The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and State Revenues have been putting forward various fiscal measures to help relieve the tax challenges faced by businesses and employees as they confront a growing COVID-19 outbreak in the country and abroad. While currently there is no automatic Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) deferral in Australia, the ATO has indicated it will consider requests of payment deferral of up to six months. Moreover, the ATO is also providing pragmatic guidance on FBT.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and State Revenues have been putting forward various fiscal measures to help relieve the tax challenges faced by businesses and employees as they confront a growing COVID-19 outbreak in the country and abroad. While currently there is no automatic Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) deferral in Australia, the ATO has indicated it will consider requests of payment deferral of up to six months.1
Referring to a FAQ on the ATO’s website, the ATO is also providing pragmatic guidance on FBT technical matters during the COVID-19 crisis where employers may be providing non-cash benefits to employees (this includes outlining a range of exemptions and concessions which may apply).”2
Employers are looking to support their employees working under conditions that are not routine. The ATO’s pragmatic guidance is welcome in that it should help ensure employers are able to take steps to help contain associated FBT costs.
The ATO has updated its website on COVID-19 issues and has provided a FAQ in relation to various issues including the following FBT matters:
1 Confirmed the emergency assistance exemption can apply to emergency accommodation, food, transport, or other assistance provided to an employee affected by COVID-19, if the employee has been located in a high-risk area and has been relocated or otherwise required to self-isolate.
2 Confirmed FBT will apply to employers who pay for their employees’ ongoing medical or hospital expenses. However, the cost of transporting an employee from his or her workplace to seek medical assistance is exempt from FBT.
3 Confirmed work-related item exemption can apply to a laptop, portable printer, or other portable electronic devices provided to an employee to enable him or her to work from home or from another location, if they are used primarily for purposes of the employee’s employment.
There are a number of different questions being asked by employers who have employees working in locations that may not have been contemplated (e.g., internationally, interstate, or working from home).3 We have outlined below some FAQs from employers.
1 For ATO news releases concerning 2020 employer FBT obligations, see the “What’s New” section of the ATO website at: https://www.ato.gov.au/Whats-new.aspx?marketsegment=Entire%20Website.
2 See “COVID-19 frequently asked questions” at: https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Dealing-with-disasters/In-detail/Specific-disasters/COVID-19/?anchor=COVID19frequentlyaskedquestions.
3 See: https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Dealing-with-disasters/In-detail/Specific-disasters/COVID-19/?anchor=COVID19frequentlyaskedquestions#Businesses.
The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in Australia.
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