Salary Sacrifice Guide for Employers

Salary sacrifice is a confusing term and sometimes a confusing arrangement. If you’re wondering how to navigate a salary sacrifice agreement as an employer, you’re in luck. This guide helps walk you through the ins and outs of salary sacrifice, including a simple definition, how to set up a salary sacrifice agreement, and the pros and cons of salary packaging.

What is a salary sacrifice?

A salary sacrifice agreement allows an employer and employee to negotiate a salary package (aka total remuneration package). In this agreement, the employee agrees to “sacrifice” their future salary or wages, and the employer agrees to other benefits of similar value instead. It’s really more of a trade or exchange rather than a “sacrifice.”

A salary sacrifice agreement is also commonly referred to as “salary packaging” or “total remuneration packaging”, which are perhaps more accurate terms. These arrangements aim to find a salary and benefits package that benefits both the employer and employee in terms of financial remuneration and tax benefits. Employers also use salary sacrifice arrangements as incentives for new and existing employees. There are tax implications and expenses to consider, though, which we’ll cover in more detail throughout this guide.

Which benefits can you exchange in a salary sacrifice?

The employer ultimately decides which benefits to offer in a salary sacrifice agreement, though the final arrangement requires both parties to agree. The ATO doesn’t restrict the benefits you exchange. When you’re setting up salary sacrifice agreements, there are three financial considerations: the cost of the benefits, the administrative expenses, and your tax obligations.

  • Fringe benefits: Fringe benefits include payments outside of standard salary and wages. Fringe benefits are generally for private use and unrelated to work. For example, if you allow an employee to use a company vehicle for their own private purposes, that is a fringe benefit. Other examples include reimbursement for expenses like tuition or childcare, gym memberships, and entertainment (e.g. concert tickets). Employers are required to pay Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT). It’s important to consider this expense when you’re negotiating a salary sacrifice arrangement.
  • Exempt benefits: Exempt benefits aren’t subject to FBT. Only work-related items are considered exempt benefits. The following items are allowed for exemption, and the item must primarily be used for work-related purposes: portable electronic devices, computer software, protective clothing, briefcases, and tools of trade. If the employee uses more than one item for a “substantially identical function” within an FBT year, only one of the items is exempt. The only exceptions are for replacement items and specific work-related portable electronic devices for small businesses (those earning less than $50 million per year).
  • Superannuation: Superannuation is one of the most popular benefits in a salary sacrifice agreement. The ATO states that employer contributions aren’t fringe benefits as long as they’re made on behalf of the employee and are paid to a complying super fund. However, if the contributions are made on behalf of another person (e.g. the employee’s spouse), or you pay them to a non-complying super fund, the ATO considers them fringe benefits. In that case, you’ll need to pay FBT.

Is there a limit on salary sacrifices?

However, their reduced salary or wages must at least equal minimum wage. If the salary sacrifice includes superannuation contributions, those contributions are subject to a cap because they’re considered concessional contributions. This cap applies to all super fund concessional contributions made for one employee throughout the year.

How to Set Up a Salary Sacrifice Agreement

Like most agreements, you should create a written contract for your salary sacrifice agreement. A verbal contract may also be legally binding, but these agreements are much more difficult to prove and possibly open for dispute.

You should agree on terms and sign the contract (both you and the employee) before work commences. The ATO doesn’t allow employees to sacrifice any salary or wages, leave entitlements, bonuses, or commissions that have already accrued. You may renegotiate the terms of the salary sacrifice agreement at any time during the person’s employment. If your contract is renewable, you should renegotiate the terms before each renewal starts.

Tax Implications of Salary Sacrifice Arrangements

There are specific tax guidelines related to salary sacrifice arrangements. Here are the details as outlined by the ATO:

  • The employee pays income tax on their reduced salary or wages.
  • The employer pays applicable fringe benefits tax (FBT) on any fringe benefits exchanged for salary. There are two exceptions here:
  1. Exempt benefits (listed above) aren’t considered fringe benefits.
  2. If an employee could claim an income tax deduction for an item, the employer isn’t required to pay FBT on that item under the “otherwise deductible” rule.

There are two notes to mention about superannuation contributions.

If the employer makes super contributions as part of a salary sacrifice agreement, those contributions are considered employer contributions (not employee contributions) as long as they are made on behalf of the employee (not their spouse or another person) and are paid to a complying fund. These contributions will be taxed in the super fund because they’re considered concessional contributions.

Per the ATO, as of 1 January 2020, these contributions don’t:

  • Reduce the ordinary time earnings that the employer is required to calculate their employee’s super entitlement on.
  • Count towards the amount of super guarantee contributions that the employer is required to make in order for them to avoid the super guarantee charge.

Note: If a salary sacrifice arrangement doesn’t meet ATO requirements, the benefits are considered taxable income.

Other Salary Sacrifice Guidelines

The ATO outlines other requirements and procedures for salary sacrifice, including:

  1.  The employee must permanently forego the sacrificed salary for the entire period outlined in your arrangement.
  2.  If you, as the employer, don’t provide a fringe benefit outlined in the agreement, you must cash out that benefit by the end of the agreed period. This payment is considered normal taxable income.
  3.  If the employer makes payments to a third party from your earned salary, these are not part of an effective salary sacrifice arrangement. These payments must be after-tax. Common examples include payments for health insurance premiums or loan repayments.

Pros and Cons of Salary Sacrifice Agreements

There are many pros and cons for employers to consider in regards to salary sacrifice agreements.


  • Salary packaging is an excellent incentive for new and existing employees. If you need to attract talent, salary sacrifice agreements are a great way to do so—as long as you understand the financial implications, too.
  • Many employees effectively earn more money with a salary sacrifice agreement; if done well, the employer won’t experience any additional cost.
  • Employers may save money on payroll taxes, workers compensation, and superannuation guarantee charges.


  • Salary packaging is a complex task and requires a great deal of time and effort to negotiate and communicate.
  • If and when an employee leaves the organisation, it can be challenging to reconcile the outstanding wages or benefits owed under a salary sacrifice agreement.
  • Record keeping is more complicated than usual.
  • FBT requires additional time and expense.

Should you offer salary sacrifice arrangements?

There’s a lot to consider with salary sacrifice arrangements. While employers sometimes save a bit of money by packaging salaries, employees experience the greatest benefits. Most employees save money on taxes and take home more money overall with these agreements. Because salary sacrifice agreements offer so many financial benefits for employees, an employer who offers these agreements is much more appealing. The greatest challenge, of course, is setting up a salary sacrifice arrangement and keeping accurate records for tax purposes. If you need help, nexZen is here. We can work together to find a salary sacrifice arrangement that benefits both you and your employees. Book a discovery call now to get started.

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This is a loser that most people are probably pretty happy about — the government is extending a task force that targets tax avoidance by multinationals, large public and private groups, trusts and wealthy individuals.

It is giving the Australian Tax Office (ATO) more than $600 million over the next three years to keep the scrutiny on those groups.

The budget forecasts the extension of the task force will make the government $2.1 billion in revenue from tax over the next four years.

In bad news for people’s pay packets, real wages are not forecast to grow until later this year at the earliest thanks to higher-than-expected inflation.

At the end of last year, Treasury predicted the inflation rate would be 2.75 per cent. The reality has ended up being around 4.25 per cent.

The budget is predicting wages will only be just higher than inflation in the next couple of years, meaning cost of living pressures are unlikely to ease any time soon.

Despite current price hikes, the budget is forecasting inflation will taper off and wages will grow faster by the middle of the decade.

Buried under the wildly exciting headline of Commonwealth’s Deregulation Agenda, is the $19.9 million spend by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to develop a new reporting application to enable businesses to submit surveys on business indicators directly through their accounting software. Excellent. Real time reporting utilising verified data on the state of Australian business. Guarantee of Origin scheme, and the development of a Biodiversity Stewardship Trading Platform to support farmers to undertake biodiversity activities ahead of the introduction of a voluntary biodiversity stewardship market.

Another $148.6m is for the development of community microgrids and just over $50m to develop gas infrastructure projects.

An additional $652.6m has been set aside to extend the ATO’s Tax Avoidance Taskforce by 2 years to 30 June 2025.
In that time, the taskforce is expected to increase receipts by $2.1bn and increase payments by $652.6m.

Just prior to the Federal Budget, the Government announced the extension of the:

  • Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy, and
  • Completing Apprenticeship Commencement wage subsidy.

    Any employer (or Group Training Organisation) who takes on an apprentice or trainee up until 30 June 2022 can gain access to:
  • 50% of the eligible Australian Apprentice’s wages in the first year, capped at a maximum payment value of $7,000 per quarter per Australian Apprentice,
  • 10% of the eligible Australian Apprentice’s wages in the second year, capped at a maximum payment value of $1,500 per quarter per Australian Apprentice, and
  • 5% of the eligible Australian Apprentice’s wages in the third year, capped at a maximum payment value of $750 per quarter per Australian Apprentice.


7:30pm AEDT, 29 March 2022 until 30 June 2024

The Government intends to provide a 120% tax deduction for expenditure incurred by small businesses on external training courses provided to employees. The deduction will be available to small business with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million. External training courses will need to be provided to employees in Australia or online, and delivered by entities registered in Australia.
Some exclusions will apply, such as for in-house or on-the-job training and expenditure on external training courses for persons other than employees.
We assume there will need to be a nexus between the employee’s employment and the training program undertaken for the boost, although we are waiting on further details of this initiative to be released. 
The boost for eligible expenditure incurred by 30 June 2022 will be claimed in the tax return for the following income year (that is, the 2023 tax return). The boost for eligible expenditure incurred between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2024, will be included in the income year in which the expenditure is incurred.


1 July 2021

As previously announced, workrelated COVID19 test expenses incurred by individuals will be made tax deductible. 
Changes will also be made to ensure that FBT will not be payable by employers if they provide fringe benefits relating to COVID19 testing to their employees for workrelated purposes.
The changes for deductions will be effective from 1 July 2021, with the FBT changes to apply from 1 April 2021.
At this stage it is not entirely clear whether the deduction rules will cover expenses incurred where the employee is able to work from home. The initial media release indicates that the measure will cover situations where the individual has the option of working remotely, while the Budget only refers to costs of taking a COVID-19 test to attend a place of work but doesn’t specifically refer to employees who can work from home.


1 July 2022

Back in the 2019-20 Budget, the Government announced that Australian Business Number (ABN) holders would be stripped of their ABNs if they failed to lodge their income tax return. In addition, ABN holders would be required to annually confirm the accuracy of their details on the Australian Business Register.

This measure has been deferred for 12 months, which means that the tax return lodgement obligation is due to commence from 1 July 2022 with the annual confirmation of ABN details to commence from 1 July 2023.

As announced prior to the Budget, the Government will commit $6.6 million for the development of IT infrastructure that will enable the ATO to share Single Touch Payroll (STP) data with State and Territory Revenue Offices on an ongoing basis. 

The funding will be deployed following further consideration of which states and territories are able and willing to make investments in their own systems and administrative processes to pre-fill payroll tax returns with STP data in order to reduce compliance costs for businesses.

The measure that enables payments from certain state and territory COVID-19 business support programs to be treated as non-assessable non-exempt (NANE) income has already been extended until 30 June 2022. 
The Government has announced that the following state and territory grant programs have been made eligible for this treatment since the 2021-22 MYEFO, although it is not clear whether the relevant legislative instruments have been issued as yet:

  • New South Wales Accommodation Support Grant 
  • New South Wales Commercial Landlord Hardship Grant 
  • New South Wales Performing Arts Relaunch Package 
  • New South Wales Festival Relaunch Package 
  • New South Wales 2022 Small Business Support Program 
  • Queensland 2021 COVID 19 Business Support Grant 
  • South Australia COVID 19 Tourism and Hospitality Support Grant 
  • South Australia COVID 19 Business Hardship Grant.

    This builds on the list of existing grants paid by New South Wales and Victoria that can already qualify for NANE income treatment. 


1 January 2024

As announced prior to the Budget, businesses will be able to report Taxable Payments Reporting System data via their accounting software on the same lodgment cycle as their activity statements.
The measure is expected to reduce the costs of complying with the system and increase transparency.


1 January 2024

As announced prior to the Budget, companies will be able to choose to have their pay as you go (PAYG) instalments calculated using current financial performance, extracted from business accounting software, with some tax adjustments. 
The move is intended to ensure that instalment liabilities are aligned to the businesses cashflow. In addition, the digitisation of PAYG instalments will improve transparency and provide more accurate data on performance. 


2022-23 income year

Normally, GST and PAYG instalment amounts are adjusted using a GDP adjustment or uplift. For the 2022-23 income year, the Government is setting this uplift factor at 2% instead of the 10% that would have applied. 

The 2% uplift rate will apply to small to medium enterprises eligible to use the relevant instalment methods for instalments for the 2022-23 income year and are due after the amending legislation comes into effect:

  • Up to $10 million annual aggregated turnover for GST instalments and 
  • $50 million annual aggregated turnover for PAYG instalments 
From 7:30pm AEDT, 29 March 2022 until 30 June 2023
The Government intends to provide a 120% tax deduction for expenditure incurred by small businesses on business expenses and depreciating assets that support their digital adoption, such as portable payment devices, cyber security systems or subscriptions to cloud based services. The technology boost will be available to small business with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million.An annual expenditure cap of $100,000 will apply to the boost. The boost for eligible expenditure incurred by 30 June 2022 will be claimed in tax returns for the following income year. The boost for eligible expenditure incurred between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 will be included in the income year in which the expenditure is incurred. That is, the additional deduction available under this measure is expected to be claimed in the 2023 tax return.  

The temporary 50% reduction in superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products has been extended to 30 June 2023. 

Minimum superannuation drawdown rates 2019-2023


Default minimum drawdown rates (%) 

Reduced rates by 50% for the 2019-20 to 2022-23 income years (%) 

Under 65 











95 or more 




1 July 2024

Trust and beneficiary income reporting and processing will be digitalised with all trusts being provided with the option of lodging income tax returns electronically.

While this measure will reduce compliance costs, it will also increase transparency and provide the ATO with a greater insight into where anomalies are occurring.


1 July 2021

The Medicare levy low income thresholds for seniors and pensioners, families and singles will increase from 1 July 2021.







Family threshold 



Single seniors and pensioners 



Family threshold for seniors and pensioners 



For each dependent child or student, the family income thresholds increase by a further $3,619 instead of the previous amount of $3,597. 

The Home Guarantee Scheme guarantees part of an eligible buyer’s home loan, enabling people to buy a home with a smaller deposit and without the need for lenders mortgage insurance. The Government has extended two existing guarantees and introduced a new regional scheme.

Just prior to the Budget, the Government announced:

  • First Home Guarantee – from 1 July 2022, an increase from 10,000 to 35,000 guarantees to support eligible first homebuyers to purchase a new or existing home. 
  • Single parent Family Home Guarantee – 5,000 guarantees each year from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2025. The family home guarantee supports eligible single parents with children to buy their first home or to re-enter the housing market with a deposit of as little as 2%.
  • Introduction of a Regional Home Guarantee. This guarantee will support eligible citizens and permanent residents who have not owed a home for 5 years (including non-first home buyers) to purchase or construct a new home in regional areas with a minimum 5% deposit areas (subject to the passage of enabling legislation).


April 2022

A one-off $250 ‘cost of living payment’ will be provided to Australian resident recipients of the following payments and concession card holders:

  • Age Pension 
  • Disability Support Pension 
  • Parenting Payment 
  • Carer Payment 
  • Carer Allowance (if not in receipt of a primary income support payment) 
  • Jobseeker Payment 
  • Youth Allowance 
  • Austudy and Abstudy Living Allowance 
  • Double Orphan Pension 
  • Special Benefit 
  • Farm Household Allowance 
  • Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) holders 
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders 
  • Eligible Veterans’ Affairs payment recipients and Veteran Gold card holders.

    The payments are exempt from taxation and will not count as income support for the purposes of any income support payment. An individual can only receive one payment.


1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022

The low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) currently provides a reduction in tax of up to $1,080 for individuals with a taxable income of up to $126,000.

The tax offset is triggered when a taxpayer lodges their 2021-22 tax return.

For the 2021-22, the LMITO will be increased by $420 which means that the proposed new rates for individuals are as follows:


Taxable income 


$37,000 or less 


Between $37,001 and $48,000 

$675 plus 7.5 cents for every dollar above $37,000, up to a maximum of $1,500

Between $48,001 and $90,000 


Between $90,001 and $126,000 

$1,500 minus 3 cents for every dollar of the amount above $90,000 

From12.01am 30 March 2022

There are a few jokes going around social media about the price of fuel.

As widely predicted, the Government will temporarily reduce the excise and excise-equivalent customs duty rate that applies to petrol and diesel by 50% for 6 months from Budget night. That is, the current 44.2 cents per litre excise rate will reduce to 22.1 cents per litre from Budget night. However, the measure is subject to the passage of the enabling legislation so don’t expect to see a change right away. 

 The reduction extends to all other fuel and petroleum based products except aviation fuels.

At the conclusion of the 6 months on 28 September 2022, the excise and excise-equivalent customs duty rates revert to previous rates including any indexation that would have applied during the 6 month period. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will monitor the price behaviour of retailers to ensure that the lower excise rate is passed on to consumers.

The measure comes at a cost of $5.6bn.

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