COVID-19 daily updates: 14-18 September

18 September 2020

All your JobKeeper extension questions will be answered
Helpline queries to Tax & Super Australia regarding the JobKeeper extension will be answered after the webinar that we will conduct on the JobKeeper extension (details and bookings here).  Tax & Super Australia will be holding an hour-long webinar on this topic on Friday 25 September at 12:30 AEST that will address the changes. The webinar is free of charge for members and $49.95 for non-members. Our Tax Counsel, John Jeffreys, will cover all of the important information and there will be extensive notes available for every attendee to keep plus a recording of the webinar. Note that some of the information concerning the JobKeeper extension is at the time of writing yet to be released by the ATO, and that is why we are delaying the webinar until Friday 25 September so that every available piece of information is covered.

Updated guidance on JobKeeper from ATO
The ATO has now published new information based on the JobKeeper payment extension law being passed. The new guidance includes: Payment rates, 80-hour threshold for employees, Decline in turnover tests, and Actual decline in turnover test.

WA pandemic leave disaster payment
The West Australian Government has in place a Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, which is a lump sum payment to help its residents during the 14 days required if they need to self-isolate, quarantine or care for someone. You can check the eligibility criteria here. If people need longer term help, there may be other payments available. The WA Government has provided a payment guide to check what other payments residents may be eligible for.

Support for older Australians dealing with COVID-19
The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line provides information and support to senior Australians, their families and carers. Call Monday to Friday, except public holidays, from 8.30am to 6pm AEST. Call 1800 171 866.

17 September 2020

NEWS
Three legislative instruments released on JobKeeper extension
The three instruments released late yesterday were as follows.

Our expert tax team are well underway in compiling all the information and guidance that tax and accounting professionals need to know, and will be sharing that in our JobKeeper Extension webinar next week.

Some events in SA may require a COVID marshal to attend
In South Australia, certain activities and operations may require a COVID marshal to be in attendance. The prescribed operations are:

  • The onsite purchase and consumption of food or beverages (indoors or outdoors)
  • Religious or faith-based ceremonies (other than wedding ceremonies or funeral services)
  • Supermarkets and hardware stores
  • Distribution centres (including associated transport operations)
  • Gymnasiums and fitness centres
  • Swimming pools used by the public
  • Sporting clubs
  • Any activity where a COVID Management Plan is required
  • Any operation which may be defined by the state coordinator.

Meet Treasury’s Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit
The Australian Treasury has set up a Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit, which has been formed to engage with peak business and industry groups on systemic issues arising from COVID-19 to ensure these are being brought to the attention of Federal Government. The unit is hearing from business on a regular basis and providing updates to government, focusing on crucial issues where the government may be able to undertake additional work to support what business is doing. To contact the unit, email CoronavirusBusinessLiaison@treasury.gov.au.

16 September 2020

NEWS
JobKeeper 2.0 rules have been released
Legislation to extend JobKeeper has passed both houses and received royal assent, and just registered yesterday afternoon is the legislative instrument Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Amendment Rules (No. 8) 2020. The instrument sets out the decline in turnover test for the extension of JobKeeper to 28 March 2021, and the new two-tiered payment rates. Further guidance from the ATO is expected very soon, which may allow the Commissioner to set alternative references for applying the now alternative rates of payment.

Recent JobKeeper changes still leave some elements intact
Members are reminded that while the recent changes to JobKeeper 1.0 moved the eligibility date from 1 March 2020 to 1 July 2020 for some employees, it did not change the requirement that entities need to be carrying on a business as at 1 March 2020 to qualify for the JobKeeper scheme. Further, the “1 July 2020” amendments did not change the eligibility requirements for eligible business participants, including the 12 March 2020 requirements around generating assessable income, or making a supply and reporting it to the Commissioner.

Eligibility criteria for Victorian sole trader support
Readers have been keen to get an idea of the eligibility criteria for sole trader support as mentioned in yesterday’s Daily Update. The Business Victoria website says that full details will be published when applications open. However in the meantime, the basic eligibility run-down is that a business must:

  • operate a business located within Victoria
  • participate in the Federal Government’s JobKeeper scheme
  • employ people and be registered with WorkSafe
  • have had an annual payroll of less than $10 million in 2019-20
  • be registered for GST
  • hold an ABN
  • be registered with the responsible federal or state regulator.

An eligible business will receive:

  • $10,000 if its annual payroll is less than $650,000
  • $15,000 if its annual payroll is between $650,000 and $3 million
  • $20,000 if its payroll is between $3 million and $10 million.

Grant applications open this Friday 18 September 2020, so bookmark this Business Victoria webpage.

15 September 2020

NEWS
Sole trader support in Victoria boosted by $100 million
Victorian Minister for Business Precincts Martin Pakula has announced, one day after a business support package worth $3 billion was revealed (see yesterday’s Daily Update), that the Victorian Government will also provide access to $3,000 grants to around 33,000 sole traders across the state. Also other cash grants will support SMEs that are most affected by COVID-19 restrictions as part of the third round of the Business Support Fund. Businesses with payrolls up to $10 million will receive grants of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 depending on their size. While the primary income support has been the federal JobKeeper package, the Victorian initiatives aim to help businesses with expenses and overheads, which would not have been covered by JobKeeper, in order to help get these businesses back on their feet. In addition, the Melbourne City Recovery Fund will help businesses with new infrastructure in preparation for the warmer months as activities can move outdoors. This is part of an additional $290 million package announced yesterday.

JobKeeper compliance update supplied by ATO
Following media reports yesterday about several taxpayer-sourced reports of JobKeeper non-compliance to the ATO, the regulator published late yesterday an update of larger businesses and JobKeeper compliance status so far. Apart from not keeping adequate records, the ATO found some issues at work included businesses:

  • that are part of SGE groups and are incorrectly calculating their aggregated turnover (applying a 30% decline in turnover instead of the 50% decline in turnover)
  • applying for JobKeeper payments prior to their nomination period
  • projecting GST turnover at the economic group level rather than entity level
  • incorrectly calculating GST turnover, with common errors including excluding irregular GST turnover amounts or using general sales rather than GST turnover.

Report of economic impacts on Melbourne LGA
PricewaterhouseCoopers has released a report detailing the forecast economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the City of Melbourne local government area and Victoria, highlighting a range of response actions for the government in rebooting the Victorian economy.

14 September 2020

NEWS
$3 billion Victorian business survival package
A package of $3 billion in cash grants, tax relief and cashflow support will be delivered to Victorian businesses that have been most affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, the Premier Daniel Andrews has announced. The package will provide:

  • A third round of the Business Support Fund will provide up to $20,000 for business with a payroll of up to $10 million
  • Grants of up to $30,000 for licensed pubs, clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants and reception centres, based on their venue capacity and location
  • Grants of up to $20,000 to help alpine businesses
  • A competitive grants program to support metropolitan and regional business chambers and trader groups.

Payroll tax is also to be deferred (note, not waived, but deferred) for 2020-21 for businesses with payroll up to $10 million. Also deferred is a planned increase in the land fill levy for six months, and the bringing forward of the 50% stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial property for all of regional Victoria.

There are some waivers however, such as waiving 25% of the Congestion Levy this year, with the outstanding balance deferred, liquor license fee waivers for 2021, and waiving Vacant Residential Land Tax for vacancies in 2020. More details here.

Sun will not have set on permitted worker permits, so re-issuing not necessary
Some employer clients may be concerned that staff who were issued with permitted worker permits may have expired as at 13 September, which was the date previously fixed when these permits were first required. But the Department of Health and Human Services indicates that the dates on existing permits can be edited and added to by employers as required. However here is the link if a new form is required.

Land duty valuations: New guidance from Victorian SRO
The Victorian SRO has provided clarification on circumstances where information may be required in addition to a letter of appraisal as evidence of value for duty purposes. The guidance says because real estate agents are typically not qualified valuers, their letters of appraisal are not considered formal valuations, and the Commissioner may accept such letters of appraisal as evidence of value for duty purposes, but may require additional information or a formal valuation.

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