27 May

Budget taking away some of your hard earned cash?

If you’re a self employed Pty Ltd owner of a salary packaged company employee, Novated Leasing  your second family car can be the way to improve your family budget.

Explained simply, a Novated Lease is a way for an employee to buy a new or used car and have their employer make the repayment for that car to an agreed financial supplier. This is done by the employer agreeing to make the repayments from the employee's pre-tax salary in a salary sacrifice arrangement which, like any such arrangement, reduces the employee's taxable income. The terms of the lease repayments are calculated according to the employee's earnings and the amount salary sacrificed.

In the event that employment ceases, the obligations and rights under the lease revert to the (former) employee. This can suit the person involved, as they keep the car (and there are no tax consequences), but can also suit the employer as they are not saddled with an extra vehicle or a financial commitment for it.

During the period of the novated lease, the employer is entitled to a deduction for lease expenses where the car is provided as part of a salary sacrifice arrangement. But it does give rise to a car benefit under fringe benefits tax (FBT) rules.

Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT)
A car provided by novated lease is considered a fringe benefit to an employee, and gives rise to an FBT liability for the employer.

A basic principle of salary sacrifice arrangements is that an employer is no better or worse off from having offered an employee a form of remuneration other than straight salary.

However as the leased car gives rise to an FBT liability, and as FBT is an employer's obligation, it is generally the case that any FBT amount arising as a result of the novated lease is charged to the employee's salary package. The employer then remits the FBT to the Tax Office as required under the fringe benefits rules.

The value of the car benefit (on which the amount of FBT is based) is taken on the actual purchase price of the car. Working out its taxable value for FBT can be done using two methods – the 'statutory percentage' method (the most commonly used), or the 'operating costs' method.

The latter requires working out the total operating costs of the car (fuel, oil, servicing, etc) and reducing that total amount by the portion of private kilometres travelled (which attracts FBT) as compared to the total kilometres. It is most often used where business kilometres travelled are high, but is more complicated and requires more records (log books) to be kept and calculations to be made.

With the 'statutory percentage' method, the amount of FBT levied is taken as a percentage rate of the total number of kilometres travelled during the year (both business and private), which the Tax Office has divided into different 'bands' of kilometres (see tables below).

Distance travelled
during FBT year
May 10, 2011
April 1, 2012
April 1, 2013
April 1, 2014
0 - 14,999km 20% 20% 20% 20%
15,000 - 24,999km 20% 20% 20% 20%
25,000 - 39,999km 14% 17% 20% 20%
More than 40,000km 10% 13% 17% 20%

Post-tax contributions to reduce FBT for employees

The tax liability that arises from the fringe benefit of salary packaging a car through a novated lease can be reduced by the employee making contributions towards, say, the running costs of the car from after-tax dollars.

It is important that these contributions come from after-tax salary, as every dollar so contributed reduces the FBT liability dollar-for-dollar up to the total amount of FBT payable. The maximum amount able to be contributed each year is equal to the statutory percentage of the vehicle's taxable value.

By an employee doing this, rather than paying the FBT tax rate, which is 46.5%, they will be paying their own marginal rate which for many would be much less than that. The difference between the taxable value and the total cost of the benefit will not be subject to FBT or income tax.
Novated car lease employer outcomes:

  • An employer will need to agree to the salary sacrifice arrangement that allows a staff member to obtain a vehicle through a novated lease
  • The employer makes lease repayments to the finance supplier on behalf of the employee from their pre-tax salary
  • Being a fringe benefit, the arrangement gives rise to an FBT liability, which the employer pays
  • The amount of the FBT liability is added to the sacrificed salary amount (that is, making a nil dollar consequence for the employer)
  • Expenses incurred in arranging and maintaining the lease (not the lease repayments) are tax deductible for the employer for the period the lease is active
  • The end of the employment relationship also ends the repayment commitment, as lease obligations revert to the (former) employee
  • When you lease the vehicle from the finance company, you can claim a GST credit for the GST included in the lease charges. However you generally can't claim GST credits if you make input taxed supplies.

Employee outcomes:

  • Salary sacrificing reduces one's taxable income, as the amount is assigned from pre-tax salary
  • The vehicle is of the employee's choice, and exclusive use and ownership
  • As the car is a fringe benefit, FBT must be paid. The employer is liable for this payment, however the amount due is added to the salary sacrificed amount
  • FBT is based on the purchase price of the vehicle, and is calculated using a rate determined by the kilometres travelled over a year
  • Making post-tax contributions to the costs of owning the vehicle can reduce the FBT liability by the same amount contributed, up to the statutory percentage of the vehicle's taxable value. This can reduce total tax paid if the employee's tax rate is less than the FBT rate of 46.5%.


Extracts taken from

http://www.taxpayer.com.au/article/10209/Novated-leases-and-FBT explained

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