Category: Featured Articles

Key Dates for July & August 2020

Key Dates for Business 

July 2020 
01 July – First day of the 2020/2021 financial year 
21 July – Monthly Activity Statements (June 2020) due for lodgement and payment 
28 July – Quarterly Activity Statements (April-June) due for lodgement and payment (if lodging by paper) 
28 July – Superannuation Guarantee Contributions (April-June) due for payment to superannuation funds or Clearing Houses 

August 2020 
11 August – Quartelry Activity Statments (April-June) due for lodgement and payment (if lodging electronically) 
21 August – Monthly Activity Statemnts (July 2020) due for lodgement and payment 
21 August – Final day for eligible monthly GST reporters to elect to report annually 
28 August – 2020/2021 Contractor Taxable Payments Annual Reports – due for lodgement

Where one of these dates falls on a weekend or a public holiday, the due date is extended to the next business day.

The Extension and Modification of JobKeeper

Today, the Prime Minister announced the extension and watering down of the wage subsidy, JobKeeper  

Points to note: 

  • Existing JobKeeper continues up until 27 September 2020 
  • From the next day, a new, modified JobKeeper scheme applies until 28 March 2021 
  • Under the new scheme, employers must reassess their eligibility with reference to actual turnover in the June and September quarters (2020) compared to the same period in 2019. That is: 

 

    • from 28 September 2020, businesses and not-for-profits will be required to reassess their eligibility with reference to their actual GST turnover in the June and September quarters 2020.  They will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant decline in turnover test in both of those quarters to be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021. 
    • from 4 January 2021, businesses and not-for-profits will need to further reassess their turnover to be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment. They will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant decline in turnover test with reference to their actual GST turnover in each of the June, September and December quarters 2020 to remain eligible for the JobKeeper Payment from 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021 

 

  • Monthly lodgers will use the aggregate turnover for the three-monthly Activity Statements over these quarters, and compare them to the above periods in 2019 
  • The existing decline in turnover rates must be met (i.e. 30% for businesses with a turnover of $1 billion or less, or 15% for Australian Charities and Not for profits Commission-registered charities (excluding schools and universities) 
  • Reduced payment rates will also apply for all eligible employees and business participants.as follows: 

 

  • From 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, the JobKeeper Payment rates will be: 

 

  • $1,200 per fortnight for all eligible employees who, in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020, were working in the business or not-for-profit for 20 hours or more a week on average, and for eligible business participants who were actively engaged in the business for 20 hours or more per week on average in the month of February 2020; and 

 

  • $750 per fortnight for other eligible employees and business participants. 

 

  • From 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021, the JobKeeper Payment rates will be: 

 

  • $1,000 per fortnight for all eligible employees who, in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020, were working in the business or not-for-profit for 20 hours or more a week on average and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business for 20 hours or more per week on average in the month of February 2020; and 

 

  • $650 per fortnight for other eligible employees and business participants. 

30 June Trustee Resolution Minutes!

For those businesses that trade out of a Discretionary (Family) Trust it is an annual mandatory requirement of the ATO that all Discretionary Trusts prepare a Trustee Resolution Minute before 30 June each year. 

The Minute outlines who is going to be allocated the income of the trust. 

Without this Minute, the ATO will allocate all income of the Trust to the Primary Beneficiary as shown in the Trust’s Deed, or if there is no Primary Beneficiary listed on the Trust’s Deed, the Trustee of the Trust will be taxed at the highest marginal tax rate plus Medicare levy. 

As you can see, the tax consequences could be significant, which makes this Trustee Resolution Minute all the more important. 

Ensure your minutes are in order as we count down to 30 June. 

Homebuilder Grant

On 3 June 2020, the federal government announced the Homebuilder Grant to encourage individuals to build a new home or substantially renovate their existing home. The grant is aimed at encouraging demand in the residential construction sector with industry bodies painting an otherwise grim picture of the second half of this year. 

Homebuilder is a time-limited tax-free grant targeted at owner occupiers who will be provided with a $25,000 grant to build a new home or renovate an existing home. Under the scheme, owner-occupiers (including but not limited to first home buyers) will be provided with the grant if they sign a contract between 4 June and 31 December to carry out construction work (to the value of at least $150,000) which must commence with three months of signature. 

Homebuilder complements existing state and federal schemes including the first home owner grant programs, and the Commonwealth’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and First Home Super Saver Scheme. Information on how and when Homebuilder can be accessed will become available through state and territory revenue offices in the coming weeks. 

 

Instant Asset Write-Off – Extension Announced

Businesses will be able to access the boosted $150,000 instant asset write-off scheme for a further six months to the end of the year. 

By way of background, as part of its emergency COVID-19 fiscal package, the government quin­tupled (from $30,000) the value of assets businesses were able to instantly write -off for the ­period of March 12 to June 30, and expanded the eligibility to cover  businesses with turnover of less than $500m (up from $50m ­previously). 

Today the government will announce that the more than 3.5 million eligible businesses will now be given until December 31, 2020 to take advantage of this measure. The asset must be installed ready for use by this date. 

Although it is anticipated that this extension will be supported by Parliament, it is subject to the passage of legislation. 

 

Evidencing Your Decline in Turnover for JobKeeper

To qualify, an employer must demonstrate that its GST turnover has fallen by the following percentage compared to the same comparison period in 2019: 

  • 30% fall in turnover (for an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less) 
  • 50% fall in turnover (for an aggregated turnover of more than $1 billion), or 
  • 15% fall in turnover (for ACNC-registered charities other than universities and schools). 

You will need to keep evidence and sufficient records to demonstrate how you calculated your projected GST turnover during the 2020 turnover test period, and your basis for estimating that it would fall by the required percentage. 

Your projected GST turnover during the 2020 turnover test period is the sum of the value (GST exclusive sale price) of all the sales you have made, or are likely to make during that period. 

For the purpose of determining sales likely to be made, the ATO will accept a calculation based on a genuine business plan, accounting budget or some other reasonable estimate based on the evidence about the projected facts and circumstances for the remainder of the turnover test period. 

Relevant evidence that would support a prediction of sales likely to be made may include: 

  • a decline in sales during the turnover test period or since 1 March 2020 as a result of government COVID-19 restrictions 
  • customers cancelling or modifying existing contracts for sales on or from 1 March 2020 
  • being required to close or pausing the business due to government COVID-19 restrictions 
  • delays in being able to get access to trading stock sourced from overseas on or from 1 March 2020 
  • evidence of your business’s reliance on tourism 
  • any consequential effect on the price of what you supply, for example, the effect on the market value of new property being sold by a developer 
  • information known to the business, whether or not publicly available 
  • economic forecasts undertaken by a reputable organisation that are relevant to your type of business 
  • the likely timing of government COVID-19 restrictions being lifted for your type of business based on government announcements. 

According to the ATO, when people make a good-faith estimate to comply and a good-faith decision that   they’re eligible, the Commissioner will be very understanding and sympathetic to their position, particularly where they have passed the benefit of the JobKeeper payment to their employees What the legislation, and the ATO are asking of businesses is to make a “good faith effort”. When the ATO considers a good faith effort has been made, even if it’s slightly wrong (i.e. less than the required downturn percentage), the ATO will not seek repayments of JobKeeper or apply penalties. 

 

 

JobKeeper Payment Rules Released 10/4/20

Late on Friday April 10, explanatory materials were released in relation to the JobKeeper payment that has now been passed into law. The explanatory material clarifies one key aspect of the new legislation:

Establishing a downturn

 

By way of background, to qualify for the JobKeeper wage subsidy, one of the eligibility criteria is that:

  • for businesses that have an annual aggregated turnover of less than $1 billion, they estimate their GST turnover has fallen or will likely fall by 30% or more or
  • for businesses that have an annual aggregated turnover of $1 billion or more (or is part of a consolidated group for income tax purposes with turnover of $1 billion or more), they estimate their GST turnover has fallen or will likely fall by 50% or more.

Treasury has revealed that the comparison period is for either (a) any monthly period from April 2020 to the end of September 2020 or (b) any quarterly period from April to June or July to September…compared to the same monthly or quarterly period in 2019.

Importantly, once this test is met for either (a) a monthly period or (b) any quarterly period, there is no requirement to re-test in later months or quarters. For example, if a business assesses that its turnover will fall by 30% in April 2020 compared to April 2019…then it retains its eligibility until the JobKeeper payments stop for all businesses at the end of September 2020. This is irrespective of its turnover in the months subsequent to April 2020. It is not required to estimate or determine turnover for subsequent periods.

Where an entity does not qualify in the month of April 2020, for example, or the April to June quarter, it can re-test in later months or quarters, but will only be eligible for the JobKeeper payments from the period of qualification onwards (the payment won’t be backdated to the commencement of scheme).

Alternative tests

The explanatory material acknowledges that comparing monthly or quarterly periods from April 2020 and onwards, to April 2019 and onwards, may not always be possible or made lead to unfair outcomes. To this end, where the ATO is satisfied that there is no such comparison period in 2019, or there is not an appropriate relevant comparison period, the ATO Commissioner may, by legislative instrument, determine an alternative decline in turnover test.

The two alternative test examples cited in the explanatory materials relate to:

  • businesses that were not in existence for the whole of the comparison period in 2019. In the explanatory materials, the business is permitted to average its actual turnover from October 2019 when it came into existence to March 2020, and compare that average it to its estimated turnover in April 2020.
  • businesses that were impacted by a natural disaster during the 2019 comparison period. In the explanatory materials, the business is permitted to go back to 2017 (the most recent year when its turnover was not impacted by drought) and compare its turnover to the same eligible period in 2020.

The Commissioner retains flexibility to apply other alternative tests and take into account other unique circumstances (aside from natural disaster and start-up businesses) confronted by a business, should the 2019 comparison period not be reflective of typical turnover. Treasury, in a separate fact sheet Supporting Business to Retain Jobs, has stated that these alternative tests may include, for example, eligibility being established as soon as a business ceases or where a business significantly curtails its operations.

Businesses and their advisors should contact the ATO where they believe they warrant special consideration in this regard.

 

JobKeeper Payment – Fresh Guidance on Establishing a Downturn

We’ve received many questions from subscribers around how a “downturn of turnover” will be measured for the purposes of eligibility for the coronavirus-related Job Keeper Payment.

Last night there was fresh guidance from Treasury. 

By way of background, one of the eligibility criteria for Job Keeper is that: 

• for businesses that have an annual turnover of less than $1 billion, they estimate their turnover has fallen or will likely fall by 30% or more; or  
• for businesses that have an annual turnover of $1 billion or more (or is part of a consolidated group for income tax purposes with turnover of $1 billion or more) they estimate their turnover has fallen or will likely fall by 50% or more; and  
• the business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy. 

Treasury has indicated that the decline in turnover test is linked to the GST turnover test in particular the projected GST turnover – which will take into account anticipated decline in revenue. The test requires a business to measure its projected GST turnover and compare this to what is termed a relevant comparison period. If this equals or exceeds the following thresholds, the entity satisfied the decline in turnover test: 
• ACNC-registered charities – 15%; 
• entities with turnover less than $1bn – 30%; 
• entities with turnover greater than $1bn – 50%. 
There is scope for the ATO to apply an alternative test to different classes of entities. 
The turnover test period must be a calendar month that ends after 30 March 2020 and before 1 October 2020, or a quarter that starts on 1 April or 1 July 2020. The relevant comparison period must be the period in 2019 that corresponds to this turnover test period. 
Further ATO guidance will be forthcoming 
The turnover numbers must be reported to the ATO before any payments will start, though there is a transitional rule for the first 2 JobKeeper fortnights. 
The key take-away points are while, at this stage, this is Treasury guidance: 

• the test/comparison period vis-à-vis 2019 to 2020– spans from April to the end of September 
• if 2019 is not representative of typical turnover, another comparison period may be considered 
• the ATO is willing to exercise its discretion where there are anomalous cases.

Employees Working From Home

As a consequence of COVID-19, many employees are now working from home.  
To make it easier for people to claim deductions when working from home, the ATO yesterday announced a new shortcut method which will allow taxpayers to claim a rate of 80 cents per hour for all their running expenses, rather than needing to calculate costs for specific running expenses. Therefore, the ATO will only require you to keep a record of the number of hours worked from home as evidence of their claim.  
This concession applies from 1 March 2020. 
The ATO will review this concession for the next financial year as the COVID-19 situation unfolds. 

According to the ATO, the simplified method will encompass all deductible running expenses, including electricity for heating, cooling and lighting; phone and internet expenses; and the decline in value of computers, printers, phones, furniture and furnishings. 

Job Keeper Payment and Establishing a Downturn

Employers will be eligible for the Job Keeper subsidy if: 

  • their business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover has fallen by more than 30 per cent; or 
  • their business has a turnover of $1 billion or more and their turnover has fallen by more than 50 per cent; and 
  • the business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy. 

Since this measure was announced, we’ve been inundated with questions around how a business can establish that it has suffered a 30 per cent downturn.  

Ultimately, this won’t be clear until at least next Wednesday when the legislation is introduced into Parliament.

The latest guidance from Treasury is as follows:

To establish that a business has faced either a 30 (or 50) per cent fall in their turnover, most businesses would be expected to establish that their turnover has fallen in the relevant month or three months (depending on the natural activity statement reporting period of that business) relative to their turnover a year earlier. Where a business was not in operation a year earlier, or where their turnover a year earlier was not representative of their usual or average turnover, (e.g. because there was a large interim acquisition, they were newly established or their turnover is typically highly variable) the Tax Commissioner will have discretion to consider additional information that the business can provide to establish that they have been significantly affected by the impacts of the Coronavirus. The Tax Commissioner will also have discretion to set out alternative tests that would establish eligibility in specific circumstances (e.g. eligibility may be established as soon as a business has ceased or significantly curtailed its operations). There will be some tolerance where employers, in good faith, estimate a greater than 30 (or 50) per cent fall in turnover but actually experience a slightly smaller fall.

With the legislation to be unveiled next week, we will keep you updated on this very important matter.