Tax Planning 2023: How to Keep More of Your Money with Legal Tax Strategies

EV buyers 3

What is Tax Planning?

Taking place annually from March to June, tax planning is an exhilarating period for accountants. This phase, leading up to the end of the financial year, is when tax planning primarily happens.

Some of these strategies are time-sensitive, which means failure to discuss tax planning tactics in due course could result in lost opportunities for potential tax savings. In the realm of tax planning, the phrase “time is money” holds very true.

While the tax planning process typically occurs just before the financial year-end, the successful implementation of these strategies is absolutely crucial. Merely acquiring knowledge about these strategies is not enough; for effective use, these strategies must be implemented before the financial year ends.

Undergoing this process can be immensely advantageous for businesses and individuals alike, as it could result in significant amounts of money being saved and consequently, more money in your pocket. This process is one of the key ways to learn how to save in tax.

Consider the example below:

  • Tax payable before tax planning: $75,000
  • Apply strategies (Reduce tax): $50,000
  • Tax payable after strategies: $50,000

Value of tax planning: $25,000

This example clearly demonstrates the financial benefits of tax planning. If you’re curious about how to save in tax, tax planning is a highly effective approach.

Take Action Before 30 June

Act Before 30 June We encourage you to converse with your accountant and enquire if they offer this service. If they don’t, you might want to consider switching to an accountant who specialises in tax planning.

Starting the process sooner rather than later is crucial because it involves work in determining the outcome and implementing the strategies. Do not wait until mid or late June to realise that you need to make decisions and undergo the tax planning process.

Make it a priority to take action. It’s one of the most effective ways to save on tax.

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Some time-critical tax saving strategies

Write Off Bad Debts 

The rule of thumb here is that you must decide by 30 June to write off a debt to claim it as an expense. If you have a debt from a year ago that has not yet been written off, ensure to do so before 30 June to claim the deduction in the current financial year.

Cash Up Your Super Fund 

Contributing towards your super is not only a wealth and retirement planning strategy but also a means to save on tax. As the financial year-end approaches, we guide our clients on the remaining amount they can contribute to their super fund. This cap, set by the ATO in 2018, is currently at $27,500 (previously $25,000). This figure represents the amount that can be contributed to the super fund and claimed as a tax reduction.

Since 2018, the ATO has permitted the carry-forward of the unutilised portion of the super contribution cap of $27,500 to the following financial year. As a business owner who may have overlooked super contributions in the past 2-3 years, you might have a significant cap remaining. If you’ve had a profitable year, you can utilise this opportunity by contributing a larger sum of money to your super fund just before the end of the financial year and claim it as a tax reduction, thereby maximising your tax savings.

EV and FBT Exemption 

There are now options for tax strategies for EV buyers. With the government promoting the adoption of electric vehicles, your business can benefit by availing of the FBT Exemption for electric cars. If you purchase an electric vehicle before the end of this financial year, you can claim it as a tax reduction for your business. 

Suppose your logbook shows 50% business and 50% private use; in this case, you can only claim 50% of an ordinary car. However, with electric vehicles, you can claim 100% of the cost, irrespective of the percentage split. This benefit can be especially advantageous for professionals who have minimal business-related travel and usually can only claim a smaller percentage with ordinary cars.

Comparing the cost to the business against the standard FBT statutory method treatment

Tax Planning 2023

Small Business Investment Technology Boost

Claim extra 20% on expenses that support digital operations and digitising operations

  1. Digital Enabling Items
    Eg: cost to set up a digital payment system, any subscriptions that help digitisation etc
  2. Digital Media and Marketing
    Audio and Visual content that can be created, accessed, stored or viewed on digital devices
  3. E-commerce
    Supporting digitally ordered or platform-enabled online transactions.

There are different categories to consider.

The concept here is that you can claim an additional 20% as a tax deduction.

For example, if you have spent $100,000 (which is currently the limit), you will be able to claim a deduction of $120,000.

* This measure will apply to expenditures incurred in the period commencing from 7:30 pm AEDT 29 March 2022 until 30 June 2024. Please note: These measures are not yet law.

Small Business Skills and Training Boost

Claim an additional 20% of expenditure that is incurred for the provision of external training courses to their employees.


  • Small Business
  • Employee is in Australia
  • Course is provided by a registered provider in Australia

Make sure that not only does your entity qualify but also that the money you’re spending it on.

Suppose your bookkeeping has been done for this financial year, and you’ve reconciled the training. In that case, you should talk with your accountant to ensure they have been accurately recorded and accounted for.

* This measure will apply to expenditures incurred in the period commencing from 7:30 pm AEDT 29 March 2022 until 30 June 2024. Please note: These measures are not yet law.

Changes in Trust Distributions - s100A

  • You and your Spouse are generally ok
    Paid into a joint account, spent on standard family stuff
  • Adult Children
    Repaying or gifting not allowed – same with retaining cash or working capital
  • Your parents/in-laws
    Repaying or gifting not allowed – same with retaining cash for working capital

The intent of section 100A is that the economic benefit of the distribution should be enjoyed by the person receiving it rather than serving as an incentive to reduce the overall tax the family would pay.

What the ATO tries to encourage is if you’re distributing to a family member, the money should go to them, and they should be the one who is using that money for economic benefits.

Suppose you’re a family business distributing funds to your spouse. In that case, that’s generally acceptable because, for example, transferring the money to a joint account and spending all the income together is permissible.

If you’re distributing money to adult children, it’s the same whether the money goes directly to them or if they’re staying with you and you provide them with money to support their daily living expenses.

If you’re a parent who provides financial support by giving money directly, you can distribute that money through your business instead.

If the idea of the whole distribution was just to reduce your tax, then that’s going to be a no. You have to be very careful on what the reason is, and what sort of arrangement you have with your children as well.

Allocation of Professional Firm Profits PC 2021/4

PCG 2021/4 is about arrangements where:

  • Taxpayers redirect their income from a business or activity to an associated entity/individual
  • That income includes income from their professional services – personal exertion of an individual
  • The outcome is that they significantly reduce their tax liability

The affected industries are service-based businesses that sell knowledge or expertise. This is not relevant for a pool shop where you’re selling creepy crawlies and different things for pools.

It’s more for professional service-based firms. If you use a trust or a company to run your service-based business, they want to contribute as much money as they can in the expert’s name.

So let’s say Ben Walker runs Inspire; the more profit that ends up in his name and is taxed at a higher rate, the less risk the ATO deems on potentially breaking these rules.

⏰⏰⏰ The ugly truth about TIMESHEETS – what old school accountants don’t want you to know about how they charge when they bill you by the hour ??

You may not realise this but ‘Old School’ Accountants charge by the minute.

They are driven by timesheets.  

What’s the problem with your accountant charging you using timesheets?

The problem is this…

If the accountant wanted to make more money out of you, what does he need to do?  

“Take longer,” you say?

And you would be correct … he could take longer.  

But the ugly reality that I’ve seen is this –

an accountant who does timesheets could either take longer to make more money out of you, or he could just “SAY” he took longer.”

It’s like a dirty Donald Trump locker room secret that most accountants don’t want you to know about – a practice called “TIMESHEET PADDING.”  

I’m guilty.  I’ve fabricated some pretty spectacular timesheets in my time.  

But I was expected to by my employer in order to ‘meet budget’.  

That’s why I went out on my own to start INSPIRE CA and why we price our jobs UPFRONT and GUARANTEE that your investment in our fees will pay for themselves many times over in tax saved.  

So next time you receive a bill from your Accountant ask him or her if they use timesheets to charge and if instead, they could move you to a fixed price or upfront fee so that you know exactly how much your bill will be.


Got a burning question about using Business Structures to save tax and create a family vault?  

Book in, to TEST DRIVE AN ACCOUNTANT – a 15 min rapid fire Q & A session with an Inspirational Accountant.

Are Coffee Meetings Tax Deductible?

Ever wondered if coffee meetings are tax deductible?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a big coffee freak. I have about 3 or 4 cappuccinos every day. My favourite coffee shop is Bellissimo. You’ve got to try it. It’s around the corner from Inspire and there’s also one around one from my house. I get it everywhere.

I was down there meeting with a prospective client the other day. I shouted the coffees, of course. I went to pay for the coffees and the kind girl behind the desk asked me, “Would you like a tax invoice?” It made me think, why would I need a tax invoice? Are coffee meetings tax deductible? So I went back to Inspire and asked the accountants this very question:

“Are coffee meetings tax deductible? What about other meetings that include food, are they tax deductible too?”


Here’s what they told me:

You can claim meals while you’re traveling overnight.

If you’re an employee going off to a conference, and you’re away from your usual home, then you can claim that meal.

There’s guidance from the ATO, but budget for about a hundred dollars per night. That means you might be able to go to the coffee club and grab a Bolognese, but I wouldn’t really be going to Jamie’s Italian and getting a full course meal.

You can claim meals supplies as a working lunch.

Say you got a team, this happens quite regularly during tax time, we’re really busy and we tend to work late. We go out and buy Domino’s. That’s fine because that’s all part of keeping the progress going, with regards to our work. If it’s related to our team being able to continue working, then that’s okay.

You can claim meals supplied from an in-house canteen or café.

I know this really cool engineering business in West End, who have a chef in-house and they supply meals to their team, throughout the day. What a great place to work? These items would be tax deductible and exempt of FBT.

You can claim snacks on the road, while you’re going as a business owner.

As a business owner, you might be out and about, meeting with clients throughout the day. Grabbing a coffee and a muffin, here and there, while you’re doing your day-to-day work is A-okay. Again, you’ve got to be reasonable. The ATO isn’t stupid. If you’re putting through 7-course at a gas station lunches, instead of a coffee here and a muffin, it’s probably not going to go down so well.

So there you have it! The 4 rules, with regards to how to make coffee meetings and meals tax deductible.


To conclude, My advice to you, as a fellow business owner is to:

  1. Focus on whatever investment you make into your business, whether it’s a coffee meeting here or whether it’s a Facebook ad there.

2. Ask yourself the question, ‘What is the return on investment you’re going to get from that?’ I always try to aim for 5 to 20 times our way. This is the focus point for you as a business owner, if it turns out to be tax deductible as a result, well bonus. If it isn’t, move on. There’s no point in trying to spend an hour trying to make a 20 cent tax savings on an orange mocha Frappuccino that you had on the weekend than risk that concern and anxiety that might come from being audited.

3. And most importantly, focus on the biggest bang for your buck!


Got a burning question about Tax, Your Accountant or Business Structures that can save you even more?

Book in to TEST DRIVE AN ACCOUNTANT – a 15 min rapid fire Q & A session with an Inspirational Accountant.

Where to legally store your excess profits, so the tax man doesn’t take half. (HINT: It’s not in Panama!) ???

Imagine you’ve got an amazing business that is trading through a Trust.

You take out some profit to feed yourself, feed your family, put the kids in school and live comfortably.

But you still have some excess profit left over!

If you take it out, you’ll have to pay up to 49 percent tax.

What do you do?

Now the strategy here is actually to set up a company.

The purpose of this company is to receive a distribution from your business.

It’s a distribution of profits of your business.

So here’s where the tax savings come in …

Individuals pay up to 49 percent tax, but companies when they’re receiving a distribution from a trust, they only pay 30 percent tax.

So paying that profit to a company instead of an individual will save you 19% tax – 49% minus 30%.

Important:  You can’t just do this distribution ‘on paper’.

The cash must go from your business into your company and into the company bank account.

Then you can use that money to invest in anything else like commercial property, residential property, you can invest in shares with the money in the company.

You may know these company structures by the following names –

I like to think of it as your “Family Vault”.

It’s a smart place to store the profits your business AND reduce the amount of tax you’re paying.

Got a burning question about using Business Structures to save tax and create a family vault?  

Book in, to TEST DRIVE AN ACCOUNTANT – a 15 min rapid fire Q & A session with an Inspirational Accountant.


Pay Less, Little and No Tax in SMSF. It’s legal.

In every Self Managed Super Fund there are 2 sides.  An Accumulation side and a Pension side.

Using Harvee’s plane analogy from the beginning, the accumulation side or phase of an SMSF is when the fund is actively growing.  The same as when that plane is climbing to new heights.  You can’t touch any of that money while it’s in accumulation and that accumulation side has a set tax rate of 15% on what it earns.

So step 1 in controlling taxation is saving tax on contributions.

For example, I contributed $30,000 this year into my Family Super Fund – it’s called the Keshi Super Fund, named after a family dog I used to walk.

If I chose not to dump the $30K into super, I would have paid tax on that $30,000 at my highest marginal tax rate of 49%.

So by putting $30,000 towards my goal of becoming a Self Made Success, I saved $10,200 tax because as I’m in accumulation, I paid at only 15% instead of 49% – my plane is ascending!

Now fast forward 33 years and my wealth plane has been ascending higher and higher, it’s 2049 and I hit what is called preservation age, which means the government allows me to start accessing my super.

The plane begins its descent towards landing at retirement, so I am allowed to bring some of my assets in the SMSF over to the Pension side.

Any idea what the tax rate is on the Pension Side?

Zero percent.  Booyah!

So that $30,000 I contributed last year, not only did I save $10,200 on the contribution, but so too did the other 3 members in my Family Super Fund.

With the $120,000 now in the fund, from 4 members contributing $30,000, we used that as a deposit to buy a $500,000 Commercial Property.

If we held on to the property for 34 years, and let’s say it doubled in value over that time and it’s worth $1,000,000.

I can sell the property when the SMSF is in pension phase and pay ZERO tax on that $500,000 capital gain.


Just to give you some context, If made the exact same property deal but brought it in my own name, outside of super, I would have had to pay $122,500 tax (based on my top marginal tax rate of 49%)

So that’s how the Accumulation side and Pension side of an SMSF work – 15% in accumulation 0% in Pension.

But that’s not all …

What if I told you we could use negative gearing inside of a Super Fund to turn that 15% tax rate in the accumulation phase, down to ZERO?

That is legit possible.

There’s thousands of us SMSF Millionaires who implement this strategy every day.

Week 3 of the Become a SMSF Millionaire, 12 week course the lesson is called “The SMSF Millionaire’s guide to paying Less, Little and even NO tax in your SMSF”.  It’s very hard to get ahead if 50c of every dollar you earn is going to the Tax Man.


You can watch the entire Become a SMSF Millionaire Web Class at

Accelerated Asset Depreciation – 100% deduction NOW if it’s under 20 k.

How does this strategy work?

You buy an asset.  

A car for example.

For running around doing quotes onsite.

Its value will GO DOWN (aka depreciate) over time.

So the tax man lets you claim that depreciating value – Thanks, Tax Man!

The key to THIS strategy is the magic number of $20,000.

If the asset is $20,000 and under you get 100% tax deduction NOW.

Option 1 (Without Tax Planning):  Buy a company car for $20,001.

You can claim depreciation … bit by bit over the next 8 years.  Sad Face.

(If you want the detail, here’s how much depreciation you could claim in the first year: Only up to a maximum of $5,000 in the first year, but this amount gets lower the further into the financial year that you buy it.  If you buy the car on 30 June, you would only get a $13 tax deduction!! boring…)

Option 2 (With Tax Planning):  Buy a company car for $20,000.

You get a 100% Tax Deduction this year.  Woohoo!

By purchasing an asset $20,000 and under, you’d  save $9,400 tax, when compared to paying 47% tax in your own name.


So if you were already shopping for a new asset for the business, remember the magic number – $20,000.

What do you need to implement this strategy?


FAQ’s: Accelerated Asset Depreciation.

Why have I never heard about this strategy?

This strategy has been around since May 2015.

Your accountant should have made you aware if they’re a good adviser for your business.

Why $20,000?

This is the limit that the ATO advised in the May 2015 budget.

What if I turn over more than $2,000,000 can I still use the strategy?

No, sorry.  The strategy is only available for what the ATO calls ‘Small Businesses’ – those who turn over less than $2,000,000.


NEXT STEPS:  You can book in a Quick 10 Min Chat here with an Inspire Chartered Accountant to talk about Tax Saving Strategies that will work for you.


Make Additional Super Contributions to reduce your tax

How does this strategy work?

You may be aware that superannuation is the best investment vehicle for tax purposes out there.
It’s also easy to put this in the back of your mind for a number of reasons.

You might think:

1) “I can’t touch it now, so why bother…”

2) “There’s hardly anything in there, so I’m going to concentrate on making money in my business.”

3) “The laws change every five minutes, I’d rather not worry about it.”

But while those thoughts may have an element of truth, there are some very effective ways to incorporate your superannuation into a broader wealth creation and tax planning strategy.

For instance, you can:

1) Use your superannuation to purchase your business premises, even if you don’t have the full amount in super

2) Pay 15% tax on earnings on your superannuation if you’re accumulating a balance.

3) Pay 0% tax on earnings if you’re drawing a pension (with conditions, if you’re over 55).


So here’s how the numbers would crunch.

The example we’ll use is where your taxable income is $200,000.


Option 1 (Without Tax Planning):  Pay in your own name

The tax rate in your own name would be at individual rates, of up to 47%.  

So you’d be up for $67,547 Tax.



Option 2 (With Tax Planning):  Contribute $22,000 to Super prior to 30 June.

Your taxable income would reduce to $178,000.

By contributing $22,000 to super prior to 30 June you’d save $7,040 in tax, when compared to paying in your own name.

What do you need to implement this strategy to make additional super contributions?


FAQ’s: Super contributions to reduce tax.

Do I ever get taxed on money in Super?  If so, when?

Yes, you get taxed at 15% in super for everything you contribute and claim a tax deduction for.

This 15% is paid by your super fund when they lodged the tax return (if you own an SMSF); or the tax is taken straight from your balance when you deposit it if you are using a public super fund.


Is there a limit as to how much I can put into super?

Yes, there sure is.

The limit is $30,000 if you’re 48 years old or younger.

And $35,000 if you’re 49 years, plus.

The limits are a lot higher (up to $540,000) if you’re making the contributions from after tax money.

What happens if I don’t have the cashflow to put into super?

To get the tax deduction, the super needs to be paid by 30 June of the year.

Make Additional Super Contributions now before your opportunity is missed for another year.

If I have many family members, can we pool our Super limits?

A super limit is per person.

And yes, you can contribute the $30,000 or $35,000 for each person.  It will end up in their own super account, though, so for instance, you cannot ‘borrow’ a super limit from another family member and pay yourself $40,000 instead of $35,000.



NEXT STEPS:  You can book in a Quick 10 Min Chat here with an Inspire Chartered Accountant to talk about Tax Saving Strategies that will work for you.



Ben Walker of Inspire SMSFS Pty Ltd (1243433) is an authorised representative of Finance Wise Global Securities Pty Ltd ABN 60 146 708 045.  Finance Wise Global Securities Pty Ltd holds an Australian Financial Services License (No. 397877).

Distribute to your Children Under 18 – Tax Planning Strategies to action prior to 30 June

How does this distribute to your children strategy work?

Discretionary Trusts are great for Young Families in Business as they give you… you guessed it, DISCRETION.

In fact they’re more well known as Family Trusts.

They give you discretion about who pays tax, how much they pay and potentially when it’s paid.

So let’s combine the power of discretionary trusts with the fact the you have a bunch of little ones running around the house!

The example we’ll use is where your taxable income is $200,000.

Remember all those dirty nappies, sleepless nights & Saturday morning sports events?  

Well the ATO is about to reward you for being a busy parent juggling a family and a business!

Option 1 (Without Tax Planning):  Pay in your own name

The tax rate in your own name would be at individual rates, of up to 47%.

So you’d be up for $67,547 Tax.


Option 2 (With Tax Planning):  Use your Discretionary or Family Trust to distribute $416 to each of your Children under 18.

Let’s say we you have 3 little ones under 18…  

With 3 kids, you’d reduce your taxable income by $1,248 which would means you’d save $586 in tax, when compared to paying in your own name.

What do you need to implement this strategy?

FAQ’s: Distributing income to your Children.

Why $416?  Seems low…

Many years ago, this used to be a few thousand dollars for each child.

The ATO has reduced the limit over the years, and it now sits at $416 per child.

What about Children OVER the age of 18?  Can I distribute to them too?

In most cases, yes – which (depending on their circumstances) massively increases the tax savings! #FistPump

My wife is pregnant and baby is due after 30 June, can I still flick $416 to the bun in the oven?

Nice try… but no.

They have to be born before 30 June to count.

Do step kids count?


Most trust deeds will allow this if you’re married or in a de facto relationship with their mother or father.

We have adopted children, do they count?

Yes – so long as they legally your children.

Do I have to actually give them the $416?  They  already cost me more than that a week!

The fact that you’re already supporting them more than $416 in the year, means that you have already given the money to them (or paid for expenses on their behalf worth more than $416).

So you don’t need to give them $416 in pocket money! Phew!…

So you’re telling me, if I have 15 children, I could bring my taxable income down by 15 x $416?

Yes, that’s right.

Tax free income of $6,240.  (A saving of $2,933 in the example above!)


NEXT STEPS:  You can book in a Quick 10 Min Chat here with an Inspire Chartered Accountant to talk about Tax Saving Strategies that will work for you.


write off bad debts

Write Off Bad Debts

How does this strategy work?

Let’s say you are a plumber, and builders are your clients.

You send them invoices regularly for your work.

Sometimes they pay.

Sometimes they don’t.

There always seems to be a dispute.

Let’s say for a $1,000 invoice you send, the builder pays $800 but refuses to pay the last $200.

He claims your guy never showed up on that day (even though he did!)

So you chase up the $200.  You ring, you sms, you email, you knock on doors, you send ‘the boys’ around.

Nothing.  Zip. Zilch. Nada.

The $200 sits on your Debtors Ledger aka “Your list of people who owe you money!”.

The $200 becomes BAD…

No, the debt didn’t grow a beard, nor did it start wearing a black leather jacket and start smoking.

It’s BAD because it’s likely you’ll never get it back!

You’ll probably spend more than $200 just chasing the damn thing.

Same principle applies if the builder went bust.

It’s bad.

While $200 doesn’t sound like a lot, this scenario is pretty common in the Building Industry.

This scenario needs to happen just a few times over a couple of years and you’ve built up a WHOPPING $12,000 in Bad Debt.

So here’s how the numbers would crunch.

The example we’ll use is where your taxable income is $200,000.

Option 1 (Without Tax Planning):  Pay in your own name

The tax rate in your own name would be at individual rates, of up to 47%.

So you’d be up for $67,547 Tax.


Option 2 (With Tax Planning):  Write off $12,000 worth of bad debt.

Your taxable income would reduce to $188,000.

By writing off $12,000 of Bad Debt, you’d save $5,640 in tax, when compared to paying in your own name.

What do you need to implement this strategy?

FAQ’s: Write Off Bad Debts.

What happens if I write off a Bad Debt and then it gets paid back?

While this situation should be rare if you’ve written off the bad debt, you’ll need to add it to your profit in the year that it was paid to you.

How do I avoid Bad Debt in the first place?

Change your business model, so you receive the cash before you carry out the work!

Have a read of the article we wrote on this called  “How to get paid faster – step 2 of 5 ways to make your business work for YOU!”

Is there a limit on the Bad Debt that I can write off?


If a debt is bad, it’s bad!

Let’s write off bad debts and move on.

When does a Bad Debt become Bad?

While it isn’t definitive, here’s some considerations:

Bad Debt and Debtors are affecting my cashflow, what advice would you give?

This signals that something isn’t right in your business.

It could be your:

But something is out of kilter.


Chewing the Fat: When are Meals Tax Deductible to a Business

Taking team members, clients and suppliers out for a meal can be an opportunity to start, or further develop, a great working relationship.

Many small business owners even choose to cover the cost of such an outing. However, how can you be sure this is a legitimate business expense?

You’re building a relationship that will, at least in your opinion, help your business earn more money in the long run. So why wouldn’t the cost of that be tax deductible?

Unfortunately many of these expenses are not deductible and working out which ones are is more complex than most business owners would like.

To help you navigate the minefield and make an informed decision when it comes to claiming meal related expenses, we have developed a simple ‘cheat sheet’ to walk you through the various possibilities.

What meals you CAN claim as a tax deduction

1. You can claim meals when you’re travelling

When employees travel for work and stay overnight in a location that is not their home, they are entitled to claim reasonable amounts for meal expenses.

If an employee has a meal in a restaurant while travelling for work purposes the expense is tax deductible and exempt from fringe benefits tax.

When making your claim you should consider what the ATO determines to be ‘reasonable’ in any given tax year which can be found in their annual update.

For the 2015 financial year, the amount is generally between $102 to $121 per day.

2. You can claim meals supplied as a working lunch

If an employer provides sandwiches and drinks for a working lunch or dinner in the office, the amounts are tax deductible and exempt from FBT.

However, if this meal is more elaborate and includes wine, the meal deduction is likely to err on the side of entertainment and be disallowed by the ATO.

Shouting the team pizza over a training session is A-OK.  Trying to claim the in-house Christmas Party is not.

3. You can claim meals supplied from an in-house café or canteen

If the employer has an in-house café or canteen, and provides meals to employees during the working day, the expenses are tax deductible and exempt from FBT.

Please note that if the employee pays for the meal and is not reimbursed by their employer the amount is not tax deductible to the employee as it is considered to be a private expense.

4. You can claim snacks and refreshments throughout the day

As a business owner, you might often be out and about and stop in for a coffee and a muffin in between client meetings.

Again, should these expenses not be a 7 course degustation, then the ATO are willing to allow the deduction.


The “Thick” of it, for those who want a bit more detail

General considerations

Usually when an expense is incurred in running a business, or in the course of earning your income, we assume the amount is deductible unless some special tax rule specifically denies the deduction.

With meal expenses, I would encourage you to approach the situation from the opposite perspective. Assume the amount is not deductible unless, after working through the following list of questions, you can clearly establish that it is a legitimate business expense.

Who consumed the meals?

It is necessary to split meals purchased for staff and meals purchased for customer, suppliers and other business associates.

While the expenses may be deductible if provided to an employee (see later steps) meals and other entertainment provided to non-employees are not deductible.

Who paid for the meal?

As with all tax deductions you need to ‘pay to play’.

The person (or business) that pays for the meal is the one claiming the deduction. If an employee pays for the meal and their employer reimburses them for the expense it is the employer that will seek to claim a deduction for the item.

Have you paid Fringe Benefit Tax?

If you have supplied meals or other entertainment to an employee and subsequently reported these amounts as a fringe benefit AND paid the appropriate amount of fringe benefits tax (FBT) on them, then the amounts can be claimed as a deduction.

It is important to remember that fringe benefits tax is levied at the top marginal tax rate which is much higher than the benefit achieved from the deduction in most cases.

We can look to use the available FBT exemption for some assistance here. For example the Minor and Infrequent FBT exemption, which allows you to provide minor (less than $300 per employee) and is infrequently (not regular) meal benefits to employees without paying FBT while still claiming a tax deduction.

The ATO has not given a clear definition of what they consider to be infrequent or irregular they have gone as far as to say the more often and regularly benefits are provided, the less likely an employer will satisfy this criterion.

What type of meal was purchased and why was it purchased? 

The type of food and drink purchased can be relevant in determining its deductibility.

The more expensive and elaborate the items purchased the less likely they are to be deductible.

We also need to consider why the meal was purchased. Was the intention to provide entertainment or sustenance?

Essentially what this means is that a sandwich and a can of drink provided to an employee as sustenance while working is far more likely to be an allowable deduction than a five course meal at the best restaurant in town on Friday night after work, which is clearly entertainment.

When and where was the meal consumed? 

The final important consideration is where and when was the meal purchased and consumed?

During work hours or after hours? In your place of work/business or elsewhere?

Generally speaking meals on site during work hours are more likely to be deductible than a restaurant meal after work.

What do you do if you purchase a meal for an employee or business associate that you believe is not deductible?

It’s important to clearly separate the deductible and non-deductible meals purchased in your accounting records. This will ensure that deductions are not claimed on these amount in error.

Additionally, ensure that the appropriate GST code is used. Many business owners incorrectly claim GST credits on meal expenses which are not deductible. This results in the need for yearend accounting adjustments and potential amendments to your Business Activity Statements.

Finally, give your accountant as much information as you can about the circumstances surrounding meals you provide to employees and associates as part of running your business.

This will allow them to make an informed decision when working with you and ensure that you do not over claim or under claim deductions.

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