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Christmas Parties Chaos… Will you be charged FBT?

David Armstrong
Published by:
David Armstrong
Published on:
December 23, 2019
Modoras Accounting (SYD) Pty Ltd ABN 18 622 475 521
Christmas Party FBT

With the festive season upon us, many employers will be planning to reward staff for their efforts this year. Food, drinks, gifts… How do you know if you will be charged fringe benefits tax (FBT)? And how can you reduce the FBT you pay?

What is Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT)?

Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) is a tax payable by you on any benefits you have paid to employees in place of salary or wages. Fringe Benefits can be a useful way of attracting and retaining quality staff as they are perceived as a non-cash incentive or as a salary packaging option.

Fringe benefits include any rights, privileges or services provided to current, former or future employees or directors of a business. Common benefits include; utilisation of work vehicles for private purposes; low or no interest loans, school fees, health insurance, gym memberships and entertainment such as food, drink or recreation.

FBT was created when the government realised that employers were being creative when paying benefits instead of salary. The most common fringe benefit is for vehicles where the employer picks up the cost of the car and provides the car for their employees’ use.

When will FBT apply?

FBT may apply to entertainment provided to employees (and their family) and non-employees (eg. clients).

How is FBT Calculated?

Under the FBT act, there are 3 methods of calculating what is payable:

  1. Actual;
  2. 50/50; and
  3. The 12-week method.

The most popular methods currently in use are Actual and the 50/50 methods.

We take a look at each one in detail here:

RELATED POST: How is FBT Calculated?

The Minor Benefit Exemption

When taking a look at the calculation methods in action, it is important to consider the Minor Benefit exemption. A benefit is considered minor if the value of the entertainment or gift is less than $300. In this instance, the benefit is exempt from fringe benefits tax if it would be reasonable to consider the event or gift as a fringe benefit. That is if:

  • the benefit is provided irregularly
  • the taxable value of the minor benefit is low
  • it is difficult to calculate the taxable value of the benefit and any associated benefits
  • the benefit is provided as a result of a contingency (for example, unexpected overtime).

Let’s take a look at both of the most popular methods in action

Example 1: A Christmas Party

The situation:

An employer holds a Christmas party for its employees and their spouses. There are 40 attendees at the event and the cost of food and drink per person is $250. There were no gifts provided.

Actual Method:

There will be no FBT payable for all 40 employees and their spouses by applying the minor benefit exemption. (Click here to read more about the minor benefit exemption) The party is also not tax-deductible.

The 50/50 Method:

The total cost of the event is $10,000, so $5,000 (50%) will be applied for FBT. This amount will also be tax-deductible.

Example 2: Christmas Gifts

The situation:

An employer gives a gift at Christmas.

Gifts for employees:

Gifts to employees and their family members are liable for FBT. Unless the gift is valued less than $300 by using the minor benefit exemption. The expense is tax-deductible.

Gifts for clients:

Gift to clients and suppliers, etc have no FBT but are tax-deductible.

Example 3: A Christmas Party and a Gift

The situation:

An employer holds a Christmas party for its employees and their spouses. The food and drinks cost $260 per person. The employer also provides employees a gift valued at $150.

Actual Method:

There will be no FBT payable as the cost of each separate item (the party and the gift respectively) is less than $300 each (the benefits are not aggregated). A tax deduction will not be applied to the cost of the food and drink. However, the cost of the gift will be tax-deductible.

The 50/50 Method:

50% of the total cost of both food and drinks will have FBT applied. Party expenses will also be tax-deductible. The total cost of the gifts is not liable for FBT as the individual cost of each gift is less than $300. Gift expenses is tax-deductible.

The calculations for establishing the FBT amounts can be quite complicated, depending on the type of benefit and whether it includes GST or not. At Modoras we make the process simple and calculate this for you.

To arrange a discussion to talk about your Fringe Benefits Tax options and obligations, contact our team today for an obligation-free consultation.

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This blog has been prepared by Modoras Accounting (SYD) Pty Ltd ABN 18 622 475 521. The information and opinions contained in this blog is general information only and is not intended to represent specific personal advice (Accounting, taxation, financial, insurance or credit). No individuals’ personal circumstances have been taken into consideration for the preparation of this material. The information and opinions herein do not constitute any recommendation to purchase, sell or hold any particular financial product. Modoras Accounting (SYD) Pty. Ltd. recommends that no financial product or financial service be acquired or disposed of or financial strategy adopted without you first obtaining professional personal financial advice suitable and appropriate to your own personal needs, objectives, goals and circumstances. Information, forecasts and opinions contained in this blog can change without notice. Modoras Accounting (SYD) Pty. Ltd. does not guarantee the accuracy of the information at any particular time. Although care has been exercised in compiling the information contained within, Modoras Accounting (SYD) Pty. Ltd. does not warrant that the articles within are free from errors, inaccuracies or omissions. To the extent permissible by law, neither Modoras Accounting (SYD) Pty. Ltd. nor its employees, representatives or agents (including associated and affiliated companies) accept liability for loss or damages incurred as a result of a person acting in reliance of this publication. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

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