Payroll Tax

Link to information for businesses impacted by COVID-19

Reminder for Payroll Tax Clients

Wages paid to employees who are absent from work to volunteer as fire fighters, or to respond to other emergencies, may be exempt from payroll tax in respect of any period they are engaged as a volunteer member of SACFS or emergency services organisation responding to the bushfire emergencies.

If you are unsure if wages paid are exempt please email us at or call 8226 3750 (option 5).

Further information is also available in the Payroll Tax Guide to Legislation.

Who is liable for payroll tax?

A payroll tax liability arises in South Australia when an employer (or a Group of employers) has a wages bill in excess of:

  • $1 500 000 per annum (from 1 January 2019)
  • $600 000 per annum (up to 31 December 2018)

for services rendered by employees anywhere in Australia if any of those services are rendered or performed in South Australia.

See Revenue Ruling PTA039 for further information on where payroll tax liability is to be paid.

back to top


An employer (or a member of a group of employers) who, in any month, pays wages which are liable to payroll tax in South Australia must register for payroll tax when the Australian taxable wages of the employer or group exceeds:

  • $28 846 per week (from 1 January 2019)
  • $11 538 per week (up to 31 December 2018)

For ease of administration, RevenueSA recommends such registration when an employer's taxable wages consistently exceeds:

  • $125 000 in any month (from 1 January 2019)
  • $50 000 in any month (up to 31 December 2018)

Register for payroll tax 

back to top

Tax rates and wage thresholds

From 1 January 2019, businesses with annual taxable wages of up to $1.5 million are no longer liable for payroll tax and those with taxable wages between $1.5 million and $1.7 million benefit from a reduced payroll tax rate.

Read more about these changes.

Effective Date Annual Australian Taxable Payroll
Does not exceed  
$600 000
$600 000
but not
$1 million
$1 million
but not
$1.5 million
$1.5 million but not
$1.7 million
$1.7 million
from 1 January 2019nilvariable from 0% to 4.95%4.95%
1 July 2017 to 31 December 2018 nil 2.5%* variable from 2.5% to 4.95%* 4.95%
1 July 2009 to 30 June 2017 nil 4.95%

* Reduced rate provided by ex gratia.

link to calculate your payroll tax rate

A rate table is available to provide an indication of the new payroll tax rates.

back to top

What payments are considered 'wages'?

In general any remuneration attributed to employees is included. Common items are wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, allowances, directors fees, fringe benefits, payments in kind, eligible termination payments and superannuation contributions.

Additionally, payments for service contracts, to employment agencies, and to other third parties may be deemed to be wages assessable for payroll tax. With respect to service contracts and employment agencies, refer to the Relevant Contractors Decision Tools page.

For further information, refer to the Payroll Tax Guide to Legislation.

back to top

Are contractor payments considered 'wages'?

With respect to service contracts and employment agencies, please refer to the Relevant Contracts Decision Tools page.

back to top


Grouping Provisions within the Payroll Tax Act 2009 are designed to ensure employers are not able to artificially maintain their wages bill below $1.5 million per annum by splitting their businesses into separate employing entities.

Businesses may be grouped where:

  • one company is related to another company under Section 50 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cwlth); or
  • Businesses have common employees; or
  • the same person or persons together, have a controlling interest of more than 50% in each of two or more businesses; or
  • an entity has a direct, indirect or aggregate controlling interest in a corporation (“tracing provisions”).

    This is not an exhaustive list.

Only one employer in a group is able to utilise the allowable deduction entitlement. This employer is known as the Designated Group Employer. Any annual deduction entitlement not taken up by the Designated Group Employer can be transferred to the other group members only at the time of Annual Reconciliation.

As this is a complex area, and cannot be fully covered in a brief document, further information should be sought from RevenueSA if you suspect Grouping Provisions may affect you.

For further information, refer to:

Information Circular 4 - Groupings

Commissioner's Discretion to Exclude from a Group - PTA031

Grouping of Professional Practices & Administrative Businesses - PTA017

Application to Exclude from a Group

back to top

Employment outside South Australia

The full annual deduction entitlement of $600 000 is only available to employers (or group of employers) who do not pay wages in another state or territory.

If wages are paid elsewhere in Australia the deduction entitlement is calculated using wage estimates for a full financial year and applying the formula below:

Total South Australian Wages X  $600 000
Total Australian Wages

back to top

Payroll tax nexus arrangements

What if an employee works in multiple states?

Where a business has an employee working in in more than one state or territory in one month payroll tax will be liable in the state or territory where the employee has their principal place of residence.

Where the worker does not reside in Australia, tax is to be paid to the state or territory where the registered Australian Business Number (ABN) address of the employer is located.

Further information is available in Revenue Ruling PTA039.

back to top

More information

More detailed information is available in the Payroll Tax Guide to Legislation and the Payroll Tax Information Circulars and Revenue Rulings.

Watch harmonised payroll tax education videos and register for harmonised payroll tax webinars.

View the Payroll Tax Act 2009

You can be automatically informed of any changes to payroll tax or other tax information by subscribing to RevenueSA’s free Electronic Subscription Services.

You can subscribe via our Subscription Service page.

Other enquiries

Taxation Services – Payroll Tax
GPO Box 1353

Telephone: (08) 8226 3750 (select option 5)
Fax: (08) 8226 3805

back to top