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KEEP AND ASSOCIATES COVID-19 JOBKEEPER WAGE SUBSIDY PAYMENT UPDATE

The JobKeeper Payment has now been legislated by Parliament, and the eligibility rules have been officially released by Treasury, broadly in line with earlier guidance.
The updated Treasury fact sheet can be found here: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper
The rules and other guidance are best summarised in the Treasury fact sheet JobKeeper payment – Frequently asked questions:
https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-04/JobKeeper_frequently_asked_questions_2.pdf
In summary, the JobKeeper Payment will provide a wage subsidy to businesses impacted by Coronavirus. The Government will provide eligible employers with $1,500 per fortnight per employee to help them retain workers through this period.

Key Points For Employers

  • From 20 April 2020, you can enrol with ATO for the JobKeeper payment using the Business Portal (and authenticate with myGovID.) You must do this by the end of April to claim JobKeeper payments for April. We will be able to assist with this process if you are unable to do so.
  • Employees need to complete and return a JobKeeper employee nomination notice by the end of April.
  • Employers will be eligible if, at the time of applying, they estimate that their turnover has fallen (or will likely fall) by at least 30% as a result of the current restrictions / COVID-19 impact relative to a comparable period in 2019.
  • The period will be based on the usual GST reporting period of the business, ie for monthly lodgers compare April 2020 with April 2019 and so on. For quarterly lodgers, the comparison is between the turnover for the June or September 2020 quarters and the same quarter in 2019.
  • If turnover has not yet declined but it is expected to do so, a business can start claiming from a future period, although payments will not be backdated.
  • When calculating the reduction, turnover is defined to be “GST turnover” as reported on Business Activity Statements. It includes all Australian taxable supplies and GST free supplies but not input taxed supplies.
  • Consistent with the GST law includes only Australian-based sales, so a decline in overseas operations will not be counted in the turnover test.
  • Where a business or charity was not in operation a year earlier, or the turnover a year earlier is not representative of their usual turnover (eg where it was impacted by the drought), the ATO has discretion to consider additional information to establish that they have been adversely impacted by COVID-19, and apply an alternative methodology.
  • The Jobkeeper Payment covers part time, full time, stood down employees and long-term casual workers (that is, those who have been with their employer on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months).
  • Payments will be available for a period of 6 months from 30 March 2020.
  • The Payment applies to employees ‘on the books’ as at 1 March 2020. Therefore, there is an opportunity for staff that had been terminated or stood down in the past weeks to be reinstated and become eligible.
  • Employers will need to report to the ATO on a monthly basis regarding the number of eligible employees.
  • To be eligible however, employees cannot be getting other benefits such as Job Seeker payments.

Eligibility Of Sole Traders

  • Businesses without employees, such as the self-employed, can also register their interest in applying for JobKeeper payments from 30 March 2020.
  • Sole traders will need to have an ABN on or before 12 March 2020 and have either:
    • Reported an amount of assessable income in their 2019 tax return, if lodged prior to 12 March 2020; or
    • Made a supply between 1 July 2018 and 12 March 2020 and provided this information to the ATO prior to 12 March 2020.
  •  Sole traders will need to provide an ABN and nominate an individual to receive the payment and provide that individual’s Tax File Number as well as provide a declaration as to recent business activity.

Eligibility Of Other “Self-Employed” Entities

  • Other entities carrying on a business may be able to receive the JobKeeper Payment for one (but only one) “owner” who is working in the business but not receiving their remuneration as an employee:
    • One partner in an eligible partnership can be nominated.
    • One individual beneficiary of a Trust can be nominated.
    • One director in an eligible company can be nominated.
    • One shareholder in an eligible company, receiving their remuneration for labour by way of dividends, may be nominated.

The Payment Process

  • Businesses must have paid their employees before they are entitled to receive the JobKeeper Payment. Employers will be reimbursed by the ATO monthly in arrears starting from 1 May 2020, backdated to 30 March 2020.
  • The payments to employees should be made through an employer’s payroll system and reported to the ATO via Single Touch Payroll.
  • Each employer in a group generally reports separately in relation to their JobKeeper Payment obligations, although certain adjustments will be made for sales by members of GST Groups.
  • Eligible employers must pay eligible employees a minimum of $1,500 (before PAYG withholding) per fortnight (from 30 March 2020) in order to be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment. If the employee has not been paid this minimum amount a ‘top-up’ payment will be required to be made.
  • If the eligible employee is paid more than $1,500 per fortnight (before PAYG withholding), the employer will only be reimbursed up to $1,500 per fortnight.
  • The JobKeeper Payment will generally be made by the ATO directly to the employer and will not be used to offset other tax liabilities.

Superannuation Obligations

  • Where an employee is usually paid more than $1,500 per fortnight and continues to be paid more than $1,500 per fortnight, the employer’s superannuation obligations will not change.
  • Where an employee’s wages are “topped-up” to meet the minimum payment requirement of $1,500 per fortnight, there is no additional superannuation obligation in respect of the “top-up” payment being made.

NSW State Government Small Business Support Grant

There is also NSW State Government Small Business Support Grant of up to $10,000 for businesses who have experienced a significant decline in revenue as a result of COVID19.

This grant is available  if your turnover has dropped by more than 75%. If you are eligible for this you are able to claim via Service NSW Website.

To be eligible for this grant, you must:

  • be based in NSW
  • be a small business (see guidelines)
  • be registered with an ABN as at 1 March 2020
  • have an annual turnover of more than $75,000 (a Business Activity Statement must be provided as evidence)
  • Where a small business does not submit a BAS to the Australian Tax Office, and meets all other criteria, the small business should contact Service NSW to discuss further. In these cases, an income tax declaration may be accepted as evidence of an annual turnover of $75,000.
  • employ 1-19 full-time workers as at 1 March 2020
  • be able to report a payroll below the NSW 2019-2020 payroll tax threshold of $900,000
  • have been highly impacted by Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 effective on 31 March 2020
  • have experienced at least 75% decline in turnover compared to the same two-week period in 2019, as a result of COVID-19 (for businesses that have been in operation for less than 12 months, refer to the guidelines)
  • have unavoidable business costs not otherwise the subject of other NSW and Commonwealth Government financial assistance measures

Further information is available at the following website: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-small-business-covid-19-support-grant

For further updates, visit our “big sister” firm TNR’s COVID-19 Resource Centre to help you and your business in this challenging time.

We will continue to keep you updated with further information on stimulus measures.

Stay Safe (and sane).

Gavin, Kris and the Team
KEEP AND ASSOCIATES