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FBT returns – Identification and documentation is key to your process

If you are a New Zealand employer, you are probably aware of Fringe Benefit Tax (“FBT“). FBT is a tax on non-cash benefits that employees receive as part of their employment, such as company cars, health insurance, and gym memberships etc. While FBT is an important part of your ongoing tax compliance obligations, it can be challenging to get it right. In this blog post, we discuss a common FBT return process misstep and how you can avoid it.

Identify fringe benefits every quarter

Fringe benefit identification is one of the most common FBT return errors. These errors occur when businesses fail to identify all the fringe benefits provided to their employees. This is often a result of an incomplete FBT return process. Many businesses rely on the previous quarter’s FBT return to determine what data to gather for the current quarter. However, this alone is not enough for a robust process as the benefits provided are likely to change from quarter to quarter.

The missing step in the FBT return process is finding out what benefits were provided in the current quarter that were not provided previously. This step can be as simple as talking to people who are likely to provide or authorise fringe benefits, such as management, sales, and HR staff.

Document your efforts every quarter

It is important to do this as part of your return process every quarter and document your efforts. Consistently documenting your efforts and putting them on your FBT return file is critical. Email conversations with relevant staff members are sufficient evidence that demonstrates that you have a robust process you have a are making every effort to comply with FBT legislation. This documentation will form a key part of evidence on your next Inland Revenue audit.

By taking these simple steps, you can reduce the risk of filing incorrect FBT returns. FBT returns can be complicated, and it’s easy to make mistakes. However, if you put in the effort to identify all the fringe benefits provided and document your process, you can significantly reduce the risk of errors. Remember that Inland Revenue considers how robust your process is when looking at any errors you have made.

In conclusion

FBT returns are complicated, and it’s not surprising that many businesses make mistakes. However, by taking the time to identify all the fringe benefits provided and documenting your processes you are likely to save time and money in the long run as it is much more likely that you are complying with FBT legislation.