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‘Obvious’ FBT errors will attract ATO scrutiny

Jotham Lian
Jotham Lian
19 April 2018 1 minute readShare
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With the lodgement period for fringe benefits tax (FBT) well underway, an accounting firm has warned of certain pain points that will attract the attention of the ATO.

Speaking at HLB Mann Judd’s 2018 Tax Series, partner Mariana von-Lucken said there were certain “obvious” issues that would cause the tax office to take a closer look, including the non-lodgement of FBT even if there was reason to do so.

“There may be a good reason why you're not lodging but always keep in mind that if you should have lodged an FBT return because you had employee contributions or otherwise deductible made it nil and you've decided not to lodge an FBT return, it's open for the ATO to come and investigate at any time,” said Ms von-Lucken.

“On the other hand, if you have lodged, you've got an assessment period of about three years.”

According to Ms von-Lucken, other issues that would attract the ATO’s attention include employee rebates, car fringe benefits, living-away-from-home-allowances (LAFHA), and car parking valuations.

“For car fringe benefits, if you have cars in your P&L but there's no FBT return lodged, that's an obvious one [that will alert the ATO],” said Ms von-Lucken.

“For car-parking, it’s just the valuation method; there are so many things you could get wrong there.”

Her warnings come after the ATO issued a reminder to tax professionals earlier this month, highlighting how “a simple mistake or omission” can attract their attention.

Accounting network Nexia has also spotted the ATO’s increased audit activity this year, calling for advisers to ensure that they have got declarations and substantiation in place.

The ATO has been vocal in its focus on employer-provided motor vehicles and private use associated with it, having noted the failure of some employers to identify or report these fringe benefits or incorrectly apply exemption provisions.

‘Obvious’ FBT errors will attract ATO scrutiny
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Jotham Lian
Jotham Lian

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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