We understand that people's lives and your businesses have changed and been effected significantly overnight due to the measures taken by governments related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
In response to this, local, state and the federal governments have announced a range of government stimulus measures to support businesses and individuals known as the "Government Stimulus Packages" which is being added to, up-dated and released daily. However we are also aware that many are either asking or wondering what they maybe eligible for particularly the tax-related and cash-flow measures.
Please find below details summarising the Business Supports and Government Stimulus Packages as at 31st March 2020, which we will continue to up-date you with as information comes to hand or is known.
In relation to the stimulus packages and payments for households, a separate post has been prepared, please see here for more details on what is available for Households.
The various government and organisations are endeavouring to have their respective application processes up and running as soon as possible with some maybe already up and running while others may take 2 to 3 days or longer to be made available. They are also advising that applications will be mostly online and made as simple as possible so people and their businesses can access the economic stimulus packages as soon as possible.
For noting: If viewing information regarding government stimulus packages or other supports, ensure you access reputable and/or well known sources directly such as the specific government and/or organisation's website as there is a lot of information floating about which is rapidly and significantly changing ( moment by moment it would seem ) with some sources such as media (e.g. TV and newspapers) not necessarily reporting all the facts and in some cases mis-reporting.
Some of the suggested websites for information include:
30th March 2020 Subsidy UPDATES:
JOBKEEPER PAYMENTS - ATO
JOBKEEPER PAYMENTS of a flat payment of $1,500 per fortnight will be paid to eligible employers who have experienced a significant downturn during this period.
The payment will be paid to employers, for up to six months, for each eligible employee that was on their books on 1 March 2020 that is retained and continues to be engaged by that employer.
Where a business has stood down employees since 1 March, the payment will help them maintain connection with their employees. The payment will also apply to those who ceased employment since 1 March and then were re-engaged by the same eligible employer.
Employers will receive a payment of $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee. Every eligible employee must receive at least $1,500 per fortnight from this business, before tax. If this is more than the normal pay, it will be up to the employer if they want to pay superannuation on any additional wage paid because of JobKeeper Payments.
The $1,500 amount is a before tax amount – tax will be withheld as per normal arrangements. Employers also must notify employees that they are claiming the JobKeeper payment on their behalf.
The program will commence from 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears from the Australian Taxation Office. Eligible businesses can begin distributing the JobKeeper payment immediately and will be reimbursed from the first week of May.
Eligible employers will be those with annual turnover of less than $1 billion who self-assess that have a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent or more, since 1 March 2020 over a minimum one-month period.
Eligible employers include businesses structured through companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders. Not for profit entities, including charities, will also be eligible.
Full time and part time employees, including stood down employees, would be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment. Where a casual employee has been with their employer for at least the previous 12 months they will also be eligible for the Payment. An employee will only be eligible to receive this payment from one employer.
Eligible employees include Australian residents, New Zealand citizens in Australia who hold a subclass 444 special category visa, and migrants who are eligible for JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance (Other).
Self-employed individuals are also eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment.
Eligible businesses can apply for the payment online and are able to register their interest via ato.gov.au
More information can be found at this treasury.gov.au factsheet.
THE FINER DETAILS
Obligations, Eligibility & Application Process
OBLIGATIONS ON EMPLOYERS
To receive the JobKeeper Payment, employers must:
Provide information to the ATO on eligible employees. This includes information on the number of eligible employees engaged as at 1 March 2020 and those currently employed by the business (including those stood down or rehired). For most businesses, the ATO will use Single Touch Payroll data to pre-populate the employee details for the business.
Ensure that each eligible employee receives at least $1,500 per fortnight (before tax). For employees that were already receiving this amount from the employer then their income will not change. For employees that have been receiving less than this amount, the employer will need to top up the payment to the employee up to $1,500, before tax. And for those employees earning more than this amount, the employer is able to provide them with a top-up.
Continue to provide information to the ATO on a monthly basis, including the number of eligible
employees employed by the business.
BACKGROUND ON JOBKEEPER PAYMENT
Under the JobKeeper Payment, businesses impacted by the Coronavirus will be able to access a subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees. Affected employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum period of 6 months.
Employers will be eligible for the subsidy if:
The employer must have been in an employment relationship with eligible employees as at 1 March 2020,
and confirm that each eligible employee is currently engaged in order to receive JobKeeper Payments.
Not-for-profit entities (including charities) and self-employed individuals (businesses without employees) that meet the turnover tests that apply for businesses are eligible to apply for JobKeeper Payments.
Eligible employees are employees who:
are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder; and
Businesses with employees
Initially, employers can register their interest in applying for the JobKeeper Payment via ato.gov.au from 30 March 2020.
Subsequently, eligible employers will be able to apply for the scheme by means of an online application. The first payment will be received by employers from the ATO in the first week of May.
Eligible employers will need to identify eligible employees for JobKeeper Payments and must provide monthly updates to the ATO.
Participating employers will be required to ensure eligible employees will receive, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.
It will be up to the employer if they want to pay superannuation on any additional wage paid because of the JobKeeper Payment.
Further details for businesses for employees will be provided on ato.gov.au.
Businesses without employees
Businesses without employees, such as the self-employed, can register their interest in applying for JobKeeper Payment via ato.gov.au from 30 March 2020.
Businesses without employees will need to provide an ABN for their business, nominate an individual to receive the payment and provide that individual’s Tax File Number and provide a declaration as to recent business activity.
People who are self-employed will need to provide a monthly update to the ATO to declare their continued eligibility for the payments. Payment will be made monthly to the individual’s bank account.
Further details for the self-employed will be provided on ato.gov.au.
EXAMPLES OF APPLICATION OF JOBKEEPER SUBSIDY
Employer with employees on different wages
Adam owns a real estate business with two employees. The business is still operating at this stage but Adam expects that turnover will decline by more than 30 per cent in in the coming months. The employees are:
Anne, who is a permanent full-time employee on a salary of $3,000 per fortnight before tax and who continues working for the business; and
Nick, who is a permanent part-time employee on a salary of $1,000 per fortnight before tax and who continues working for the business.
Adam is eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment for each employee, which would have the following benefits for the business and its employees:
• The business continues to pay Anne her full-time salary of $3,000 per fortnight before tax, and the business will receive $1,500 per fortnight from the JobKeeper Payment to subsidise the cost of Anne’s salary and will continue paying the superannuation guarantee on Anne’s income;
• The business continues to pay Nick his $1,000 per fortnight before tax salary and an additional $500 per fortnight before tax, totalling $1,500 per fortnight before tax. The business receives $1,500 per fortnight before tax from the JobKeeper Payment which will subsidise the cost of Nick’s salary. The business must continue to pay the superannuation guarantee on the $1,000 per fortnight of wages that Nick is earning. The business has the option of choosing to pay superannuation on the additional $500 (before tax) paid to Nick under the JobKeeper Payment.
Adam can register his initial interest in the scheme from 30 March 2020, followed subsequently by an application to ATO with details about his eligible employees. In addition, Adam is required to advise his employees that he has nominated them as eligible employees to receive the payment. Adam will provide information to the ATO on a monthly basis and receive the payment monthly in arrears.
Employer with employees who have been stood down without pay
Zahrah runs a beauty salon in Melbourne. Ordinarily, she employs three permanent part-time beauticians, but the government directive that beauty salons can no longer operate has required her to shut the business.
As such she has been forced to stand down her three beauticians without pay.
Zahrah’s turnover will decline by more than 30 per cent, so she is eligible to apply for the JobKeeper Payment for each employee, and pass on $1,500 per fortnight before tax to each of her three beauticians for up to six months.
Zahrah will maintain the connection to her employees, and be in a position to quickly resume her operations.
Zahrah is required to advise her employees that she has nominated them as eligible employees to receive the payment. It is up to Zahrah whether she wants to pay superannuation on the additional income paid because of the JobKeeper Payment.
If Zahrah’s employees have already started receiving income support payments like the JobSeeker Payment when they receive the JobKeeper Payment, they will need to advise Services Australia of their new income.
24th March 2020 Subsidy UPDATES:
FREE 12 MONTHS MEMBERSHIP - CCIQ
The CCIQ (Chamber of Commerce & Industry Qld) is offering free membership for 12 months which has some great resources including webinar up-dates for businesses -- which not only apply for those based in Queensland. If you would like to sign up for their Business Essentials subscription by 30th of April 2020, join at QLDCHAMBER.COM.AU and you will pay nothing for the next 12 months.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE
Check your local council website for information regarding the reduction and/or waiving of council charges, rents, levies and permit fees for all businesses facing economic hardship due to the impacts of the coronavirus.
For example the Brisbane City Council are offering all businesses affected by the coronavirus a waiving of council charges, rents, levies and permit fees, effective immediately. They also provide up-to-date information on the operation, closure or limited access of council services and venues such as parks.
STATE GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE
Check your relevant State Government website for information on your specific state's economic stimulus package. Examples below are of Queensland and NSW's State Government packages.
QUEENSLAND STATE GOVERNMENT
This economic package includes payroll tax relief and deferrals; a $500 rebate on electricity for both businesses and households which will be credited to your electricity account; and a $200 rebate to offset water and electricity bills.
The State Government's Small Business Hotline No. is 1300 654 687 for further information along with their website at:
The worker and industry support package includes:
Up to $500 million to assist workers who lose their job or income with retraining, job-matching and other help to transition into jobs in the industries that are vital to get Queensland through this crisis – such as health care, agriculture, food production, transport, cleaning and mining.
Payroll Tax Relief
Small and medium businesses
All small and medium businesses (payroll up to $6.5M) in Queensland will be eligible for:
A two-month refund of payroll tax, giving an average of nearly $9,000 cash
A three-month payroll tax holiday, saving an average of $13,360
In addition, they will be eligible to defer all payroll tax payments for the rest of 2020.
Larger businesses (payroll over $6.5M) affected by COVID-19 will also be eligible for the two-month payroll tax refund and have their deferral extended for all of 2020.
All this means no Queensland business impacted by COVID-19 will have to make a payroll tax payment this year.
Industry Support Package
The Industry Support Package will assist large businesses through this period to ensure they will be able to scale up and service the community when economic activity improves.
For further detail on the Industry Support Package email COVID19ISP@treasury.qld.gov.au
Other support for business
Relief for businesses renting government premises.
$500 rebate on electricity bills for all Queensland small and medium sized businesses that consume less then 100,000 kilowatt hours. This will be automatically applied to electricity bills.
Liquor licensing fees waived for business impacted by enforced safety industry shutdowns.
$300 million for households
$200 rebate for all 2.1 million Queensland households (including the $50 Asset Ownership Dividend already announced) to offset the cost of water and electricity bills.
Automatically applied through household electricity bills.
Immediate Industry Recovery Package
An Immediate Industry Recovery Package includes targeted financial support and advice; promotes Queensland locally and abroad through marketing and media activities; and provides counselling and support to businesses and students.
The package will help sustain jobs and businesses while work continues to contain the coronavirus.
NSW STATE GOVERNMENT
Business support and jobs
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE
ATO ADMINISTRATIVE RELIEF
The ATO will provide administrative relief for some tax obligations for people affected by the Coronavirus outbreak, on a case-by-case basis. Businesses impacted by the coronavirus are encouraged to contact the ATO Emergency Support Info Line on 1800 806 218 to discuss relief options including:
deferring by up to four months the payment date of amounts due through the business activity statement (BAS, including PAYG instalments), income tax assessments, FBT assessments and excise
remitting any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities, and
You can find more information at the ATO website.
CASH FLOW ASSISTANCE FOR BUSINESSES:
The Government is providing cash flow assistance for eligible businesses in the form of two separate measures.
Boosting cash flow for employers - ATO
Small and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profit entities, with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million (usually based on their prior year’s turnover) that employ people, may be eligible to receive a total payment (in the form of a refundable credit) of up to $100,000 (with a minimum total payment of $20,000), based on their PAYG withholding obligations in two stages:
Stage 1 payment (credit)
Commencing with the lodgment of activity statements from 28 April 2020, eligible employers that withhold PAYG tax on their employees’ salary and wages will receive a tax-free payment equal to 100% of the amount withheld, up to a maximum of $50,000.
Eligible employers that pay salary and wages will receive a minimum (tax-free) payment of $10,000, even if they are not required to withhold PAYG tax.
The tax-free payment will broadly be calculated and paid by the ATO as an automatic credit to an employer, upon the lodgment of activity statements from 28 April 2020, with any resulting refund being paid to the employer. This means that:
Note that the minimum payment of $10,000 will be applied to an entity’s first activity statement lodgment (whether for the month of March or the March quarter) from 28 April 2020.
Stage 2 payment (credit)
For employers that continue to be active, an additional (tax-free) payment will be available in respect of the June to October 2020 period, basically as follows:
Quarterly lodgers will be eligible to receive the additional payment for the quarters ending June 2020 and September 2020, with each payment being equal to 50% of their total initial (or Stage 1) payment (up to a maximum of $50,000).
Monthly lodgers will be eligible to receive the additional payment for the June 2020, July 2020, August 2020 and September 2020 activity statement lodgements, with each additional payment being equal to a quarter of their total initial (or Stage 1) payment (up to a maximum of $50,000).
Again, the ATO will automatically calculate and pay the additional (tax-free) payment as a credit to an employer upon the lodgment of their activity statements from July 2020, with any resulting refund being paid to the employer.
These payments reduce the amount you owe on the Activity Statements. If this creates a refund position, the balance will be refunded to you. To understand how it works, see the examples in the support for business factsheet on treasury.gov.au
It should be noted that eligibility for the above payments is subject to a specific integrity rule that is designed to stamp out artificial or contrived arrangements that are implemented to obtain access to this measure. In particular, if an employer or an associate enters into a scheme with the sole or dominant purpose of obtaining or increasing any of the above payments for a particular employer, for a period, the employer will not be eligible for any such payments for the relevant period.
WAGES SUBSIDIES FOR APPRENTICES AND TRAINEES
Employers with less than 20 full-time employees, who retain an apprentice or trainee (who was in training with the employer as at 1 March 2020) may be entitled to Government funded wage subsidies.
These will be equal to 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during the nine months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.
The maximum wage subsidy over the nine-month period will be $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee.
Employers can register for the subsidy from early April 2020.
INCREASING THE INSTANT WRITE-OFF THRESHOLD FOR BUSINESS ASSETS - ATO
Broadly, the depreciating asset instant asset write-off threshold will be increased from $30,000 (for businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $50 million) to $150,000 (for businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $500 million) until 30 June 2020.
The measure applies to both new and second-hand assets first used or installed ready for use in the period beginning on 12 March 2020 (i.e., the date on which this measure was announced) and ending on 30 June 2020.
Small Business Entities (‘SBEs’)
These are businesses with aggregated turnover of less than $10 million.
SBEs will be able to claim an immediate deduction for depreciating assets that cost less than $150,000, provided the relevant asset is first acquired at or after 7.30 pm on 12 May 2015, by legal time in the ACT, and first used or installed ready for useon or after 12 March 2020, but before 1 July 2020.
Additionally, SBEs will also be able to claim an immediate deduction for the following:
An amount included in the second element of the cost of (i.e., an improvement to) a depreciating asset that was first used or installed ready for use in a previous income year. The amount of the second element cost must be less than $150,000and the cost must be incurred on or after 12 March 2020, but before 1 July 2020.
Medium Business Entities (‘MBEs’)
These are businesses with turnover of at least $10 million and less than $500 million.
MBEs can immediately deduct the cost of an asset in an income year if the asset has a cost of less than $150,000 and it was first acquired in the period beginning at 7:30pm, by legal time in the ACT, on 2 April 2019 and ending on 30 June 2020, and the taxpayer starts to use or have the asset installed ready for use for a taxable purpose in the period beginning on 12 March 2020and ending on 30 June 2020.
Additionally, MBEs can also claim a deduction for certain amounts included in the second element of the cost of a depreciating asset, where the amount of the second element cost is less than $150,000, and is incurred on or after 12 March 2020 but before 1 July 2020.
The threshold will generally be applied to the GST-exclusive cost of an eligible asset (i.e., assuming the relevant business is entitled to an input tax credit for any GST included in the acquisition cost).
Importantly, this increased threshold also continues to operate on a ‘per asset’ basis, which means that eligible businesses can immediately write-off multiple assets (as long as each of the assets individually satisfy the relevant eligibility criteria).
Currently, the instant asset write-off threshold is due to revert to $1,000 for small businesses (i.e., those with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million) from 1 July 2020.
Accelerating depreciation deductions for new assets
Broadly, a new time-limited 15-month investment incentive (available for eligible assets acquired from 12 March 2020 up until 30 June 2021) will also be introduced to accelerate certain depreciation deductions for businesses with an aggregated turnover below $500 million.
The amount that an eligible entity can deduct in the income year in which an eligible depreciating asset is first used or installed ready for use is:
Different rules will apply where an SBE is using the general small business pool (i.e., for assets not qualifying for the instant asset write-off). In this case, an SBE may deduct an amount equal to 57.5% (rather than 15%) of the business-use portion of the cost of an eligible depreciating asset in the year is it allocated to the pool.
Unless specifically excluded, an eligible asset is a new asset that can be depreciated under Division 40 of the ITAA 1997 (i.e., plant and equipment and specified intangible assets, such as patents), where the asset satisfies all of the following conditions:
The asset is first held, and first used or installed ready for use, for a taxable purpose, between 12 March 2020 and 30 June 2021 (inclusive).
Note that a depreciating asset is not an eligible asset where a commitment to acquire or construct the asset was entered into before 12 March 2020.
SME LOAN GUARANTEE SCHEME
The Coronavirus small and medium sized businesses (SME) Guarantee Scheme will provide a guarantee of 50 per cent to SME lenders for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital. This will enhance these lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit, which will result in SMEs being able to access additional funding to help support them through the upcoming months.
SMEs with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive these loans.
The Government will provide eligible lenders with a guarantee for loans with the following terms:
Maximum total size of loans of $250,000 per borrower.
The loans will be up to three years, with an initial six month repayment holiday.
The loans will be in the form of unsecured finance, meaning that borrowers will not have to provide an asset as security for the loan.
Loans will be subject to lenders’ credit assessment processes with the expectation that lenders will look through the cycle to sensibly take into account the uncertainty of the current economic conditions.
As part of the loan products available, the Government will encourage lenders to provide facilities to SMEs that only have to be drawn if needed by the SME. This will mean that the SME will only incur interest on the amount they draw down. If they do not draw down any funds from the facility, no interest will be charged, but they will retain the flexibility to draw down in the future should they need to.
The Scheme will commence by early April 2020 and be available for new loans made by participating lenders until 30 September 2020.
Your bank will be able to provide more information. This page from the NAB is an example.
In discussions with my NAB Bank Manager yesterday, his understanding was that the loan application processes may require limited documentation however interest rates would be similar if not a little higher than personal loan rates such as 14%. Noting the lending process is still being worked through and will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
If you are a business customer, it is recommended for you to contact your Business Banker directly or if personal customer contact the bank's retail banking area to discuss your's and your business' particular financing needs.
QUICK AND EFFICIENT ACCESS TO CREDIT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
The Government is providing an exemption from responsible lending obligations for lenders providing credit to existing small business customers. This exemption is for six months, and applies to any credit for business purposes, including new credit, credit limit increases and credit variations and restructures. This should help small businesses get access to credit quickly and efficiently.
The Queensland State government is also offering a new loan facility of up to $250,000, interest free for the first 12 months, to support businesses to retain their staff. This will be administered via QRIDA.
More info and Expressions of interest can be found at www.qrida.qld.gov.au and www.osr.qld.gov.au.
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA STIMULUS
FAIR WORK UPDATE
Below is some information to support employers about workplace entitlements and obligations for staff affected by the outbreak of Coronavirus. Fair Work Australia has updated their guidance specifically to address this, including answers to common questions about working from home or another location, standing down employees, use of leave entitlements and quarantine.
For more detailed information please visit Fair Work website.
Government information about coronavirus
The Australian Government has made some announcements regarding additional welfare payments for employers and workers impacted by coronavirus and stand downs. We'll link to the relevant information as soon as possible.
Health and safety in the workplace
Enforceable government directions
Where the Commonwealth or a State or Territory Government or officer makes an enforceable government order, determination or direction (enforceable government direction) under a law which either prevents an employee from attending their workplace or has the effect of temporarily closing down that workplace, and it is not possible for the employee to perform work at another location, an employer can direct the employee not to attend the workplace. In this instance, the employer is not required to pay the employee.
The reason why the employer is not required to pay the employee is because it is not the employer who is making the decision about whether or not the employee is able to attend the workplace.
The situation is changing rapidly, but most States and Territories have now put in place enforceable government directions to prohibit mass gatherings or events, and some are enforcing self-isolation requirements for travellers and other people exposed to coronavirus.
Given recent government announcements, enforceable government directions have been, or will soon be, issued with respect to restaurants, gyms, pubs, clubs and other non-essential services. For example, the Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer has issued an enforceable government direction that certain non-essential services must shut down between 12pm on 23 March 2020 and 12am on 13 April 2020. The New South Wales Government has issued a similar enforceable government direction.
As these enforceable government directions have been issued, affected businesses are likely be able to stand down employees, where they cannot usefully be employed. See When can employees be stood down without pay?
Frequently asked questions: Workplace obligations and entitlements
We encourage employees and employers to work together to find appropriate solutions that suit the needs of individual workplaces and staff. This may include taking different forms of leave, working from home, or taking extra precautions in the workplace.
If you have an urgent enquiry about your workplace obligations or entitlements, please contact us on 13 13 94 and select the prompt for the coronavirus hotline.
On this page:
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Emily and/or myself at email@example.com or on mobile no. 0421 635 728 to discuss. We are here to help and support you and your business.