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Reducing PAYG payments

Reducing PAYG payments (i.e. the tax withheld from salaries or wages) is allowable and advisable in a number of circumstances. They may be referred to as section 221D tax variations.

Excluding allowances

Whilst there is a general rule is that assessable income of an employee must include allowances, and PAYG withholding tax must be deducted by the employer on such income, there are a number of exceptions:

  • Automatic – certain allowances are effectively tax free, and are automatically excluded from the PAYG requirements by regulation, a specific variation application not being necessary. See PAYG Withholding Variation: Tax Free Allowances
  • By request – when the employer separately identifies an allowance in the accounting records, for which an employee is properly able to claim a tax deduction for the associated expenditure, then the employee can request that the PAYG tax withholdings on the allowance be reduced or removed. This can include a negative gearing loss.

More cash in each pay

After processing the tax variation (i.e. tax reduction), an employee gets the extra cash in each payroll, rather than waiting until a tax return is lodged for the year in order to receive a credit or refund of the tax on the allowances.

This applies to such things as car, travel and phone allowances, which are fully or partly tax deductible expenses when paid and claimed within the rules, and when there are negative gearing or other losses which may be claimable.

A variation application is also for use in varying HELP or Financial Supplement PAYG withholdings and in other circumstances.

Variation Applications

Variation requests may be lodged electronically via myGov or an agent or by physical lodgment on a form obtainable from the Tax Office – see Withholding declarations and variations

Note: The Tax Office’s deadline for each financial year is 30 April. Applications after that date will be applicable to the next financial year commencing on 1 July.

Further information

This page was last modified 2021-06-02