A Work Related iPad?

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

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Today I’m turning over the blog to my Senior Taxation Adviser Simon Ellis, who has some interesting thoughts and questions about packaging iPads.  Take it away Simon . . . .

As many readers already know, a salary packaging opportunity exists for portable electronic devices where they are intended “primarily” for use in undertaking employment duties.

To date this opportunity has generally been used to package the dynamic duo of work-related equipment, the mobile phone and the laptop, but with the impending Australian release of the iPad are we about to see a third product enter the packaging arena?  Are tablet computers going to be the next big thing in portable business tools?

At the moment, with iPads as the market leader (and Apple’s monopoly on ‘cool’), these computers seem to be aimed more at media consumption than any serious business application, but it seems likely that the future of these computers will see them used for a wide range of business applications.

So what do you think?  Are there any aspects of your current job that you think would benefit from access to a tablet computer as opposed to, say, a traditional laptop?  Do you think you could justify a ‘primary’ work purpose for this new breed of portable electronics if they were offered as a packaging option?

You can leave a comment here

32 Responses to “A Work Related iPad?”

  1. 1 sue hudson April 14, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    sometimes people need to access their wages on line, or submit their timesheet on line, it would be very handy.

  2. 2 Yasser April 14, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    I don’t think that “iPad” is one thing and work related TABLET PC is another.

    I am a doctor and in my field and at the hospital where I work, many people use proper tablet laptop PC for work related purposes. Its just like instead of buying a laptop somebody bought a Tablet PC and is working on it for mainly a work related purpose. iPad should also be no exception. The type of work related usage that we doctors use a laptop or a tablet PC for, is really well defined and it can and will easily be done on an iPad as well.

    I guess the other industries may have a problem with use of an IPad as a “work related use”, but for us the use of these types of devices is really straight forward weather it be an IPad, or a laptop or a Tablet PC. For us every thing works exactly the same so it really doesn’t matter (an iPad on the other hand has a capability to go online using 3G network so extremely useful for doctors e.g., oncologists, Surgeons etc).

    Hence, iPad should ba a packagable item.


  3. 3 Sheryle April 14, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    The iPad has a significant advantage for those of us trying to be environmentally friendly and catch the train. Currently reading journal article on my PDA is doable but cumbersome as there needs to be constants scrolling. I think the iPad is the answere to this problem. The kindle is another option it is thinner and lighter but loads PDF files with difficulty. The iPad loads with more ease and synchronises with you set file for article to read. Whils it is slightly more heavy it will replace the book on the tram and train. Of course it will also have the advantage of Tram Tracker and Metlink Apps so you never miss the tram and coordinate with the train.
    I think that definitely this is a productivity tool for those of us who try to never drive to work.

  4. 4 Cameron April 15, 2010 at 9:24 am

    I work in a Health Service so yes.

  5. 5 Ayesha April 15, 2010 at 10:51 am

    I am health care worker .
    portable electronics highly appreciated in this field given bed side quick assesment of patient.
    so highly recommended for ‘primary’ work purpose

  6. 6 Phil W April 15, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    A PDA is a PDA. If an employee can justify using a “pocket-sized” PDA for “primary” work purpose, and subsequent salary sacrificing, then there should be no discrimination against them for wanting to use and justify a larger PDA for the same purpose and receive salary sacrificing.
    On the other hand, a PDA is essentially a portable computer, as is a laptop. If a laptop, used for primary work, can be salary sacrificed, then why not an iPad

  7. 7 Lucien April 15, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    The iPad is not intended to be a “primary” device, but could easily become an indispensable auxiliary tool which is easily carried around. Also, if you look at the apps that are already available for the iPad, you’ll see that Apple is try hard to appeal to the business market. This *is not* meant as a simple media consumption tool. As such, it should definitely be sacrificable.

  8. 8 Ahmed M April 15, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    As a doctor/medical specialist, I believe that the iPad is an indispensible portable tool to access various clinical databases such as Epocrates, Skyscape, Eponyms etc. These applications greatly assist in clinical work and therefore the iPad should certainly be considered as an item suitable for slaray packaging.

  9. 9 Ahmed M April 15, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    As a doctor/medical specialist, I believe that the iPad is an indispensible portable tool to access various clinical databases such as Epocrates, Skyscape, Eponyms etc. These applications greatly assist in clinical work and therefore the iPad should certainly be considered as an item suitable for salary packaging.

  10. 10 lisa April 15, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    i too am in the health care industrie and also about to take on further studies, it would be a great advantage

  11. 11 rick swancott April 16, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Absolutely! With an ipad and a video out interface I could prepare and present to classes all day ( ipad battery life is better than a laptop). And yes I will participate in your soon to be implemented “Win an IPAD” competition by presenting a video of how I could use the ipad aquired through your salary sacrificing program. 😉

    Rick Swancott 0414426148.

  12. 12 Julie April 16, 2010 at 9:10 am

    To be able to transport reference materials prescribing guides and textbooks on one small ipad rather than transport literally kilos of books has to be a fabulous work related use

  13. 13 Matthew April 19, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    I am a surgical fellow, and one requirement of all “intervenionist” trainees is that we keep a detailed logbook, for the purposes of audit, our college requirements and various professional societies such a GESA for endoscopy.

    This must be in digital format. The college of surgeons is currently moving towards an online web based logbook, but currently most trainees are probably either keeping a spreadsheet or filemaker/access database

    The iphone/pod/pad supports filemaker pro (FM Touch) as well as excel and word files and an ipad would be much more convenient than carrying around a 17inch laptop every day.

  14. 14 Tonina Harvey April 23, 2010 at 8:51 am

    The iPad is fabulous technology & opens up a myriad of opportunities for people with disabilities, who often cannot access information via other means. We employ people with Spinal Cord Injuries and other related physical disabilitites who would greatly benefit from use oof the iPad within the work environment!

  15. 15 Christian Karcher April 29, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    “[…]To date this opportunity has generally been used to package the dynamic duo of work-related equipment, the mobile phone and the laptop, […]”

    Reading this, I am now wondering why I was told recently, that I could NOT package my HTC Hero. The reason for the refusal was that its purpouse was predominantly that of a mobile phoone, not of a PDA.

  16. 16 Denis April 30, 2010 at 8:16 am

    I spoke to your SmartSalary Service Desk regarding packaging an iPad as a PDA and they said its classified as a Laptop. Can you clarify the definition of PDA vs Laptop. I would class it as a PDA. Thanks Denis

  17. 17 Greg April 30, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Working in clinical education, the ipad can electronically
    1. carry educational text & literature..easier on the back.
    2. make clinical appointments…no hard copy diary
    3. has a bigger screen & that’s a real benefit. Easier on the eyes & much better the current, very small, PDAs available.

  18. 18 Faith Ember April 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Yes I can justify using an IPad in clinical day to day care in mental health –
    As a M H Nurse providing patient education I would be lost without my educational CD’s DVD’s computer and smart pen – which i use as a tablet in many ways.
    Most definitely an IPad would make my life easier – my work bag would be lighter and my patients would appreciate the felexibility of such technology

  19. 19 Maggie May 2, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I have 34 A4 folders in my office. I have to print out minutes and docs for every meeting place them in the folder and lugg them around. I make notes on the minutes and take them back to the office to add to the”ToDo” list. Its a pain. I’ve been dying to find an alternative and the ipad is it. I could use the iphone and the ipad and go to meetings with all 34 folders loaded on and I could be constantly synching with the PC. Lets green over the Health Department and either get them salary packaged or get the health Dept to purchase these items

  20. 20 Luca May 4, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Absolutely work-related. I Had one from a friend in the US and I use it everyday at work with a lot of apps. I will apply for packaging one as soon as it is available in Australia!

  21. 21 Alex May 5, 2010 at 10:15 am

    This should be treated no differently than a laptop, which is what it really is for most purposes.

  22. 22 Karl Rumba May 7, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Dear CEO Blog,

    I was just about to write to Smart Salary to let you know that the advice I received from the ATO is that laptops are not the only devices that we can get a fring benefit concession on.


    So the iPad sounds like it has a chance. The device can connect to the web, do emails and also work with word documents and spreadsheets. This to me would appear to meet the use of most work needs, other than specialised software applications.

    So are we ready to add the iPad to the list? A key advantage is there is less need for the phone that handles emails if the very portable iPad can be taken around.

    Is the ball in the court of Selectus, or individual agencies to decide if the device fits the description of primarily for work use?

    I work in DEWHA, and would be please to know if this is a goer.

    Thanks for showing initiative,

    Karl Rumba

  23. 23 Simon Ellis May 10, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Hi Everyone

    I’m the Senior Tax Adviser at SmartSalary and I just wanted to let you know where we’re at in relation to adding iPads to the menu of available benefits.

    First, thanks for all the feedback – we needed to know what sort of real-world applications tablet computers have that could support a packaging exemption and you’ve provided several great examples above.

    Now – to clarify – the exemption we rely on to package laptops, PDAs and phones applies to all ‘portable electronic devices’ as long as those devices are provided ‘primarily’ for the purpose of performing employment duties. So iPads are definitely in the running as a packageable item based on your feedback.

    There are a couple of issues that need to be resolved however before we can safely implement the benefit; does your actual work environment support a claim that an iPad would have a primary employment purpose and if it does then what sort of portable electronic device is a tablet computer anyway? The first issue is answered by many of you above, but the second is important too since only one of each ‘type’ of device can be packaged in a year. Can you package both a laptop and an iPad in an FBT year, or are they the same thing to the ATO?

    We’ve made a submission to an upcoming ATO subcommittee meeting to clarify this and should know the result shortly. In the meantime we’ve contacted your employers to ask whether they’re OK with adding iPads to the menu of packaging items available and will start the process of adding them once we hear back.

    Deven and I will let you know what the results of these efforts are here when we know more.

  24. 24 Grendel May 12, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    I will be purchasing an iPad and using it primarily for work purposes regardless of the how ATO views the device – obviously I would prefer that they permit claims but I will purchase regardless (I have already pre-ordered).

    There are already a wide range of work productivity apps including word processor, spreadsheet and presentation programs and for me OmniGraph and OmniGraffle will be daily use items for strategic planning and business development.

    I will also be using it as an adjunct email system and reading device so that I can squeeze more into my day by reading at the gym (helps cardo-time seem to pass much faster!).

  25. 25 mike walton May 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    IMHO I think that there is a huge difference between how one would use a laptop and an ipad. I laptop is predominately for allowing word processing – writing reports, research, patient lists and info etc

    An iPad will be much less efficient at these tasks as it doesn’t have a keyboard. It will however become indispensable as a mobile information and application source. You can have journals, textbooks and logbooks at the touch of a button. I plan on having all of my patient information leaflets on one so that I can give it to the patients to read during consent. You can also use the touch screen interface for patients to fill in outcome scores with ease. This has been the role of a PDA or paper but better and more usable. An iPad would not replace a laptop but complement it. I certainly hope that we can package both.

  26. 26 Scott May 19, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Hi Simon,

    I think the important aspect here is understanding what an iPad does and does not offer. The input, connectivity, applications, form and function equates to what many PDA’s have offered for years – albeit in a much improved human interface implementation. Certainly it can support some of what a notebook computer can do, but by no means is it a replacement for the heavy computing power and interconnectivity notebooks offer. It does support contemporary media format replay, some limited recording, but not media content creation.

    In my workplace we see the iPad offering electronic note taking, diary, document reading and exchange, e-mail/messaging, through to field process guidance and recording, and learning support.

    I hope that your negotiations with ATO support the iPad being recognised as a PDA type tool and not be influenced by the media IT hype that it is some notebook/PC replacement.

  27. 27 Elizabeth May 20, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Definitely, having an Ipad will help me at work espcially at meetings (paperless- save more trees).

  28. 28 Luke Hartfiel June 4, 2010 at 10:19 am

    It has been about a month since Simon Ellis last posted an update here on Smart Salary’s efforts with respect to iPad. I notice that since then it has been reported in The Australian and elsewhere that the ATO consider the iPad to be a laptop computer, at least for the purposes of the Education Tax Refund scheme.

    Is there any update from Smart Salary on the classification or status of salary sacrificing an iPad for work purposes?

    • 29 Simon Ellis June 9, 2010 at 12:44 pm

      Hi Luke

      Unfortunately those articles you have identified were not relevant to salary packaging as the ATO was commenting on a different legislative test (i.e. for the education refund the test is “similar items” whereas the salary packaging test is “substantially identical items”).

      Nonetheless the ATO has responded informally to our agenda item and indicated that it will apply the following interpretation:

      Assets are substantially identical if they are the same in most respects even though there may be some minor or incidental differences. Factors that need to be considered include colour, shape, function, texture, composition, operation, brand and design. The weighting of each factor may vary from asset to asset.

      I think, from that definition, it is reasonable to assume that the ATO will consider tablet computers to be different to laptops for salary packaging purposes.

  29. 30 Kurt September 1, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Has there been any update? I have extra money in my account and I would love to get an Ipad

  30. 31 alisha March 12, 2012 at 5:04 am

    What about for study purposes. ie. to watch lectures for post graduate study?

    • 32 Simon Ellis March 12, 2012 at 8:43 am

      Hi Alisha

      Unfortunately no – the ATO’s current position is that the device must be used in your regular day-to-day employment activities.

      The Commissioner has rejected work-related study as an ’employment duty’, even where the study relates to your current job, and has specifically ruled that it will not be a sufficient basis for salary packaging.

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Deven Billimoria
Chief Executive Officer

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