By the end of this year, the sample list of approved wellness activities that the Swedish Tax Agency has published will be deleted. The reason for the deletion is it can be perceived as a complete list of approved activities, which it is actually not. The content has been a guide to determine whether an activity can be paid for tax-free with a fitness allowance.
Because of this, it is anticipated that it will now be easier for the employer to make their assessments. The list creates confusion and many questions, says Pia Blank Thörnroos, legal expert at the Swedish Tax Agency.
Deleting the given list does not change the rules. However, those employers who have previously been based on the list of wellness activities may need to familiarize themselves with the rules that work. The sample list has never been intended to have complete choices. There are new exercise and fitness activities all the time and activities can change names. Following previous rulings, the employer has great freedom to approve different types of exercise activities that contain elements of exercise, regardless of what they are called.
The rules are the following:
- It is the employer who decides whether the staff is to be offered a wellness allowance or not and how the wellness allowance, within the framework of legislation and practice, may be used.
In order for the fitness allowance to be tax-free, it must be offered to all staff on equal terms and used for simpler activity with elements of exercise or for treatment that is de-stressing or aims to counteract tenderness and stiffness, as well as dietary advice and advice in connection with smoking cessation.
- Wellness activities that consist of individual treatment without elements of exercise must have a small value, a maximum of SEK 1,000 for the individual activity.
- The wellness allowance may not go to medical care or rehabilitation activities, nor to membership fees in associations, diplomas or the like.
- The wellness allowance may not go to the purchase or rental of equipment in the normal case, but if equipment is included in the activity, for example a loan of a horse, riding helmet, canoe or bowling shoes that is included in an activity, this part can still be covered. Purchases of simple digital exercise and fitness apps are also covered.
- The wellness allowance must be of lesser value to be a tax-free benefit. It is the Swedish Tax Agency’s opinion that an employer can give a maximum of SEK 5,000 per year and person tax-free to their employees in probation benefits. The employer can issue a lower amount or no amount at all.
To see the current list of the activities check: https://skatteverket.se/privat/skatter/arbeteochinkomst/formaner/personalvardmotionochfriskvard/friskvardsaktiviteterao.4.15532c7b1442f256baee714.html