Union payments and payroll tax

Union branches as employers

Your union branch or sub-branch (also called a 'lodge') may need to register as an employer in certain circumstances, depending on whether your branch is incorporated under a statute or not.

This applies to employee and employer unions or associations.

Note: The state branch of a federally registered union will not be a separate legal entity from its federal or parent union, unless the branch is separately incorporated under a statute.

Branch not incorporated under a statute

If your branch or sub-branch is not incorporated under a statute separately from its parent union, the parent union is considered to be the employer of your branch or sub-branch's employees.

If this applies, your parent union must:

  • add its wages to those of its branches and sub-branches when determining whether it is liable for payroll tax
  • be the only employer registered for payroll tax
  • include all the Queensland and interstate wages of its branches and sub-branches in its payroll tax returns.

Branch incorporated under a statute

If your branch or sub-branch is incorporated under a statute, the branch or sub-branch is:

  • a legal entity separate from its parent union
  • the employer of its employees for payroll tax.

This includes branches registered and incorporated under the Industrial Relations Act 2016 or Associations Incorporation Act 1981.

Your branch or sub-branch must:

  • determine its payroll tax obligations separately from the parent union
  • register for payroll tax when its wages exceed the threshold for registration
  • not include any taxable wages paid or payable by the parent union in its payroll tax returns.

Payments to representatives and board members

Payments a union makes to a person are wages for payroll tax purposes if:

  • an employer-employee relationship exists between the parties
  • or
  • the payments are to a director or member of the union's governing body.

Employer-employee relationship

For the purposes of payroll tax, you will need to determine if an employer-employee relationship exists between the union and an elected representative (e.g. if the representative is under the control of the union and spends a large amount of time working on union matters).

If the elected representative of a union only attends infrequent meetings (e.g. monthly, quarterly or half-yearly) to vote on various union issues, they are generally not in an employer-employee relationship.

If an employer-employee relationship exists, amounts paid or payable are taxable unless specific payroll tax exemptions apply. You may also need to include payments you made to deemed employees in your payroll tax returns.

Members of a governing body

Remuneration of executive board members of a union is liable for payroll tax, whether or not the board members are employees of that union.

Also consider...