An honorarium is a voluntary payment provided for services for which fees are not legally or traditionally required. Honoraria help cover costs for volunteers, examiners, guest panelists/speakers and are sometimes considered taxable income. Please consider whether a casual contract, or employing someone as a contractor/consultant may be more appropriate. The Fair Work Ombudsmen provides a useful resource to assist in determining whether to employ someone as a contractor or an employee.
To determine whether you need to pay an honorarium payment, and how best to facilitate that payment, please use the Honorarium Payment Flow Chart (make link to decision tree).
UNE uses the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) definition of Honorarium Payments:
"An honorarium is either:
- an honorary reward for voluntary services, or
- a fee for professional services voluntarily performed."
Types of Honorariums at UNE
Thesis Examiners / Markers
Masters by Coursework students can elect to do up to two units where they complete a thesis. UNE provides an honorarium payment for the examination of these Research Masters Theses. A completed form (make link to new HR form OR their form) is returned to the School for approval and forwarded to Human Resource Services for processing. These payments are classed as assessable income and do not attract GST.
Universities Australia provides guidance on payment amounts for External Examiners.
If a Thesis Examiner/Marker is from overseas, and has an overseas bank account, the completed form (sundry form?) is returned to Financial Accounting, Performance and Analytics (make link to correct email address). Payments for international thesis examiners do not attract tax or superannuation unless the recipient is an Australian Resident for tax purposes.
If the Examiner/Marker is from overseas but has an Australian bank account, the (HR) form (link) will be returned to Human Resource Services for processing the payment. These payments are classed as assessable income and do not attract GST.
Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Thesis Examiners
Students undertaking a HDR Program (Research Masters or Doctorate) submit a research output which is assessed by up to three Examiners. UNE provides an honorarium payment to all non-UNE Examiners. The HDR Team in Research Services will provide the Examiner with the relevant documentation to submit for payment, and administer honorarium payments. These payments are classed as non-assessable income and do not attract GST.
Guest Panelists / Speakers
UNE often invites guests to be members of panels, or to be guest speakers at events. If they are not paid a salary by UNE, UNE occasionally provides an honorarium to assist with covering costs. A completed form (the HR form) is returned to the relevant Department for approval before it is sent to Human Resource Services to be processed. These payments are classed as assessable income and attract GST if the speaker is registered for GST and the Panel or Speaking commitment relates to the their income-producing activities. IF GST do finance form? If not, do HR form? Should we delete the GST option from our HR form.
GST? "Payments made to a guest speaker who is registered will be subject to GST where the activities are made in respect of the speaker's enterprise." (link)
If an Academic from another institution has marked a Thesis and would like the honorarium payment to be paid into their APF account the charging institution issues UNE with an invoice. A Sundry debtor form (link) and the invoice will need to be supplied to FPAS to arrange the payment.
A genuine honorarium payment will not be subject to GST as the payment is voluntary and not for supply.
ATO information about Honorariums
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) provides useful examples to help you determine whether your honorarium payment is considered to be assessable income.
"Whether an honorarium is assessable income of the volunteer depends on the nature of the payment and the volunteer’s circumstances. Specifically:
- honorary rewards for voluntary services are not assessable income and related expenses are not deductible
- fees received for professional services voluntarily provided are assessable income of the volunteer. In this situation, they may be entitled to a deduction for expenses incurred in performing these professional services."