ATO Interpretative Decision

ATO ID 2008/133

Fringe Benefits Tax

Exempt Benefits: work related items - a portable electronic device
FOI status: may be released
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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you will need to ensure that the relevant provisions referred to in the decision have not been amended or repealed.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.

Issue

Is a GPS navigation receiver a portable electronic device under paragraph 58X(2)(a) of the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986 (FBTAA)?

Decision

Yes. A GPS navigation receiver is a portable electronic device under paragraph 58X(2)(a) of the FBTAA.

Facts

An employer provides an employee with a GPS navigation receiver.

The GPS navigation receiver is portable and can be attached to the employee's motor vehicle.

The GPS navigation receiver:

·
is small, light in weight and can be hand held
·
can be operated by battery power or use the power supply of a motor vehicle
·
is computerised, and
·
is a satellite-based system for navigational purposes.

Reasons for Decision

Section 58X of the FBTAA provides an exemption for benefits relating to the provision of certain work related items. Subsection 58X(1) of the FBTAA states that the provision of an expense payment benefit, a property benefit or a residual benefit in respect of an eligible work related item will be an exempt benefit.

Subsection 58X(2) of the FBTAA includes a list of items that, if provided primarily for use in an employee's employment, can be considered as 'eligible work related items'.

The list in subsection 58X(2) of the FBTAA is as follows:

(a)
portable electronic device
(b)
an item of computer software
(c)
an item of protective clothing
(d)
a briefcase
(e)
a tool of trade.

A 'portable electronic device' is included in the list. However, the FBTAA does not provide a definition of 'a portable electronic device'; therefore it takes on its ordinary meaning.

The Macquarie Dictionary, [Multimedia], version 5.0.0, 1/10/01. defines 'portable' as:    


2. easily carried or conveyed by hand.

The Macquarie Dictionary, [Multimedia], version 5.0.0, 1/10/01. defines 'electronic' as:    


2. of, relating to, or concerned with electronics or any devices or systems based on electronics.

The meaning of the words 'a portable electronic device' should be restricted to the characteristics of the words that precede the word device. That is, the meaning of 'a portable electronic device' is limited to a device that is easily carried by hand and is based on electronics.

The Tax Laws Amendment (Budget Measures) Act 2008 repealed the former subsection 58X(2) of the FBTAA. Previously under subsection 58X(2) of the FBTAA the list of exempt items included, as relevant:

·
a mobile phone or car phone
·
a calculator
·
an electronic diary, a personal digital assistant or similar item
·
a notebook computer, laptop computer or similar portable computer, and
·
a portable printer designed for use with a notebook computer, laptop computer or similar portable computer.

This previous list of exempt items had become outdated because of changes in technology, for example, many portable electronic devices have more than one function and other work-related electronic devices have become available.

'A portable electronic device' is a generic term which would include but is not restricted to items which were previously exempt under subsection 58X(2) of the FBTAA and items of new technology which may have characteristics similar to those previously listed items.

Taken together the dictionary meanings and characteristics of the previous listed items noted above indicate that the primary characteristics of 'a portable electronic device' for the purposes of this provision would be that the device is:

·
easily portable and designed for use away from an office environment
·
small and light
·
can operate without an external power supply, and
·
designed as a complete unit.

If a device has these characteristics it would be 'a portable electronic device' for the purposes of paragraph 58X(2)(a) of the FBTAA.

Accordingly as the GPS receiver can operate on a battery power source, is small and light, easily portable and designed as a complete receiver for use away from an office environment it is a portable electronic device under paragraph 58X(2)(a) of the FBTAA.

Note: Before a conclusion can be reached as to whether or not the benefit relating to the provision of the GPS navigation receiver is an exempt benefit under section 58X of the FBTAA it would be necessary to consider the other requirements stipulated in subsections 58X(2), 58X(3) and 58X(4) of the FBTAA.

Date of decision:  27 August 2008

Year of income:  Year ended 31 March 2009

Legislative References:
Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986
   section 58X
   subsection 58X(1)
   subsection 58X(2)
   paragraph 58X(2)(a)
   subsection 58X(3)
   subsection 58X(4)

Related ATO Interpretative Decisions
ATO ID 2006/44

Other References:
The Macquarie Dictionary, [Multimedia], version 5.0.0, 1/10/01.
Tax Laws Amendment (Budget Measures) Act 2008

Keywords
Exempt benefits
Fringe benefits
Fringe benefits tax

Siebel/TDMS Reference Number:  6075585; 1-5QRWOQW; 1-CGTJ0RE

Business Line:  Private Groups and High Wealth Individuals

Date of publication:  3 October 2008
Date reviewed:  8 September 2017

ISSN: 1445-2782