Starting next year, annual employee benefits such as sports memberships, cultural event tickets, and vouchers for leisure activities will only be tax-exempt, up to half the average monthly salary for a single employee. This change, agreed upon by the government coalition in a revised consolidation package, can significantly influence how employers and employees perceive and utilize benefits. This year’s tax exemption ceiling is set at 20,162 Czech Koruna.
Under this new provision, benefits exceeding the stipulated limit will be subject to standard taxation, and employers will no longer be able to claim these expenses as tax deductions, which could lead to a decrease in motivation to offer higher-value benefits.
Eva Svobodová, the CEO of the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Tradesmen, states that this change might hurt employers who have been providing benefits exceeding the set threshold. This could restrict employers aiming to offer their employees benefits beyond this threshold.
Bohuslav Čížek, the Director of the Economic Policy Section at the Confederation of Industry and Transport, highlights the potential administrative burden associated with monitoring the new limit and assessing the value of non-monetary benefits.
Despite these concerns, the government opted for this change after considering feedback from labor unions and employer associations. The motivation was maintaining a positive relationship between employees and employers, which a benefits program can foster.
However, the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Tradesmen raises concerns about potential negative impacts on state revenues. Curtailing support for leisure-related benefits might lead to reduced consumption in the service sector and, consequently, a decline in state income. Svobodová mentions a proposal for the annual limit on tax-exempt benefits to be set at 70% of the average monthly salary.
Considering that this change is not permanent, the ceiling for tax-exempt benefits will gradually increase with the expected growth in the average salary.
Employees and employers must reassess their approaches to providing and utilizing employee benefits. These new rules could adjust the types of benefits offered and could impact overall employee motivation. With this move, the government responds to the intricate balance between economic and fiscal needs, and it will be essential to monitor how this change affects the job market and the relationships between employees and employers.