Q: I have just been summoned to attend Jury Duty in NSW. They have notified me that it is a criminal case and it could be up to 8 weeks in length. They have told me that I am paid for my time. How much do I receive and what are the tax implications of this payment?
A: To be nominated for Jury duty you need to be over age 18 and on the electoral role. As Jurors are randomly selected from the Electoral role, it is a bit of a lottery; some citizens may never get called up and others may find that they are summoned more than once.
A summons for Jury duty is a legal obligation that you must obey. Failure to attend can lead to severe penalties including fines of up to $2200 and further court appearances. You may apply to be excused from Jury Duty based on your personal circumstances. The list of acceptable reasons can be found at www.justice.nsw.gov.au
If you are empanelled onto a jury, the compensation for your time varies by state and also by the expected length of the trial.
The allowance rates and entitlements for jurors varies from state to state. In New South Wales, for trials lasting up to 10 days, all jurors receive $106.30 a day, or $531.50 a week. For trials lasting more than 2 weeks, the amount paid increases to $247.40 a day, or $1196 a week, if you are employed. If you’re unemployed, it stays at $106.30 per day.
Jurors receive a travel allowance of 30.7 cents per kilometre per day for travel from home to the courthouse.
Employers are obligated to release employees from their work duties to attend Jury Duty. Employers are obligated to pay full time and permanent part-time employees for the first 10 days (two weeks) of jury duty. A juror must reimburse the employer the allowance received from the court if asked to do so.
Beyond 2 weeks, the employer is under no obligation to pay your normal wages. The additional time can be taken as annual leave or long service leave. Note some employers may continue to pay your wages but this will vary so please check with your employer.
As you can imagine this may impose a considerable financial cost upon you if you have limited leave available to you. Whilst it may be grounds to be excused from Jury Duty it is no guarantee.
Wage or Salary payments made by an employer to you are eligible for Employer Superannuation support. Jury service allowances do NOT qualify for Superannuation support.
Payments made to you by the courts for jury service are taxable income to you and must be declared on your tax return. Travel and any meal allowances are however exempt.
Remember to declare the payments on your tax return. The liability for tax payment falls due when you lodge your tax return and you receive your ATO notice of assessment. Make sure you have set aside funds for this expense.