The Treasurer announced in the 2015‑16 Budget that changes would be made to the Zone Tax Offset (ZTO) to remove 'fly‑in-fly‑out' and 'drive‑in‑drive‑out' (FIFO) employees' eligibility to claim the ZTO. An exposure draft of the amendments is being released for public consultation.
The ZTO is a concessional tax offset available to individuals in recognition of the isolation, uncongenial climate and high cost of living associated with living in certain identified locations. Eligibility is based on defined geographical zones. Currently, to be eligible for ZTO, a taxpayer must reside or work in a specified remote area for more than 183 days in an income year. It is estimated that around 20 per cent of all claimants do not actually live full‑time in the zones. Many of these are FIFO workers who do not face the same challenges of remote living that the ZTO was designed to address.
This measure will exclude FIFO workers where their normal residence is not within a zone and better target the ZTO to taxpayers who have taken up genuine residence within the zones.
The amendments apply to the 2015‑16 income year and later income years.