Comprehensive Guide to Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) on Vehicles 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. One of the most common types of fringe benefits provided by employers is the use of vehicles. This guide aims to provide small business owners with a comprehensive understanding of FBT on vehicles, including detailed information on FBT-exempt vehicles, logbook requirements, practical steps for compliance, and common pitfalls to avoid.

Understanding FBT on Vehicles

Types of Motor Vehicle Benefits:

Motor vehicle benefits occur when an employer makes a vehicle available for an employee’s private use. This includes company cars provided for work that employees also use for private purposes, such as commuting or personal trips.

FBT-Exempt Vehicles

Certain vehicles may be exempt from FBT if they meet specific criteria. These include:

1. Panel Vans and Utes:

  • These vehicles are designed to carry a load of less than one tonne and are not principally designed for carrying passengers.
  • The private use of these vehicles should be limited to travel between home and work, incidental travel, or non-work-related use that is minor and infrequent.

2. Other Vehicles:

  • This includes vehicles not designed primarily for the private use of employees, such as trucks, buses, and taxis. To qualify as FBT-exempt, the private use of these vehicles must be minimal.


  • Example 1: A company uses a panel van for deliveries. The van is driven home by the employee occasionally but is mostly used for business purposes. This vehicle can be FBT-exempt if the private use is minimal.
  • Example 2: A ute used by a construction company employee for transporting tools and materials to job sites. The private use is limited to incidental travel, making it FBT-exempt.

Logbook Requirements

Even if a vehicle is FBT-exempt, maintaining a logbook is generally required to substantiate the business versus private use of the vehicle. A logbook should detail each journey, noting the date, odometer readings at the start and end, and the purpose of the trip.

Logbook Details:

  • Dates of Travel: Record the start and end dates of the logbook period.
  • Odometer Readings: Note the odometer readings at the beginning and end of the logbook period.
  • Trip Details: For each trip, record the date, distance traveled, and the purpose (business or private).

Example Logbook Entry:

  • Date: 01/05/2024
  • Start Odometer: 10,000 km
  • End Odometer: 10,150 km
  • Purpose: Travel to client meeting (business)

Calculating FBT on Vehicles

To calculate the FBT liability on vehicles, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the Taxable Value:
    • The taxable value of car fringe benefits can be calculated using either the statutory formula method or the operating cost method.
  2. Gross-Up the Taxable Value:
    • The grossed-up taxable value reflects the gross salary that would have to be earned to purchase the benefit after paying income tax.
  3. Apply the FBT Rate:
    • Apply the FBT rate to the grossed-up taxable value to determine the FBT liability.

Practical Steps for Compliance

Vehicle Details:

  1. Provide the make, model, and registration number of each company vehicle.
  2. Determine if the vehicle is classified as FBT-exempt based on its design and usage.

Usage Details:

  1. Calculate the percentage of the vehicle’s usage for business versus private use.
  2. Maintain a logbook to record the usage details. This should include:
    • Dates of travel
    • Odometer readings at the start and end of each trip
    • Purpose of each trip (business or private)

Common Pitfalls and Issues

  1. Incorrectly Classifying Vehicles:
    • Misclassifying a vehicle as FBT-exempt when it does not meet the criteria can lead to penalties.
  2. Inadequate Record-Keeping:
    • Failing to maintain accurate records, such as logbooks and receipts, can result in incorrect FBT calculations and compliance issues.
  3. Underestimating Private Use:
    • Not accurately accounting for the private use of company vehicles can lead to underpayment of FBT.

Examples of Common Pitfalls:

  • Example 1: An employee uses a company car for significant private travel but does not maintain a logbook. The business may face penalties for underreporting FBT.
  • Example 2: A business holds multiple entertainment events but fails to keep detailed records of the costs and participants, leading to 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. A Boom Time for Electric Vehicles with No FBT
    • Explore the benefits and incentives for electric vehicles, including potential FBT exemptions.
  4. 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.
  5. FBT Hot Spots for Employers and Employees
    • Identify common areas where employers and employees might incur FBT, and strategies to manage these effectively.
  6. FBT: Every Employer Needs to Know
    • A comprehensive overview of FBT, including key responsibilities and common mistakes to avoid.
  7. FBT 2016: 5 Things Every Business Should Know
    • Although dated, this blog covers essential aspects of FBT that remain relevant, such as record-keeping and taxable value calculations.
  8. The Right Vehicle for Your Business: Tax Implications and Benefits
    • Understand the tax implications of different vehicle types and how to choose the right one for your business needs.
  9. Understanding Fringe Benefits Tax: Avoiding Common Pitfalls
    • Detailed advice on avoiding common FBT pitfalls and ensuring compliance.
  10. Bah Humbug! The Christmas Tax Dilemma for Micro and Small Businesses
    • Guidance on handling FBT for Christmas-related expenses and ensuring you don’t fall foul of the taxman.
  11. Who Will Have the Most Epic Xmas Party for 2023?
    • Insights into organising a memorable Christmas party while managing FBT implications.
  12. Luxury Car Tax and Determining the Principal Purpose of a Vehicle
    • Information on luxury car tax and how to determine the primary use of a vehicle for tax purposes.