It’s coming up to the Christmas holiday period which means scheduling the staff Christmas party and purchasing gifts for your employees, but as we skip into the month of December, it’s important that we remember what is deductible in relation to gifts and entertainment provided and how fringe benefits tax [FBT] relates with these actions.
FBT is payable by employers on the value of certain benefits that have been provided to their employees in respect of their employment. The purpose of the legislation to ensure fair tax treatment between cash paid to employees and benefits provided to them during their employment. Fringe benefits can include but are not limited to: providing an employee a vehicle that is owned by the business to drive, providing a loan to an employee with no interest, and also functions and gifts provided to an employee at Christmas time.
Towards the end of December, many employers schedule a work breakup or event to celebrate the holidays with their employees or purchase a gift for the employees and their families. These events can include costs such as venue hire, food and alcohol purchases or booking entertainment such as a band. Are these expenses tax deductible? Is the employer entitled to claim goods and services tax [GST] back on those expenses incurred?
Generally, providing entertainment to an employee is not tax deductible unless FBT is paid. Employers cannot claim deductions for the cost of Christmas gifts purchased for employees if the gift directly provides entertainment by way of food, drink or recreation. Similarly, the expense of a staff Christmas function would not be deductible as it involves the provision of entertainment.
However, there are some exceptions. The cost of a Christmas party is tax deductible if provided on a working day on the business premises and consumed by current employees. Another exception is providing a minor benefit by ensure the cost of the Christmas party and gifts are less than $300 per employee. And when it comes to GST, the credit is available if FBT is paid or the benefit is exempt from FBT and a tax deduction can be claimed.
If you are providing more than salary and wages to an employee, now is a good time to book an appointment with one of our accountants to ensure you are not inadvertently paying more tax than necessary by providing a non-cash benefit to your employees.
Jamie Arrington – Manager