Summary of the Government’s $84 billion coronavirus stimulus package

A. SME Tax & Cashflow measures

Cash flow assistance for businesses

  • Small and medium-sized business entities and not-for-profits with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million turnover that employs workers will be eligible for these tax-free payments. Payments will now be a minimum of $20,000 up to $100,000 and extended to eligible not-for-profits (including charities).
  • The enhanced scheme will be delivered in two phases: Firstly, with employers set to receive a first tax-free payment equal to 100 per cent of their salary and wages withheld, up to a maximum of $50,000, when businesses lodge their activity statements for the 28 April and 28 July quarterly due dates.
    Secondly, an additional payment equal to the first payment will be made after businesses lodge their BAS by the 28 July and 28 October quarterly due dates.
    Eligible businesses that pay salary and wages will receive a minimum payment of $10,000, even if they are not required to withhold tax.
  • Monthly BAS lodgers will receive the first payment for the March 2020, April 2020, May 2020 and June 2020 lodgements, with a 300 per cent calculation in the March activity statement to provide the same treatment as quarterly lodgers.
  • The second payment for monthly BAS lodgers will be released once they lodge their June 2020, July 2020, August 2020 and September 2020 lodgements.

 

Tax Incentives

  • From Thursday 12 March 2020, the instant asset write-off threshold has been increased from $30,000 (for businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $50 million) to $150,000 (for businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $500 million) until 30 June 2020.
  • A time-limited 15-month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) which will operate to accelerate certain depreciation deductions. 

This measure will also be available to businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million, which will be able to immediately deduct 50% of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost.
As announced, this measure will only apply to new depreciating assets first used, or installed ready for use, by 30 June 2021.

  • Wage subsidies to support the retention of apprentices and trainees – Employers with less than 20 full-time employees may be entitled to apply for Government-funded wage subsidies amounting to 50% of an apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to nine months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. 

The maximum subsidy for each apprentice/trainee is $21,000. Importantly, where an employer is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice. It is proposed that employers will be able to register for the subsidy from early-April 2020.

 

B. Access to superannuation

  • Employees who have been made redundant, or eligible to receive jobseeker payment, youth allowance parenting payments, special benefit or farm household allowance, or those who have their working hours reduced by 20 per cent or more, or sole traders whose businesses have been suspended or see a reduction in turnover by 20 per cent or more (where this has happened on or after 1 January 2020) will also now be allowed to access up to $20,000 of their superannuation.
  • Eligible individuals will be able to apply online through myGov to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020, and be able to access up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 for approximately three months. The amounts released will not be taxable and will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
  • The government will also reduce the minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products by 50 per cent for the 2019–20 and 2020–21 income years.
  • Deeming rates for pensioners will be reduced by another 0.25 of a percentage point.

 

C. Support to workers and households

  • Temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight for the next 6 months. This applies to permanent employees who are stood down or lose their employment, sole traders, the self-employed, casual workers and contract workers will be able to access the new coronavirus supplement under expanded access to the JobSeeker Payment, formerly known as Newstart. The payments are set to commence from 27 April 2020. 
  • Tax-free payments of $750 to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession cardholders. It is estimated that around half of those who will benefit will be pensioners. These payments will commence being automatically made from 31 March 2020.
  • In addition to the previous $750 payment announced, there will be a further $750 payment to social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders except for those who are receiving an income support payment that is eligible to receive the Coronavirus supplement. This second payment will be made automatically from 13 July 2020. 
  • The Government has set aside $1 billion to support those regions and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of COVID19, including those heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education.

 

D.ATO administrative relief

On 12 March 2020, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) announced a series of administrative concessions to assist businesses impacted by COVID19, which include:

  • deferring by up to 4 months the payment of tax amounts due through the BAS (including PAYG instalments), income tax assessments, FBT assessments and excise by affected businesses;
  • allowing affected businesses on a quarterly reporting cycle to opt into monthly GST reporting to get quicker access to any GST refunds;
  • allowing affected businesses to vary PAYG instalment amounts to zero for the March 2020 quarter. Businesses that vary their PAYG instalment to zero can also claim a refund for any instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters;
  • remitting any interest and penalties, incurred by affected businesses on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities; and
  • allowing affected businesses to enter into low-interest payment plans for their existing and ongoing tax liabilities.

The ATO assistance is not automatic, taxpayers must first contact the ATO to request assistance, and if eligible, the ATO will ‘tailor the assistance package for the relevant taxpayer.

 

E. Payroll tax refund & Land Tax Deferral

  • Businesses with annual taxable wages up to $3 million will have their payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year waived. This will support 24,000 businesses and up to 400,000 workers.
  • The State Revenue Office will directly contact eligible businesses to reimburse them for payroll tax already paid in the financial year.
  • Eligible businesses must continue to lodge returns but do not need to make further payments for this financial year.
  • These businesses can also defer paying payroll tax for the first quarter of the 2020-21 financial year.
  • Landowners that have at least one non-residential property and total taxable landholdings below $1 million have the option of deferring their 2020 land tax payment until after 31 December 2020.
  • The State Revenue Office will contact all taxpayers who are eligible for this deferral.

 

F. Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

  • Temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against an individual
  • Increasing the time companies and individuals have to respond to statutory demands they receive
  • Temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent and providing temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 to provide targeted relief from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus health virus.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you wish to discuss how this could affect you.

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