Category: News

Victorian Business Survival and Adaption Package

In response to the state’s extended lockdown, the Victorian government on the weekend announced a $3 billion Business Survival and Adaption Package for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions. The package is a mix of cash grants, tax relief, and cash-flow support featuring three components. 

  1. Business Support 
  • Small and medium sized business ($822 million): The third round of the Business Support Fund will provide up to $20,000 for business with a payroll of up to $10 million. Grant applications open on Friday 18 September 2020. 
  • Licensed Hospitality Business ($251 million): Grants of up to $30,000 for licensed pubs, clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants and reception centres, based on their venue capacity and location. 
  • Business Chambers and Trader Groups ($3 million): A competitive grants program to support metropolitan and regional business chambers and trader groups. 
  • Alpine businesses ($4.3 million): Grants of up to $20,000 to help alpine businesses pay a service charge to Alpine Resort Management Boards. 
  • Sole Trader Support Fund ($100 million): Grants of up to $3,000 to over 30,000 eligible sole traders who operate from a commercial premises or location to which the sole operator is the tenant or licensee. 
  1. Business Adaption 
  • $20 million voucher program to assist sole traders and small businesses in building their digital capability 
  • $15.7 million package to help Victorian exporters get their products to market and establish new trade channels. 
  • $8.5 million expansion to the ‘Click for Vic’ campaign to encourage more Victorians to support local businesses. 
  • $87.5 million Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package to support hospitality businesses prepare for COVID Normal reopening across Victoria. 
  • $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund between the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne to support Melbourne on the roadmap for reopening to COVID Normal in the lead up to Christmas and during summer. 
  1. Waivers and Deferrals 
  • $1.7 billion to defer payroll tax for businesses with payrolls up to $10 million for the full 2020-21 financial year 
  • $41 million to bring forward the 50% stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial property for all of Regional Victoria 
  • $33 million to defer the planned increase in the landfill levy for six months 
  • $30 million to waive 25% of the Congestion Levy this year, with the outstanding balance deferred. 
  • $27 million in liquor license fee waivers for 2021 
  • $6 million to waive Vacant Residential Land Tax for vacancies in 2020. 


JobKeeper Changes – Employment Start Date and Amendment to Turnover Test

On 7 August, the government announced two further changes to the JobKeeper program. Firstly, employees hired as at 1 July 2020 may also be eligible to receive JobKeeper. Secondly, employer turnover eligibility for the revised JobKeeper scheme to commence on 28 September 2020 will be based on a single quarter tax period (rather than multiple quarters as previously announced). 

  1. Employee Change 

Before this change, an eligible employee had to, among other things, be employed as at 1 March 2020 to qualify for JobKeeper. Additionally, where they were a casual at that date, they had to have been employed on a regular and systematic basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020. 

The 7 August 2020 announcement changes that reference point to 1 July 2020, with effect to all JobKeeper fortnights commencing on or after 3 August 2020 – which means it impacts the last four fortnights of the original JobKeeper scheme. 

Noting that the “one-in, all-in” principle still applies to the 1 July changes, employers should consider which employees are now eligible to bring into the JobKeeper scheme, including: 

  • full-time or part-time employees employed after 1 March 2020 but on or before 1 July 2020; 
  • employees who may have joined the business after 1 March 2020 but are currently stood down 
  • casual employees employed at 1 July 2020 who commenced their casual employment before 1 July 2019. 
  • employees who may not have met the age condition as at 1 March 2020, but do as at 1 July 2020 
  • employees who may not have met the residency condition as at 1 March 2020, but do as at 1 July 2020 
  1. Employer Turnover Change 

From 28 September 2020, businesses and not-for-profits seeking to claim JobKeeper will be required to re-assess their eligibility for the JobKeeper extension with reference to their actual turnover in the September quarter 2020 (rather than the June and September quarters). Businesses and not-for-profits will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant decline in turnover test in this quarter to be eligible for JobKeeper from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021. 

Businesses and not-for-profits will need to further reassess their eligibility in January 2021 for the period from 4 January to 28 March 2021. Businesses and not-for-profits will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant decline in turnover test in the December quarter 2020 (rather than each of the June, September and December quarters) to remain eligible for the period to 28 March 2021 (the March quarter). 

Further Consequent Change 

This amendment, announced on Friday 14 August, accommodates the employee eligibility change on 7 August (above). 

With the key date for assessing which employees are eligible for JobKeeper now 1 July 2020, rather than 1 March 2020, the ATO states that employers should start paying new eligible employees a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight from  JobKeeper fortnight 10, which commenced on 3 August. To accommodate what may be a cashflow issue brought about by this change, for the fortnights commencing on 3 August 2020 and 17 August 2020, the ATO is allowing employers until 31 August 2020 to meet this wage condition for all new eligible employees included in the JobKeeper scheme under the new 1 July eligibility test. 

 

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. 

 

 

More Coronavirus Relief for Business

Over the weekend (29/03/2020), more relief was announced for business including:  

  1. Deferral of Loan Repayments 

A little over a week ago, the Australian Banking Association announced a six-month deferral of all loan repayments for small businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic. 

On the weekend, this relief has now been extended to all businesses that have loans of up to $10 million. That accounts for just on 98% of all Australian businesses that have loans with Australian banks 

  1. Commercial Tenancies 

National Cabinet agreed to a 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. As part of this, National Cabinet agreed to a common set of principles, endorsed by Treasurers, to underpin and govern intervention to aid commercial tenancies as follows: 

  • a short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus;
  • tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease; 
  • the reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants; 
  • the ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress; 
  • commercial property owners should ensure that any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by coronavirus; 
  • landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements; and 
  • cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance. 

 

COVID-19 Additional Help for Business

As the anticipated economic impact from the Coronavirus worsens, the Government on the weekend beefed up its assistance package that was originally announced last week as follows:

PAYG cash credits to SME employers and charities up to $100k (minimum $20k) 

The Government announced on the weekend that it will boost last week’s cash credit to employers. It will now provide a tax-free credit up to $100,000 for eligible small and medium sized entities (SMEs), and not-for-profits (including charities) that employ people, with a minimum credit of $20,000. These tax-free credits seek to help businesses’ and NFPs’ cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff. 

Under the enhanced scheme from last week’s first stimulus package, employers will receive a credit equal to 100% PAYG withholding from employee salary and wages (up from 50%), with the maximum credit being increased from $25,000 to $50,000. In addition, the minimum credit will be increased from $2,000 to $10,000. 

SMEs with aggregated annual turnover under $50m and that employ workers are eligible. NFPs entities, including charities, with aggregated annual turnover under $50m and that employ workers will now also be eligible. This will support employment at a time where NFPs are facing increasing demand for services. 

The cash flow credit for employers will be available from 28 April 2020. 

For example, if an employer lodging their quarterly March Activity Statement was ordinarily due to withhold $40,000 in PAYG withholding from their employee’s salaries in that quarterly period, then they would just keep this money themselves (being 100% of the withholding that was due) rather than sending it to the ATO and it would be tax-free. The rest of that Activity Statement would be dealt with normally, for instance it may be the case that GST may be owed for that quarter. 

We can see from this example, that the benefit is by way of the withholding that would normally be owed to the ATO, and that withholding amount is tax-free to the employer. Therefore, it is not a cash payment from the ATO as such, but rather retaining the withholding which would otherwise be payable. 

An additional credit is also being made from 28 July 2020. Eligible entities will receive an additional credit equal to the total of all of the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments received. The credits are tax-free, there will be no new forms and payments will flow automatically from the ATO. 

Temporary Relief for Financially Distressed Businesses  

The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold to $20,000 (up from $2,000) at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive (21 days to 6 months). Temporary relief will also be provided for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent. The Corporations Act 2001 will also be amended to provide temporary and targeted relief for companies to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus.