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Home internet should not be a "fringe benefit" say Telstra

With one-third of all employees working regularly from home, the Australian Tax Office should no longer consider home internet a "fringe benefit" says Telstra.

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Telstra has called on the government in the lead up to the May 9 budget, to update tax laws and stop treating home internet use as a fringe benefit.

Telecommunications services should be exempt

Telstra's director of taxation John Burke said the law is out of date and should take into account flexible working arrangements which are now commonplace.

He said section 58X of the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act, which covers exemptions for eligible work tools like laptops, briefcases, and tools of the trade, should be extended to include the internet services directly linked with the work tool.

"In the past eight years, significant changes in the way the workforce undertake their employment have seen many employers embracing flexible work arrangements where employees are encouraged to undertake some of their employment duties from home.

"Employees are able to securely logon to their business network from anywhere, including their personal computer or laptop devices. We believe that the section 58X exemption should apply to both fixed and wireless access to the internet for the dominant purpose of operating an eligible work item."

Almost one-third of employees work from home

Last year the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed the number of employees who work from home had jumped to 30 percent of the national workforce. Almost a third - 3.5 million - of all employed persons regularly worked from home, the ABS said.

What is the current ATO position?

Employers pay tax on certain fringe benefits they provide to their employees, including things like cars, parking, and certain entertainment and recreation activities.

Tax law currently considers reimbursements for home telephone and internet services a fringe benefit, meaning employers need to pay fringe benefits tax on these services.


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