ATO Interpretative Decision

ATO ID 2001/543

Fringe Benefits Tax

FBT: Exempt Benefits - Work-related Counselling
FOI status: may be released
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Status of this decision: Decision Current
CAUTION: This is an edited and summarised record of a Tax Office decision. This record is not published as a form of advice. It is being made available for your inspection to meet FOI requirements, because it may be used by an officer in making another decision.

This ATOID provides you with the following level of protection:

If you reasonably apply this decision in good faith to your own circumstances (which are not materially different from those described in the decision), and the decision is later found to be incorrect you will not be liable to pay any penalty or interest. However, you will be required to pay any underpaid tax (or repay any over-claimed credit, grant or benefit), provided the time limits under the law allow it. If you do intend to apply this decision to your own circumstances, you will need to ensure that the relevant provisions referred to in the decision have not been amended or repealed. You may wish to obtain further advice from the Tax Office or from a professional adviser.


Is the quit-smoking program in the nature of work-related counselling and thus an exempt benefit under section 58M of the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986 (FBTAA)?


Yes. The quit-smoking program is in the nature of work-related counselling and as such is an exempt benefit under section 58M of the FBTAA.


An employee attends a structured quit-smoking program which provides counselling services to assist the employee to stop the habit of cigarette smoking.

The employer has a non-smoking policy for the workplace. Smoking in the workplace is considered a health hazard for employees and is therefore an occupational health and safety issue. The non-smoking policy is devised to improve or maintain the quality of the employee's performance at work. The reason for the attendance of the employee at a quit-smoking program is to improve or maintain the employee's health.

As part of the employer's non-smoking policy, the employer will assist employees to quit smoking by reimbursing all or part of the program fees for any employee who can remain a successful non-smoker for at least three months after completing the program.

The benefit which is available to any employee is not part of any salary packaging arrangement and is not provided as a reward for services rendered or to be rendered by the employee.

Reasons for Decision

The reimbursement of all or part of the program fee by the employer to the employee is an expense payment benefit as defined in section 20 of the FBTAA. If the expense payment benefit is one where the employee's expenditure was for "work-related counselling", then the expense payment benefit will be an exempt benefit under section 58M of the FBTAA.

In order to fall within the definition of "work-related counselling" under subsection 136(1) of the FBTAA, a number of conditions must be met.

The employee has attended the quit-smoking counselling session as required under paragraph 136(1)(a) of the FBTAA.

The employee's attendance at the quit-smoking counselling session forms part of the employer's non-smoking policy which is devised to improve or maintain the quality of the performance of its employees' duties as required under paragraph 136(1)(c) of the FBTAA.

The quit-smoking counselling session relates to health matters as required under paragraph 136(1)(d) of the FBTAA.

The expense payment benefit is not provided wholly or principally as a reward for services rendered or to be rendered by the employee as required under paragraph 136(1)(e) of the FBTAA.

Amendment History

Date of Amendment Part Comment
27 October 2017 All Changed spelling to program
13 February 2015 All Updated for clarity.

Date of decision:  17 September 2001

Year of income:  Year ending 31 March 2002 Year ending 31 March 2003 Year ending 31 March 2004

Legislative References:
Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986
   section 20
   section 58M
   subsection 136(1)
   paragraph 136(1)(a)
   paragraph 136(1)(c)
   paragraph 136(1)(d)
   paragraph 136(1)(e)

Related Public Rulings (including Determinations)
TD 93/153

Other References:
National Taxation Liaison Group FBT Sub-Committee - Minutes of Meeting 22 February 2001

Expense payment fringe benefits
Exempt benefits
Fringe benefits tax
Fringe benefits
FBT reimbursements
FBT salary sacrifice
FBT work related counselling

Siebel/TDMS Reference Number:  DW264496; 1-CT5YLJE

Business Line:  Private Groups and High Wealth Individuals

Date of publication:  26 October 2001
Date reviewed:  23 October 2017

ISSN: 1445-2782

  Date: Version:
  17 September 2001 Original statement
  13 February 2015 Updated statement
You are here 27 October 2017 Updated statement