Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Be careful how you salary sacrifice

If an employer pays an employee's loan repayments, where the loan was taken out by the employee to purchase a laptop computer, will this be an exempt benefit under paragraph 58X(1)(a) of the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act (1986) (FBTAA)?

No. The repayment of the employee's loan is not considered to be referable to the purchase of a laptop computer and is therefore not exempt under paragraph 58X(1)(a) of the FBTAA.

Even if an arrangement to me sounds like within the spirit of a FBT-exempt salary sacrifice arrangement, the ATO may chose not to grant FBT-exemption. The ATO has taken a position that a personal loan to buy a computer is different from lease payments on a computer.

Reference: ATO Interpretive Decision ATO ID 2005/68

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Speech Accent Archive

(Non-legal post)

I frequently get e-mailed from doctors in India asking about migration to Australia.

One thing I always forget to mention is: don't underestimate the communication difficulties you are going to experience when you come to Australia.

The Indians doctors I have met here have vocabulary as fine as any university graduate in Australia. However, Australians have a hard time adjusting to the accent, and it takes a few years before you figure out how to make yourself easier to be understood.

There is an interesting free resource over here: The Speech Accent Archive.

This website allows users to compare the demographic and linguistic backgrounds of the speakers in order to determine which variables are key predictors of each accent. The speech accent archive demonstrates that accents are systematic rather than merely mistaken speech.

Have a listen and it may be helpful to help you identify which parts of your accent is hard on Australian ears.