A fringe benefit is something that is provided to an employee in addition to their salary or wages. Fringe benefits can help you attract, retain and motivate your employees.
If you provide your employees with benefits or lifestyle assets to use for their personal enjoyment, you should ensure that you are meeting your fringe benefit tax obligations by keeping accurate records to determine any related income tax deductions you may be able to claim.
What is Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT)?
Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) is a tax on certain non-cash employee benefits you can provide to employees, and their family or other associates. The benefit may be in addition to, or part of, their salary or wages package.
Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) is currently applied at a rate of 47% (for the 31 March 2021 FBT year) to the ‘grossed-up’ taxable value of fringe benefits and is paid by the employer.
Examples of fringe benefits
Fringe benefits can be provided in numerous ways, including but not limited to:
- Personal use of a company car
- Car parking, maintenance expenses
- Low interest loans used for personal purposes
- Gym or health memberships
- Entertainment and recreational expenses e.g. concert tickets, cinema tickets, free/discounted food, accommodation
- Electronic devices and tools
- Payment of personal expenses (e.g. school fees)
- Private health insurance
- Shares or bonds
- Residential leases
Examples of FBT exempt benefits
Not all benefits will incur an FBT liability – many common fringe benefits are specifically exempted from fringe benefit tax. This includes essential work-related items that are primarily used for work.
Exempt benefits are not only exempt from FBT, they are also (with one exception noted below) exempt from income tax if provided to employees.
Examples of exempt benefits include:
- Personal use of a company care if it is used for travel between home and work or during work hours
- Car expenses for an employee’s car based on kilometres travelled (this is the only exempt benefit that counts as assessable income in the hands of the employee)
- On-premises recreational or child care facilities
When to report fringe benefits
You need to report the fringe benefits you provide to your employees if the total taxable value in an FBT year (1 April to 31 March) exceeds $2,000.
The due dates for lodgement of FBT returns for tax agents are:
- 21 May if the return is lodged by paper
- 25 June if the return is lodged electronically
Be aware of changes to fringe benefits.
There are regular changes to fringe benefits and how they’re reported, so it’s important to stay updated. Be sure to check the current rates and rules on the ATO’s website.
How to register for fringe benefit tax
Unlike other taxes which are based on the financial year (1 July to 30 June), FBT has its own calendar that runs from 1 April to 31 March. This means you need to register for FBT and lodge a FBT return with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), separate from your annual business tax returns.
You have to register as an FBT organisation first before you get started on your FBT return. Here are the ways you can register:
- Online if you have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
- By phone on 13 72 26
- By mail using a physical application
- Or through a registered tax agent and business tax accountant
Like your main business tax return, any years where you don’t lodge, you’ll still need to submit a notice of non-lodgement.
How to lodge your FBT return
You must assess your liability for fringe benefits tax (FBT) annually. The FBT year runs from 1 April to 31 March.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the due date to lodge your 2020 FBT return and pay any associated liability for self-preparers and tax agent paper lodgments has been deferred from 21 May 2020 to 25 June 2020.
The FBT liability payment due date for 2020 FBT returns lodged electronically under a tax agent lodgment program has also been deferred from 28 May 2020 to 25 June 2020.
You can lodge your FBT return either:
- electronically using Standard Business Reporting (SBR)-enabled software
- through your tax agent
- by post – send your completed FBT return to the ATO GPO Box
Need help lodging your FBT return?
As well as helping you determine your FBT liability and lodging your return, we can help you reduce your FBT footprint by reviewing your strategy for recognising and rewarding your employees with fringe benefits.
Get in touch with us today or give us a call by clicking the button below.