Current as of 9 August 2021
On 15 July 2021, the Prime Minister announced the Commonwealth would facilitate the administration of COVID-19 business support payments for States and Territories. The Treasury Laws Amendment (COVID-19 Economic Response No. 2) Bill 2021 (Bill) was introduced into Parliament on 3 August 2021 and is currently before Senate and is expected to be passed and receive Royal Assent shortly.
Current as of 28 July 2021
The NSW and Federal Governments have announced increased financial support for those impacted by the recent COVID-19 lockdown. Following the announcement of the lockdown being extended to 28 August 2021, it was also shared that substantial increases in payments would be distributed via the existing government frameworks.
Current as of 7 August 2020
The Government has announced that it will wind back the eligibility criteria for the JobKeeper Payment scheme for the extended period from 28 September 2020 to 28 March 2021. This is a welcome concession from the announcement made three weeks ago in which the conclusion of the JobKeeper Payment scheme was extended from 27 September 2020 to 28 March 2021.
The latest announcement is a result of the economic impact the Victorian lockdown will have on the national economy and will ensure that more businesses and employees are eligible to receive JobKeeper payments.
Current as of 21 July 2020
The Government has announced it is extending the JobKeeper Payment scheme until 28 March 2021. This is aimed at helping those businesses that continue to be significantly impacted by COVID-19.
- The existing JobKeeper Payment will remain in place until 27 September 2020. The rules for accessing the payment under existing eligibility requirements remain unchanged for periods up until 27 September 2020.
- From 28 September 2020, the new JobKeeper Payment rate will be stepped-down and two tiers of payment will be introduced.
- Employers will be required to reassess their eligibility with reference to actual turnover (rather than projected turnover). The extension will be available to qualifying businesses until 28 March 2021.
- The JobKeeper Payment will continue to remain open to new recipients, provided they meet the existing eligibility requirements and the additional turnover requirements during the extension period.
Current as of 23 April 2020
The ATO has released an alternative JobKeeper test for entities that cannot satisfy the basic decline in turnover. The alternative tests will apply to seven sets of circumstances. The alternative tests consider entities that may have been affected by a drought or other natural disasters as well as those that are in a sector that experiences irregular turnover e.g. property and construction
Each of the seven circumstances has its own alternative test that is detailed in the legislative instrument.
We recommend carefully reviewing the alternative tests before applying for the JobKeeper payment. Details can be found here: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2020L00461
Current as of 13 April 2020
The JobKeeper Payment has now been legislated by Parliament, and the eligibility rules have been officially released by Treasury, broadly in line with earlier guidance.
The updated Treasury fact sheets can be found here:
The rules and other guidance are best summarised in the Treasury fact sheet JobKeeper Payment – Frequently Asked Questions:
In summary, the JobKeeper Payment providing a wage subsidy to businesses impacted by Coronavirus. The Government will provide eligible employers with $1,500 per fortnight per employee to help them retain workers through this period.
Key points for employers
- All eligible employers / entities must register their interest on the ATO website.
- Employers will be eligible if, at the time of applying, they estimate that their turnover has fallen (or will likely fall) by at least 30% as a result of the current restrictions / COVID-19 impact relative to a comparable period in 2019.
- The period can be a month from March 2020 to September 2020 compared to the same month in 2019, or where a quarterly period is chosen, businesses will compare projected turnover for either the June or September 2020 quarters to the same quarter in 2019.
- If turnover has not yet declined but it is expected to do so, a business can start claiming from a future period, although payments will not be backdated.
- Businesses whose “aggregated turnover” for income tax purposes is likely to exceed $1 billion must instead show a 50% reduction in turnover. For testing whether the 50% rate applies the turnover of certain related entities, including foreign residents, is taken into account.
- Deductible Gift Recipients (DGR’s) and other charities registered with ACNC will be eligible if they estimate their turnover has fallen (or will likely fall) by at least 15% or more relative to a comparable period a year earlier.
- When calculating the reduction, turnover is defined to be “GST turnover” as reported on Business Activity Statements. It includes all Australian taxable supplies and GST free supplies but not input taxed supplies.
- Consistent with the GST law includes only Australian-based sales, so a decline in overseas operations will not be counted in the turnover test.
- Where a business or charity was not in operation a year earlier, or the turnover a year earlier is not representative of their usual turnover (e.g. where it was impacted by the drought), the ATO has discretion to consider additional information to establish that they have been adversely impacted by COVID19, and apply an alternative methodology.
- The JobKeeper Payment covers part time, full time, stood down employees and long-term casual workers (that is, those who have been with their employer on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months).
- There is a “one-in-all-in” rule where participation must be offered to all eligible employees, but the employee is not required to accept the offer.
- Payments will be available for a period of 6 months from 30 March 2020.
- The Payment applies to employees ‘on the books’ as at 1 March 2020. Therefore, there is an opportunity for staff that had been terminated or stood down in the past weeks to be reinstated and become eligible.
- Employers will need to report to the ATO on a monthly basis regarding the number of eligible employees.
- To be eligible however, employees cannot be getting other benefits such as Job Seeker payments.
Eligibility of sole traders
- Businesses without employees, such as the self-employed, can also register their interest in applying for JobKeeper payments from 30 March 2020.
- Sole traders will need to have had an ABN on or before 12 March 2020 and have either:
- reported an amount of assessable income in their 2019 tax return, if lodged prior to 12 March 2020; or
- made a supply between 1 July 2018 and 12 March 2020 and provided this information to the ATO prior to 12 March 2020.
- Sole traders will need to provide an ABN and nominate an individual to receive the payment and provide that individual’s Tax File Number as well as provide a declaration as to recent business activity.
Eligibility of other “self-employment” entities
- Other entities carrying on a business may be able to receive the JobKeeper Payment for one (but only one) “owner” who is working in the business but not receiving their remuneration as an employee:
- One partner in an eligible partnership can be nominated.
- One individual beneficiary can be nominated.
- One director in an eligible company can be nominated.
- One shareholder in an eligible company, receiving their remuneration for labour by way of dividends, may be nominated.
The payment process
- Businesses must have paid their employees before they are entitled to receive the JobKeeper Payment. Employers will be reimbursed by the ATO monthly in arrears starting from 1 May 2020, backdated to 30 March 2020.
- The payments to employees should be made through an employer’s payroll system and reported to the ATO via Single Touch Payroll.
- Each employer in a group generally reports separately in relation to their JobKeeper Payment obligations, although certain adjustments will be made for sales by members of GST Groups.
- Eligible employers must pay eligible employees a minimum of $1,500 (before PAYG withholding) per fortnight (from 30 March 2020) in order to be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment. If the employee has not been paid this minimum amount a ‘top-up’ payment will be required to be made.
- If the eligible employee is paid more than $1,500 per fortnight (before PAYG withholding), the employer will only be reimbursed up to $1,500 per fortnight.
- The JobKeeper Payment will generally be made by the ATO directly to the employer and will not be used to offset other tax liabilities.
- Eligible employees must complete the JobKeeper Employee Nomination Form before 30 April 2020. The forms are to be submitted to the employers for their own records (not the ATO).
- Where an employee is usually paid more than $1,500 per fortnight and continues to be paid more than $1,500 per fortnight, the employer’s superannuation obligations will not change.
- Where an employee’s wages are “topped-up” to meet the minimum payment requirement of $1,500 per fortnight, there is no additional superannuation obligation in respect of the “top-up” payment being made.
- As an employer or sole trader, you can register your interest in applying for the “JobKeeper” payments with the ATO via the link below.
We will continue to keep you updated with further information on stimulus measures. Please contact your HLB Mann Judd adviser if you have any questions. We are here to help.
For more information, visit HLB Mann Judd’s COVID-19 Resource Centre.