tmsfinancial logo
Insights
Published on 29 May, 2024

How to pay yourself bonuses and commissions as a company director

Written by:
Thomas S Phabmixay
General Manager

.

Page Contents

Paying bonuses and commissions effectively can ensure you reap benefits while staying compliant with the Income Tax Assessment Act. These types of payments are not only a direct reward for exceptional performance, they’re also a strategic tool for income tax purposes, enabling private companies to manage profits more efficiently and avoid pitfalls like Division 7A.

Bonuses and commissions are forms of income that can be customised to suit various roles, from fixed amount bonuses for reaching specific targets to commission pay that rewards sales people based on their sales achievements. For private companies, structuring these payments correctly is crucial to prevent profits from being treated as dividends or loans to associates, which can be taxable under Division 7A.

If your business needs guidance on integrating bonuses and commissions into your payment structure or if you’re looking to ensure your current practices align with the Income Tax Return requirements and Division 7A regulations, contact us today to enhance your compensation strategies and keep your business competitive and compliant.

Stay compliant with your bonuses and commissions. Book a consultation with TMS Financials today!

What are bonuses and commissions?

Bonuses and commissions are incentive-based payments given to employees, directors, or shareholders for meeting certain performance criteria or targets. These can include various forms such as year-end bonuses, sales commissions, and performance incentives.

Why should you consider paying bonuses and commissions?

Bonuses and commissions can boost motivation and reward for outstanding performance or achievements in the business. Moreover, they serve as an effective tax planning mechanism because they don’t fall strictly under the constraints of Division 7A, thus offering greater flexibility in handling tax matters.

How should bonuses and commissions be structured and managed?

To ensure bonuses and commissions serve their intended purpose, they must be based on clear performance metrics. Proper documentation and incorporation into the payroll system are essential for transparency and tax compliance.

What are the advantages of paying bonuses and commissions?

Bonuses can be tax-efficient income

As a business owner, you can choose to pay yourself bonuses and commissions. These types of payments can be beneficial for your business as they are usually deductible for income tax purposes. This means they can help reduce the amount of tax your business owes.

Bonuses can provide flexibility in timing

You have the flexibility to decide when to pay yourself these bonuses or commissions. Timing these payments wisely can help you manage your cash flow better and can also be favorable for tax planning.

Bonuses can increase motivation and retention

Using bonuses and commissions as part of your pay can keep you motivated to meet your business goals.

Compliance with Division 7A

It’s important to follow the rules set out in the Income Tax Assessment Act, specifically Division 7A. This ensures any payments made to shareholders or their associates from a private company are treated correctly for tax purposes. Doing this correctly helps avoid potential tax issues and lets you access the money without unnecessary tax costs.

Division 7a Loan agreement image

In summary, for small business owners, using bonuses and commissions as a means to take money out from the company can provide tax advantages, flexibility in timing, motivation, and compliance with Division 7A regulations, making it a practical and efficient method to manage personal finances while growing the business.

Company tax consequences of paying bonuses and commissions

Tax deductibility

Paying bonuses and commissions is tax-deductible for the company, reducing its net taxable income and consequently the amount of company tax payable.

Cash flow advantage

Companies can claim bonuses and commissions as a tax deduction in the year they’re intended to be paid, providing a cash flow advantage if the intention to pay is demonstrable.

Withholding PAYG Tax

The company must withhold Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) withholding tax from bonuses and commissions and report it to the ATO. Failure to do so can result in the company being unable to claim these payments as a tax deduction.

Superannuation obligations

Superannuation contributions must be paid on bonuses and commissions, ensuring compliance with superannuation requirements. The rate is set according to current superannuation laws.

BAS Reporting

Bonuses and commissions need to be reported on the company’s Business Activity Statement (BAS) and lodged with the ATO as per Single Touch Payroll (STP) rules.

Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT)

If employees, including directors, receive fringe benefits as part of their compensation, these must be reported in the company’s annual FBT return.

WorkCover insurance

Companies must ensure that appropriate WorkCover insurance is maintained for insurance purposes, including coverage for bonuses and commissions.

image of the advantages of paying a company director salary, highlighting tax efficiency, legal compliance, strategic planning, corporate governance, and equitable compensation.

Director or employee tax consequences of paying bonuses or commissions

Assessable income

Bonuses and commissions form part of the recipient’s assessable income and are taxed at their individual tax marginal rate.

Accessing income information

Recipients can access their income information, including the amount earned and tax withheld, through their myGov account, thanks to Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting by the company.

Contract arrangements

If bonuses and commissions are paid through a contract arrangement, they’re treated as salary, with PAYG tax withheld on the gross amount. Superannuation contributions are calculated based on current laws.

Adhering to these tax obligations and reporting requirements is crucial for both the company and the individual to ensure compliance with Australian tax laws. It’s always recommended to consult with a tax professional to effectively navigate these obligations.

image of the advantages of paying a company director salary, highlighting tax efficiency, legal compliance, strategic planning, corporate governance, and equitable compensation.

What are the challenges and considerations of paying a bonus or commission?

Company considerations of paying a bonus or commission

Tax deductions

Paying bonuses and commissions can be advantageous for the company as it can serve as tax deductions, potentially reducing the company’s overall tax liability. However, it’s essential to ensure compliance with Australian tax laws and accurately calculate these deductions.

Payroll tax

Depending on the state in Australia where the company operates, there may be payroll tax obligations triggered by paying bonuses and commissions. It’s important to be aware of the specific rules and thresholds in the relevant state to avoid unexpected liabilities.

Superannuation

Companies need to consider whether bonuses and commissions are subject to superannuation contributions. Compliance with superannuation obligations is essential to avoid penalties and ensure that employees receive their entitled superannuation contributions.

Documentation and transparency

Maintaining clear and transparent records of bonus and commission payments is crucial. Proper documentation helps in demonstrating compliance with tax and employment laws and ensures that employees understand the basis for their payments.

image of the advantages of paying a company director salary, highlighting tax efficiency, legal compliance, strategic planning, corporate governance, and equitable compensation.

Employee or director considerations of paying a bonus or comission

Tax bracket impact

Receiving bonuses and commissions can potentially push recipients into higher tax brackets, leading to an increase in their overall tax liability. It’s important for recipients to understand the tax implications and consider tax planning strategies to manage their tax obligations effectively.

Government benefit entitlements

The receipt of bonuses and commissions may affect recipients’ entitlements to government benefits such as family tax benefits or age pension. It’s advisable for recipients to review their eligibility for these benefits and assess how their additional income may impact their overall financial situation.

In summary, paying bonuses and commissions in Australia entails significant tax considerations, potential payroll tax obligations, and implications for recipients’ government benefits. It’s crucial for both companies and recipients to fully grasp these challenges and considerations for optimal compliance with Australian law and to maximise financial outcomes. We encourage you to contact us for personalised advice and assistance tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. Our team is here to help you navigate these complexities and make informed financial decisions.

image of the advantages of paying a company director salary, highlighting tax efficiency, legal compliance, strategic planning, corporate governance, and equitable compensation.

Case study: bonuses and commissions

Scenario

Jessica owns “Tech Solutions Pty Ltd”, providing IT support. The company has had an exceptional year, surpassing several performance milestones.

Strategy

To reflect the company’s success and her role in securing significant contracts, Jessica implements a bonus and commission structure for herself. She receives a commission for each major client secured and an annual bonus based on the company’s performance.

Outcome

This incentivises Jessica to continue growing her business, directly linking her remuneration to the company’s success. The additional income helps Jessica personally and reinvests back into the business for future growth.

Tax considerations

Commissions and bonuses are additional income for Jessica and are taxed at her income tax marginal rate. These payments are also deductible business expenses for “Tech Solutions Pty Ltd” as long as they’re justified as reasonable for the work performed.

Next steps

If you’re a business owner like Jessica and you’re thinking about introducing bonuses or commissions as part of your compensation package, it’s essential to align these payments with the company’s financial performance and your contributions. This approach can provide incentives for growth and reward your hard work in a tax-efficient way. To ensure these payments effectively meet your goals without raising compliance concerns, particularly under Division 7A, we strongly recommend getting in touch with us. Our team of tax professionals can help you establish a clear and compliant bonus or commission structure that reflects your dedication and supports the success of your business. Contact us today to discuss how we can assist you in this process.
Image of a flyer or banner featuring TMS CPA Accountants' free financial health review consultation offer. The text on the image reads 'Book a free financial health review with TMS CPA Accountants today!' and includes contact details for the firm.

Disclaimer

This outline is for general information only and not as legal, tax or accounting advice. It may not be accurate, complete or current. It is not official and not from a government institution. Always consult a qualified professional for specific advice tailored to your unique circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What exactly are bonuses and commissions?
Bonuses and comissions are extra payments awarded to employees or directors for achieving certain business goals or performance levels.
Why should a company pay bonuses or commissions?
These incentives can increase motivation, reward exceptional performance, and offer tax management flexibility.
How do bonuses and commissions relate to company fund withdrawals?
Bonuses and commissions result in the withdrawal of company funds as they are paid out. They’re a form of variable pay that reflects the company’s performance and success which is shared with employees or directors. As such, they are deducted from the company’s earnings and affect the overall financial position.
How are these incentive payments taxed?
They’re generally deductible for the company and taxable for the recipient at their marginal tax rate.
Can bonuses push employees into a higher tax bracket?
Yes, large bonuses could result in higher tax liability for the recipient, which is why tax planning is crucial.
How can we manage the risks associated with bonuses and commissions?
By seeking professional tax advice, structuring payments wisely, and considering the timing of these incentives.
What assistance can you offer regarding bonuses and commissions?
We provide tax planning, assist in structuring these payments effectively, give business advice on how best to calculate bonuses and comissions, and handle the compliance aspects related to payroll.

Related Articles

Contact Us

Tax Insights & Business Advice

Receive only the guidance that matters. Subscribe now for personalised tips and expert advice, directly suited for you and your business.