The Australian Small Business Group is lobbying the Federal Government to abolish the Fringe Benefits Tax from business meals and once again make them tax deductible.

The tax was brought in by the Keating Government in 1987 to stop exorbitant tax claims but the group says the tax should be dropped, to give a much needed boost to struggling restaurants and cafes.

Lincoln Humphries reports.


It’s a common saying that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

But restaurant and cafe owners are pushing to again make business lunches, not quite free, but at least tax deductible.

They’re part of a push to abolish the fringe benefits tax, which they say would lure the customers back.

Bev Sotirou, Restaurant Owner: “Get those bums on seats, definitely anything that we can do to try and get people to spend money, the consumer is scared at the moment.”

According to Ms Sotirou there are also broader economic benefits.

Bev Sotirou, Restaurant Owner: “I really believe that business people can do better business in our cafes and restaurants so if they can do better business in our restaurants then that means we can help the suppliers and help employees and keep people off the streets.”

Any change to the taxation would have to be carefully reviewed to avoid the rorting of meal expenses that originally led to the system being scrapped.

Terri Cooper, Australian Small Business Group: “Perhaps there needs to be a dollar cap put on the claims, but I think we at least need to be having the discussion.”

Removing fringe benefit tax from business meals will obviously be a huge boost for a lot of restaurants and cafes with a large corporate based clientele, unfortunately some small businesses and consumers won’t see the same benefits.”

Gary Nicolai, Mobile Food Vendor: “We need to have a real good look at this and make sure that it’s done properly and right across the board, not just for larger corporations and businesses. I need it right down to the blue collar worker.”

But for now, every cent of every lunch will have to be paid for, in full.

Lincoln Humphries, QUT News.