Are you having a staff Christmas Party? With the festive season just around the corner, the ATO has reminded employers to consider the fringe benefits tax (FBT) implications of the party or other event. So what are the FBT implications of the office Christmas party?
This will depend on a number of factors:
- The amount you spend on each employee
- When and where the event is held
- The value and type of gifts you provide; and
- Who attends – is it just employees, or are partners, clients or suppliers also invited?
It is important to keep all records relating to the entertainment-related fringe benefits you provide, including how you worked out the taxable value of benefits.
You need to be sure you really understand how FBT works, otherwise you could end up with a heft FBT liability.
Christmas parties constitute “entertainment benefits” and to the extent that the expenditure relates to employees or their associates attending the function, the expenses may be subject to fringe benefits tax (FBT) unless an exemption (eg, the “minor benefits” exemption) applies.
A minor benefit is one that is provided to an employee or their associate (eg, spouse) on an “infrequent” basis, which is not a reward for services, and at a cost less than $300 (inclusive of GST) “per benefit”.
Entertainment expenses are not tax-deductible unless they are subject to FBT. This means that expenses incurred in providing a Christmas party are not generally deductible where the minor benefit FBT exemption applies.
Non-entertainment benefits provided to employees at the Christmas party, such as a hamper, are considered separately when applying for the $300 minor benefits exemption. Although the total cost per person is more than $300, each benefit should be considered separately under the minor benefits exemption.
Tax Implications of Employee Gifts
If the business gives employees non-entertainment type gifts that cost less than $300 (inclusive of GST) per employee, then the cost is fully tax-deductible, with no FBT payable and GST credits can be claimed. The gifts at Christmas parties are usually exempt from FBT because they are not provided on a regular basis, and the gift is not provided to the employees wholly or principally as a reward for their services rendered.
Unlike non-entertainment gifts, gifts classified as entertainment, including recreation, are non-deductible and GST credits cannot be claimed. A tax deduction and GST credits can only be claimed on entertainment or recreation gifts where Fringe Benefit Tax applies. This means that while the minor and infrequent exemption could still apply for entertainment and recreation gifts costing less than $300 (GST inclusive), tax deductions and GST credits can only be claimed where FBT applies to entertainment and recreation gifts.
The costs (such as food and drink) of a Christmas party are exempt from FBT if they are provided on a working day on your business premises and consumed by current employees. If spouses or other guests of employees are entitled to attend, there could be an FBT liability unless the cost is covered by the minor benefits exemption.