Businesses that provide FBT car parking benefits should be aware that the ATO has recently released an updated consolidated draft taxation ruling that incorporates proposed changes to FBT car parking benefits. Broadly, the ATO is saying that for FBT purposes from 1 April 2022, it will consider the “primary place of employment” as a broad test that isn’t limited to the specific place at which an employee’s duties are performed on any one day. Relevant considerations will include the employee’s conditions of employment, such as rostering, allowances and car parking, as contained in their employment contract or industrial instrument.
This follows the decision in Commissioner of Taxation v Virgin Australia Regional Airlines Pty Ltd, where the Full Federal Court looked at the concept of “primary place of employment” and ultimately found that Virgin Airlines provided FBT car parking benefits to its flight and cabin crew in various airports.
The Virgin employees parked at (or near) a “home base” airport and undertook travel as part of their work, including staying overnight at other locations, while their home base car parking continued.
Virgin originally argued successfully in the Federal Court that the employees were carrying out their duties in many different places (on planes and in other airports) from where the parking occurred, so the parking location shouldn’t be considered the “primary place of employment” and the car parking shouldn’t be considered a Virgin-provided benefit subject to FBT.
The ATO appealed to the Full Federal Court, which in the end concluded that a Virgin employee’s relevant home base airport was their “primary place of employment”, even on days when the employee didn’t attend or work at the home base airport at all, for example because they were working on flights or had a rest period in another location. The car parking was therefore an employer-provided FBT benefit because the employees’ cars were parked at, or in the vicinity of, their primary place of employment.