COVID-19 Updates

Extensions to JobKeeper Scheme

28 April 2020

The ATO has just announced extensions to both the time to enrol in the JobKeeper Scheme, and the time in which employers need to pay employees for the first two JobKeeper fortnights.

Employers now have until 31 May 2020 to enrol for the initial JobKeeper payments.  In addition, it has extended the time in which employers need to pay employees for JobKeeper fortnights 1 and 2 until 8 May 2020.  Employers should ensure that by this date, all eligible employees have been paid $3,000 for the first two fortnights.

It is important that employers also ensure that a minimum of $1,500 per employee be paid by 10 May 2020 in relation to JobKeeper fortnight 3, as no extension to this date has been announced.

Further details regarding these extensions can be found on the ATO website.

JobKeeper Payment - rules announced

16 April 2020

The JobKeeper payment is for businesses and not-for-profits that are significantly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, and the measures in place to restrict it.

The government package will give eligible employees $1,500 per fortnight for a 26-week period, running from 30 March to 27 September.

The treasurer has now released rules governing the scheme. We will keep you informed as these are updated.

The one in, all in rule – Employers who opt to participate in the JobKeeper scheme must ensure that all eligible employees are covered. This includes all eligible employees who are undertaking work for the employer or have been stood down. The employer cannot select which eligible employees will participate in the scheme.

Notifying employees – If you have applied for the JobKeeper payment you must notify all eligible employees that you have elected to participate and they will be covered by the scheme. You’ll need to provide them with a JobKeeper employee nomination notice.

Decline in turnover test – If your organisation does not qualify for the month of April 2020 because turnover has not been sufficiently affected, turnover can be tested in later months to determine if the test is met.

Paying employees in the interim – The JobKeeper Payment is a reimbursement scheme that will be paid by the ATO monthly in arrears. Talk to us about your options if you are experiencing cash flow difficulties now.

What if an eligible employee usually earns less than $1,500 per fortnight before tax? – If you want to claim the subsidy for an eligible employee and they have not been paid $1,500 per fortnight since 30 March 2020, employers must pay a ‘top-up’ payment to employees so that they are eligible. It is possible that some employees may receive more than their ordinary pay.

Failure to pay the payment to employees – If you receive the JobKeeper subsidy for an employee, you must ensure that the employee receives a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight, before tax. Failure to do so is a breach of the Fair Work act and may result in penalties as an individual and corporation, plus penalties under the Commonwealth Criminal code.

Superannuation – There are a number of scenarios related to superannuation:

  • If your employee is not working, but receiving the JobKeeper payment, you do not need to pay superannuation.
  • If your employee is working and receiving the JobKeeper payment, employers will still need to pay superannuation.
  • If an employee is having their wages topped up to $1,500 per fortnight by the JobKeeper Payment, the employer does not need to pay superannuation on the top-up amount.

Monthly reporting – participation in the JobKeeper scheme requires monthly reporting including current GST turnover for the reporting month and projected GST turnover for the following month.

Does the JobKeeper payment cover other income loss such as rental income? – No. Only businesses with employees or self-employed people are eligible for the JobKeeper Payment.

Processing payments through your accounting and payroll software – Providers of this software are upgrading now to allow for easy processing of JobKeeper payments within payroll and will be ready by the time businesses receive the first payment.

How to apply

The first step is to register your interest and subscribe for JobKeeper payment updates on the ATO site. This will allow you to check your eligibility. You will also get access to the forms for your employees.

From 20 April 2020, you can enrol for the JobKeeper payment using the Business Portal and authenticate with myGovID. You must do this by the end of April to claim JobKeeper payments for April.

Get in touch with your questions

We can provide further guidance on the JobKeeper Payment and assist with the reporting requirements for your organisation.

Australia's Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme

14 April 2020

As part of the government’s economic response to the Coronavirus, the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme provides support for small businesses to access credit.

The $40 billion scheme is backed by the government, who cover 50% of the risk, with the remaining 50% covered by the lender for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital.

What we know so far

  • Businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive these loans
  • Loans are up to $250,000 per operating business.
  • The loans will be up to 3 years, with an initial 6 month repayment holiday. They must be repaid within the three year time period
  • The loan will be in the form of unsecured finance. This means that businesses will not need to provide an asset as security.
  • These are loans, not grants. Criteria, fees and interest rates will differ by each lender.
  • The Scheme will be available for new loans made by participating lenders until 30 September 2020
  • The Government is yet to finalise the list of participating lenders. This will be published on the Treasury’s webpage.

If you are looking for financial support for your business, the more information you can provide to a bank or other lender, the better.

It is likely that you will need to provide proof that you can repay the loan. This will involve up-to-date financials including trading figures up until lockdown and a business plan that shows the future sustainability of your business.

Talk to us about your business plan. We can assist you with the financials and guide you through available funding options.

JobKeeper FAQ

7 April 2020

The Treasury has released a Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet on the proposed JobKeeper payments. The document responds to a number of questions raised by employers, including:

  • Eligibility of businesses and entity types
  • Determining eligible employees
  • Further details regarding the wage payment and reimbursement process
  • Definition of turnover, including details for new start ups and businesses with varying income

The fact sheet addresses questions raised by employees and Self-Employed people, and there is also guidance as to how the payments will apply to partnerships, trusts and shareholders.

 

The JobKeeper Payment – support for Australian businesses and sole traders

31 March 2020

The Government has announced a new measure to support Australian businesses, employees and sole traders. The JobKeeper Payment aims to support businesses to maintain their income and connection with employees. These connections will enable businesses to reactivate their operations quickly after the crisis is over.

The JobKeeper Payment

Eligible businesses will be able to claim $1,500 from March 30th, per fortnight per eligible employee for a maximum of 6 months. Payments will flow from the first week of May but will be backdated to March 30th.

Who is eligible?

The Jobkeeper Payment will be available to full-time workers, part-time workers, sole traders and casual workers (casual workers must be employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020. Eligibility is as follows:

  • Your business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and you can demonstrate it will be reduced by more than 30% relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month).
  • Your business has a turnover of over $1 billion or more and you can demonstrate it will be reduced by more than 50% relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month).
  • Employers must have been in an employment relationship with eligible employees as at 1 March 2020. Businesses will be required to keep the employee on their books in order to distribute the payment.
  • Employees must be Australian citizens or holders of a permanent or special category visa, such as subclass 444. They must also be 16 years of age or older and not already receiving the JobKeeper payment from another employer.

Note: The JobKeeper Payment must be reported as income. If you are a non-employing sole trader this payment may affect your eligibility for payments from Services Australia.

What do I do next?

At this stage, eligible businesses should register with the ATO.

We will provide more information once it becomes available.

 

Scott Morrison unveils additional stimulus and support measures

23 March 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced an additional stimulus package, taking the value of the total support to $189 billion.

Acknowledging that the coronavirus pandemic may continue for some time and have long lasting impact on the livelihoods of Australians, the PM announced a raft of new support measures.

Details of the new package:

Support for businesses – eligible businesses and not-for-profits, with a turnover of under $50 millions and who are employers, will receive up to $100,000 (with a minimum of $20,000). This is an extension to the ‘boosting cashflow for employers measure’ which aims to keep employees in work. Employers will receive a tax free payment equal to 100% of wages or salary withheld (increased from 50%). This will be available from April 28th.

Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses – by temporarily providing higher thresholds and more time to respond to demands from creditors and providing temporary relief from directors’ personal insolvent trading liability.

Increasing the instant asset write-off – the Government has already announced that they are raising the threshold to $150,000 (from $30,000) — and making more businesses eligible to use it up to a turnover of $500 million.

Backing business investment – by accelerating depreciation deductions.

Supporting apprentices and trainees – through wage assistance to help small businesses.

Coronavirus SME guarantee scheme – a loan guarantee arrangement between the Government and participating banks to assist with the immediate cash flow needs of small businesses.

Increasing the benefit – the Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments with a new, time-limited coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight. The payment will go to existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit for the next 6 months.

Early access to superannuation – eligible individuals and sole traders will be able to access up to $10,000 in 2019-20, and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. Withdrawals will be tax-free. Applications are through the myGov site online by July 1. There will also be a temporary reduction of minimum super drawdown rates.

Support for airlines and airports – up to $715 million relief from a range of taxes and Government charges.

For more on the new package, the Treasury has fact sheets on each measure at https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus.

 

COVID-19 Financial Support for Australian Businesses

13 March 2020

Whatever your business, it’s likely that COVID-19 will be impacting you.

You may be dealing with stock shortages, exporting issues, disrupted travel plans or a sales downturn due to tourist drop off.

As the situation changes and develops across the world, it’s important that businesses develop a workplace response to coronavirus. You’ll want to have a plan on how to look after or protect your staff, how to manage sick leave and self isolation plus consider issues around privacy.

The Australian government has announced a $17.6 billion economic stimulus package, with the goal to support Australian’s health, jobs and livelihoods and set up Australia to bounce back.

The stimulus package to support business and recharge the economy includes the following programmes:

  • Boosting cashflow for employers – Temporary cash flow support for small businesses that employ staff. Payments will be a minimum of $2,000 and up to $25,000 tax free, for eligible businesses.
  • Increasing the Instant Asset Write-Off – Increasing the instant asset write off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expand access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020.
  • Supporting apprentices and trainees – Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.
  • Backing Business Investment – Accelerated depreciation deductions to support business investment and economic growth over the short term.

The government’s business site has useful information on support for Australian businesses.

Speak to us today

We have dedicated experts ready to help guide you through this difficult time