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Updated 1 April 2020 following amendments issued by Treasury on 31 March 2020
Australia’s wage subsidy scheme, known as the JobKeeper Payment, is the third economic stimulus package announced by the Federal Government in its coronavirus response. Businesses can apply to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for financial support to keep their employees on the job. Around 6 million Australians are expected to receive a flat payment of $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) for up to six months through their employer.
The wage subsidies, estimated to cost the Australian Government $130 billion, will be released to employers from early May 2020. Employers must experience a required turnover decline to be eligible to receive wage subsidies.
Even though a business may close its doors during the next six months, the JobKeeper Payment will pay employees to remain on the books and essentially be ready to resume their jobs when the business re-opens. It is the employer’s responsibility to pass on the wage subsidy in full.
Every eligible employee must receive at least $1,500 per fortnight from their employer, before tax. The Australian Government has declared $1500 a full median wage replacement for workers in the accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors. The wage subsidy is 70 per cent of the national median wage.
Employees that were previously earning less than $1500 per fortnight will be topped up to the full wage subsidy.
Employers who remain in business with employees who are receiving JobKeeper Payment should use the payment to subsidise the employee’s regular income according to the prevailing workplace arrangements.
The wage subsidy will be available for up to six months.
The payment will be made to employers to pass on to their employees. The following business entities are eligible if other criteria apply:
Businesses with an annual turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover has fallen by more than 30 per cent (of at least a month) are eligible.
Businesses with an annual turnover of $1 billion and their turnover has fallen by more than 50 per cent (of at least a month) are eligible.
The activity statement reporting system (monthly or quarterly BAS) will be used by the ATO to assess reduced turnover. In general, the ATO will be assessing reduced turnover relative to turnover in the same period (month or quarter) in the previous year.
The Tax Commissioner has the discretion to assess a business individually:
In addition, the Tax Commissioner has the discretion to:
Businesses subject to the Major Bank Levy are not eligible under the wage subsidy scheme.
Employees who receive the payment can be:
An employee cannot receive the JobKeeper payment from more than one employer. A previous employee who is re-engaged through the JobKeeper Payment, must advise Services Australia if they start receiving income in addition to any income support e.g. JobSeeker Payment they are receiving.
The ATO will release the first payments to eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears. Businesses will continue to be reimbursed by the ATO from the first week of May.
Affected employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum period of 6 months.
Businesses are asked to apply for the payment online. The ATO is taking registrations now.
The business must:
For most businesses, the ATO will use Single Touch Payroll data to pre-populate the employee details for the business.
Where an eligible employer continues to operate with employees receiving the JobKeeper Payment, the employer will continue paying the superannuation guarantee on the employee’s income where the employee receives their full income. If an employee receives more than their usual income via the JobKeeper Payment, the business must continue to pay the superannuation guarantee on the usual income and has the option to pay superannuation on the additional income (before tax).
Where an eligible employer has stood down employees (e.g. in the case of a beautician that was forced to shut down), the employer can choose whether to pay superannuation on the JobKeeper Payment the employees will receive.
The Australian Government is expected to release more wage subsidy details once the legislation has been passed.
Read the Australian Government’s Fact Sheet: Extension of the JobKeeper Payment
For faster cash recovery in the current B2B environment, use ezyCollect free for one month
On 24 March 2020, the Australian Government’s Economic Response to the Coronavirus package passed without objection through Parliament. With the green light to go ahead, the economic stimulus package, currently worth $84 billion, promises direct financial support for workers and students and a cash flow boost for businesses and not-for-profits.
As a result, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will deliver the tax-free cash flow boosts to small and medium businesses and not-for-profits from 28 April 2020. Entities do not need to apply. The ATO will calculate a business’ eligibility for the cash flow boost when the business lodges its activity statement. Businesses will receive tax credits, which means that eligible entities will pay less tax to the ATO.
The ATO will deliver the cash flow boost of up to $100,000 (minimum $20,000) per eligible businesses through credits in the activity statement system. Therefore, to be eligible, businesses must lodge their activity statements.
Your business will receive its first cash flow boost from 28 April 2020, even if it has lodged the activity statement earlier.
Eligible entities that remain active throughout July-October 2020 will receive an additional payment, equal to previous payments they have received under the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers scheme.
March 2020 activity statements are due to the ATO in April 2020. If your business lodges monthly, the due date is 21 April 2020. Quarterly reporters must submit by 28 April 2020.
12 March 2020 is a critical date. Your business must have held an ABN on 12 March 2020 and continue to be active. Only registered charities are exempt from this cut-off date.
The ATO will assess your business’ eligibility based on your most recent income tax assessment for a prior year. (You may still be eligible if you do not have any income tax assessments for prior years.)
Not-for-profits, sole traders, partnerships, companies, and trusts with an aggregated annual turnover under $50 million are eligible if they meet all other criteria.
Your small or medium business must have made the eligible withholding payments it was required to:
In addition, your business must also have either:
In the initial cash flow boost, your business will receive 100 per cent tax back on the withholding tax you pay the ATO for employees’ salary and wages (maximum limit of $50,000).
Even if your business is not required to withhold tax, you will receive a minimum payment of $10,000 if you pay salaries and wages.
If your business remains active and eligible in July, August, September and October 2020, you will be eligible for additional payments, equal to previous payments you have received.
However, you will not be eligible to receive any more cash flow boosts until your PAYG withholding exceeds $10,000 over the relevant periods.
The ATO will apply the cash flow boost as credits to offset your business’ liabilities owing from the current activity statement.
For example, a quarterly activity statement lodged in April 2020 will receive credits for quarter 3 ending March 2020. A monthly activity statement lodged in April will receive credits for March 2020. Monthly lodgers will receive a credit that is calculated at three times the rate (300 per cent) in the March 2020 activity statement, to align with quarterly lodgers.
If your business receives more credit than it has tax liabilities, the ATO will refund the excess amount within 14 days.
Note: The ATO acknowledges that some business systems will be unable to take the cash flow boost into consideration when working out how much tax is payable on the activity statement. Businesses that overpay will receive a refund.
The earliest the ATO will release credits is 28 April 2020.
Additional payments to eligible businesses for the July-October period will be 100 per cent of the initial cash flow boost. The ATO will distribute additional payments in four or two equal instalments depending on whether your business lodges activity statements monthly or quarterly.
ezyCollect is offering to set up new businesses with 2 months free use of its accounts receivable tools through the COVID-19 period.
As of today, ezyCollect has committed to setting up businesses with its online accounts receivable platform for free for two months.
At ezyCollect, we have watched in awe as businesses do everything in their power to move online and keep working. Digging deep. Innovating. Powering on. ezyCollect has a suite of online tools to help businesses recover the cash that’s owed to them faster, whilst also supporting their customers through the credit crunch. That’s why we want to support your online efforts, too.
The next few months are critical as we all move to a remote way of working. And it’s essential that where possible, your business remains open to collect cash and support your staff and customers.
Even if your physical office is closed, your accounts team can keep working. Our platform is designed for team sharing, to give high visibility to your debtor ledger, and to keep communication flowing between you and your customers.
Payment communications that you used to generate manually can be automated, giving you more time to think about innovating other parts of your business that will keep the money coming in. There are simple things every business can do to make it easier for customers to pay so they can keep trading, too.
Our tools can help with:
Some of your small business customers will want to keep buying from you, even though it’s tough. They might rely more on credit facilities to keep their shelves stocked and their doors open. Accepting their credit card payments online means they can reserve their cash, keep up their trade relationship, and pay you even if your admin office is closed. Some banks are temporarily pausing business credit card repayments. All banks are offering other finance facilities to keep the credit flowing to businesses on the frontline.
Your big business customers have more of a responsibility now to pay on time. For too long, big business has made their small and medium-sized suppliers bear the credit burden. Many big businesses like Woolworths and Coles have already committed to paying their suppliers faster. Government agencies have previously made their prompt payment commitments off the back of the 2017 Late Payments Inquiry.
This is the time to make sure your big business customers know that you need to get paid on time.
We hope you’ll leverage every advantage you can right now. Our hope for your business is that you never miss an opportunity to get paid, you can support your customers with tools to make their life easier, and your staff can keep doing their best work.
We’ve made it super easy to get started on our platform:
To get set up today, please head to www.ezyCollect.com.au/business_support
The financial contagion of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to reach every business and every household. No one will be immune. Business banking units across all major banks have pivoted to engineer their own COVID-19 economic response to help businesses stay open or re-open in time.
No doubt it’s an ever-changing landscape and packages could change. Here’s what we can gather so far:
The Australian Banking Association advises people or businesses in distress to contact their bank’s financial hardship team.
Banks are providing assistance in relation to the following:
The Australian Banking Association has provided the following contact details for banks:
|AMP||1300 130 191||Experiencing financial hardship|
|ANZ||1800 252 845||Customer Connect|
|Arab Bank||1800 64 64 84||Hardship Assistance|
|Bank Australia||132 888||Contact Us|
|Bank of Sydney||13 95 00||Financial Hardship|
|BOQ||1800 079 866||Financial Hardship Assistance|
|BankSA||1800 679 461||BankSA Assist|
|Bankwest||1300 769 173||Experiencing financial hardship|
|Bendigo and Adelaide Bank||1300 652 146||Financial difficulty assistance|
|Citibank||1800 722 879||Hardship assistance|
|Commonwealth Bank||1300 720 814||Emergency assistance|
|HSBC||1300 555 988||Financial difficulty|
|ING||1300 349 166||Financial Hardship|
|Macquarie Bank||1300 363 330||Financial Hardship|
|ME Bank||1300 500 520||ME Bank financial hardship|
|MyState||13 800 1||MyState financial hardship|
|NAB||1800 701 599||Financial Hardship|
|Rabobank||1800 025 484||Financial Hardship|
|Rural Bank||1800 660 115||Financial Hardship|
|St. George Bank||1800 629 795||St. George Assist|
|Suncorp Bank||1800 225 223||Suncorp Customer Assist|
|Westpac||132 142||Westpac assist|
On 20 March 2020, Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh announced a small business relief package on behalf of Australia’s banks.
Describing it as “a lifeline for small businesses when they need it most”, Ms Bligh urged small businesses to contact their bank to apply.
The big four banks have all announced their current COVID-19 response support for business customers.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia has also committed to paying its Australian suppliers faster.
Eligibility criteria apply.
The Australian Government recently announced the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme to support the flow of credit in the Australian economy, especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The Scheme is designed to help SMEs access additional working capital funding from lenders.The Government will provide eligible lenders a guarantee of 50 percent on new unsecured loans made by SMEs. The following criteria apply:
Lenders are currently assessing their facilities and are expected to announce further details soon on how business customers can apply for a new unsecured business loan.
The Scheme will commence by early April 2020 and be available for new loans made by participating lenders until 30 September 2020.
ezycollect’s Business Support Program is helping SMEs survive this critical COVID-19 period.
Updated 22 March 2020:
The staged total economic relief package so far from the Australian Government and the Reserve Bank of Australia is valued at $189 billion.
Assistance to business to keep people in jobs include:
1. Wage subsidies of up to $100,000 (minimum payment of $20,000) for eligible SMEs and NFPs that have an annual turnover under $50 million and employ workers.
Read the Fact Sheet: Cash flow assistance for businesses
2. Temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 allowing debtors and company directors more time to respond to statutory demands from creditors. Extended thresholds and response times will apply for 6 months.
Read the Fact Sheet: Temporary relief for financially distresses businesses
3. Until 30 June 2020, the instant asset write-off threshold for businesses with an annual turnover of up to $500 million increases from $30,000 to $150,000.
Read the Fact Sheet: Delivering support for business investment
4. Small businesses employing fewer than 20 full-time employees who retain an apprentice or trainee as at 1 March 2020 can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 percent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. (Maximum of $7,000 per quarter per individual.)
Read the Fact Sheet: Cash flow assistance for businesses
5. Coronavirus-affected regions and sectors, including the airline sector, will benefit from recovery plans valued at $1 billion.
Read the Fact Sheet: Assistance for severely affected regions and sectors
6. The new Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme will support SMEs to get access to working capital loans. The Government will guarantee 50 percent of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SMEs.
A third economic stimulus package may be released in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
On 12 March 2020, the Morrison Government announced its $17.6 billion economic response to the Coronavirus to keep the Australian economy out of recession in the wake of the pandemic.
The Prime Minister’s message: Keep businesses in business and people in jobs.
A large part of the economic stimulus package is intended to support small and medium businesses to keep the doors open even as businesses experience “a cashflow crunch”.
A summary of benefits available from the Australian Government:
The message to Australian businesses and workers from the Prime Minister:
On releasing the economic response package, Scott Morrisson was quick to establish his confidence that the Australian economy is solid enough to withstand the economic impact of the Coronavirus. By keeping the engine room of business running with people in jobs, he’s assured the public that Australia will “bounce back strongly on the other side.”
Earlier, in anticipation of the economic stimulus package, Tim Reed, President of the Business Council of Australia, said on morning television show Sunrise, that the economic boost needed to “go big and go early.” He pre-empted that if the economy needed further stimulus down the track, “the government would have capacity to come back and do more later on.”
The Economic Response package will go before the Parliament in the final Autumn sitting week in March 2020. Following that, the Government will announce any supporting instruments for businesses to access the stimulus package.
In times of cashflow stress, businesses should focus on measures that build business resilience now and for the future.
Every business wants cash to keep flowing through the coffers. Everything becomes negotiable. Whether you’re buying or selling, be prepared to negotiate on price, service and payment terms.
Your current customers could be hurting, too. Reward loyalty through tough times with a one-off discount, deals on stock or service, or extended payment terms (within reason and your own budget).
Your customers will remember your kindness, empathy and flexibility and that’s what you want as you emerge from the downturn and get back to business as usual.
Your business should always be monitoring stock levels. Now more than ever, your chances of selling slow-moving stock could decrease. Look at innovative ways to clear this stock: bundle with other items, bulk discounts, or giveaways with purchase.
Your staff may be absent from the office during a virus pandemic. Consider how you will still get the job done as people work from home or take sick leave. Technology could be a saviour here, particularly automation technology and online services that keep working whether your office is open or closed.
With ezyCollect, for example, all your accounts receivable communications to customers will still be generated, and you can still accept payments via an online payment portal.
Spend more time on your budget and cashflow forecasts. Do more financial modelling. Think about the worst case and the best case scenarios so you can clearly understand your financial parameters and work within them.
For more strategies, read our blog 10 Strategies to Protect Your Business In an Economic Downturn
For more information on the Australian Government Economic Response to the Coronavirus:
Click here for a Fact Sheet on the Economic Response to the Coronavirus.
For more information on the Australian Government’s response to the Coronavirus:
To get your business started with ezyCollect today: