05 May 2015

Do you receive salary packaging? You need to read this:

In last year’s Budget, the Government introduced a 2% ‘debt tax’ on high income earners – the temporary budget repair levy.

If you earn less than $180,000 you might be thinking that won’t affect you. But a number of other tax changes bundled with the debt tax could impact the attractiveness of your salary packaging arrangements.

Here’s the deal: To prevent high income earners planning around the debt tax, the Government increased the Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) rate from 47% to 49% from 1 April 2015 – bringing it in line with the top marginal tax rate.

Like the debt tax, it’s a temporary change and will reduce again in two years.

The gross up rate for reportable fringe benefits also increased from 1 April 2015 – 2.1463 for type 1 and 1.9608 for type 2 (type 2 is used for employee payment summaries).

So what does all this mean?

In general, the FBT rate change will make providing employee benefits more expensive and potentially less attractive over the next few years.

For those with salary packaging arrangements in place, it is important to review the details of those arrangements and ensure that they still achieve the intended goals.

For employers, you need to review all salary packaging arrangements and any expenses where you have a large FBT exposure.

For employees, it’s essential to understand how these rate changes impact on you.  Changes to income and fringe benefits tax over the years have made salary packaging less effective in general and in some scenarios, you might be worse off.

Employers may also seek to pass on the FBT rate increase which will increase the amount you are sacrificing and reduce the effectiveness of the packaging.

If you receive family tax benefits or other assistance payments from the Government, it’s essential to review salary packaging arrangements as the changes may have a direct impact on any benefits you receive.

This is because fringe benefits reported on your payment summary are taken into account for a number of family benefit income tests.

The FBT gross up rate used to calculate these reportable fringe benefits has increased and as a result, the reportable fringe benefits on your payment summary will also increase.

The FBT rate change will generally not affect not-for-profit entities and other tax exempt entities because the annual maximum value of the capped FBT exemption has also gone up – so employees of these entities should be no worse off than before the FBT rate change.

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