COVID-19: How to Access Support

To provide you with the knowledge to support your business, we have compiled all the best resources and information in one place to help you navigate this challenging time.

Sole Traders If you’re a sole trader and do not employ any staff, you are eligible for:

  • The increased instant asset write-off
  • Increased and accelerated income support
  • SME Guarantee Scheme
  • Early Access to superannuation
  • Tax Support

Information detailing these services are below. Tax-Free cash flow boost for employers You do not need to apply for the cash flow boosts. If you are eligible, the cash flow boosts will be automatically applied to your account when you lodge your activity statement for the relevant periods with the ATO. The ATO will then deliver the payment as a credit to your business upon lodgement of your activity statements. If you do not need to lodge an activity statement in respect of your PAYG withholding the ATO are working through a solution and will update their website with more information on what you need to do.

Quarterly lodgers will be eligible to receive the payment for the quarters ending March 2020 and June 2020. Monthly lodgers will be eligible to receive the payment for the March 2020, April 2020, May 2020 and June 2020 lodgements.

Additional Payments (equal to a quarter of the total initial Boosting Cash Flow payment) are also available.

To qualify for the additional payment, your business must continue to be active.

For monthly activity statement lodgers, your additional payments will be delivered as an automatic credit in the activity statement system.

The payments will only be available to active eligible employers established prior to 12 March 2020. However, charities which are registered with the Australian Charities and Not for profits Commission will be eligible regardless of when they were registered, subject to meeting other eligibility requirements. This recognises that new charities may be established in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Further information can be found here:
https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Business-activity-statements-(BAS)/In-detail/Boosting-cash-flow-for-employers/

Boosted Instant asset write-off

Under normal circumstances, individual assets less than $30,000 are eligible for the instant asset write off. The Government has lifted this threshold to $150,000 for assets that are either installed or ready for first use by 30 June 2020.

This proposal applies from 12 March 2020 until 30 June 2020, for new or second hand assets first used or installed ready for use in this timeframe. However, these changes do not take effect until new laws are passed.
More information can be found here https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Depreciation-and-capital-expenses-and-allowances/Simpler-depreciation-for-small-business/Instant-asset-write-off/

Flow of credit (lenders supporting short-term unsecured loans)

The SME Guarantee Scheme will commence by early April 2020 and be available for new loans made by participating lenders until 30 September 2020.

Loans will be subject to lenders’ credit assessment processes with the expectation that lenders will look through the cycle to sensibly take into account the uncertainty of the current economic conditions.

Treasury will work closely with participating lenders to ensure loans are available as soon as possible. While the scheme officially commences from April 2020, lenders may wish to consider extending credit sooner, as it may be feasible for loans made after the announcement to benefit from the guarantee.

If you are a lender interested in participating in the scheme, please email [email protected].

A list of participating lenders will be added to here once approved.: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/sme-guarantee-scheme

Apprentice wage subsidy

Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during the 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.

Employers can register for the subsidy from early April 2020. Final claims for payment must be lodged by 31 December 2020. For further information on how to apply for the subsidy, including information on eligibility, contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider.

Financially distressed businesses

The government have introduced the below in order to lessen the threat of actions that could unnecessarily push them into insolvency and force the winding up of the business.A temporary increase in the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive.

  • A temporary increase in the threshold for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings, an increase in the time period for debtors to respond to a bankruptcy notice, and extending the period of protection a debtor receives after making a declaration of intention to present a debtor’s petition;
  • 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 for companies from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus health crisis.

For owners or directors of a business that are currently struggling due to the Coronavirus, the ATO will tailor solutions for their circumstances, including temporary reduction of payments or deferrals, or withholding enforcement actions including Director Penalty Notices and wind-ups.

More information can be found here https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Dealing-with-disasters/In-detail/Specific-disasters/COVID-19/?page=2#COVID_19_support_available

Help from the ATO

Additional relief options will not be applied automatically and will be offered on a case-by-case basis working to tailor support for your specific needs.

If you’re an individual, sole trader, small or medium business and you need further assistance managing your tax and super obligations, contact our Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 or speak with a trusted tax advisor.

You can talk to your tax or BAS agent so they can work with us to support you to manage your tax affairs.

If you’re a large business, contact the Australian Tax Office Large Service Team for support and advice about tax administration or technical issues affecting large business.

To change your GST reporting cycle, contact your tax or BAS agent, visit the business portal or phone 13 28 66. To vary your pas as you go (PAYG) instalments, lodge a revised activity statement before your instalment is due and before you lodge your tax return for the year.

More information here https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Dealing-with-disasters/In-detail/Specific-disasters/COVID-19/?anchor=COVID19supportavailable#Backingbusinessinvestment

Income Support

To receive income support payments, you’ll need to meet the eligibility rules including residence rules and income and assets. You may receive a payment for any of the following circumstances.

  • Unable to work
  • In isolation or hospitalised
  • Caring for children

If you’re claiming Youth Allowance as a job seeker or JobSeeker Payment you will need to provide information about your employment.

If you’re still working but there’s a reduction in your hours, you will need to provide a letter from your employer confirming this.

People are encouraged to submit claims online, a step by step process can be found here

https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/health-wellbeing/centrelink-job-seeker-payment-how-to-make-a-claim-online-c-759629

In order to keep getting the JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance for jobseekers, there are things you must do, like apply for jobs or undergo training. But for the six months starting April 27, 2020, the Government has introduced some new rules because of coronavirus.

It means sole traders and self-employed people who now earn less than $1,075 a fortnight will meet their mutual obligation requirements just by continuing to operate their business and they won’t have to apply for other jobs. Neither will people who are caring for someone who is infected or in isolation due to coronavirus.

For those who have lost their jobs, or had their shifts cut, they will still need to look for work, but the requirements have been reduced to four job searches a month (one per week) to reflect the softening labour market.

If you are already receiving any of the below payments, as of the 27th April you will automatically receive the Coronavirus supplement which will be an extra $550 a fortnight on top of your normal payment.

  • JobSeeker Payment
  • Youth Allowance for job seekers
  • Youth Allowance for students
  • Austudy for students
  • ABSTUDY for students
  • Parenting Payment
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Special Benefit

You may also be eligible for Crisis Payment if you are isolated at home due to the coronavirus and don’t have access to any leave entitlements. This is a one-off payment, equal to a week’s pay of your existing income support payment rate.

More information regarding income support can be found here: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/affected-coronavirus-covid-19/if-you-need-payment-coronavirus-covid-19

Early release Superannuation

To apply for early release, you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements:

  • you’re unemployed
  • you’re eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance
  • on or after 1 January 2020 you were made redundant
  • your working hours were reduced by 20 per cent or more
  • if you’re a sole trader, your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20 per cent or more.

You can apply directly to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) through the myGov website.

You will need to certify that you meet the above eligibility criteria. You will be able to apply from mid-April 2020.

After the ATO has processed your application, they will issue you with a determination. The ATO will also provide a copy of this determination to your superannuation fund, which will advise them to release your superannuation payment. Your fund will then make the payment to you, without you needing to apply to them directly. However, to ensure you receive your payment as soon as possible, you should contact your fund to check that they have your correct details, including your current bank account details and proof of identity documents.

Separate arrangements will apply if you are a member of a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF).

Further guidance will be available on the ATO website.

More information can be found here https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/super/withdrawing-and-using-your-super/early-access-to-your-super/

Anyone impacted by COVID-19 is advised to contact the ATO to request assistance on their Emergency Support Infoline 1800 806 218, when they are ready, to discuss their situation.

* Please note that this information has been sourced directly from ato.gov.au and has been provided as guidance for your business.

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