Category: News

JobMaker Now Law

The Government’s new JobMaker scheme passed both houses of Parliament yesterday, and is now awaiting (the formality of) Royal Asset.   

Commencement 

The scheme will be backdated to commence on 7 October 2020 and provide eligible employers with the following payments for up to 12 months for new jobs created for which they hire the following young workers: 

  • $200 a week for hiring a worker aged 16 to 29 on at least 20 hours a week and 
  • $100 for those aged 30 to 35. 

Although the scheme is slated to run for just 12 months, that period is the hiring period – not the payment period. Eligible employers who hire an eligible employee on the last day of the scheme (6 October 2021), may be eligible for hiring credits for the subsequent 12 months until 6 October 2022. 

Employer eligibility 

The criteria are broad (e.g. having an ABN, being registered for PAYG withholding, being up-to-date with lodgement obligations, reporting through STP), however some employers are specifically excluded: 

  • Employers who are claiming JobKeeper 
  • Entities in liquidation or who have entered bankruptcy 
  • Commonwealth, state, and local government agencies (and entities wholly owned by these agencies 
  • Employers subject to the major bank levy 
  • Sovereign entities (except those who are resident Australian entities owned by a sovereign entity. 

Additionality criteria 

Key to the scheme is that employers must have hired additional eligible employees. 

The additionality criteria for the first four JobMaker periods requires that there is an increase in: 

  • the business’ total employee headcount (minimum of one additional employee) from the reference date of 30 September 2020; and 
  • the payroll of the business for the reporting period, as compared to the three months to 30 September 2020. 

Treasury example – increase in headcount: 

Lisa employs two new staff, Emma aged 28 and Jessica aged 32, who both start on 7 January 2021 and meet the employee eligibility requirements. 

Angus resigns from his job at Lisa’s business, effective as at 7 January 2021. When claiming for the March quarter reporting period (7 January 2021 to 6 April 2021), Lisa again compares her current situation to her baseline: 

  • On 30 September 2020, her baseline headcount was 2 and her quarterly payroll was $30,000. 
  • On 6 April 2021, her headcount was 4 and her payroll for the reporting period was $52,000. 

For the March quarter reporting period, as her headcount is 2 above her baseline, Lisa can claim for the 2 additional positions. Lisa notifies the ATO through STP of the commencement of Emma and Jessica on 7 January 2021, and that Angus was no longer employed as at 7 January 2021. 

Different additionality criteria operate for the final for JobMaker periods. As they are well into the future, they are beyond the scope of this piece. 

Eligible employees 

These are those who commenced employment between 7 October 2020 and 6 October 2021; were aged between 16 and 35 years at the time they commenced employment; have worked an average of 20 hours a week for each whole week the individual was employed by the qualifying entity during the JobMaker period. Additionally, the worker must have met the pre-employment condition which requires that for at least 28 of the 84 days (i.e. for 4 out of 12 weeks) immediately before the commencement of employment of the individual, the individual was receiving the following payments 

  • parenting payment 
  • youth allowance (except if the individual was receiving thus payment on the basis that they were undertaking full time study or was a new apprentice) or 
  • JobSeeker payment.  

Participation and notification requirements 

To be entitled to the JobMaker Hiring Credit payment in relation to a JobMaker period,employers must have notified the Commissioner in the approved form of its election to participate in the scheme by the end of the period that the entity first elects to participate. For example, for an entity that elects to participate for the JobMaker period of 7 January 2021 to 6 April 2021, the notice must be provided to the Commissioner by 6 April 2021. 

The reporting requirements will include the details of employees that have commenced or ceased employment during a JobMaker period and the entity’s payroll amount. The Commissioner will also specify that the information must be provided through the STP. 

 

Tax Cuts Now in Play

The Taxation Administration Act Withholding Schedules No 2 2020 were registered on 12 October 2020.  

The PAYG wages withholding schedules have been updated in response to the changes to tax scales that were announced in the recent Federal budget, and contained in Treasury Laws Amendment (A Tax Plan for the COVID-19 Economic Recovery) Bill 2020, which passed Parliament on 9 October 2020. Three changes were made, backdated to 1 July 2020, which are now reflected in the new withholding schedules:  

  • the top threshold of the 19% personal income tax bracket has increased from $37,000 to $45,000 
  • the top threshold of the 32.5% tax bracket has increased from $90,000 to $120,000 
  • bringing forward the increase in the amount of the low income tax offset to $700 (from $445) to 2020-21 (instead of the 2022-23 income year and later income years) 

The ATO has also been working closely with providers of payroll software and employers to ensure the reduced withholding associated with the threshold changes, and the increase of LITO, is reflected in software as soon as practicable. 

The changes apply to payments made on and from 13 October 2020, with employers required to make sure they are withholding the correct amount from salary or wages paid to employees for any pay runs processed in their system from no later than 16 November onwards. 

While the tax cuts have been backdated to 1 July 2020, the tax table changes do not take into account any over-withheld amounts that individual taxpayers have paid since the start of the financial year. Instead, this over-withheld amount will be factored into an individual’s 2020-21 tax return. 

 

ATO Publish New Tax Tables

October 2020 Tax Threshold update 

Changes to personal income tax thresholds announced by the Government during the Federal Budget have been incorporated into the withholding schedules and tax tables and will apply to payments made on and from 13 October 2020. 

As the changes to withholding are made part way through the income year, employers and other payers who are unable to immediately implement these changes into their payroll will have until 16 November 2020 to do so. 

Employees and other payees will receive their entitlement to the reduced tax payable for the entire 2020–21 income year when they lodge their income tax return. 

Read more here https://www.ato.gov.au/Rates/Tax-tables/

JOBKEEPER 2.0 (28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021) Bullet Point Guide

Here is a quick snapshot of the important points of JobKeeper 2.0 as we count down the days until its commencement next week:    

  • Entities must re-assess their eligibility for JobKeeper 2.0 from 28 September 
  • Entities already enrolled in JobKeeper 1.0 do not need to re-enrol for JobKeeper 2.0 
  • Employees who received JobKeeper 1.0 do not need to fill out fresh nomination notices for JK 2.0 
  • The decline in turnover is now “actual” GST turnover for the September quarter” v. “actual GST turnover the 2019 September quarter” (projected turnover now plays no role) 
  • The decline in turnover percentages remain unchanged from JobKeeper 1.0, at 15% (ACNC registered charities other than universities and schools), 30% ($1b or less) and 50% (more then $1b) 
  • Businesses are generally expected to assess eligibility based on details reported in their BAS. Alternative arrangements will be announced for entities not lodging a BAS 
  • As with JobKeeper 1.0, the Commissioner will have discretion to set out alternative tests where it is not appropriate to compare actual turnover in a quarter in 2020 with actual turnover in a quarter in 2019 
  • The wage condition, based on the tier into which the eligible employee or business participant falls (see below), continues to apply 
  • The “one-in”, “all-in” principle continues to apply 
  • For the first two JK 2.0 fortnights, the ATO has extended until 31 October 2020 the time an entity has to pay employees in order to meet the wage condition 
  • JobKeeper 2.0 will be a two-tiered payment arrangement based on average hours worked, on an employee-by-employee basis, in the four weeks of pay periods before either 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020. 
  • Tier 1 and Tier 2 level employees are identified as part of the JobKeeper extension process 

Tier 1 – $1,200 per fortnight (before tax). This rate applies to: 

  • eligible employees who worked for 80 hours or more in the four weeks of pay periods before either 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020, and 
  • eligible business participants who were actively engaged in the business for 80 hours or more in February and provide a declaration to that effect. 

Tier 2 – $750 per fortnight (before tax). This rate applies to any other eligible employee or business owner. 

  • Payments for eligible business participants and religious practitioners will be based on the same two-tiered payment basis 
  • An extra reporting requirement will apply. That is, businesses will be required to nominate which payment rate they are claiming for each of their eligible employees (or business participants) 
  • Employers must notify eligible employees of the payment to which they are eligible, within seven days of notifying the ATO 
  • The ATO has set out alternative tests where an employee or business participant’s hours were not usual during the February and/or June 2020 reference periods. For example, this will include where the employee was on leave, volunteering during the bushfires, or not employed for all or part of February or June 2020. 
  • From 4 January 2021 the tier 1 rate reduces to $1,000 and the tier 2 rate reduces to $650 

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. 

 

JobKeeper Key Dates

Key dates  

31 August 2020 – wage condition for new employees 

For the fortnights commencing on 3 August 2020 and 17 August 2020, we are allowing employers until 31 August 2020 to meet the wage condition for all new eligible employees included in the Jobkeeper scheme under the 1 July eligibility test. 

31 August 2020 – enrolments close for August fortnights 

To claim JobKeeper payments for the August JobKeeper fortnights, including for new eligible employees included in the Jobkeeper scheme under the 1 July eligibility test, you must enrol for JobKeeper by 31 August. 

21 July 2020 – extension of the JobKeeper Payment program 

The government has announced proposed changes to the JobKeeper Payment program including: 

  • an extension of the program to 28 March 2021 
  • turnover tests to determine eligibility 
  • tiered payments for eligible staff   
    • from 28 September to 3 January 2021 and 
    • from 4 January to 28 March 2021. 

These proposed changes will not impact JobKeeper Payments until after 28 September 2020. 

For more information, visit the Treasury website and read JobKeeper extensionExternal Link

20 July 2020 – changes for child care providers 

The rule changes relating to JobKeeper payments for child care providers have now been confirmed. 

Eligibility for JobKeeper payments will stop from 20 July for: 

  • employees of an approved provider of child care services where the employee’s ordinary duties are that they are principally engaged in the operation of the child care centre 
  • eligible business participants where the business entity is an approved provider of a child care service. 

Childcare providers need to make sure that they do not claim JobKeeper for employees and eligible business participants who are no longer eligible. You will not be reimbursed for payments made after JobKeeper Fortnight 8 (6 July to 19 July). 

There are some steps you will need to take to stop receiving JobKeeper payments for your ineligible employees and business participants. More information is available in the ATO JobKeeper guides

Full ATO article here https://www.ato.gov.au/General/JobKeeper-Payment/JobKeeper-key-dates/

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. 

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.