If you or your business need help with your financial arrangements during this difficult time, we can help you to work out which of the many coronavirus (COVID-19) related payments, concessions and arrangements apply to you, and how you can best make use of them. Contact us today.
The ATO and Treasury have released a joint statement advising that the previous estimate of the number of employers who would access the JobKeeper program was significantly overstated. Treasury now estimates the number of employees covered under the JobKeeper program to be around 3.5 million (down from a previous estimate of 6.5 million). The estimated cost of JobKeeper has been revised down to around $70 billion (from the original $130 billion estimate).
The overstatement has been attributed to errors made when employers applied for JobKeeper. For example, when estimating their eligibility over 500 businesses with only a single eligible employee actually reported the dollar amount that they expected to receive per fortnightly JobKeeper payment (1,500) instead of the number of their eligible employees (1).
Importantly, this error has no consequences for JobKeeper payments already made, as payments under the scheme depend on the subsequent declaration that businesses make in relation to each and every eligible employee. This declaration does not involve estimates and requires an employer to provide the Tax File Number (TFN) for each eligible employee.
Tip: Employers must declare their eligible employees monthly in order to receive the ongoing payments. JobKeeper declarations for May must be made by 14 June 2020.
Tax-related business measures
Social security and support
Tip: The ATO has a range of regularly updated webpages that provide answers to common COVID-19 support questions, including on:
• JobKeeper for employers, and for employees;
• income tax impacts for people who work and earn money overseas but have returned to Australia because of COVID-19; and
• tax considerations and other financial impacts for residential rental property owners, including rent and loan payment changes, and personal use of short-term accommodation like holiday houses.
JobKeeper: measuring decline in turnover Businesses (including sole traders and charities) must have suffered a “substantial decline” in turnover to qualify for the JobKeeper Payment of $1,500 per eligible employee. The basic decline in turnover test requires an entity to measure its projected GST turnover for a turnover test period in 2020 and compare this to the current GST turnover for a relevant comparison period in 2019. In particular, the entity needs to allocate supplies made, or likely to be made, to a turnover test period or relevant comparison period based on when the supply is made or is likely to be made, and to then determine the value of those supplies. Any shortfall is to be expressed as a percentage. If this equals or exceeds specified thresholds, the entity satisfies the decline in turnover test.
The ATO has recently issued Law Companion Ruling LCR 2020/1, a non-binding ruling that explains various aspects of the test and sets out practical compliance approaches for calculating turnover.
ATO has extended the Single Touch Payroll (STP) exemption for small
employers in relation to closely held payees from 1 July 2020 to 1 July
2021 in response to COVID-19.
A “small employer” is one that has 19 or fewer employees, and a
“closely held payee” is someone who is directly related to the business,
company or trust that pays them, such as family members of a family
business, directors or shareholders of a company or beneficiaries of a
This STP exemption for closely held payees applies automatically and small employers do not need to apply to the ATO to access it. However, employers should keep records to support their decision to apply the concession.
Processing of COVID-19 early release of superannuation applications has now resumed, with the ATO adding extra risk filters for all files that are delivered to super funds. These release requests had been temporarily paused between 8 May and 11 May 2020 so that the ATO could consider enhancements to its systems to help protect individuals’ personal data.
Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar recently reported that the ATO had identified a small number of third parties who could be susceptible to new techniques that criminals are using to try to steal personal data. The ATO has now worked with these third parties to help them make security enhancements, Mr Sukkar said, and the resulting additional risk filters will be applied on all files before they are delivered to super funds.
Tip: You should always be vigilant about how you store and share your personal information. Your myGov login details should never be shared with anyone, and you should be wary of phone calls, emails or text messages that request personal information. The ATO will never send you a direct link to log on to MyGov or other ATO online services.
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has reminded
companies, directors and officers faced with COVID-19 challenges to
reflect on their fundamental duties to act with due care, skill and
diligence, and to act in the best interests of the company.
ASIC Commissioner John Price has said the impacts of COVID-19 will require many companies to focus on and, most likely, recalibrate aspects of their corporate strategy, risk-management framework, and funding and capital management, among other things. This will require directors to reflect on which stakeholders’ interests need to be factored into decisions – including employees, investors and creditors. This is still the case even in areas where temporary relief has been provided from specific obligations under the law.
ASIC will maintain its enforcement activities and continue to investigate and take action where the public interest warrants it. Whether action is taken depends on the assessment of all relevant circumstances, including what a director or officer could reasonably have foreseen at the time of taking relevant decisions or incurring debts.