FBT Compliance: How Car Logbooks Keep You on the Right Road

With the end of the FBT year approaching, are your car logbooks in order?

The operating cost method is used by many employers to calculate their car FBT liability. This method is particularly effective where the business use of the vehicle is high. 

Keeping a logbook is essential to use the operating cost method.

How to prepare a Logbook for FBT purposes

Employees need to prepare a logbook for any vehicle you provide them with where there is an element of private use. The logbook period is 12 weeks, which must represent typical usage. 

For example, a period where an employee is taking a block of annual leave is not representative.

Where employees share a vehicle during a year, each employee will need to prepare a logbook to substantiate their respective business use percentage.

Validity of car logbooks for FBT

Logbooks are valid for five FBT years (including the year the logbook is prepared), provided there is no significant change in the vehicle’s business use. 

Once the five-year period expires, a new logbook will need to be kept if you wish to continue using the operating cost method. Therefore, if a logbook was last prepared in 2017/18, a new logbook is required for this FBT year (2022/23).

As noted, a new logbook will need to be prepared where there is a significant change in the business use of a vehicle. Indeed, it is in an employer’s interest for a new logbook to be prepared where the business use of the vehicle increases, as this will result in a decreased FBT liability.

What to include in your car logbook for FBT compliance

With just weeks to go in the FBT year, if a new logbook is required to be kept, but has not yet been…don’t panic! 

The 12-week period can overlap two FBT years, provided it includes at least part of the relevant year.

The logbook must contain:

  • when the logbook period begins and ends
  • the odometer readings at the start and end of the logbook period
  • the total number of kilometres travelled during the logbook period
  • the number of kilometres travelled for each journey. If you make two or more journeys in a row on the same day, you can record them as a single journey
  • the business-use percentage for the logbook period
  • the make, model, engine capacity and registration number of the car.

For each journey, record the:

  • reason for the journey (such as a description of the business reason or whether it was for private use). Note that a generic description of a journey, such as ‘business use’, is not adequate
  • start and end date of the journey
  • odometer readings at the start and end of the journey, and
  • kilometres travelled.

These entries should be made contemporaneously, as soon as possible after each trip.

Clarifying FBT for commercial vehicles

It’s a common misconception among employers with commercial vehicles, such as dual-cab utes, that they are automatically exempt from FBT and therefore, there is no requirement to maintain a logbook. This is generally only the case where private use is negligible.

If you have any questions about your FBT logbook obligations or the tax implications of the fringe benefits you provided to your employees, please call our tax consultant at W Wen & Co on (02) 8090 2449

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