The ATO has advised that it will not apply a penalty for self managed super fund (SMSF) trustees that have difficulty obtaining evidence to support market valuations of assets due to COVID-19.
SMSF trustees are required to provide objective and supportable evidence to their auditor each year to establish that assets of the fund are valued at market value.
During the 2020 and 2021 financial years, the ATO will not apply a penalty if it is satisfied that the difficulty in obtaining valuation evidence is due to COVID-19. Instead, the ATO will send the SMSF trustee a letter advising them to ensure they comply with the ATO’s valuation guidelines and have supporting valuation evidence by the time of their next audit if possible. However, the ATO warns that repeated contraventions of the valuation evidence requirements could lead to future penalties.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has published new guidance on the interaction between JobKeeper payments and satisfying the “work test” for the purpose of voluntary superannuation contributions.
Where an individual is aged 67–74 and is stood down from their employment due to the impacts of COVID-19 but is in receipt of the JobKeeper payment, APRA says a super fund trustee can accept a personal contribution from that individual under the super “work test” rules. APRA’s view is that where an employer is receiving the JobKeeper wage subsidy for an individual, registrable superannuation entity (RSE) licensees should consider the individual to be “gainfully employed” for the purposes of the “work test”, even if that individual has been fully stood down and is not actually performing work. In APRA’s view, this is appropriate because the individual is still employed and is obtaining a valuable benefit from their employer.
The ATO has reminded businesses impacted by COVID-19 that they have a range of tax options to consider, including claiming a deduction for any losses. And for businesses finding it difficult to estimate income for the purposes of PAYG instalments, the ATO will not apply penalties or interest for excessive variations where businesses make a “best attempt” to estimate their end-of-year tax.
Sole traders and individual partners in a partnership who meet certain conditions can offset current year losses against other assessable income (such as salary or investment income) in the same income year.
Otherwise, the loss can be deferred or carried forward and offset in a future year when the business next makes a profit. Businesses set up under a company structure that have made a tax loss in a current year can generally carry forward that loss for as long as they want. Of course, it’s crucial to keep proper records when claiming a deduction for losses.
Closing a small business
The ATO has acknowledged that some businesses may need to close their doors – either temporarily or permanently – due to COVID-19, particularly in Victoria. It calls on such businesses to “do their best to keep up with tax and super obligations”.
If a business is forced to close permanently as a result of COVID-19, or for any other reason, it must still lodge any outstanding activity statements and instalment notices, make GST adjustments on the final activity statement and lodge final tax returns. This will enable the ATO to finalise the tax account and issue any refunds that might be owed.
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) has commenced a new ongoing data-matching program with the ATO in relation to the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees (SAT) measure. The program seeks to confirm the eligibility of employers receiving the subsidy, as well as stamp out any potential double-dipping of government assistance (for example, claiming both SAT and JobKeeper support at the same time for the same employee).
Under SAT, employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid until 31 March 2021. To be eligible, an apprentice must have been in an Australian apprenticeship with a small business as at 1 March 2020. SAT has since been expanded to include medium sized businesses that had an apprentice in place on 1 July 2020. Employers of any size who re-engage an eligible out-of-trade apprentice are also eligible to claim the SAT wage subsidy. However, there are restrictions on when an employer can claim SAT for an eligible apprentice.
Data relating to around 117,000 apprentices and trainees and more than 70,000 employers will be transferred between DESE and the ATO. The program will be ongoing, with data transfer to occur at regular intervals as required over the life of the SAT measure.
Where the data-matching program detects a discrepancy or an anomaly that requires verification, DESE will contact the business and provide them with an opportunity to verify the accuracy of the information on which the eligibility was based. Businesses will be given at least 28 days to respond and any relevant individual circumstances will be taken into consideration.
An additional category for alternative “decline in turnover” tests is now available for the purposes of the revised JobKeeper payment system (which commenced on 28 September 2020) for entities that temporarily ceased trading for some or all of the relevant comparative period.
Under the revised system, an entity must have had an actual decline in its turnover for the applicable quarter relative to the same quarter in 2019. This generally involves making a one-to-one comparison of the 2020 numbers to those in the corresponding period in 2019, to see if it exceeds the 15%, 30% or 50% decline threshold (depending the type of entity).
Alternative tests can only be used if there is not an “appropriate relevant comparison period” in 2019, and four requirements must be satisfied for an entity to use the alternative tests for the new “temporary cessation of business” category. That is, in the comparison period:
the entity’s business had temporarily ceased trading due to an event or circumstance outside the ordinary course of the entity’s business;
trading temporarily ceased for a week or more;
some or all of the relevant comparison period occurred during the time in which the entity’s business had temporarily ceased trading; and
the entity’s business resumed trading before 28 September 2020.
The ATO advises that the “shortcut” rate for claiming work-from-home running expenses has been extended, in recognition that many employees and business owners are still required to work from home due to COVID-19 This shortcut deduction rate was previously extended to 30 September 2020, but will now be available until at least 31 December 2020.
Eligible employees and business owners, therefore, can choose to claim additional running expenses incurred between 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2020 at the rate of 80 cents per work hour, provided they keep a record (such as a timesheet or work logbook) of the number of hours worked from home during the period.
Several tax announcements from the 2020 Federal Budget have now been passed into law.
These include bringing forward changes to the personal income tax thresholds so that they apply from 1 July 2020. From that date, the top threshold of the 19% personal income tax bracket is increased from $37,000 to $45,000. The top threshold of the 32.5% tax bracket is increased from $90,000 to $120,000. The low income tax offset increases to $700 and the low and middle income tax offset (up to $1,080) is retained for 2020–2021.
A range of tax concessions already available to small businesses have been extended to medium sized businesses as well, and businesses with turnover less than $5 billion can deduct the full cost of eligible depreciating assets that are installed ready for use between 6 October 2020 and 30 June 2022.
Implement new PAYG withholding rates by 16 November
The ATO has issued updated tax withholding schedules to reflect the 2020–2021 income year personal tax cuts. Employers must now make sure they are withholding the correct amounts for pay runs processed in their systems from no later than 16 November onwards.
With these changes coming partway through the income year, employees and other payees will receive their entitlement to the reduced tax payable for the entire 2020–2021 year when they lodge their income tax returns for that period.
The Government will pay two $250 economic support payments for eligible income support recipients and concession card holders. The payments will be made from November 2020 and early 2021 to eligible income support recipients and concession card holders, including:
Disability Support Pension;
Family Tax Benefit, including Double Orphan Pension (not in receipt of a primary income support payment);
Carer Allowance (not in receipt of a primary income support payment);
Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) holders (not in receipt of a primary income support payment);
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders; and eligible Veterans’ Affairs payment recipients and concession card holders.
The $250 cash payments are tax exempt and will not count as income support for social security purposes. These cash payments follow the two $750 stimulus payments in April and July 2020 for social security and veteran income support recipients and concession card holders.
Paid Parental Leave: alternative work test
The Government announced in the Budget that it 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.
Small business tax concessions extended to medium businesses
The Budget confirmed the Government’s announcement on 2 October 2020 that a range of tax concessions currently available to small businesses (aggregated annual turnover under $10 million) will be made available to medium sized businesses (aggregated annual turnover of $10 million or more but less than $50 million). The extension of these concessions to medium businesses will be delivered in three phases.
In the Budget, the Government announced that it will bring forward to 1 July 2020 the personal tax cuts (Stage 2) that were previously legislated in 2018 to commence from 1 July 2022. The Stage 3 tax changes remain unchanged and commence from 1 July 2024, as previously legislated:
Stage 2 tax rates – was 1 July 2022, now 1 July 2020; and
Stage 3 tax rates – unchanged; to commence on 1 July 2024, as previously legislated.
On 24th September 2020, the Federal Government announced a package of proposed reforms to insolvency laws and practices directed at assisting small businesses through what is expected to be a difficult period once the Jobkeeper support comes to an end whilst the economy is in still recovery. These reforms are part of the Federal Government’s support package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Government hopes that a cheaper and more streamlined insolvency process will better serve small business owners, creditors and employees. Subject to the passing of the necessary legislation it is expected that the changes will apply from 1st January 2021.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced further changes to JobKeeper on 7 August 2020. The changes are intended to ensure that eligibility for the revised JobKeeper scheme – to commence on 28 September 2020 – will be based on a single quarter tax period, rather than multiple quarters as previously announced. Employees hired as at 1 July 2020 will now also be eligible to receive JobKeeper.
Treasury has updated its JobKeeper factsheets as at 7 August 2020 to incorporate the PM’s announcements.
The JobKeeper rules implemented in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were due to finish on 27 September 2020. The Government then announced on 21 July 2020 that the scheme would be extended for six months (until 28 March 2021), in an amended form.
The key highlights of JobKeeper Version 2 – to start on 28 September – are that:
the extended scheme will apply at a top rate of $1,200 per employee (down from the current $1,500) per JobKeeper fortnight from 28 September 2020 until 3 January 2021, then drop to $1,000 until 28 March 2021;
lower rates will apply for part-time and casual employees; and
businesses will be required to re-test their eligibility for the payment scheme to access the extension.
Changes to turnover test
The latest changes relate to the eligibility test announced in JobKeeper Version 2.
JobKeeper Version 2 originally required that, from 28 September 2020, businesses and not-for-profits seeking to claim JobKeeper payments would have to meet a further decline in turnover test for each of the two periods of extension, as well as meeting the other existing eligibility requirements. That is, at that time businesses would have been required to reassess their eligibility for the JobKeeper extension with reference to their actual turnover in the June and September quarters 2020.
The PM has eased the proposed changes to turnover tests for businesses Australia-wide.
The changes mean that businesses will now only be required to show the requisite actual decline in turnover for the September quarter, rather than for both the June and September quarters. Similarly, businesses will only need to demonstrate a decline in turnover for the December 2020 quarter, rather than each of the June, September and December 2020 quarters.
The ATO has “clarified” its position on loans put on hold during COVID-19. The ATO will consider a debt to be forgiven for tax purposes if:
the debtor is somehow relieved from the legal obligation to repay it; or
there is evidence that the creditor won’t insist on repayment or rely on the obligation for repayment.
A debt is not considered to be forgiven if a creditor only postpones an amount payable and the debtor acknowledges the debt – unless there is evidence that the creditor will no longer rely on the obligation for repayment.
The ATO has issued an update on residency and source of income. It deals with issues from the perspectives of an Australian resident and a foreign resident in the context of a change of residency due to COVID-19.
In terms of Australian residents, the update addresses those who are temporarily overseas and those who have had to return to Australia early from certain foreign service. The latter may involve the “91 days of continuous foreign service” test.
Where the update is interesting regards what it says about foreign residents who are stuck in Australia because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ATO acknowledges that “COVID-19 has created a special set of circumstances that must be taken into account when considering the source of the employment income earned by a foreign resident who usually works overseas but instead performs that same foreign employment in Australia”.
Whether salary or wages earned from continuing foreign employment working remotely while in Australia temporarily is assessable depends on:
whether it is from an Australian or a foreign source; and
whether a double tax agreement (DTA) applies.
Where the remote working arrangement is short-term (three months or less), the ATO readily accepts that income from that employment won’t have an Australian source.
For working arrangements longer than three months, the ATO says that individual circumstances need to be examined to determine if a person’s employment is connected to Australia.
The ATO has updated its employees guide for work expenses for 2019–2020. The document is designed to assist employees to determine whether incurred expenses are tax deductible and outlines the substantiation requirements.
The following are highlighted as being new for 2019–2020:
The additional method for calculating running expenses incurred as a result of working from home (the “shortcut method” allowing an 80 cents per hour deduction) was introduced to help employees working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. This method was initially only available to use from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020, but has now been extended to 30 September 2020.
Taxation Ruling TR 2020/1 Income tax: employees: deductions for work expenses under s 8-1 of ITAA has been released. This ruling provides guidance on when an employee can claim a deduction for a work expense.
The employees guide highlights “common myths” about expenses – for example, the myths that everyone can automatically claim $150 for clothing and laundry, 5,000 km of travel under the cents per kilometre method for car expenses, or $300 for work-related expenses, even if they didn’t spend the money, or that employees can claim gym membership if they need to be fit for work.
The ATO has published a fact sheet to assist employers in determining if they have an FBT liability where cars are garaged at employees’ homes because of COVID-19.
The fact sheet states that the ATO will accept that an employer isn’t holding a car for the purposes of providing fringe benefits where the car isn’t being driven at all, or is only being driven for maintenance purposes. Provided that the employer elects to use the operating cost method and maintains odometer records, the employer will not have an FBT liability for a car. Without electing to use the operating cost method or not having odometer records, the statutory formula method applies and an FBT liability will arise as the car garaged at the employee’s home is taken to be available for private use.
Where a home-garaged car is being driven by an employee for business purposes, the ATO says the employer may be able to reduce the taxable value of the car fringe benefit by taking into account the business use, provided the employer has logbook records and odometer records for the period in question. Logbook records will need to be for at least:
12 continuous weeks; or
until the car stops being garaged at home, if this is less than 12 weeks.
The fact sheet also provides information on logbook requirements for car fringe benefits and options for employers to consider where COVID-19 has impacted driving patterns.
On 23 July 2020, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg released the Economic and Fiscal Update July 2020, outlining the key COVID-19 policy response measures announced by the Government since March 2020. The Treasurer said the Government has provided economic support for workers, households and businesses of around $289 billion (14.6% of gross domestic product) in response to the pandemic.
The economic update incorporated the extension of JobKeeper payments for six months beyond its legislated finish date of 27 September 2020. The total cost of the extended JobKeeper regime is now estimated to be $85.7 billion over 2019–2020 and 2020–2021.
While the update did not include any major new financial support measure announcements, it brought information about a range of other changes, including that:
the Government will extend the application period to 31 December 2020 for the early release of superannuation (tax-free) by those dealing with adverse economic effects of COVID-19;
the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees (SAT) wage subsidy will be extended for a further six months to 31 March 2021, and expanded to include medium-sized businesses;
a full income tax exemption will be provided for Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel deployed on Operation Orenda as part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali;
the start date for the 2015–2016 Budget measure to allow the ATO to pay lost and unclaimed superannuation amounts directly to New Zealand KiwiSaver accounts has been revised; and
the start date of the proposal to prevent super funds from transferring new amounts to eligible rollover funds will be deferred by 12 months.
The Economic and Fiscal Update was never meant to be a “mini budget”, and the Federal Budget will be handed down on 6 October 2020. Mr Frydenberg has previously indicated that the Government is looking at the timing of the legislated personal income tax cuts and may consider bringing them forward as part of the Budget in October.
If you’ve purchased assets for your business, remember that you may be eligible to claim an immediate deduction in your 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 tax returns under the instant asset write-off, which was recently further expanded.
From 12 March to 31 December 2020 inclusive, the instant asset write-off threshold for each asset increased to $150,000 (up from $30,000) for business entities with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million).
To get it right, remember:
check if your business is eligible;
both new and secondhand assets can be claimed, as long as each asset costs less than $150,000;
assets must be first used or installed ready for use between 12 March and 30 June 2020 (to claim for the 2019–2020 year) or from 1 July to 31 December 2020 (to claim for the 2020–2021 year);
a car limit applies for passenger vehicles;
if the asset is for business and private use, only the business portion can be claimed;
you can claim a deduction for the balance of a small business pool if its value is less than $150,000 at the relevant date (before applying depreciation deductions); and
different eligibility criteria and thresholds apply to assets first used or installed ready for use before 12 March 2020
The Government has announced that JobKeeper payments will continue for six months beyond the legislated finish date of 27 September 2020, subject to revamped eligibility rules. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Government will introduce two tiers of payment rates as part of “JobKeeper 2.0” to better reflect the pre-COVID-19 incomes of recipients.
The extension of JobKeeper from 28 September 2020 until 28 March 2021 will also include a requirement for businesses and not-for-profits to demonstrate an actual decline (not merely predict a decline) in turnover under the existing turnover test. The JobKeeper payment will also be stepped down and paid at two rates. Importantly, the existing arrangements for those receiving JobKeeper payments continue until 27 September 2020.
The JobKeeper payment ($1,500 per fortnight until 27 September) is to be reduced and paid at two rates
Rate per fortnight
Rate per fortnight
(<20 hours worked per week)
28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021
4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021
Businesses and not-for-profits will be required to nominate which payment rate they are claiming for each of their eligible employees (or business participants) and will have to meet a further decline in turnover test for each of the two periods of extension.
The eligibility rules for employees remain unchanged. Self-employed people will be eligible to receive the JobKeeper payment where they meet the relevant turnover test and are not a permanent employee of another employer.
The ATO’s key JobKeeper information has been updated to note that payments for childcare providers stop from 20 July 2020.
This follows the Government’s changes to transition certain approved providers of childcare services out of the JobKeeper scheme. The Government has instead decided to extend separate support to this sector by reintroducing the Child Care Subsidy and adding a Transition Payment as part of the Early Childhood Education and Care transition arrangements.
The changes mean that eligibility for JobKeeper payments ends from 20 July for:
employees of an approved provider of childcare services where those employees whose ordinary duties are that they are engaged principally in the operation of the childcare centre; and
eligible business participants where the business entity is an approved provider of a childcare service.
Childcare providers need to ensure that they do not claim JobKeeper for employees and eligible business participants who are no longer eligible. Likewise, childcare providers will not be reimbursed for payments made after JobKeeper Fortnight 8 (6 to 19 July 2020).
The Government has announced that it will extend the temporary Coronavirus Supplement payment from 25 September to 31 December 2020 but the rate will be reduced from $550 to $250 per fortnight.
Since 27 April 2020, a Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight has effectively doubled the social security payments for job seekers, sole traders and students in receipt of the JobSeeker Payment, Sickness Allowance, Youth Allowance for jobseekers, Parenting Payment Partnered, Parenting Payment Single, Partner Allowance, Sickness Allowance and the Farm Household Allowance. Individuals eligible for these payments receive the full amount of the $550 Coronavirus Supplement on top of their payment each fortnight.
The Supplement will continue to be $550 per fortnight for payments up to and including the reporting period ending 24 September 2020. From 25 September to 31 December 2020, the Government will continue to pay the Supplement to existing and new income support recipients but at a reduced rate of $250 per fortnight.
The Government will also reintroduce a range of means testing, tapering and mutual obligation arrangements to ensure that social security payments are appropriately targeted.
The ATO is on the look-out for fraudulent schemes designed to take advantage of the Government’s COVID-19 stimulus measures. This includes JobKeeper, early release of superannuation, and boosting cash flow for employers.
The ATO will be using its wide array of data sources to assess and identify inappropriate behaviour. It has also established a confidential tip-off line for the public to raise concerns of any wrongdoing.
“We’ve received intelligence about a number of dodgy schemes, including the withdrawal of money from superannuation and re-contributing it to get a tax deduction. Not only is this not in the spirit of the measure (which is designed to assist those experiencing hardship), severe penalties can be applied to tax avoidance schemes or those found to be breaking the law. If someone recommends something like this that seems too good to be true, well, it probably is”, ATO Deputy Commissioner Will Day said.
Mr Day said the ATO will be conducting checks, “so if you've received a benefit as part of the COVID-19 stimulus measures and we discover you are ineligible, you can expect to hear from us. If you think this may apply to you, you should contact us or speak to your tax professional”. Penalties for fraud can include financial penalties and prosecution, and even imprisonment for the most serious cases.
The ATO has published a list of common mistakes and misconceptions taxpayers have around tax time:
• bank details don’t update themselves: the ATO does not keep track of changes to bank nominations for taxpayers to receive tax refunds;
• it’s not okay to double dip: it’s important to remember that if you’re claiming under the shortcut method (of working from home expenses), you cannot claim a separate additional deduction for any expenses you incur as a result of working from home;
• home to work travel is not claimable: generally, most people cannot claim the cost of travelling from home to work unless, they are required by their employer to transport bulky tools or equipment and there is not a safe place to store these at the workplace;
• you can’t just claim a flat $300 if you had no expenses: you don’t need receipts for claims of expenses up to $300, but you must have actually spent the money and be able to show the ATO;
• work-related expenses need to be work-related: taxpayers can only claim for expenses that are directly related to earning their income;
• lodging earlier doesn’t always mean getting your refund earlier: each year the ATO automatically includes information from employers, banks, private health insurers (and this year JobKeeper for employees and JobSeeker amounts) in people’s returns. Taxpayers are advised to include all relevant information if lodging before the ATO automatically updates the information, so as to avoid delays in the return.
The ATO has extended, from 30 June 2020 to at least 30 September 2020, the “shortcut” rate for claiming work-from-home running expenses. This shortcut eligible taxpayers to claim running expenses incurred between 1 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 at the rate of 80 cents per work hour, provided they keep a record of the number of hours worked from home – for example, using a workplace timesheet.
People eligible to use the shortcut rate are employees and business owners who:
work from home to fulfil their employment duties or to run their business during the period 1 March 2020 to 30 September 2020; and
incur additional running expenses that are deductible under the tax law.
People who choose not to use the shortcut rate can instead:
claim 52 cents per work hour for running costs plus claiming the work-related portion of phone and internet expenses, computer consumables, stationery and the work-related portion of the decline in value of a computer, laptop or similar device; or
claim the actual work-related portion of all running expenses, which need to be calculated on a reasonable basis.
The Inspector General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman (IGTO) has launched a new investigation into effective communication of taxpayers’ rights to review, complain and appeal decisions made and actions taken by the ATO. The investigation will seek to understand and confirm how effectively, clearly and completely the ATO communicates appropriate information to taxpayers and their representatives on these taxpayers’ rights.
In examining the taxation complaints service, the IGTO has observed that information on rights of appeal and opportunities to raise complains varies across different types of ATO-issued correspondence. In particular, the IGTO found in a number of investigations that ATO correspondence may not clearly and/or completely advise taxpayers and their representatives of their rights to review, complain and appeal.
Initially, the review will focus on ATO communications which concern debt decisions in relation to individuals and small business taxpayers as they have been deemed most “vulnerable”.
After the initial stage, the review will also seek to confirm ATO communications around access to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Small Business Taxation Division.
The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has announced a new phase of support to assist customers to get back to making their loan repayments. With the six-month loan repayment deferral period set to end on 30 September, the ABA said customers with reduced incomes due to COVID-19 will be eligible to apply for an extension of their deferral for up to four months.
A deferral extension of up to four months will not be automatic. It will only be provided to those who genuinely need some extra time. Bank customers with reduced incomes and ongoing financial difficulty due to COVID-19 will be contacted as they approach the end of their initial deferral period. Wherever possible, borrowers are expected to return to a repayment schedule through a restructure or variation to their loan.
The Assistant Minister for Superannuation Senator Jane Hume has welcomed the recent amendments to Australia’s superannuation regulations that allow more people to make voluntary superannuation contributions from 1 July 2020.
The changes allow people aged 65 and 66 (ie under age 67) to make voluntary super contributions (both concessional and non-concessional) without meeting the work test. The amendments bring these contribution rules into line with those for individuals under 65 years, providing greater flexibility to make contributions as people approach retirement. The age limit for making spouse contributions has also been increased from 69 to 74 from 1 July 2020.
These changes to the super contributions rules were previously announced in the 2019–2020 Federal Budget. Another change in that Budget package will allow people aged 65 and 66 to make up to three years of non-concessional contributions (up to $300,000) under the bring-forward rule from 1 July 2020.
The 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.
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.
The 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. 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.
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 trust.
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.
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.
Coronavirus COVID 19 – Rent Relief: What it Means for Tenants and Landlords of Commercial Leases
The COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) (Commercial Leases and Licenses) Regulations 2020 (Vic) was published on 1 May 2020 (theRegulations). The Regulations are made under the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures Act 2020 (Vic) which follows the National Cabinet Mandatory Code of Conduct. The Regulations carry retrospective effect and are taken to have come into operation on 29th March 2020.
The purpose of the Regulations is to implement temporary measures that apply to tenants and landlords under certain eligible leases in order to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Read More about the Regulations and eligibility criteria here:
We have created this Fact Sheet is to enable you to make a quick assessment of your eligibility for the Government's Boosting Cash Flow for business. It is not a comprehensive guide as the rules are quite complex. If, after you have examined the information in this Fact Sheet and believe that you may be eligible, please contact us immediately so we may assist you further.
The cash flow boost will be available only to ‘active eligible employers established prior to 12 March 2020’. To be eligible for the cash flow boost, an entity must meet all of the seven conditions set out below.
Please click the link below to download the fact sheet and let us know if you have any question.
The Government will allow eligible individuals affected by the Coronavirus to have up to $10,000 released from their superannuation or retirement savings account on compassionate grounds before 1 July 2020. A further amount of $10,000 may be withdrawn for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020.
We have created this Fact Sheet to enable you to make a quick assessment of your eligibility to temporarily access their Superannuation. It is not a comprehensive guide as the rules are quite complex. If, after you have examined the information in this Fact Sheet and believe that you may be eligible, please contact us immediately so we may assist you further.
Click the link below to download the fact sheet and please let us know if you have any question.
We have created a fact sheet and self-assessment tool for individuals and businesses wish to participate in the Australian Government JobKeeper Payment Scheme.
The purpose of this Fact Sheet is to enable you to make a quick assessment of your eligibility for the Government's JobKeeper Payment Scheme. It is not a comprehensive guide as the rules are quite complex. If, after you have examined the information in this fact sheet and believe that you may be eligible, please contact us immediately so we may assist you further
You can download the fact sheet via the link below. Please let us know if you have any questions.
ARITA Info Sheets for Directors, Accountants and Businesses
On 23 March 2020, the Government passed laws to assist businesses with the impact of the current economic conditions, including temporary relief for directors from personal liability for trading while insolvent.
Given the current impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a strong likelihood that businesses’ liquidity will be adversely impacted. Ensuring that the challenges to liquidity do not move into a shortage of working capital which is unable to be overcome, is key to maintaining solvency during this period.
It’s really important to realise that a lot of people are in the same boat at the moment, and generally through no fault of their own. So, don’t see this as a personal failure. But do get proper, qualified advice as quickly as you can.
COVID 19 – Holding DOCA - the solution to the liquidity trap and building financial bridges
We think that there are good reasons for holding DOCAs as being a part of the solution to the present liquidity trap. If you are experiencing cash flow difficulties or if you think that your business is on the brink of insolvency but is otherwise a good and profitable business and worth saving, we may be able to assist in “building that bridge” with the use of a holding DOCA until our social and working lives return to normal.
Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
The economic impacts of the Coronavirus and health measures to prevent its spread could see many otherwise profitable and viable businesses temporarily face financial distress. It is important that these businesses have a safety net to make sure that when the crisis has passed they can resume normal business operations. One element of that safety net is to lessen the threat of actions that could unnecessarily push them into insolvency and force the winding up of the business.
Started in the tail -end of last year, COVID-19 has infected more than 80,000 people in China and more than 220,000 globally. As this particularly distressing time, the team at Barrett Walker wants to check in with you to make sure you are alright. We want to let you know we are here to support you and we are all in this together. In the meantime we recommend that you remain informed of the latest development of COVID-19, practice social distancing, and check in with your friends and family when you can.