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Parliamentary exemption granted for employers undertaking retraining of staff

Jotham Lian
30 June 2021 1 minute readShare

Employers who provide training to soon-to-be-redundant employees will now be exempt from fringe benefits tax following the passage of legislation through Parliament.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No. 4) Bill 2021 has now passed both houses, providing employers with an exemption from FBT if they provide training or education to a redundant, or soon-to-be-redundant, employee for the purpose of assisting that employee to gain new employment.

The exemption will not extend to retraining provided under a salary packaging arrangement or to costs for which an income tax deduction is specifically denied, including Commonwealth-supported places at universities or repayments towards Commonwealth student loans.

The measure will cover a variety of redundancy scenarios, including where an employee is made redundant in one part of the employer’s business but is able to be redeployed to another part of its business. It also covers circumstances where the employer reasonably expects the employee to be redundant but has not yet been made redundant.

Making the announcement in last year’s federal budget, the government hopes the measure will provide an incentive for employers to help their staff transition to their next career.

The Institute of Public Accountants general manager of technical policy, Tony Greco, said that while the move was positive, further changes to expand tax deductions to education and training unrelated to an individual’s current job was necessary to bring equity to the tax system.

“[The new FBT exemption] discriminates against individuals who work for employers who do not have the financial capacity to undertake such activities,” said Mr Greco.

“Current income tax rules discourage individuals from engaging in reskilling and retraining by not allowing a deduction. It takes away the potential benefits of our human capital and therefore our productive capacity.

“With limited ability to source skilled labour from overseas, reskilling our labour force is important, as skill shortages are becoming commonplace as our economy starts returning to pre-COVID levels.

“Now that the FBT impediment has been addressed, the income tax restriction remains.”

Parliamentary exemption granted for employers undertaking retraining of staff
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Jotham Lian

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