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. 

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Job Keeper Plan Announced


Prime Minister Scott Morrison, on 30/03/2020, has announced a $130 billion support package to help employers and employees.  

The idea behind these measures is that employers will retain their employees and have them working where they can.  However, if there is no work available due to Coronavirus related downturn or closures, then these employers retain their employees on this payment for up to six months so that employees stay connected to their employers.  

There will be a $1,500 per fortnight Job Keepers Payment. 

  • This will be paid to the employer, who will then pay their employee; 
  • An individual cannot received the Job Seekers Payment as well as the Job Keepers Payment; 
  • This is a flat rate for everyone; 
  • This applies to full time workers, part time workers, sole traders and casual employees that have been with their employer for more than 12 months; 
  • Any employee that has been stood down from 1 March 2020 can be eligible for these payments; 
  • Payments will be made from 1 May 2020 onwards, however, they will be backdated to today, 30 March 2020; 
  • Employers can start making these payments as of today from their own funds, and they will be reimbursed back to today’s date; 
  • Every business will be eligible where they have seen a decrease in turnover of 30% of more (50% if your business turnover is more than $1.1 billion); 
  • Employers must register with the Tax Office to receive these payments (businesses can do this themselves directly on the ATO website, alternatively your bookkeeper can provide assistance, if you do not utilise the services of a bookkeeper, your accountant can provide this assistance); 
  • The ATO will have a registration button on their website ato.gov.au very soon; 
  • The Single Touch Payroll system will be used to process payments to employees; 
  • New Zealander’s on a 444 Visa will be eligible for these payments; 
  • This is intended to be a scheme that lasts for up to six months; 
  • Employers can top up their employees wages; 
  • There is no Super Guarantee paid on this payment. 

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.