Commonwealth Government

COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT BUSINESS SUPPORT

Last updated 1 May 2020

Disclaimer: RDA Far West have taken every care to try and ensure the information provided on this page is accurate and relevant. A significant number of announcements have been made and RDA Far West accept no responsibility for this information and strongly suggest you speak with your financial experts and consider the individual circumstances of your business.

SUPPORT MEASURES

Since 12 March 2020, the Australian Government has announced several stimulus and relief packages designed to sustain businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic and keep employees in work. The government has stated that these measures are temporary, targeted and scalable. The main areas of support relevant to businesses to date are:

ACCELERATED DEPRECIATION FOR INVESTMENTS

Announced 12 March 2020

    • Businesses will be able to deduct an additional 50% of an asset cost in the year of purchase from 12 March 2020 until 30 June 2021.
    • This is designed to support business investment and economic growth over the short term.

Who is eligible?

    • Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million that are purchasing new depreciable assets.
    • Eligible assets covered are new assets that can be depreciated under Division 40 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997.
    • Please note, Second Hand assets are not eligible for this initiative.

When will it be received?
Depreciation is generally claimed back via your business tax return.

ADDITIONAL PAYMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS TO RETAIN STAFF

Announced 22 March 2020

    • Not-for-profits and small businesses with a turnover under $50 million will receive a tax-free cash payment of from $20,000 up to $100,000 to help them retain staff and continue operating.
    • Eligible entities will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all of the boosting cash flow for employers payments received.
    • The Government expects 690,000 businesses employing 7.8 million people and 30,000 not-for-profits will be eligible for measures in this stimulus package.
    • The payments are tax free, there will be no new forms and payments will flow automatically through the ATO.

Who is eligible?
Small and medium business entities with aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million and that employ workers are eligible.

When will it be received?
The payment will be available from 28 April 2020. An additional payment is also being made from 28 July 2020.

APPRENTICE AND TRAINEE WAGE SUBSIDY

Registrations are open for eligible employers to apply for the 50% wage subsidy of their apprentice’s or trainee’s wage from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Click here for more information.

CASH FLOW BOOST FOR EMPLOYERS

Announced 7 April 2020

From 28 April 2020, eligible businesses will receive a tax-free cash flow boost of between $20,000 and $100,000 through credits in the activity statement system when they lodge all relevant activity statements. This is to help during the economic downturn associated with COVID-19.

You do not need to apply for the cash flow boost. All you need to do is lodge your upcoming activity statements. Make sure you lodge your March and quarter 3 activity statements on their due date and no earlier. This will ensure you receive the maximum refund available to you to assist with your cash flow. If your business is eligible, the credit will be automatically applied but not before 28 April 2020. You can view the eligibility criteria on the boosting cash flow for employers web page.

If you are lodging online through the Business Portal, remember you now need to log in using your myGovID. Set up your myGovID today, if you haven’t already. Remember, registered tax agents and BAS agents can help you with your tax.

CASH FLOW PAYMENT FOR EMPLOYERS

Announced 12 March, increased 22 March 2020

    • Eligible small businesses that withhold income tax from employee salaries and wages and pay it to the Australian Taxation Office can receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of the amount withheld, up to a maximum payment of $50,000.
    • A minimum payment of $10,000 may be available to businesses that pay wages but are not required to pay tax.

Who is eligible?
Businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020.

When will it be received?
Eligible businesses will automatically receive payments of up to 100 per cent of the amount withheld via their business activity statements (BAS) or instalment activity statement (for PAYG) from 28 April 2020, with refunds to be paid within 14 days after that date.

CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS SUPPORT

At www.business.gov.au there is a team of dedicated customer representatives who can help you if your business has been affected by the COVID-19. The team are available between 7.00am – 9.00pm across Australia, seven days a week.

You can call on 13 28 46, send them an email or use the webchat available on the website.

COVIDSAFE APP

    • COVIDSafe assists health officials to quickly understand and tackle the spread of COVID-19.
    • COVIDSafe securely records when you have been in close contact with other users of the app. This will allow State and Territory health officials to contact you if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
    • The minimal information collected by the app will not be accessible without your consent. The app will not reveal the identities of anyone with COVID-19. It simply alerts those who may have been exposed to the disease so they can take immediate precautions.
    • Downloading the app is voluntary and is now available from the Apple App Store and Google PlayFurther information is available on the Department of Health website

EARLY ACCESS TO SUPERANNUATION

Announced 22 March 2020

    • The Government is allowing sole traders who have seen their hours of work or income fall by 20% or more as a result of the pandemic to access their superannuation.
    • This is capped at $10,000 this financial year and a further $10,000 next financial year.
    • The withdrawals will be tax free.

Who is eligible?
Individuals whose income has fallen by 20% or more.

When will it be received?
On successful application via the
myGov website, when applications open in April 2020.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION & CARE RELIEF PACKAGE

Announced 2 April 2020

    • From Monday 6 April 2020 weekly payments will be made directly to early childhood education and care services in lieu of the Child Care Subsidy and the Additional Child Care Subsidy, to help them keep their doors open and employees in their jobs.
    • Payments will be made until 28 June 2020 and families will not be charged fees during this time.
    • These payments will complement the JobKeeper Payment announced by the Prime Minister on 30 March 2020.
    • Early childhood education and child care services do not need to apply for the payments, they will be paid automatically.

EXPANDED ELIGIBILITY FOR JOBSEEKER PAYMENT FOR SOLE TRADERS

Announced 30 March 2020

    • Eligible sole traders will be granted access to the JobSeeker Payment, which now includes an additional COVID-19 supplement of $550 per fortnight for the next six months.
    • The standard waiting periods and asset tests will be waived to allow quicker access to these payments.
    • Individuals will still be able to keep operating their businesses and earn up to $1,075 per fortnight before their payments are affected.
    • On 30 March 2020, it was announced that the income test for partners of job seekers will be increased from $48,000 to $79,762 to provide greater access.

Who is eligible?
Sole traders that meet the JobSeeker Payment income test.

When will it be received?
After your application has been approved via the
Services Australia website.

Read the National Cabinet statement – 29 March for more information.

FAIR WORK ACT AMENDMENTS

The Government has changed the Fair Work Act for employers and employees who have accessed the JobKeeper wage subsidiary (and only for these employers and employees). The new laws override any modern award, enterprise agreement or employment contract.

Under the new laws an employer can:

    • Stand down an employee without pay (completely or partially) for any period that they cannot be usefully employed.
    • Change employment arrangements (such as what they do, where they work and when they work) for a specific employee.

There are very specific tests and qualifications to this and Australian Business Lawyers and Advisors have put together a great guide to help you out, access the guide here. Their website is also very useful for business – ablawyers.com.au.

FREIGHT ACCESS

Announced 1 April 2020

The Australian Government announced measures to help secure freight access for Australian agriculture and fisheries exporters.

    • The new $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism will assist Australia’s agricultural and fisheries sector by helping them export their high-quality produce into key overseas markets, with return flights bringing back vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment.
    • Exporters wishing to access the mechanism can register their interest or call the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment on (02) 6272 2444.

On 1 April, the Government also announced increased funding for the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG).

    • Funding for the scheme will increase by $49.8 million in the 2019-20 financial year, allowing exporters and tourism businesses to get additional reimbursements for costs incurred in marketing their products and services around the world.

For details about the full range of programs the Australian Government has launched in support for Australian businesses go to business.gov.au.

GREATER LENIENCY FOR INSOLVENCY & BANKRUPTCY

Announced 22 March 2020

    • The threshold at which a creditor can take action against a small business has increased from $2,000 to $20,000.
    • The mandatory response time has also increased from 21 days to 6 months.
    • Temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent has also been announced.

Who is eligible?
All small businesses facing insolvency or bankruptcy as a result of the COVID-19.

When will it be received?
N/A

HARDSHIP PROVISIONS FOR ENERGY, WATER & RATES

The National Cabinet agreed to a nationally consistent approach to hardship support across the essential services for households and small businesses. The principles specify that businesses eligible for the JobKeeper payment will automatically be considered to be under ‘financial stress’ for the purposes of accessing hardship arrangements.

To find out more, head to the COVID-19 page on the business.gov.au website.

INCREASE IN THE INSTANT ASSET WRITE-OFF THRESHOLD

Announced 12 March 2020

    • The instant asset write-off threshold will be increased from $30,000 to $150,000.
    • The higher threshold is in place from 12 March 2020 until 30 June 2020 and applies to new or second-hand assets installed in businesses during these dates.

Who is eligible?
Businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million).

When will it be received?
The instant asset write-off is generally claimed back via your business tax return. At this stage, no specific details have been announced on how to access this incentive.

Learn more at the business.gov.au website.

JOBKEEPER PAYMENT

Announced 30 March 2020

Businesses that employ workers and have been impacted by COVID-19 can now register to receive the JobKeeper subsidy. This payment is a subsidy to business owners that enables them to keep paying their workers even when revenue has declined. The amount of the JobKeeper subsidy is $1,500 per fortnight for each eligible worker who was employed by the business on 1 March 2020 and who continues to work for the business. The subsidy amount of $1,500 before tax per fortnight must be passed on to all eligible employees.  The subsidy is available to businesses for up to 6 months. The program starts on Monday 30 March 2020 and businesses will receive the first JobKeeper subsidy payments in the first week of May.

Key points:

    • Businesses impacted by CCOVID-19 will be able to access a subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees (conditions apply).
    • 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 six months.
    • This includes eligible employees that have been stood down or re-hired.
    • Businesses without employees that meet turnover tests, such as the self-employed, can also register their interest in applying for the JobKeeper Payment.

Update to JobKeeper Payment rules:
For more information, see the
media release issued by the Treasurer, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, on 24 April 2020.

Extension of time to enrol for the JobKeeper scheme:
The Australian Commissioner of Taxation has extended the time to enrol for the initial JobKeeper periods, from 30 April 2020 until 31 May 2020.

For more information, read the JobKeeper Payment: key questions answered. For information regarding the JobKeeper payment for partnerships, trusts or companies, click here.

JOBKEEPER PAYMENTS FOR CHARITIES

The latest update from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg regarding the Government’s JobKeeper payment will allow for charities to exclude government revenue when assessing eligibility for the payment. This will ensure that charities delivering significant services funded by government will not be adversely affected. View more information about the “turnover test” by clicking here.

Information for MYOB Users
If you’re eligible for the JobKeeper payment, enrol and have your software set up by 30 April 2020, to ensure you receive your payments as early as possible.
Once you’ve completed the ATO enrolment process online, you’re ready to begin setting up your MYOB software to do the heavy lifting.

6 steps to processing JobKeeper payments in MYOB:

      1. Set up an income account to receive JobKeeper payments.
      2. Set up the JobKeeper wage (allowance) category.
      3. Exempt the JobKeeper top up category from accruing super.
      4. Notify the ATO that you’re starting to pay JobKeeper.
      5. Do your first JobKeeper pay.
      6. Record JobKeeper payments from the government.

Other MYOB resources:
AccountRight
Essentials

Information for XERO users:
Set up of update Jobkeeper pay items
What you need to know
Set JobKeeper payment start dates

Information for Reckon Users:
JobKeeper Payment

JOBS HUB

The Australian Government has launched a new Jobs Hub, supporting businesses and those looking for work. The Jobs Hub helps Australians looking for work find advertised vacancies.

On the Jobs Hub, you’ll find an up-to-date list of a selection of businesses and organisations that are currently hiring, and how to contact them.

While many businesses have been adversely affected by COVID-19 and are reducing their workforces, there are some areas of the economy which have an increased demand for workers. This includes jobs in health and care sectors, transport and logistics, some areas of retail, mining and mining services, manufacturing, agriculture and government sectors, among others.

In addition, employers who are hiring and want support to connect with potential candidates can also contact the Department of Education, Skills and Employment at workforce@dese.gov.au to be connected directly with businesses reducing their workforces; and the employment services network to source suitable candidates.

JOBSEEKER PAYMENT

Financial assistance can be provided if you’re aged between 22 and the Age Pension age and looking for work. It’s also available for when you’re sick or injured and can’t do your usual work or study for a short time.

To receive the JobSeeker payment you need to meet the criteria. This includes:

    • You’re between 22 and Age Pension age.
    • Your income is under the test limits.
    • You meet residence rules.

Click here for more detail regarding these conditions and to determine whether or not this payment is right for you.

MORATORIUM ON EVICTIONS

Announced 29 March 2020

    • On 29 March 2020, the National Cabinet agreed to a temporary moratorium on evictions over the next six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.
    • Commercial tenants, landlords and financial institutions are encouraged to sit down together to find a way through to ensure that businesses can survive and be there on the other side.
    • In addition, the Australian Banking Association announced an extension of Australian banks loan repayment deferral scheme, to make it available to commercial landlords with loans up to $10M who undertake not to evict or terminate the lease of their tenants.

Read the National Cabinet statement – 29 March for more information.

MYOB JOBKEEPER PAYMENT CHECKS

The deadline to receive April JobKeeper payments is fast approaching (8 May 2020). If you’re applying for JobKeeper, check how you’ve set up JobKeeper payments in MYOB, paying careful attention to the common mistakes that have been identified in MYOB’s data.

Complete the following checks before 8 May 2020 to avoid missing out on April JobKeeper payments, using the links below for more detailed information on how to get it right.

    • Check JobKeeper start dates – Check that you’ve chosen the correct First JobKeeper fortnight for each employee based on their first eligible JobKeeper payment date.
    • Check JobKeeper wage category set-up – The Wages Name and ATO Reporting Category you use for the JobKeeper category must be set up strictly as shown below for the ATO to pay you. Already set-up? Don’t worry, you can just do a $0 pay and send to the ATO to fix the issue.
    • Check payment amounts – Ensure you’ve paid the minimum amount required for JobKeeper ($1,500 per fortnight before tax) for each employee. You can check through the Payroll Activity Report.

RURAL COVID-19 AEROMEDICAL RETRIEVALS

A $52.8 million aeromedical retrieval package to support rural and remote communities during the COVID-19 health emergency. The funding is being provided to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and was announced on 20 April 2020 by The Hon Mark Coulton MP, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government. Click here for more information.

SME GUARANTEE SCHEME

Announced 22 March 2020

    • The Government will provide a guarantee of 50% to small and medium enterprise (SME) lenders for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital for small to medium businesses, to enable them to access additional funding to help support them through the upcoming months.
    • Businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive these loans, up to $250,000 per borrower.
    • The loans will be up to three years, with an initial six month repayment holiday and will be in the form of unsecured finance.

Who is eligible?
Businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million that pass the lenders’ credit assessment processes.

When will it be received?
The scheme will commence by early April 2020 and be available for new loans made by participating lenders until 30 September 2020.

STIMULUS PAYMENTS

Two tax-free $750 stimulus payments to individual income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. The first payment will be rolled out from 31 March 2020 and the second from 13 July 2020.

SUPPORT FOR AFFECTED REGIONS & COMMUNITIES

The Government has set aside $1 billion to support regions most significantly affected by COVID-19. These funds will be available to assist during the outbreak and the recovery. In addition, the Government is assisting our airline industry by providing relief from a number of taxes and Government charges estimated to total up to $715 million.

TAX RELIEF

    • The Australian Tax Office (ATO) will consider relief for certain tax obligations to eligible businesses, including deferring tax payments up to four months.
    • If disruption to your business operations causes you to fall behind with your tax and super obligations, read the ATO’s information on COVID-19, call them on 1800 806 218 or speak to your tax professional so that they can work with you to find a solution.
    • Fringe Benefits Tax – If you’re experiencing financial difficulty in meeting your FGT obligations because of COVID-19, phone the emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218.

TEMPORARY VISA WORK ARRANGEMENTS

    • The Government is making a number of changes to temporary visa holder arrangements during COVID-19 in order to protect the health of our community, safeguard job opportunities for Australians, support critical industries, and assist with rapid recovery.
    • Further information is available on the Department of Home affairs website.

TOURISM BUSINESSES IN COMMONWEALTH NATIONAL PARKS

To support the tourism industry through COVID-19 and to support businesses to rebuild their operations, the Australian Government is waiving and reimbursing the cost of permits and licence fees for commercial tourism businesses operating in Commonwealth National Parks for the period of 1 January 2020 to 31 March 2021.  This support is being made available through the Australian Government’s $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund.

Commercial tourism businesses will still be required to hold a valid licence or permit to resume operations when the national parks re-open, however these fees will be waived through to 31 March 2021.

Parks Australia will contact all eligible operators with information about how they will receive their reimbursement. Click here for additional information.

UPDATES FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, SKILLS & EMPLOYMENT

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has provided information about the following topics:

WAGE SUBSIDY FOR APPRENTICES & TRAINEES

Announced 12 March 2020

    • Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of an apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.
    • Businesses can be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice, which is $7,000 per quarter for the first three quarters of 2020.

Who is eligible?
Small businesses with fewer than 20 full time employees who retain an apprentice or trainee. The apprentice must have been in training with the small business as at 1 March 2020.

When will it be received?