Christmas Parties, Employee + Client Gifts and FBT

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The tax outcomes for client gifts, employee gifts and Christmas parties are so complicated and confusing. We’ve simplified things for you below.

Client gifts

At this time of the year it is common to provide gifts to existing clients and customers as a thank you for their business.

As the gift is an expense to your business, it is generally considered to be a tax deduction. The ATO has considered the act of gift making to clients, and several cases exist where the tax treatment has been tested in the courts. If there is an expectation that the gift will either generate future business from the client or motivate them to refer your services to others, it is considered that the expense of the gift was in the nature of business promotion and is a tax deduction.

It should be noted that the gift does not constitute the provision of entertainment which is a non-taxable deduction.

Christmas parties for your team

This is where it starts to get complicated.

The ATO’s view is that the cost of a Christmas party is tax deductible only to the extent that it is subject to FBT. As a result, Christmas party costs that are exempt from FBT (where the costs relate to exempt minor benefits and exempt property benefits) cannot be claimed as a tax deduction.

If you are not a tax-exempt organisation and do not use the 50-50 split method for meal entertainment, the following explanations may help you determine whether there are FBT implications arising from a Christmas party.

Exempt Property Benefits. The costs (such as food and drink) associated with Christmas parties are exempt from FBT if they are provided on a working day, on your business premises and consumed by current employees. These costs are known as an “Exempt Property Benefit”. The property benefit exemption is only available for employees, not family members.

Exempt Benefits – Minor Benefits. The provision of a Christmas party to an employee may be a minor benefit and exempt if the cost of the party is less than $300 per employee and certain conditions are met. The benefit provided to an associate of the employee may also be a minor benefit and exempt if the cost of the party for each associate of an employee is less than $300. The threshold of less than $300 applies to each benefit provided, not to the total value of all associated benefits.

Gifts provided to employees at a Christmas party. The giving of a gift to an employee at Christmas time may be a minor benefit that is an “exempt benefit” where the value of the gift is less than $300.

Where a Christmas gift is provided to an employee at a Christmas party, the benefits are associated benefits, but each benefit needs to be considered separately to determine if they are less than $300 in value. If both the Christmas party and the gift are less than $300 in value each and the other conditions of a minor benefit are met, they will both be exempt benefits.

If you are unsure about the FBT implications of your Christmas party or gifts, please contact our expert Accountants today, and they can assist you!

This document contains general advice only and is prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial circumstances and needs. The information provided is not a substitute for legal, tax and financial product advice. Before making any decision based on this information, you should speak to a licensed financial advisor who should assess its relevance to your individual circumstances.  While The Field Group believes the information is accurate, no warranty is given as to its accuracy and persons who rely on this information do so at their own risk. The information provided in this bulletin is not considered financial product advice for the purposes of the corporations Act 2001.

About the author

The Field Group is composed of experts in the fields of Xero accounting, personal tax, self-managed superannuation, audit services, business services, bookkeeping, bench marking, business structuring and ATO Compliance. Based in Melbourne, The Field Group are also able to work with clients all over Australia and are the market leader for accounting services in the Ringwood, Croydon, Chirnside Park, Lilydale and general Melbourne eastern suburb region.

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