Daily updates: 5 – 9 October

9 October

More about Your Future, Your Super
The Federal Budget had brief coverage of the new initiative Your Future, Your Super, but Treasury has now published more information, which features a 40-page document, as well as a three-page fact sheet to help members and funds to quickly get on top of the initiative. The changes foreshadowed will start from 1 July 2021, and by then a new interactive online YourSuper comparison tool will help fund members decide which super product best meets their needs.

New JobKeeper 80-hour threshold guidance
The ATO has issued guidance regarding the 80-hour threshold for employees in reaching entitlement to the JobKeeper extention, for tier 1 and tier 2 levels of payment. It notes that sometimes closer examination may be required for eligible employees that are part-time, are long-term casuals, are not paid on an hourly basis or are stood down.

ATO ready and waiting with updated withholding schedules
In accordance with longstanding practice, the ATO will publish updated tax withholding schedules as soon as possible after bipartisan support has been confirmed for the Treasury Laws Amendment (A Tax Plan For The Covid-19 Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 containing the amendments to bring forward the announced tax cuts. It will publish updated tax withholding schedules at ato.gov.au/taxtables. Employers may need a short time to make the changes in their payroll processes and systems in order for the tax cuts to be reflected in people’s take home pay.

8 October

Business support grants in Victoria to be non-assessable
As confirmed in the Federal Budget (see Budget Paper No 2, p 14) the Federal Government will make the Victorian Government’s business support grants for small- and medium-sized business – as announced on 13 September 2020 – non-assessable, non-exempt (NANE) income for tax purposes. The Federal Government will extend this arrangement to all states and territories on an application basis. Eligibility would be restricted to future grants program announcements for small- and medium-sized businesses that are facing similar circumstances to Victorian businesses. The Government will introduce a new power in the income tax laws to make regulations to ensure that specified state and territory COVID-19 business support grant payments are NANE income. Eligibility for this treatment will be limited to grants announced on or after 13 September 2020 and for payments made between 13 September 2020 and 30 June 2021.

More support payments for pensioners
Services Australia has already published the Federal Budget announcement that two separate $250 economic support payments will be provided to eligible recipients. The first payment will be made from December 2020 and the second from March 2021.

Paid Parental Leave extended work test conditions
The Federal Government is also supporting new parents whose employment was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic by introducing an alternative Paid Parental Leave work test period for a limited time. Under normal circumstances parents must have worked 10 of the 13 months prior to the birth or adoption of their child to qualify, but that is being temporarily extended to 10 months out of the 20 months for births and adoptions that occur between 22 March 2020 and 31 March 2021. This measure is estimated to allow about 9,000 mothers to regain eligibility for Parental Leave Pay and allow a further 3,500 people to claim Dad and Partner Pay.

7 October

Federal Budget: All you need to know
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Federal Budget was not only delayed, it’s one of the most important budgets in our lifetime. With Australia now experiencing its first recession in nearly three decades, the 2020-21 Budget will have the enormous responsibility of driving our country’s post-COVID recovery. As always, Tax & Super Australia is here to analyse and report to you what it all means.

Frontline healthcare worker access to life insurance cover ensured further
In April, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) approved a Financial Services Council initiative to help frontline healthcare workers looking to take out new life insurance cover. This step made sure that participating life insurance companies could ensure that frontline healthcare workers were not prevented from obtaining life insurance cover purely because of their exposure, or potential exposure, to coronavirus. The commitment has now been extended to 1 January 2021.

Has COVID-19 led your business clients to change structure?
The ATO is concerned that many small businesses may have changed their business structure from a sole trader to more complex company or trust structures, especially under the changing environment. It is reminding practitioners to be on the lookout for some of the common errors that can crop up, which include reporting income for the wrong entity, claiming expenses incurred by another entity as business expenses, and the personal use of business bank accounts.

6 October

Financial complaints body modifies some operations due to COVID-19
Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) says it has modified its dispute resolution approach to consider all regulatory and legislative changes due to Australia’s COVID-19 response. It has also paused processing complaints against insolvent firms.

TPD insurance initiative extended
The Financial Services Council put in place an initiative, initially running from March to the end of September, so that individuals who lose their jobs, are stood down or have reduced working hours due to COVID-19 and are insured with participating life insurance companies will not have their total and permanent disability (TPD) cover affected. The FSC has now extended this scheme to 1 January 2021 (claims to be made by 31 March 2021). Life insurance companies will confirm their participation by making a public statement and announcement on their website, including details of how they will apply the initiative.

ASIC extends COVID-19 relief for certain capital raisings
ASIC is extending the temporary relief for capital raisings, which aims to assist listed entities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to raise capital in a quicker and less costly way without undermining investor protection. The temporary relief enables certain “low doc” offers (including rights offers, placements and share purchase plans) to be made to investors without a prospectus, even if they do not meet all the normal requirements. To extend relief, ASIC has registered the ASIC Corporations (Amendment) Instrument 2020/862. It has also amended its no action position for superannuation trustees to extend it until 31 December 2020 to align with the extension of the COVID-19 early release of superannuation scheme.

5 October

Business Support Fund grants in Victoria excluded from turnover
Further to the hint that some grants received by Victorian businesses will not be assessable, Business Victoria has supplied the following, sourced from community enquiries and responses on its Business Support Fund FAQs web page (scroll down). The question asked was: “Should I include grant funding in determining my business’s annual turnover figure?” And the answer given: “Government grants received, such as JobKeeper and the Business Support Fund – Expansion, when the grant is a ‘payment for no supply’ and not taxable, are not to be included in annual turnover figures.”

Thousands more First Home Deposit places to open
The Federal Government has announced an additional 10,000 First Home Deposit scheme places will be provided from 6 October 2020 to support the purchase of a new home or a newly built home. More information will be available from this government website from 6 October.

Victorian outdoor eating and entertainment grants
The Victorian Government has launched a $58 million grants program to help hospitality businesses prepare for “COVID Normal” by creating safe outdoor dining spaces. Eligible businesses can apply for a grant of $5,000 that can be used to pay for practical things like umbrellas, outdoor furniture, screens and other equipment needed for new, expanded or enhanced outdoor dining and food service. Grant funds can also be used to assist businesses with training, marketing and other costs of modifying trading operations to focus on outdoor dining. Businesses located within the City of Melbourne are not eligible for this package, but can apply for the Melbourne City Recovery Fund. Applications are now open and will remain until 11.59pm on 11 December 2020 or until funds are exhausted, whichever is earlier.


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