There has been a significant increase in work-related items being provided as a greater number of employees worked from home during 2020–21. Below we look into the FBT Impact on working from home and cars.
Working from home
Certain work-related items in the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986 (FBTAA) are exempt. This specific list of items includes laptops, portable printers and other portable electronic devices. The item must be used primarily by the employee for work and cannot be a duplicate of something with substantially the same function, unless it is a replacement item.
In the context of small business entities there is an exemption that allows multiple portable electronic devices. From 1 April 2021, this includes businesses with aggregated annual turnovers of less $50 million.
Cars: garaging at business premises
A car fringe benefit is provided if a car is made available to an employee for their private use. There is no car fringe benefit where a car is not applied for an employee’s private use or taken to be available for an employee’s private use.
During a period of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the ATO accepts that a car provided to an employee is not taken to be available for an employee’s private use if all the following apply:
- the car is returned to the business premises
- the employee cannot gain access to the car, and
- the employee has relinquished an entitlement to use the car for private purposes.
The ATO adopted this position in the context of COVID-19. The outcome may be different outside of pandemic conditions.
Cars: garaging work cars at an employee’s home
Generally, if a car is garaged at, or near the employee’s home it is taken to be available for private use, whether or not the employee has permission to use the car for private purposes. FBT liability will then depend on the type of car, how often it is driven and the calculation method that is used for the car.
A logbook is required to access the operating cost method. It may be a logbook year for a number of reasons, eg if an employer has not had one for at least the last 4 years or they may never have had one. If a logbook has not been previously maintained for the year, one must be kept for at least 12 continuous weeks within the FBT year or until the car stops being garaged at home, if this is less than 12 weeks.
The ATO has published a fact sheet, COVID-19 and car fringe benefits, with more detailed information.
There are many other FBT liabilites. Please contact your Client Service Manager for more information.