Fringe benefits tax - a guide for employers

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Chapter 8 - Loan and debt waiver fringe benefits

Remember, a fringe benefit may be provided by another person on behalf of an employer. It may also be provided to another person on behalf of an employee (for example, a relative).

8.1 What is a debt waiver fringe benefit?

A debt waiver fringe benefit arises where you (the employer) waive or goods to an employee and later tell them not to bother about paying the invoiced amount, you have provided a debt waiver fringe benefit.

A debt owed by an employee that is written off as a genuine bad debt is not a debt waiver fringe benefit.

8.2 Taxable value of debt waiver fringe benefits

The taxable value of a debt waiver fringe benefit is the amount of the debt that is released. For example, if you release an employee from an obligation to repay a loan of $1,000, the taxable value of the debt waiver fringe benefit is $1,000. Where the amount you waive includes an amount of principal and accrued interest (for example, $1,000 principal and $100 interest), the taxable value of the debt waiver fringe benefit is the total amount waived - that is, $1,100 in this example.

Goods and services tax (GST) does not affect the taxable value of debt waiver fringe benefits, so these benefits are always grossed up at the type   2 rate. For more on GST and fringe benefits tax (FBT), refer to What is fringe benefits tax?

8.3 What is a loan fringe benefit?

A loan fringe benefit arises where you provide a loan to an employee and charge a low rate of interest (or no interest) during the FBT year. A low rate of interest is one that is less than the statutory rate of interest (also known as the benchmark interest rate).

The use of the term 'loan' is quite broad. For example, if an employee due, the unpaid amount is treated as a loan to the employee. Such a loan commences immediately after the due date, at the rate of interest (if any) that accrues on the unpaid amount. If you later decide to recover the debt, a loan benefit continues to arise provided the employee is still obliged to repay the outstanding amount.

Where you make a loan to an employee under terms that allow for interest payments to be made less frequently than every six months, you are treated at the end of each six months as having separately loaned, at a nil rate of interest, any unpaid amount of interest. The period of the deemed loan is from the end of the six months until the interest is paid or becomes payable.

Where you release an employee from the obligation to repay the loan, a debt waiver fringe benefit arises (refer to section   8.1 ).

8.4 Statutory interest rate

The statutory interest rate is set by reference to the standard variable rate for owner-occupied housing loans of the major banks that the Reserve Bank of Australia published most recently before the beginning of the FBT year. This statutory rate is the basis for calculating fringe benefit values for all types of loans you provide, whether interest-free or at low interest. The statutory interest rate may differ for housing loans made to employees before 3   April 1986, or for loans bearing a fixed interest rate taken out before 1   July 1986.

The statutory interest rate for the following year is announced in a taxation determination, usually published in April. The statutory interest rate for the year commencing 1   April 2010 is   6.65%.

Following is a list of statutory interest rates:

Period during which loan was made

Date on which period commenced

Date on which period ended

Interest rate

(% per annum)

1   January 1946

1   August 1952

3.875

2   August 1952

31   March 1956

4.5

1   April 1956

28   February 1961

5.0

1   March 1961

10   April 1963

5.25

11   April 1963

31   March 1965

4.75

1   April 1965

31   July 1968

5.0

1   August 1968

31   March 1970

5.5

1   April 1970

30   September 1973

6.25

1   October 1973

13   September 1974

7.25

14   September 1974

28   February 1978

9.25

1   March 1978

31   March 1980

8.75

1   April 1980

31   July 1980

9.25

1   August 1980

31   December 1980

9.75

1   January 1981

31   August 1981

10.75

1   September 1981

31   March 1982

11.75

1   April 1982

31   January 1983

12.75

1   February 1983

30   September 1983

12.50

1   October 1983

30   November 1983

12.00

1   December 1983

15   April 1985

11.50

16   April 1985

14   July 1985

12.00

15   July 1985

30   September 1985

12.50

1   October 1985

6   April 1986

13.50

7   April 1986

30   June 1986

14.75

Period during which loan was made

Date on which period commenced

Interest rate

(% per annum)

1   April 1986

14.75

1   April 1987

14.75

1   April 1988

12.75

1   April 1989

14.25

1   April 1990

14.90

1   April 1991

13.50

1   April 1992

9.25

1   April 1993

7.25

1   April 1994

8.75

1   April 1995

10.50

1   April 1996

10.50

1   April 1997

7.55

1   April 1998

6.70

1   April 1999

6.50

1   April 2000

7.30

1   April 2001

7.55

1   April 2002

6.05

1   April 2003

6.55

1   April 2004

7.05

1   April 2005

7.05

1   April 2006

7.30

1   April 2007

8.05

1   April 2008

9.00

1   April 2009

5.85

1   April 2010

6.65

1   April 2011

7.80

1   April 2012

7.40

8.5 Taxable value of loan fringe benefits

The taxable value of a loan fringe benefit is the difference between:

  • the interest that would have accrued during the FBT year if the statutory interest rate had applied to the outstanding daily balance of the loan, and
  • any interest that actually accrued.

GST does not affect the taxable value of loan fringe benefits, so these benefits are always grossed up at the type   2 rate. For more on GST and FBT, refer to What is fringe benefits tax?

Example:

On 1   April 2008, an employee was given a $50,000 loan at an annual interest rate of 5% (payable six-monthly). No repayments of principal were required during the next 12   months. The statutory interest rate is   9.00%.

The notional interest on such a loan would be $4,500 ($50,000   x   9.00%).

The actual interest for the 2008-09 FBT year would be $2,500 ($50,000   x   5%). The difference of $2,000 ($4,500   -   $2,500) would be the taxable value of the loan fringe benefit.

8.6 Fixed interest loans made before 1 July 1986

For this purpose, a fixed interest loan is one where the rate of interest can't be varied and that rate is specified in a document that existed at the time the loan was made.

Where a fixed interest loan was made before 1   July 1986, the statutory interest rate is the lesser of:

  • the statutory interest rate that applies generally for the FBT year in which the value of the benefit is being determined, or
  • the statutory interest rate specified in the table in section   8.4 as applying when the loan was taken out.

8.7 Housing loans made before 3 April 1986

The statutory interest rate for housing loans made before 3   April 1986 (other than fixed interest loans) is the lesser of:

  • the statutory interest rate that applies generally for the FBT year in which the value of the benefit is being determined, or
  • 13.5%.

So the maximum statutory interest rate for such loans is 13.5%.

8.8 Reduction in taxable value where interest would have been deductible to employee

The taxable value of a loan fringe benefit may be reduced in accordance with the 'otherwise deductible' rule, but only if the recipient of the benefit is the employee (that is, a loan provided to an associate is not eligible for this reduction). Broadly, this means that the taxable value may be reduced to the extent to which interest payable on the loan is, or would be, allowable as an income tax deduction to the employee. For example, if an employee were to use a loan from you wholly to purchase wholly deductible for income tax purposes. So under the otherwise deductible rule, the taxable value of this loan fringe benefit would be nil, regardless of whether you charged a low, or even a nil, rate of interest on the loan.

Special rules apply where the interest that would have been deductible to the employee is incurred in relation to a car (refer to section   8.10 ).

Applying the otherwise deductible rule produces different results depending on whether any interest charged was intended to be for any private element of the loan fringe benefit. This is because the employee is entitled to an income tax deduction for interest charged on the portion of the loan used to derive their assessable income, but not for interest charged on the portion of the loan used for private or domestic purposes.

Therefore, where the otherwise deductible rule applies, the taxable value of a loan fringe benefit is:

  • the interest that would have accrued during the FBT year if the statutory interest rate had applied to the outstanding daily balance of the loan, reduced by
  • any interest that actually accrued - this result is then further reduced by
  • the otherwise deductible amount.

You can calculate the taxable value of a loan fringe benefit where the otherwise deductible rule applies using the following steps:

Step

Action

1

Calculate the taxable value of the loan fringe benefit ignoring the otherwise deductible rule.

2

Ignore any interest you charged on the loan and calculate the taxable value of the loan fringe benefit as if the loan was interest-free.

3

Now suppose that the employee had paid interest equal to the amount of the taxable value as calculated in step   2. How much of this hypothetical interest payment would have been income tax deductible to the employee?

4

Now look at the real loan situation. If the employee is being charged interest on the loan, how much of this interest is allowable as an income tax deduction to the employee?

5

Subtract the actual deductible amount (step   4) from the hypothetical deductible amount (step   3). The result is the amount you can deduct from the taxable value of the fringe benefit.

6

The taxable value is your result from step   1 minus your result from step   5.

Example: rate set without regard to employee's use of loan

On 1   April 2008, an employee is given a loan of $50,000 at 5% for the whole of the FBT year. No repayments of principal are required in that year. The 5% rate is set without regard to how the employee intends to use the loan. The employee applies 60% of the loan to interest-bearing investments and spends the remaining 40% on home improvements.

The statutory interest rate is 9.00%.

The taxable value is calculated as follows:

Step

Action

Result

1

Calculate the taxable value of the loan fringe benefit without the otherwise deductible rule.

That is:

(Amount of loan x statutory interest rate) - (Amount of loan x actual interest rate charged)

($50,000   x   9.00%) - ($50,000   x 5%)

$4,500   -   $2,500

= $2,000

2

Ignore any interest charged on the loan and calculate the taxable value of the loan benefit as if the loan was interest-free.

$50,000   x   9.00%

=$4,500

3

Now suppose that the employee had paid interest equal to the amount of the taxable value calculated in step   2. How much of this hypothetical interest payment would have been income tax deductible to the employee?

$4,500   x   60%

= $2,700

4

Now look at the real loan situation. If the employee is being charged interest on the loan, how much of this interest is allowable as an income tax deduction to the employee?

$2,500   x   60%

= $1,500

5

Subtract the actual deductible amount (step   4) from the hypothetical deductible amount (step   3). The result is the amount by which the taxable value of the fringe benefit may be reduced.

$2,700   -   $1,500

= $1,200

6

The taxable value is the result from step   1 minus the result from step   5.

$2,000   -   $1,200

= $800

Example: rate set with regard to employee's use of loan

On 1   April 2008, an employee is given a loan of $50,000 at 5% for the whole of the FBT year. No repayments of principal are required in that year. The employee intends to use 50% of the loan for interest-bearing investments and spend the remaining 50% on home improvements.

The statutory interest rate was 9.00%.

The 5% interest rate is set by the employer after considering how the employee intends to use the loan (that is, the employer knows that under the otherwise deductible rule there will be no FBT liability for that part of the loan used to produce income. Therefore, the employer charges interest at a rate sufficient to avoid incurring FBT on that part of the loan used for private or domestic purposes).

By the time the employee actually obtains the loan funds, the interest-bearing investments have increased in price and eventually cost 60% of the funds, so only 40% of the funds are spent on home improvements.

The taxable value is calculated as follows.

Step

Action

Result

1

Calculate the taxable value of the loan fringe benefit without the otherwise deductible rule.

That is:

(Amount of loan x statutory interest rate) - (Amount of loan x actual interest rate charged)

($50,000   x 9.00%) - ($50,000   x 5%)

$4,500   -   $2,500

= $2,000

2

Ignore any interest charged on the loan and calculate the taxable value of the loan benefit as if the loan was interest -free.

$50,000   x   9.00%

= $4,500

3

Now suppose that the employee had paid interest equal to the amount of the taxable value calculated in step   2. How much of this hypothetical interest payment would have been income tax deductible to the employee?

$4,500   x   60% business use

= $2,700

4

Now look at the real loan situation. If the employee is being charged interest on the loan, how much of this interest is allowable as an income tax deduction to the employee?

If the employer had not made allowance for the intended use of the loan, they would have charged interest at the statutory rate of 9.00%.

However, because the employer reduced the interest rate to take into account the intended business use and the effect of the otherwise deductible rule, the employee's income tax deduction is limited to:

  • the amount that would have been allowed as a deduction to the employee if no allowance had been made for the income-producing purpose for which some of the loan funds were to be used, reduced by
  • the amount of the allowance that was made.

$50,000 x 9.00% interest rate x 60% business use. The employee would have been entitled to a deduction of:

$4,500 interest x   60% business use

= $2,700

= ($50,000   x 9.00% x 60%) - ($50,000 x   9.00% x   50%)

=$2,700   -   $2,250

= $450

5

Subtract the actual deductible amount (step   4) from the hypothetical deductible amount (step   3). The result is the amount by which the taxable value of the fringe benefit may be reduced.

$2,700   -   $450

= $2,250

6

The taxable value is the result from step   1 minus the result from step   5.

$2,000   -   $2,250

= 0

There can be no negative figures.

8.8A Special rules under new law for otherwise deductible rule and jointly provided loan fringe benefits

As described in section   8.8 , the 'otherwise deductible' rule only applies if the recipient of a benefit is the employee. The FBT law also contains a design feature so that loan fringe benefits provided jointly to an employee and an associate are deemed to be provided solely to the employee. In cases where the otherwise deductible rules also apply, the new law provides a special rule so that the otherwise deductible rule only applies to the employee's share of any deductible amount, and specifically excludes the associate's share of any deductible amount.

If:

then:

the loan fringe benefit was provided or the loan arrangement was entered into before 7.30pm AEST on 13   May 2008

the previous law will continue to apply until 1   April 2009.

the loan fringe benefit was provided or the loan arrangement was entered into from 7.30pm (AEST) on 13   May 2008

the special rules under the new law apply.

Previous law

Under the previous law, an employer can reduce the taxable value of a loan fringe benefit provided jointly to an employee and their associate where the loan is applied to pay for an income earning asset owned by both the employee and their associate, to the extent that the asset produces assessable income by both persons (unadjusted notional deduction).

Amended law

Under the amended law, you must adjust the taxable value of a fringe benefit determined under the previous law (unadjusted notional deduction) by only allowing the employee's share of the deduction.

That is, the otherwise deductible amount is calculated as:

Unadjusted notional deduction x employee's percentage of interest

Where:

  • the unadjusted notional deduction is the deduction calculated as if the new law did not apply
  • the employee's percentage of interest is the employee's (not the associate's) interest in the asset
    • which is purchased with all or part of the loan, and
    • is applied or used for the purpose of producing assessable income of the employee.
Example: previous law applies

An employer provides an employee and her husband with a $100,000 low to purchase $100,000 worth of shares which they will hold jointly with a 50% interest each. The employee and her husband each include 50% of the dividends from the shares as assessable income in their income tax returns.

If the loan arrangement has operated from 31   March 2006 and continues throughout the 2009 FBT year, the otherwise deductible rule would apply to reduce the taxable value of the loan fringe benefit by both the employee's and her associate's share of the benefit. That is, the $10,000 loan fringe benefit would be reduced to nil and the employer would not have an FBT liability for the FBT year ending 31   March 2009.

Example: amended law applies

If the agreement was entered into and the loan was provided on 1   June 2008, the otherwise deductible rule would still apply, but the taxable value could only be reduced by the employee's share in the income producing asset - that is, $10,000   x   50% =   $5,000.

8.9 Substantiation requirements

Where you use the otherwise deductible rule, you must have an employee declaration to substantiate the extent to which the interest would have been 'otherwise deductible' to the employee. You must obtain the declaration from the employee before lodging the relevant FBT return or, if you don't have to lodge a return, by 21   May. Where the documentation is a declaration by the employee, it must be in a form approved by the Commissioner.

There is no need to obtain a declaration where the loan:

  • is used solely to enable the employee to acquire shares in your company and the shares are owned by the employee throughout the period of the year when the loan is outstanding
  • consists of you providing credit for a sale to the employee of goods or services used exclusively in the employee's employment - for example, where you sell protective clothing to an employee on interest-free credit terms.

For a copy of the Loan fringe benefit declaration , refer to Declarations .

8.10 Reduction in taxable value where interest that would have been deductible to the employee is incurred in relation to a car

Where a loan fringe benefit is provided in relation to a car owned or if any, of your expenditure would have been 'otherwise deductible' to the employee.

These special rules are actually three different methods of calculating the amount of interest that hypothetically would have been income tax deductible to the employee (that is, step   3 in the six-step procedure explained in section   8.8 ). The differences arise from the extent to which the car is used for business or employment-related purposes, and/or the type of evidence available to substantiate that use.

The first method is substantiated by means of log book records and/or odometer records. The second and third methods are substantiated by an employee declaration only. For full details and the appropriate declaration, refer to Employee cars - applying the 'otherwise deductible' rule .

The employee declaration shown in section   8.9 is not suitable to be used for a loan related to a car.

8.11 Other reductions in taxable value

A number of fringe benefits attract concessional treatment. The concession is a reduction in the taxable value of the fringe benefit that results in a reduced amount of FBT, or even no FBT, being payable.

You calculate the taxable value of a loan fringe benefit in accordance with the valuation rules explained in 8.3 to 8.7 . Where the otherwise deductible rule applies, you then reduce the taxable value as explained in section   8.8 .

If the fringe benefit is of a type that attracts the remote value further - as explained in section   19.2 of Reductions in fringe benefit taxable value .

8.12 Exempt loans

A loan benefit may be exempt from FBT in any of the following circumstances.

  • If, as an employer, you are engaged in the business of lending money and the interest rate on a loan to an employee is fixed at a rate at least equal to the interest on a comparable loan made to a member of the public in the ordinary course of business at about the time the loan was made to the employee.
  • If you are engaged in a business of lending money and, for each FBT year over which the loan extends, the rate of interest is variable but never less than the arm's length rate, you charge on loans made at about the time the loan was made to the employee.
  • You advance money to an employee solely to meet expenses to be incurred within six months of the advance being made. The expense must be incurred in carrying out duties of employment with you, the employer who made the advance. It must be accounted for by the employee and any excess advance refunded or otherwise offset.
  • An advance, repayable within 12   months, is made to an employee solely to pay a security deposit on accommodation - for example, a rental bond or service connection deposit. The accommodation must give rise to an exempt benefit, as explained in section   20.4 of Fringe benefits tax exempt benefits , or must be temporary accommodation eligible for a reduced taxable value in accordance with the relocation concessions (refer to section   19.4 of Reductions in fringe benefit taxable value ).

More information

  • Miscellaneous Taxation Ruling MT   2019 - Fringe benefits tax: shareholder employees of family private companies and directors of corporate trustees.
  • Taxation Determination
    • TD   2012/7 - Fringe benefits tax: what is the benchmark interest rate to be used for the fringe benefits tax year commencing on 1   April   2012?
    • TD   2011/6 - Fringe benefits tax: what is the benchmark interest rate to be used for the fringe benefits tax year commencing on 1   April 2011?
    • TD   95/18 - Fringe benefits tax: can the making of a loan to an employee be an exempt benefit under subsections   17(1) or 17(2) of the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act   1986 where the employee receives a reduced interest rate not available to members of the public?
    • TD   95/17 - Fringe only for those periods in the year of tax during which the interest rate on the loan was below the statutory interest rate?
    • TD   93/90 - Income tax: does the 'otherwise deductible rule' apply to reduce the taxable value of fringe benefits provided to associates of employees?

Changes and updates

The following table details any major changes and updates made to this chapter.

June 2012

Section

Changes and updates

8.4 Statutory interest rate

Most recent statutory interest rate included.

More information

Most recent tax determination included.

Removed reference to older tax rate determinations.

Last Modified: Tuesday, 3 July 2012

ATO references:
NO NAT 1054

Fringe benefits tax - a guide for employers
  Date: Version:
  30 March 1997 Original document
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Chapters 6 , 9 , 10 , 12 , 17 , 18 , 19 and 20 have been updated. See the Changes and update sections in the relevant chapters for details.

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