A lower payroll tax rate of 3.65 per cent is available for wages paid by eligible regional employers. This reduced rate applies to wages paid from 1 July 2017.

Regional employers

You are a regional employer if you:

  • Are based in regional Victoria, and
  • Pay at least 85 per cent of your Victorian taxable wages to regional employees

Based in regional Victoria

You are based in regional Victoria if:

  • Have an ABN and your ABN registered business address is located in regional Victoria, or
  • If you do not have an ABN, your principal place of business is located in regional Victoria

For employers that operate under a trust, it is the registered business address under the trust’s ABN that is relevant. If the trust does not have an ABN, then the registered business address under trustee’s ABN will be used.

If an employer based in Victoria has an ABN-registered business addresses located in and outside regional Victoria at the same point in time, the location where that employer is based is made by reference to where the employer’s principal place of business is located.

If an employer changes their ABN registered address during a month, the ABN registered address existing on the last day of the month is used to determine whether the employer is based in regional Victoria.

The 85 per cent rule

To qualify as a regional employer, you must also pay:

  • At least 85 per cent of your monthly Victorian taxable wages to your regional employees for the purposes of your monthly returns, and
  • At least 85 per cent of your Victorian payroll to your regional employees during a financial year for the purposes of your annual return

Note: It is not necessary for an employer to meet the monthly rate reduction threshold every month during a financial year for the purpose of determining that they meet the annual rate reduction threshold.

Example 1

During 2017-18, RedCar, a regional-based employer, pays total taxable Victorian wages each month of $100 000, totalling $1,200,000 for the year. It paid wages to its regional employees as follows:

  • July to October 2017 - $90 000 each month,
  • November 2017 to February 2018 - $80 000 each month
  • March to June 2018 - $90 000 for each month
Monthly returns

RedCar meets the 85 per cent rule for the months of July to October 2017 and March to June 2018, but not for the months November 2017 to February 2018. Therefore, it pays payroll tax at the lower regional employer rate of 3.65 per cent for its monthly returns July to October 2017 and March to May 2018. It must pay payroll tax at the rate of 4.85 per cent for its monthly returns for November 2017 to February 2018.

Annual return

For the purposes of calculating the payroll tax rate for its annual return, the wages paid to RedCar’s regional employees during the months of November 2017 to February 2018 are taken into account for the purposes of determining the 85 per cent rule. RedCar pays total taxable wages of $1,040 000 to its regional employees during the 2017-18 year. This is 86·67 per cent of its total taxable wages for that year and means RedCar meets the 85 per cent test so will pay payroll tax on its total taxable wages for the financial year at the lower regional employer rate of 3.65 per cent.

Regional employees

These are employees who perform their services mainly (more than 50 per cent) in regional Victoria during the month.

Grouped businesses

Businesses grouped for payroll tax purposes will be separately assessed for eligibility of the lower regional employer rate of payroll tax. For example, a group consists of three members. One is based in regional Victoria but the other two are not. If the member based in regional Victoria satisfies the 85 per cent rule, that member is eligible for the lower payroll tax rate of 3.65 per cent. The other two members in the group will pay payroll tax at the rate of 4.85 per cent. 

Groups lodging joint (schedule) returns

Some groups may have approval to lodge a joint return (referred to as a schedule return) that covers two or more members of the group. Where all of the members covered by the schedule return are regional employers, the tax payable is at the lower payroll tax rate of 3.65 per cent. Where none of the members covered by the schedule return are regional employers, the tax payable is at the rate of 4.85 per cent.

If some, but not all, members covered by the schedule return are regional employers, the tax payable is calculated as follows:

  • At the lower rate of 3.65 per cent on the proportion of the total taxable wages covered by the schedule return (after subtracting the deduction amount) that is attributable to the regional employers, plus
  • At the rate of 4.85 per cent on the proportion of the total taxable wages covered by the schedule return (after subtracting the deduction amount) that is attributable to the members who are not regional employers 

Example 2

ABC, XYZ and DoReMi have been grouped and given approval to lodge a joint return.

For July 2017, ABC paid wages of $40,000, XYZ (who is a regional employer) paid wages of $30,000 and DoReMi paid wages of $20 000. Their total wages for the month are $90,000.

The monthly deduction amount is $52,083. This means the wages liable to payroll tax are $37,917. One-third of the total taxable wages is paid by XYZ, the regional employer.

One-third of the wages liable to payroll tax ($12,639) is assessed at the regional employer tax rate of 3.65 per cent and the remaining two-thirds ($25,278) is assessed at the tax rate of 4.85 per cent.

The same methodology applies to the calculation of the payroll tax for the annual return.