Roger Boghani

Payroll Tax – What Is It, And When Do I Have to Pay It?

Are you a small business owner pondering over payroll taxes? Well, you’re not alone!

Understanding payroll tax is essential if you run a business that employs individuals. In essence, payroll tax is a state-based tax that businesses need to pay based on the total payroll expenditure, that is, the wages they pay to their employees. 

This tax is critical for businesses because it helps fund various state services. However, the rules and requirements can be quite complex, depending on where your business is located. 

Each Australian state has its own thresholds and rates, which means the amount you owe can vary. 

Whether you’re just setting up your payroll or you’ve been at it for a while, getting a handle on payroll tax with the help of tax accountant Melbourne is crucial to managing your business effectively and staying compliant with local laws.

Let’s delve deeper into what payroll tax is and unpack when you need to pay it.

What is Payroll Tax?

Payroll tax is an important financial obligation primarily levied on employers based on the wages paid to their employees. This tax is calculated from the total wage amount paid by a business and is usually lodged on a monthly basis. 

It’s crucial to note that payroll tax is a state and territory tax in Australia. This means that depending on where the work or services are conducted, the applicable tax rules and rates may vary. 

The purpose of imposing a payroll tax is to contribute to the state’s revenue, helping fund public services such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure.

Key Components of Payroll Tax

The components that constitute payroll tax may include:

– Employee wages

– Payments to contractors

– Directors’ remuneration

– Superannuation contributions

– Allowances for employees

– Fringe benefits

– Bonuses and commissions

– Termination payouts

Each of these components can vary in its taxability depending on specific state laws and interpretations of what qualifies as ‘wages’ under the payroll tax statutes.

Obligations and Thresholds Across States

General Thresholds and Rates

While payroll taxes are consistent across Australia in terms of their presence, the specific thresholds and rates applicable can differ significantly from one state to another. Generally, an employer must start paying payroll tax when their total wage bill exceeds a certain threshold, which is set by each state or territory. 

The rate at which payroll tax is levied also varies; it’s typically a percentage of the wages paid over this threshold. 

For example, rates can vary from around 4.85% to 5.45% depending on the region and specific conditions such as whether the employer operates in a metropolitan or regional area.

A specific Example from Victoria

In Victoria, for instance, the threshold for payroll tax is $650,000 annually or $54,166 monthly. Employers in metropolitan areas are taxed at a rate of 4.85%, while those in regional areas benefit from a reduced rate of 1.2125%.

These examples highlight the importance of understanding the specific payroll tax commitments in each state where an employer operates, as non-compliance can lead to significant financial penalties.

When to Register and Pay?

The process of managing payroll tax begins with registering for the tax with the respective state revenue office once your wage bill crosses the set threshold. 

Following registration, payroll tax returns must generally be filed, and payments must be made monthly. The deadlines can vary slightly but are typically due within seven days after the end of each month. 

Employers are required to keep accurate records of all payments that are liable for payroll tax to ensure compliance and accuracy during the submission process.

With the right guidance from a tax accountant Melbourne, business owners can more smoothly navigate these obligations and focus effectively on growing their business. 


Understanding and adhering to payroll tax obligations is crucial for business owners in Australia. 

With each state and territory having specific requirements and thresholds, it’s important to stay informed about the regulations that apply to your business to ensure compliance and avoid potential penalties. 

If you’re feeling unsure about your tax obligations or need help navigating the complexities of payroll tax calculations, we recommend consulting with a knowledgeable tax professional like Roger Boghani. 

At our company, we provide clear and accurate guidance, ensuring compliance and peace of mind. 

Connect with our expert tax accountant Melbourne team today to learn how we can assist you with your payroll needs and simplify your tax responsibilities. 

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