Utilising The Fringe Benefits Tax For Company Fleets
There is a lot to know about the Australian Government Fringe Benefits Tax.
What exactly is the Fringe Benefits Tax? How can I make FBT reporting easier to manage? Can an app or GPS tracking system manage my FBT logbook?
We'll guide you through exactly what you need to know to ensure your claiming correctly this financial year to ensure your get every dollar your owed.
Firstly, What exactly is the Fringe Benefits Tax?
As stated on the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website, the Fringe Benefits Tax is defined as the following;
Employers may be providing a car fringe benefit if they make available a car they own or lease to an employee for their private use.
For fringe benefits tax (FBT) purposes, a car is any of the following:
Further defined, the term 'Private Use' is interpreted as the following:
A car is taken to be available for the private use of an employee on any day they or their associates use it, or are allowed to use it, for private purposes.
If a car is garaged at or near the employee's home, even if only for security reasons, it is taken to be available for their private use regardless of whether or not they have permission to use the car privately.
Similarly, where the place of employment and residence are the same, the car is taken to be available for the private use of the employee.
Generally, travel to and from work is the private use of a vehicle.
How Can I Make FBT Reporting Easier To Manage?
One method to make FBT reporting easier to manage, is allowing employees to use their own vehicles and claim travel-related expenses.
These travel-related expenses are generally claimed at a rate per kilometer traveled for business purposes.
This method is generally not economical for organisations, especially where employees require frequent use of vehicles to perform their duties.
Example: Sales and Service staff.
Some organisations provide general use of pool cars, where staff come to the office each day using their own method of transport and use a company pool car during the course of the day to conduct their activities.
This may not be the optimum solution for sales and service staff, as additional productivity may be gained each day by starting and finishing work from home rather than traveling to and from the office each day.
Another method to reduce the FBT administrative reporting burden is for organisations electing to use the statutory method and pay the FBT on 20 percent of the purchase value of the motor vehicle. However, this method may not be the optimum in minimising FBT obligations.
Therefore, for best practice the 'logbook method' which determines the amount of tax payable based on the percentage of private use of the motor vehicle. However, this will require an administrative application from on-field staff, admin staff and the organisation in general.
As a result, many companies are turning to GPS telematics to keep track of business and private use of motor vehicles to substantiate their claims for Fringe Benefits Tax.
What Apps or Tracking Devices can help manage FBT logbooks?
There are many apps and GPS Tracking systems available on the market claiming to be the perfect FBT Electronic Logbook Solution, but most are simple journey recording devices and still require substantial effort and administration in preparing FBT substantiation documentation.
These range from simple apps that will ask drivers to record the start, end and purposes of their journeys. The app then calculates the distance traveled using GPS tracking.
>Some of these apps are a little more advanced and have the ability to record the Make, Model, Year, Number Plate of the vehicle along with the starting odometer value.
In essence, these apps are great, but experience tells us that drivers will quickly forget to enter the trip details for each journey.
At other times the employee may be ridesharing or on public transport and the app will assume they are driving a company vehicle. As you can see it gets very messy and inaccurate very easily
There are many plug and play cigarette lighter type GPS tracking devices purporting to be FBT logbooks.
These too have similar issues, as they are not matched with drivers or vehicles and can be easily unplugged from the cigarette lighter socket causing inaccurate data. These devices do not work well in pool cars or vehicles driven by multiple staff.
In addition, FBT legislation requires a business trip to be recorded with the purpose of the business trip as a description.
Basic GPS Tracking trip recorders are unable to do this.
The optimum FBT Electronic Logbook Solution should provide the following functionality :
A method for recording who is driving the vehicle. Generally, a Driver RFID Wave & Go card or keyring is the most convenient.
The GPS Tracking device should sound a buzzer or prevent the vehicle from starting until a Driver ID is presented to ensure driver data is always captured for each trip.
A method for recording the purpose of the trip. For example Private use or Business use, and if Business use is selected, a method for entering the purpose of the business use trip.
This is generally achieved using a terminal, app, or keyboard which is interfaced with the GPS Telematics/Tracking Device.
A method allowing drivers to enter trip purpose "post-trip", to correct trip purpose "post-trip" or to change trip purpose during a trip.
The solution should also record the office locations of the organisation and determine in the FBT reporting "Days available for private use" based on the vehicle being garaged or stored overnight (or outside working hours) away from any office location.
It is always important to ensure that the chosen solution has a tax office class ruling and data is accepted by the tax office when substantiating claims for FBT.
If you are looking for more relevant Fringe Benefit Tax information, view our FBT range here