Comprehensive Guide to Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) on Entertainment Benefits for Small Business Owners

Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) is a tax employers pay on certain benefits they provide to their employees (or their employees’ associates) in addition to salary or wages. Entertainment benefits are a common type of fringe benefit that includes business lunches, social functions, and events. This guide aims to provide small business owners with a comprehensive understanding of FBT on entertainment benefits, including detailed information on what constitutes entertainment benefits, how to calculate the taxable value, practical steps for compliance, and common pitfalls to avoid.


Understanding FBT on Entertainment Benefits

Types of Entertainment Benefits:

Entertainment benefits include any form of entertainment provided to employees, such as business lunches, social functions, and events. The primary categories of entertainment are:

  1. Meal Entertainment: Providing food or drink to employees, clients, or associates. This can include business lunches, dinners, and staff parties.
  2. Recreational Entertainment: Providing leisure activities, such as tickets to sporting events, theatre shows, or holiday accommodations.

Calculating the Taxable Value

The taxable value of entertainment benefits must be calculated to determine the FBT liability. The calculation methods include:

  1. 50/50 Split Method: This method allows you to claim 50% of the total cost of entertainment as deductible and subject to FBT, regardless of whether the entertainment is provided to employees or others.
  2. Actual Method: This method involves calculating the exact amount of entertainment provided to employees and their associates, which is subject to FBT.


  • Example 1: A company holds a year-end party for its employees. The total cost of the event, including food and drinks, needs to be recorded, and the number of attendees must be documented.
  • Example 2: A client dinner held at a restaurant with a few employees. The cost of the dinner is recorded, and the number of participating employees and clients is noted.

Practical Steps for Compliance

Recording Entertainment Events:

  1. Describe Each Event: Detail the type of entertainment (e.g., business lunch, client dinner, staff party).
  2. Provide Dates and Locations: Record the date and location (on or off premises) for each event.
  3. Record Costs and Participants: Document the total cost of the entertainment, including GST, and specify the number of employees, associates, and others who participated.


  • Example 1: A business holds a monthly team-building lunch. The cost, location, and participants must be recorded accurately.
  • Example 2: An off-site client meeting involving a meal. The details of the meeting, including the purpose, date, location, cost, and participants, should be documented.

Common Pitfalls and Issues

  1. Incorrectly Classifying Entertainment:
    • Misclassifying entertainment expenses can lead to incorrect FBT calculations and potential penalties.
  2. Inadequate Record-Keeping:
    • Failing to maintain accurate records, such as receipts and participant lists, can result in non-compliance with FBT regulations.
  3. Not Apportioning Costs Correctly:
    • Not correctly apportioning costs between employees, clients, and associates can lead to underpayment or overpayment of FBT.

Examples of Common Pitfalls:

  • Example 1: An employee claims a business lunch with a client as an exempt expense, but fails to provide detailed records, leading to potential penalties.
  • Example 2: A company hosts an annual retreat but does not accurately record the costs and participants, resulting in incorrect FBT calculations.


The information provided in this guide is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice. Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) regulations can be complex and subject to change. It is essential to seek personalised advice from a qualified tax professional or advisor to ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. Business Edge Advisors is not responsible for any actions taken based on the content of this guide.

Blog Insights and Further Reading

  1. Client Meetings: Coffee or a Catch-up – Is It Deductible?
    • This blog discusses the tax implications of business meetings over coffee or casual catch-ups, and what constitutes a deductible expense.
  2. Avoiding the FBT Christmas Grinch
    • Learn how to manage FBT during the festive season and avoid common pitfalls associated with Christmas parties and gifts.
  3. FBT Year is Almost Over
    • Tips for preparing your FBT return as the end of the FBT year approaches, including important deadlines and compliance checks.
  4. FBT Hot Spots for Employers and Employees
    • Identify common areas where employers and employees might incur FBT, and strategies to manage these effectively.
  5. Understanding Fringe Benefits Tax: Avoiding Common Pitfalls
    • Detailed advice on avoiding common FBT pitfalls and ensuring compliance.