What is fringe benefit tax?

Written by mark kennan
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What is fringe benefit tax?
The IRS regulates which fringe benefits are taxed and which are not. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of woodley wonderworks)

Fringe benefits are a form of nonpayment compensation you receive from an employer that can include health and life insurance, tuition reimbursement and employee discounts.

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Types

Fringe benefits can fall under one of four categories: tax free, taxable, tax deferred or partially taxable, meaning you could be taxed for the value of the fringe benefit that exceeds an annual limit.

Calculation

Taxable and partially taxable fringe benefits derive their value from the difference between fair market price and the discount you receive. For example, if you pay £6 for an item that has a market value of £26, your fringe benefit is £19.

Function

The rate at which fringe benefits are taxed depends on your taxable income. For example, if you are in the 25 per cent tax bracket, you will pay a 25 per cent tax on your fringe benefits.

Purpose

Fringe benefit taxes are intended to ensure that workers in a specific income bracket, regardless of whether or not they receive rich fringe benefits, pay an equal percentage of their income in taxes. The tax also prevents companies from helping employees evade tax payments, compensating them with goods instead of a paycheck.

Exceptions

Certain fringe benefits like health insurance, term life insurance and some transportation reimbursement are not taxable.

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