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Payroll Tax for your Business - Updates and Next Steps

Written by Kirstie Smith . August 04, 2021
7 min read

Payroll Tax in Australia is a self-assessed state tax impacting many businesses. Due to the self-assessed nature, many businesses may overlook their obligation to register due to a lack of understanding or discussion. The following is a brief overview of the tax including recent changes as a result of COVID-19 relief measures.


Payroll tax is a state and territory-based tax that employers with wages over the threshold need to pay. Each state or territory sets its own payroll tax threshold and once an employer reaches that threshold, they are required to self-register for payroll tax.

Payroll Tax Rates

The amount to be paid will depend on several things:

  • The business’s total ‘liable wages’ compared to the threshold amount
  • The state or territory payroll tax rate
  • Any exemptions the employer is entitled to

What is included in ‘liable wages’?

The most common types of remuneration subject to payroll tax include:

1. Salaries, commissions, director fees, bonuses, allowances and any ordinary earnings, penalty rates, overtime and leave payments
2. Apprentice/trainee payments (depending on the state or territory)
3. Some payments to Contractors
4. Fringe benefits – all benefits subject to the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986
5. Superannuation contributions (including super guarantee and salary sacrifice)
6. Leave and termination payments (those declarable for income tax purposes)
7. The value of shares and options given to employees and directors.

2022 Financial Year Thresholds & Rates

Payroll Tax 2022 FY Thresholds & Rates Table cropped

Each year, the rates are reviewed and updated where required. A monthly wage threshold is available per state to support the above annual rates.

Employee Exemptions

Some payments to employees are exempt from payroll tax, including Paid Parental Leave (PPL) under the Commonwealth Government scheme, additional wages paid to employees to meet the requirements of the JobKeeper scheme, expense reimbursements and tax-exempt redundancy payments.

Contractor Payments

Payments to contractors are subject to payroll tax, unless an exemption is met. There are specific criteria a contractor arrangement must meet to be exempt from payroll tax.

Registration, Lodgement and Payment Obligations

Registration for payroll tax is required in each state once your total monthly Australian wages exceeds the monthly threshold for that state.

Once registered, your reporting and payment obligations are monthly. At the end of the year an annual reconciliation is required to be lodged. For NSW, the lodgement and payment obligations are:

  • Monthly – 7 days after the end of the month
  • Annual –28th July

Other Payroll Tax Factors to Consider

Grouped Employers

Employers may be grouped for payroll tax purposes. This means their wages are added together and one payroll tax threshold applies. Grouping can occur when two employers have common control or common use of employees.

Threshold Entitlement – employees in multiple states or territories

If an employer has employees in different states, the threshold entitlement for each state is calculated on a proportional basis. For example, if 25% of your liable wages are in Sydney and 75% are in Melbourne, your threshold entitlement would be 25% of the NSW threshold and 75% of the VIC threshold.

COVID-19 Payroll Tax Concessions

All states have now released details on their Payroll Tax concessions as a result of COVID-19.

New South Wales

  • Reduction – If your grouped Australian wages for the 2021/22 financial year are $10 million or less AND you have had a decline in turnover of 30 per cent or more, your annual tax liability will automatically be reduced by 25% upon lodgement of your annual reconciliation. No separate application is required.
  • Deferral – All businesses (no wage limit) have the option of deferring their Payroll Tax payments until 7 October 2021, however the annual reconciliation is still required to be lodged by the due date which has also been extended to 7 October 2021. The deferral includes monthly payments for the July and August 2021 return periods. After lodging your 2021 annual reconciliation there is the option to pay in full or enter a new Support Payment Arrangement.
  • Existing Arrangements The due dates for any existing Stimulus Payment Arrangement payments or Instalment Plans payments in July 2021 remain unchanged.

As most of our clients employ staff in NSW, I focused on the details of this State's relief measures however further information on each State's current relief measures can be found below:

What Are The Next Steps?

By now you should know whether you are liable for Payroll Tax. If you are and you haven’t yet registered then you can do that via Payroll Tax Australia.

However, even if you are not currently required to register for Payroll Tax, it is important for all businesses to understand, monitor and continually review their Payroll Tax obligations considering that:

  • Payroll tax thresholds are continually changing and vary between States and Territories;
  • The definition of ‘taxable wages’ for Payroll Tax purposes has a wide application and is not restricted to salaries and wages paid to employees;
  • Grouping rules can result in two or more businesses being entitled to only one Payroll Tax threshold (i.e. related companies, use of common employees, commonly controlled businesses etc);
  • Payroll Tax compliance programs of state revenue offices have increased within recent years with substantial penalties imposed for non-compliance (including penalty tax and interest); and
  • There are Payroll Tax Concessions as a result of COVID-19.

Also be sure to take note of further details on the COVID-19 business support packages being delivered by the Federal and State Government.

So make sure you stay updated with the changes to avoid costly ramifications, and if you would like to discuss your situation in more detail then please don’t hesitate to talk with us.

*This information is relevant at the time of publishing and is subject to change*
Written by Kirstie Smith . August 04, 2021
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