when it comes to work-related claims:
• You can only claim a deduction for money you have actually spent (and that your employer hasn’t reimbursed).
• The expense must be directly related to earning your work income.
• You must have a record to prove the expense.
Deductions are not allowed for private expenses (eg travel from home to work that’s not required to transport bulky equipment) or reimbursed expenses (eg for the cost of meals, accommodation and travel). And although you don’t need to include records like receipts with your tax return, the ATO can deny your claim – and penalties may apply – if you can’t produce the evidence when asked.
TIP: The ATO now uses real-time data to compare deductions across similar occupations and income brackets, so it can quickly identify higher-than-expected or unusual claims.

Superannuation contributions and changes
There have been a number of fundamental changes to the superannuation landscape for the 2018 income tax year, including changes to the caps for concessional contributions (now $25,000 for all taxpayers) and non-concessional contributions ($100,000, or $300,000 under the three-year bring forward rule) and the introduction of the general transfer balance cap and total super balance threshold (each currently $1.6 million).
Also from 2018, both employees and self-employed individuals can claim a tax deduction annually (maximum $25,000) for personal superannuation contributions, provided the superannuation fund has physically received the contribution by 30 June 2018 and the individual provides their superannuation fund with a “notice of intention to claim” document.


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