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Last Thursday 12 August 2010, Elizabeth Lucas FTIA (Grant Thornton) and Deepti Paton ATIA represented the Taxation Institute at the ATO's NTLG FBT Sub-group.

The main issue discussed at the meeting was the availability of a FBT exemption for broadband/ADSL/wireless internet provided to an employee where the employer also provides a laptop for business purposes. The message from the ATO was that residual benefits that constituted the provision of internet access may in some cases be FBT exempt if a no private use declaration is made, but that such a declaration will not be effective in relation to an expense payment fringe benefit.

In relation to the FBT obligations of employers where business travel of employees exceeds five nights, the ATO is of the view that travel diaries may not be necessary to exempt the benefit from FBT where the employer has made a no private use declaration, but that a travel diary may still be required to deduct the cost for income tax purposes.

The ATO also noted that its 2010-11 compliance program will focus on:

  • The use of exempt vehicles to determine if usage has resulted in a fringe benefit.
  • Tax agents who do not have an FBT role, especially where clients who previously lodged FBT returns stop doing so when they engage the services of such tax agents.
  • Living away from home allowances especially in relation to working holiday travellers or visitors.

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