Accountant completing Fortnightly Tax Table on QuickBooks

Fortnightly tax table: Your guide to tax withholding

Calculating taxes is one of the not-so-glamorous aspects of starting a business. First, you have to determine how to calculate taxes, and then you have to actually crunch the numbers and your cash flow plan. It’s far from relaxing.

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Fortunately for small business owners in Australia, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) makes calculating taxes simple with their readable fortnightly tax tables. These reduce the likelihood of making a common tax mistake. And, did we mention they’re free?

But if looking up tax tables is not your thing, using an accounting software like QuickBooks Payroll powered by Employment Hero can automatically calculate this with you. QuickBooks is up to date with tax rates and fully compliant with ATO requirements and most importantly, makes payroll a breeze. 

In this article you will learn:

Fortnightly Tax Table

If you pay your staff on a fortnightly basis, the ATO provides a tax table that sets out how much pay withholding you need to send to the ATO. To make better use of their offerings and more clearly understand taxes in general, it’s important to fully grasp fortnightly tax tables, as well as other taxation methods and schedules. So, let’s take a closer look.

If you pay salaries on a fortnightly basis, feel free to use the ATO’s fortnightly tax table.

How to use the fortnightly tax table

The fortnightly tax table is split into three columns. The first column is for fortnightly earnings, the second and third columns have the ‘amount to be withheld’. These two ‘amount to be withheld’ columns show the amount that should be withheld depending on if an employee claims the tax-free threshold or not. 

 Sample of the fortnightly tax table:

Fortnightly earnings

Amount to be withheld

With tax-free threshold

No tax-free threshold




























The table can be used with these steps:

  1. Calculate your employee’s total fortnightly earnings – add any allowances and irregular payments that are to be included in the fortnight’s pay to the normal fortnightly earnings, ignoring any cents.
  2. Find this amount in the column on the left ‘Fortnightly Earnings’
  3. The amount to withhold is in the second column, ‘With tax-free threshold’ unless your employee is not claiming the tax threshold. For example, if they have a second job. In this case, you will use Column C.

You can view the full ATO fortnightly tax table guide for guidance on the amount that needs to be withheld.

Fortnightly tax table calculation

Example 1

Your employee earns $1,072 fortnightly.

Looking at the middle column of the tax table, it shows that the fortnightly PAYG withholding to withhold for that employee is $88, where the tax free threshold is claimed.

Example 2

Your employee earns $2,500 fortnightly.

Looking at the middle column of the tax table, you’ll see that the fortnightly PAYG withholding for that employee will be $498.

What is PAYG?

Pay as you go (PAYG), also known as pay as you earn (PAYE), is a system of withholding amounts from employee payments so they can meet their end-of-year tax liabilities.

As an employer, you have to register with the ATO for PAYG and withhold amounts fortnightly on your employees’ behalf. These amounts are used to pay your employees’ income tax at the end of the financial year. 

However, even though you withhold tax, your employees may still be required to submit their individual tax return as this will take into account their other taxable income and deductions such as bank interest and union fees.

The ATO specifies how much employers need to withhold in their PAYG withholding tax tables depending on income tax rates. You may also need an additional form for PAYG superannuation income streams if you have employees setting aside money toward superannuation.

Your PAYG Obligations As An Employer

Prior to paying PAYG, you’ll first need to register with the ATO. You can do so online through the ATO website or by speaking with your tax agent.

After you have calculated and paid the withheld amounts, you’ll need to report these amounts on your activity statements. You may need to provide PAYG withholding summaries to all employees and lodge a PAYG withholding annual report with the ATO. If you are reporting under STP, you’ll no longer need to provide PAYG withholding summaries.

As an employer, you’ll usually need to withhold from:

  • Employees
  • Directors
  • Workers you have a voluntary agreement with
  • Contractors or businesses who don’t quote their ABN

If an employee leaves or retires, you’ll need to:

  • Make any final, outstanding, PAYG withholding payments
  • Complete an employee termination payment
  • Send a payment summary to the employee
  • Keep a record on the employee’s TFN declaration until the end of the next financial year
  • Keep a record of the PAYG withholding

If you run into any unique cases, do not hesitate to contact the ATO or a financial advisor.

Grow Your Business with QuickBooks

Employer Checklist For PAYG Tax Withholding

Taxes are an involved process, and the PAYG method is no different. To ensure you don’t miss anything important, here are the steps for the entire PAYG process.

  1. Register
  2. Add up your employee’s fortnightly income
  3. Use the corresponding ATO tax table to work out the tax withholding (column 2)
  4. Pay amounts
  5. Report amounts on your activity statements
  6. Provide a summary to your employees
  7. Lodge an annual withholding report

Using the ATO tax tables, working out PAYG withholding for your employees is simple. Make sure to check whether you need to use any other tables for your employees (for example, if you need to make a Medicare levy adjustment).

For more tips to help you with your taxes view our guide on how to record PAYG on QuickBooks.

Keep records and use Single Touch Payroll and a solution like QuickBooks Payroll powered by Employment Hero to simplify the whole process.

ATO Tax Tables

The most common ATO tax tables you will need as an employer are the weekly, fortnightly, or monthly tax tables that correspond with how often you make pay runs.

The tax tables are designed to help you work out how much to withhold from payments to your employees or other payees.

Recently, new tax tables have been created for study and training support loans that replace earlier HELP, TSL, SSL, and SFSS tables.

If you employ people who are on holiday in Australia, then another table called the tax table for working holiday makers applies.

In addition to the tables, the ATO also has an online tax withheld calculator that calculates the correct amount of tax to withhold. There is one calculator for employees and another for contractors. 

To use the calculators, you will need the information that employees supply in their tax file declaration, a withholding declaration, and a Medicare levy variation declaration.

Important Issues To Note When Using ATO Tax Tables

While the ATO tax tables make life easier, there are some things to be aware of when using them. 

The fortnightly tables will apply if you pay any of the following:

  • Paid parental leave
  • Directors’ fees
  • Payments to labour-hire workers
  • Payments to religious practitioners
  • Payments to government education or training
  • Compensation, sickness, accident payments, or other leave payments
  • Payments to foreign residents

All you need to do is select the tax table that corresponds with how often you make payments. Other tax tables may apply if you made payments to shearers, workers in the horticultural industry, performing artists, casual employees and workers who are on a working holiday.

If your employee has an accumulated debt (e.g HELP, SSL, TSL), you’ll need to use HELP, SSL, or TSL tax tables. If your employee is entitled to make an adjustment for the Medicare levy, you’ll need to use adjustment tax tables.

If your employee is entitled to a tax offset, you’ll need to use the ATO’s ‘Ready reckoner for tax offsets‘ to convert their estimated annual entitlement to a fortnightly figure you can subtract from the withholding amount.

Single Touch Payroll

Single Touch Payroll is now the most common way to pay employees and report payroll. STP Phase 2 was rolled out via Employment Hero in January 2022. Under the STP system, employee wages, including PAYG are reported to the ATO in every pay run; as opposed to solely at the end of the financial year.

STP commenced on 1 July 2018 for employers with 20 or more employees and on 1 July 2019 for employers with under 20 employees. As of 1 July 2021 all employers were required to be reporting each pay period through STP.

You can easily comply with STP using QuickBooks Payroll.

How Taxes Get Less Taxing

Taxes may not be your favourite thing in the world, but that doesn’t mean they have to be a difficult process. With a better understanding of the various tax methods, taxes can be just another item you check off your list during your fortnightly upkeep as a small business owner.

This will free up your time to focus on other priorities such as growing your business, serving your customers, and enjoying the unparalleled freedom that comes with running your own company.

Remember, if you ever need help, don’t hesitate to contact the ATO at, seek professional advice or hire a professional accountant to do your taxes for you.

Disclaimer: This page is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute accounting, tax, business, or legal advice. You should always consult your own advisors for advice relating to your business or situation. Always consult the ATO directly as information changes from time to time:

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