The Christmas run-up can be frantic for small business owners. It’s important to think about business basics like paying taxes and staff before you start decorating the tree.
Throwing a staff party can be a great way to see out the year and celebrate successes, but there are tax considerations to think about.
You can claim some costs of a party or staff gifts, but they may be subject to fringe benefit tax. This is paid on benefits workers get as a result of their employment.
Half your holiday party expenses may be claimed in your GST and income tax returns if the expenses relate to your business. Expenses can include:
Entertainment expenses guide (external link) — Inland Revenue
Generally, you can claim the costs of gifts as a business expense, eg hampers or gift vouchers. But you may need to pay fringe benefit tax on these gifts.
A meal out provided by the business is an entertainment expense and you can claim 50% as a business expense.
You can deduct 100% of the cost of entertainment you provide to members of the public for charitable purposes. For example, if your business donates food to a party at a hospital.
When there’s a public holiday on a day your employee usually works, they’re entitled to a paid day off — no matter how long they’ve worked for you.
You can only require employees to work a public holiday if it’s written in their employment agreements. Also, if they agree to work, you must:
When a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, employees who don’t normally work then get the following Monday as their paid public holiday — this is called Mondayisation.
The public holidays for the upcoming Christmas break, with the day of the week they fall on, are as follows:
You must consider requests unless you have a policy that prevents transferring public holidays.
Transferring public holidays (external link) — Employment New Zealand.
An employee is entitled to a full alternative day off if they work on a public holiday — no matter how many hours they worked that day.
But they don’t get an alternative day off — also called a day in lieu — if:
Alternative holidays (external link) — Employment New Zealand