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Cut the cost of upskilling staff by offering in-house training and tax-exempt bursaries!

by , 28 January 2013
The financial services sector needs to invest in large-scale training initiatives - particularly to avoid the high failure rates experienced among brokers writing the FSB's regulatory exams. But this doesn't have to be a case of sending money down the drain. You can now offer employees a tax-exempt bursary, and if you offer them in-house training, it's tax-free. Check to see if the bursaries you offer staff meet these five conditions to qualify as a tax-exemption.

The financial sector is facing new regulatory and macroeconomic challenges to boost returns for clients.
 
There's also more direct state intervention in markets, fund consolidation, and regulatory requirements such as the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (FAIS) Act and retirement reform legislation.
 
To keep up with changing legislation and policy, the financial services sector will need to invest in large-scale training initiatives – particularly to avoid the high failure rates experienced among brokers writing the FSB's regulatory exams.
 
'Financial service institutions need to get their entire workforce involved, as appropriate, in effective training programmes that keep them up-to-date with regulations', according to Kirsty Chadwick of the Training Room Online.
 
Now, SARS has made it cheaper for you to support and develop your employees' skills if you've given them a bursary or study grant.
 
And, the course of study doesn't have to end with a diploma or a degree – courses designed simply to upskill your staff will also qualify, according to the Tax Bulletin.
 
But there are five conditions the bursary must meet to qualify as a tax-exemption.
 
Use these five steps to give your employee a tax-exempt bursary

  1. The employee must agree to reimburse you the bursary if he/she fails to complete the studies.
  2. If you award a scholarship to the relative of an employee who earns below R100 000 per annum, then it's tax-free.
  3. If your employee pays you back for a scholarship for not finishing a course, this recouped amount must be included in your taxable income in the same year of assessment in which you received it.
  4. If you award a bursary/scholarship to an employee who retires a few months later, then the limitations around the R100 000 remuneration limit apply.
  5. If you take over the bursary that your new employee was awarded at his previous job, the employee may have to work for you for an amount of time specified by the previous employer to pay back the bursary.
 
The best part: In-house training's tax-free!

If you train your employees in house, at your premises, then this training won't be taxed.
 
But if it's a prerequisite of the employee's job to be trained in a particular area, and you cover the costs of the training, the employee is receiving a taxable benefit.
 
That's unless the training is required by law. In this case, you can claim a tax deduction for the cost of the training under Section 11(a) of the Income Tax Act.
 
It's a win-win situation. Help your employees get top marks by providing a tax-exempt bursary or in-house training, and you'll pay less in the long run.

Fo rmore tax tips simply sign-up to the Practical Tax Loose Leaf Service here.
 
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