Lapping it up: salary packaging a portable computer

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For the latest information about salary packaging iPads & Tablet computers, please click here.

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Have you salary sacrificed for a laptop lately? Well if you have, you’ll know that you can only package a laptop these days if it is primarily used for work purposes.

Back in the good old days, before May 2008, anyone could buy and package a laptop for any reason. Heck, it could have been a Xmas pressie for your kids and you could still have sacrificed for it.

However, as the rules are different these days, you’ll probably fall into one of the below categories:

(a)   Bring on the salary packaging of laptops – I do a fair bit of work from home.

(b)  Darn, I won’t be able to package a laptop, but I’d still like to buy one.

(c)   Forget it! Now that I cannot salary package a laptop, buying one will be too expensive.

So what do you reckon? Are you still able to package laptop? Do you fall into one of the above categories? Or are you happy enough to buy a laptop without being able to package it?

Leave a comment here

19 Responses to “Lapping it up: salary packaging a portable computer”

  1. 1 lynn hall December 18, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Am i able to salary sacrifice a laptop as a nurse unit manager? I do a fair bit of work at home including rosters etc..How do I go about it? Or would it be easier to buy one and claim it on my tax return?

    • 2 ceosmartsalary December 21, 2009 at 12:53 pm

      Hi Lynn,

      Thanks for your comment. I referred your question to our internal tax advisor, and below is his response:

      Whether you can salary package a laptop depends on both the nature of your duties (i.e., do they require the use of a computer) and the connection between those duties and your need for a portable computer (i.e., do you regularly need to perform those duties away from the office).

      If you are regularly required to perform computer-based work at home or away from the office then it is reasonable to conclude that you would use a packaged laptop primarily for work purposes. As such it is likely that you would qualify for packaging a laptop, which would deliver you a better after-tax outcome than claiming the machine as a tax deduction.

      If, however, your duties only occasionally require you to perform computer-based work at home it is likely the ATO would take the view that a laptop would primarily be used for non-employment purposes, and you would therefore not meet the eligibility test. Under this scenario (i.e. some work use but not enough to meet the ‘primarily’ test) you would be better off claiming the machine as a partial tax deduction through your end-of-year tax return.


      Simon Ellis
      Senior Tax Adviser
      SmartSalary Pty Limited

  2. 3 Alex Willson December 21, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    I have just purchased a laptop for work purchases. Do I send in the receipt to smart salary to be reimbursed. AFter packaging do i then claim depreciation on the full amount paid for the computer.

    • 4 ceosmartsalary December 22, 2009 at 10:39 am

      Hi Alex,

      Another excellent question. Our internal tax advisor Simon has come back with the following response.

      First of all you should check on the SmartSalary website to see whether laptop claims must be ‘approved’ by your immediate supervisor prior to being lodged. Many of our employer clients insist on this step in order to ensure that the ‘primarily for employment duties” test is properly considered, and if it does apply then you will need to obtain approval before going ahead.

      Assuming approval is granted (or alternatively that no approval is required) you would then complete the laptop claim form and send in with a copy of your detailed receipt. The purchase cost will then be reimbursed to you using pre-tax salary over the number of pay periods you advise.

      In relation to your final query I note that you cannot claim depreciation on a salary packaged laptop. It used to be allowed by the ATO as a result of a very generous tax ruling, but the Federal Government closed this opportunity from 13 May 2008 (i.e. in the 2008 budget).


      Simon Ellis

  3. 5 Ottilia Magnusson December 24, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    I was told by my accountant that lap top was the only item that you can salary package AND tax deduct legally. Is this true?

    • 6 ceosmartsalary December 26, 2009 at 9:48 pm

      Hi Ottilia,

      Unfortunately this is no longer the case. As per the reply to Alex’s query above, the ability to claim depreciation in your personal tax return on a salary packaged laptop was closed on 13 May 2008. However, if you are using a laptop “primarily for employment duties” then it is still possible to salary package it.

      You’ll just need to confirm that laptops are eligible to be packaged within your employer’s salary packaging policy – you can do this be checking the benefit menu after you’ve logged into SmartSalary.


  4. 7 Phek Lee December 29, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Would I be able to salary package a laptop as I frequently access my workplace intranet as well as check up on my roster and apply leave online.

    • 8 ceosmartsalary January 4, 2010 at 9:03 am

      Hi Phek Lee,

      Good question!

      From what you describe, it is unclear to us whether you would be eligible to package a laptop – you are best positioned to make that call. You need to use the your laptop ‘primarily for employment duties’ in order to salary sacrifice for it. In other words, work-related activities, like those you describe, must account for more than 50% of the total use of your laptop.

  5. 9 Julie Devine January 1, 2010 at 9:52 am

    I work for 2 Employer’s and would love to sacrifice a laptop for a fair bit of use for both jobs but laptop usage would not be 100% for one Employer?? One of the jobs is teaching. My credit card is maxed out at present so that isn’t an option for purchasing a laptop. Any ideas?

    • 10 ceosmartsalary January 4, 2010 at 12:01 pm

      Hi Julie,

      My response to Phek Lee (see above) may be helpful to you. One thing that some people do is salary sacrifice for a laptop (let’s say $100 per pay) into their salary packaging account and then only buy the laptop once they have sufficient funds saved up – perhaps that would work for you? Mind you, we are not licensed to give financial advice, so we will not be able to provide much further assistance here.

  6. 11 Anthony January 6, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    I was just looking at the range of HP notebook computers you have for sale online – they all have “Home” versions of Vista or Windows 7. If I want to use a notebook mainly for work then won’t I need the professional version of Windows?

    • 12 ceosmartsalary January 11, 2010 at 9:35 am

      Hi Anthony,

      I just forwarded your query to our Online Marketing Manager and he has come back with the following:

      Hi Deven,

      We can ( and do) supply all versions of Windows.
      The home version certainly doesn’t stop you using the machine for “work purposes”…
      However, if they need to connect to a corporate network, they may need the professional edition…

      Win7 comparison chart below

      techsmart sales team can assist further if required.


      Matt Wilson
      Online Marketing Manager

  7. 13 Lynda Smith January 8, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Yes I will be buying a laptop in the next month and would be using it for some work orientated business and also home. It is disappointing I will not be able to claim

  8. 14 Div Patel January 27, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Myself Div Patel, currently working as a Graduate Registered Nurse at pshychiatric hospital. Recently I bought a laptop to enhance my knowledge and to gain better understanding of different aspects of Mental Health Nursing by using different internet website. Am I eligible for the laptop claim as I am using it to enhance my knowledge during my Graduate Programme?

    Kind Regards

    Div Patel

    • 15 ceosmartsalary February 18, 2010 at 5:27 pm

      Hi Div,
      Unfortunately the salary packaging opportunity is only available if the laptop is primarily for use in your actual employment, i.e., you will primarily use it in the course of performing your actual duties as a Graduate Registered Nurse).

      Laptops purchased for the purposes of study do not qualify under the new ATO rules, so from what you’ve said below it looks like you won’t be eligible.

  9. 16 david widjaja March 18, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    i think they should leave it to the old days rules. even for work purposes only, how many of us at work doing other things 90% besides work such as browsing, emails, chatting, play games etc. I dont see the difference for purchasing laptop for work purposes at work or back to old days for any kind of things.

  10. 17 leecee April 19, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    To salary sacrifice a car is the basic requirement that you use it for work? Seems a double standard for laptops if this criteria does not apply to other items that are able to be salary sacrificed such as superannuation etc.

  11. 18 adriansmith March 25, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Question – if I package a laptop one year for work-related purposes and can I then decide the next year I want to give that laptop to my wife or kids to use and buy (and salary package) another one for myself?

  12. 19 Simon Ellis March 29, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Hi Adrian

    I have answered this question in the other thread where you posted it (Portable Electronic Items – Expanding Our Product Range) so please go there for a full explanation – however the answer is yes you can do that as long as you genuinely intend for each laptop to be a work tool at the time of purchase.

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Deven Billimoria
Chief Executive Officer

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