FBT on work Christmas parties and gifts

Jan 22, 2019

With Christmas fast approaching, the ATO has reminded employers and business owners about the potential FBT implications of providing office Christmas parties and gifts to employees. Whether or not the party or the gift attracts FBT depends on a number of factors including how much it cost, where the party is held, or the type of gift that is given. One of the essential things to remember is to keep good records so if you’re unsure about your FBT implications down the track an experience professional can help.

Ahead of the holiday season, the ATO has reminded employers about the potential FBT implications of providing Christmas parties and gifts. When planning Christmas parties, the ATO says employers need to check how much it will cost and where and when it is held. This is because a party held on business premises on a normal work day is treated differently to an event outside of work. The ATO said it is also necessary to keep good records and consider who is invited – is it just for employees, or are partners, clients or suppliers also invited?

The ATO noted that Christmas presents or gifts may also attract FBT, so employers should consider:

  • Ÿthe value of the gift;
  • Ÿthe type of gift (noting that gifts of wine or hampers are treated differently to gifts like tickets to a movie or sporting event); and
  • Ÿwho the gift is given to.

There are different rules depending on whether gifts are given to employees and clients or suppliers, the ATO said.

FBT exempt benefits – minor benefits

Minor fringe benefits with a taxable value (if subject to FBT) of less than $300 are (with certain exceptions) exempt benefits under s 58P of the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986. According to Ruling TR 2007/12, exempt minor benefits (which are valued at less than $300) are likely to include Christmas gifts and a Christmas party.

The ATO’s FBT guide for employers says a single gift at Christmas time to each employee of, say, a bottle of whisky or perfume would be an exempt benefit, where the value was less than the $300 threshold for exempt minor benefits. However, if the gift is provided at a Christmas party, the ATO says the gift needs to be considered separately to the Christmas party when considering the minor benefits threshold.

Need help with your FBT obligations?

The silly season is fast approaching, if you’re planning the office Christmas party of getting gifts for your employees, your business may be subject to FBT. If you’re unsure of how to manage your FBT affairs, get in touch with us today, we have the expertise to help.

Source: Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting