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Is giving an employee a smartphone or tablet for their private use a taxable fringe benefit? Find out here

by , 31 March 2016
Let's say you provide an employee with an asset (such as a cell phone, smartphone, tablet or laptop) for their private use, which you own or lease. In other words, you let an employee privately use an asset of yours for free, or for a very small fee.

If you do this, then the employee's use of the asset is a taxable fringe benefit. And it should be treated as such.

If you fail to do so, you'll face harsh penalties from SARS. So pay attention!

Here's how to calculate this taxable fringe benefit...

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1. If you hold the asset under a lease or hiring agreement, you must withhold employees' tax on the amount of the payable rent. For example, this could be data payments to a service provider for a tablet computer.
 
2. If the employee is the only one who uses the asset, or uses it for the vast majority of its useful life, then the value of its private use is its cost to you. Tax the benefit, in full, on the date the employee was first allowed to use the asset.
 
3. If you allow an employee to use an asset which belongs to you in any other situation, tax her 15% per year on either the market value of the asset when she started using it, or the asset's initial cost. The amount to use would be the cheapest one.
 
4. For employees' tax purposes, divide up the cash equivalent of the asset over the period of time, during the year of assessment, which the employee uses the asset. For example, if the employee only used the asset for four months, then divide up the total cash equivalent and spread it over the four months.
 

*To learn more details on this taxable fringe benefit, page over to Chapter F 05 in your Practical Tax Loose Leaf Service handbook.

PS: There are 5 tax-free benefits you should know about here… So what are you waiting for? Open up and see what they are!

Click here if you don't already have this invaluable tax resource. 

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