COVID-19 Daily Update

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12 February 2021

COVID-19 early release of super total drawdown wraps up at $36.4 billion
The early release scheme closed for applications on 31 December 2020, having initiated on 20 April 2020. APRA’s final summary of the scheme, up to 31 January to gather data from final applications and published this week, shows that 3.5 million Australians made a withdrawal from 175 different super fund providers. Around 1.4 million made withdrawals in both round one and two. The average payment made over the course of scheme was $7,638. Repeat applications were for an average amount of $8,268 while initial applications were for an average amount of $7,402.


JobMaker Hiring Credit reporting fact sheet for additional employees
The ATO has made available a fact sheet that deals with how employers can report eligible additional employees through STP-enabled software. Clients may need to check with their payroll or digital service providers to ensure their software provides appropriate support.


Class ruling deems air travel for FIFO staff a residual benefit
CR 2021/12 spells out the FBT treatment of air travel provided to certain fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) employees under a salary package provided by Salary Packaging Australia Pty Ltd (SPA). The ATO states in the ruling that a residual benefit arises from the provision of airline travel to the employee, and that this residual benefit is an exempt benefit pursuant to subsection 47(7). Under the arrangement, payment of an amount equivalent to the salary sacrificed amount is made by the employer to SPA. The travel supplier sends an invoice to SPA out of the salary sacrificed funds held for this purpose.


11 February 2021

Free instructional webinar for new Online services for business
The ATO, via its Small Business Newsroom, is hosting a free webinar to help users make the switch to the new service, which is replacing the Business Portal. The Connecting online with the ATO: Businesses webinar will help you find and log into the new service, access functions you currently use on the Business Portal, and navigate the new functions in Online services for business. Register here (also lists session dates and times).


Super processing schedule released for February and March
The ATO has published its superannuation remittance and recovery processing schedule for APRA-regulated funds using SuperStream, covering the remainder of February and the month of March.


Powerpoint chart details changes to the superannuation industry
Starting from January 2021, the ATO has made available a Powerpoint chart detailing changes that will affect the superannuation industry. Labelled as an industry “roadmap” (download it from here), the chart details the changes affecting the super industry up until the end of September 2021. The ATO is committed to update this information every quarter.


R&D tax scheme promotion case impact statement
A court case where an accountant and associated companies were promoters of tax exploitation schemes involving purported R&D activities (Federal Commissioner of Taxation v Bogiatto & Ors) has seen a decision impact statement being issued by the ATO. The decision made in the case found that the ATO did not have unlimited time to initiate proceedings in such a case where there was no actual implementation of the proposed scheme. The ATO is inviting comments to the appropriate tax officer about the consequences of the decision, with a deadline of 5 March.


10 February 2021

ACT budget 2020-21 delivered
The ACT budget for 2020-21 was released yesterday. Highlights include the extension of commercial rates relief for landlords who drop rents for COVID-19 affected tenants, and payroll tax exemptions extended to businesses who are unable to trade due to health restrictions (which will be offered as month-to-month payroll tax assistance between January and June). Businesses with payroll under $10 million who are in hardship will have interest-free deferrals of payroll tax extended until 30 June, with interest on deferred amounts to begin on July 1. Payroll tax exemptions for wages paid to new apprentices and trainees employed after 1 August 2020 will be extended until 30 June, and food business registration fees will be waived until 31 March 2022, with outdoor dining permit fees waived until 30 June 2022.


Fund validation service user guide update
Guidance has been provided by the ATO on its fund validation service (FVS), which is a suite of services that support implementation of SuperStream, the Federal Government’s system to provide a consistent, reliable electronic method of transacting linked superannuation data and payments. It supports funds to meet regulatory obligations to provide rollover and contribution information on a shared register.


New online services for business launched and explained
The ATO has launched a new service, “Online services for business”, to make it easier for your business clients to interact with the ATO online to manage tax and super obligations. It is replacing the business portal, however this will be available until later in the year to give businesses time to change over to Online services for business. The government website business.gov.au has a dedicated page with a lot more details.


Reuniting more super with members a step closer
The bill Treasury Laws Amendment (Reuniting More Superannuation) Bill 2020 is currently in its second reading before the Senate. The bill amends relevant legislation to facilitate the closure of eligible rollover funds (ERFs) by 30 June 2022 and allow the Commissioner to reunite amounts received from eligible rollover funds with a member’s active account. In the 2020-21 Federal Budget, Treasury announced that the date by which ERFs are required to transfer accounts below $6,000 to the ATO to 30 June 2021. Also announced was the transfer date of remaining accounts, which will be 31 January 2022. The bill also permits trustees to transfer any account to the ATO where this in in the member’s interest.


9 February 2021

If a client asks for payroll help, there are 3 essential requirements
With the steady roll out and adoption of single touch payroll (STP) continuing, and smaller and micro employers steadily running out of options going forward, there may be clients who approach their tax or BAS agent and ask for help in the form of the provision of a payroll service (which includes payroll-related functions, such as interpreting related legislation or helping calculate PAYG or SG liabilities). The ATO is reminding practitioners that there are three essential requirements to be able to offer these services to clients.


Fresh produce picking employer clients and other seasonal STP use
With fruit and vegetable picking in the news lately, focus has been drawn by the ATO to STP as it relates to seasonal and intermittent employers. These are employers that generally have either zero or up to four employees for most of the year and then have an increase of employees for less than three months of a financial year (not necessarily consecutive). A concession to report quarterly will be rolled into the micro employer STP regime from 1 July 2021.


Car parking and FBT ruling still expected to be finalised
Draft TR 2019/D5 and a draft update to Chapter 16 of Fringe benefits tax – a guide for employers were both published in November 2019. Just over a year later further consultation was conducted. The ATO maintains that the ruling is nearly finalised and should be ready with a lead time before 1 April 2021, which should give your employer clients time to implement any necessary changes. A transitional approach is still however an active option.


Potentially taxable property transfers and matching activity statement reports
The ATO says it regularly receives data relating to the purchase and sale of properties from state and territory revenue and titles offices around Australia. As such transfers could be taxable transactions, the ATO checks the information received against what has been reported on activity statements. It has published information to help clarify what is expected from businesses.


8 February 2021

Data-matching program for JobMaker
A notification in the Commonwealth Gazette includes an amendment to the economic response data matching program so that the JobMaker scheme is also covered. The ATO will acquire confirmation from Services Australia of income support payments made to additional employees nominated by applicants of the JobMaker Hiring Credit under the data matching program. The year-long program starts from 7 October 2020. Information will include details on the type of government income support payments received within the applicable period. Temporary early access to super payment recipients will also be scrutinised for the period 19 April 2020 to 21 December 2020.


National auditor to look at ATO’s handling of JobKeeper
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) will be auditing the ATO’s administration of JobKeeper, focusing among other things on its effectiveness. It will also look at the ATO’s implementation of effective measures to protect the integrity of JobKeeper payments, and if it has effectively monitored and reported on the operational performance of the scheme. The report is due to be tabled in October 2021.


Closely held (related) payee exemption from STP
The ATO is reminding small employers (with 19 or less staff) and their tax agents that they are exempt from reporting closely held payees through single touch payroll (STP) until 30 June 2021. They don't need to apply for this exemption, but from 1 July 2021 closely held payees will need to be reported through STP (with an option to report this information on a quarterly basis).


High time to reduce superannuation complexity
Treasury’s Retirement Income Review late last year found the system to be complex and hard to navigate. Now that the transfer balance cap (TBC) is to be indexed and increased, and as part of its Federal Budget submission for 2021, the SMSF Association is pressing for three key changes — to remove or simplify TBC proportional indexation; reduce the number of total superannuation balance (TSB) thresholds; and provide SMSF advisers and administrators access to ATO portals.


Quarterly STP reporting concession for micro employers to change
From 1 July 2021, the concession for micro employers to apply for a two-year window to digitally report payroll via their registered tax or BAS agent is set to change. The ATO says from then on it will only be considered for micro employers experiencing exceptional circumstances. For now, applications for the concession are not being accepted.


5 February 2021

STP phase 2 commencement to be delayed
A legislative instrument will issue soon around the implementation of single-touch payroll (STP) phase 2. The major change from previous announcements is the start date will now be 1 January 2022 (previously 1 July 2021 — see “Expanding data collected” on this page). This next phase of STP reporting is purportedly aimed at employers that report information about their employees to multiple government agencies, and also supports the administration of the social security system with relevant data provided to Services Australia directly.


STP instrument spells out the amounts to be notified
A new legislative instrument tied in with the above determines which amounts will be required to be reported via STP. There are also some amounts for social security purposes that can be reported via STP. It replaces a similar earlier instrument and has additional amounts listed. Entities can choose to commence reporting now, but must do so from 1 January 2022.


Larger withholding clients may need more time to lodge
If your client finds themselves unable to lodge their activity statement and pay withheld amounts on time, it may be wise to contact the ATO’s large service team to discuss circumstances. Note however that deferral requests can’t be submitted via Online services for agents. Lodgment deferrals extend the due date for lodgment of a document and provide additional time to lodge without incurring a failure-to-lodge-on-time penalty. The ATO says that while it may take more time to process requests at peak times, it generally approves deferral requests unless special circumstances apply.


Victorian congestion levy ruling addendum
A ruling was issued this week by the Victorian State Revenue Office, CL 001, titled Congestion levy - parking space for multiple motor vehicles. The ruling, which applies to both public and private car parks, explains how to determine the number of parking spaces that are leviable under the Congestion Levy Act 2005 where a space allows for the parking of multiple vehicles.


Update to practice statements regarding GST and PAYG liability penalties and records
The law administration practice statement PS LA 2011/2 provides guidance on the policies and practices for administering penalties for large entities that do not electronically notify or pay GST or PAYG liabilities. Rules make an entity liable to a penalty if the entity does not keep or retain records in a manner required by taxation law. Also updated is PS LA 2005/2, which covers the penalties for failure to retain or keep records.


4 February 2021

Permanent establishment guidance updated
Following on from Tuesday’s Daily Update item that the ATO’s guidance on permanent establishments (PEs) for foreign companies expired last weekend, and that at the time there was no indication of an extension, late yesterday the ATO published an update to its PE compliance approach (perhaps it reads TSA’s Daily Update). The update states that the previous guidance has now been extended to 30 June 2021.


ATO provides guidance on JobMaker’s additional eligible employees
An overview has been published by the ATO on identifying and nominating eligible additional employees for the JobMaker Hiring Credit, with a promise of a fact sheet being made available soon. It also notes that employers that are not eligible to claim the JobMaker Hiring Credit may be able to claim other support payments from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.


Activity statements digitally delivered can cause problems
With digital activity statements, the key problem for most tax agents is those clients who either do not have a myGov account or have turned off their notifications in their myGov account. As the instalment notice is not arriving at the office of the tax agent, it is only the notification through myGov that alerts a client to an activity statement being issued. Demand-for-payment letters are starting to issue from the ATO.


New credit reporting rules will see financial hardship information included for first time
The National Consumer Credit Protection Amendment (Mandatory Credit Reporting and Other Measures) Bill 2019 passed Parliament yesterday, which will see consumers’ financial hardship information retained on a person’s credit report for 12 months or more, no matter the duration of the financial difficulty it relates to. The legislation also introduces free access to credit scores and access to a free credit report every three months.


Priorities for 2021 statement from APRA
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has released its policy and supervision priorities for the coming year, with a key focus to further enhance the resilience and “crisis readiness” of Australia’s financial system. Much of the planned agenda for 202 was suspended in March last year when COVID-19 issues took centre stage. The 2021 priorities are divided into two separate policy and supervision information papers.


3 February 2021

Is FBT payable on COVID-19 protective items provided to staff?
The ATO has settled the above question with a “yes” but quickly adds a “however”. It says an employer may need to pay FBT on items given to employees to help protect them from contracting COVID-19 while at work. These include gloves, masks, sanitisers and anti-bacterial spray. “However these benefits are exempt from FBT under the emergency assistance exemption,” the ATO says, “if you provide them to employees who have physical contact with, or are in close proximity to, customers or clients while carrying out their duties, or are involved in cleaning premises.”


ATO publishes a JobMaker Hiring Credit estimator tool
With the commencement this week of the first claim period for the JobMaker scheme, eligible employers can start claiming payments in arrears every three months from 1 February 2021 for up to 12 months for each additional eligible employee. They can receive payments for each eligible additional employee they hire between 7 October 2020 and 6 October 2021 of up to $10,400 over a year for each one aged 16 to 29, and up to $5,200 over a year for each one aged 30 to 35. The ATO has made available a JobMaker Hiring Credit payment estimator to find how much they may receive.


Deductible gift recipient family adds community sheds to the list
Men’s and women’s sheds can now apply to be included as deductible gift recipients (DGRs) and enjoy an endorsement that means people making donations to the sheds can deduct amounts of $2 or more from their tax. There are some requirements a community shed needs to meet to be eligible to apply for DGR endorsement. There are two ways to apply for DGR status for a shed. For more details, see the ATO’s webinar recording (CPD value) on this new DGR category.


If your client needs to update their email on their myGov app
The ATO advises that the latest myGov app allows for easy updating of the user’s email address (this was an issue with earlier versions of the app). Clients can now go to “My identity” when in the myGov app, select the email address recorded and follow the prompts. If they use multiple devices, each device will need the latest version of the app.


2 February 2021

ATO guidance on permanent establishments under COVID conditions expired on the weekend
While its updated guidance on permanent establishments (PEs) under pandemic conditions establishes that compliance resources will not be applied to cases where a foreign company inadvertently may have a PE because of travel restrictions, it is worth noting that the ATO’s guidance expired on 31 January 2021. The guidance had already been extended, but as yet there is no indication of a further extension.


More choice over SG payment receiving fund for employees
From 1 January 2021 on, compulsory superannuation contributions are required to be directed to the super fund chosen by the employee, which they can nominate through their myGov account on a standard choice form (or on a form an employer can provide). Already existing employees need to be given this choice as well, although should they fail to nominate a fund, the employer can direct SG payments to a previous or default fund.


JobKeeper extension two is on now
The second extension to JobKeeper, with the tier one and two payment levels of $1,000 and $650 per fortnight respectively, is now in force until 28 March. Eligible participants can enrol until the end of the program, with the ATO reminding taxpayers that even if they didn’t qualify for the first extension, they may still be eligible for the current extension.


Private wealth and withholding tax on overseas interest
The ATO has launched a campaign focusing on non-resident withholding tax relating to interest expenses paid overseas for the 2018 and 2019 income years. It says relevant taxpayers who it identifies will receive an initial letter followed up by a telephone call.


Missed SG deadline of 28 January? Step to be taken now
Just in case you have a business client who has taken their eye off the SG ball due to any number of reasons (new year fogginess, COVID strains etc), the ATO is reminding them that the law is firm about SG due dates. A superannuation guarantee charge statement should be lodged with the ATO by 1 March 2021 to avoid penalties, even if the client can't pay in full.


1 February 2021

JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme first claim period opens today
The first claim period for the JobMaker Hiring Credit starts today, 1 February 2021, and remains open until 30 April 2021. The ATO notes that applicants can register at any time until the scheme ends, but when you register will affect the periods you can claim for.


Centrelink debt recovery activity re-commences today
Also coming into force today is Services Australia’s re-start to its debt recovery efforts. In April 2020, the agency froze 1.3 million debts to ease financial pressure on affected household budgets during the COVID-19 strife. This hiatus ended yesterday, and contact with identified debtors will start to be made from today in order to organise repayments.


JobKeeper rip-offs just didn’t happen, ATO says
Over the weekend the ATO was quick to point out that some media reports purporting that the JobKeeper program had fallen victim to fraudulent payouts were incorrect. If your client has read about fictitious employers and equally fictitious or deceased workers receiving JobKeeper payments, the ATO is reassuring the public that there have been no ultimately successful claim for deceased or other fictitious employees, and that its effectiveness in implementing JobKeeper and managing fraud with the scheme was recently confirmed by the Australian National Audit Office.


Advance pricing arrangement guidance
The ATO says its advance pricing arrangement program is an important part of its compliance assurance strategy, and has therefore provided an overview of general information about advance pricing arrangements and certain specific information for taxpayers. It says the guidance needs to be read in conjunction with practice statement law administration PS LA 2015/4.


Australia’s post-COVID debt risk a looming iceberg, says report
The Centre for Independent Studies has issued a report which looks at a fiscal landscape that has changed dramatically and rapidly since March 2020. It says the much delayed delivery of Federal and state/territory budgets in recent months now makes it possible to construct a comprehensive picture of the debt outlook up to 2024. This includes the updated Federal 2020-21 budget estimates released in the mid-year review in December.


28 January 2021

TBC to rise to $1.7 million from 1 July, and to be indexed
The ATO has announced that the general transfer balance cap (TBC), currently $1.6 million, will be indexed to $1.7 million from 1 July 2021. When the general TBC is indexed to $1.7 million, there won't be a single cap that applies to all individuals. Every individual will have their own personal transfer balance cap of between $1.6 and $1.7 million, depending on their circumstances.


CPI had slight bump-up for December quarter
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released its latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) data, which shows an increase of 0.9% in the December 2020 quarter (it is now 117.2, up from 116.2 for the September quarter). The ABS says the CPI was primarily affected by an increase in tobacco excise and the introduction, continuation and conclusion of a number of government schemes, including childcare fee subsidies and home building grants.


Victorians to get added regional travel incentives
Victoria will open applications for the third round of its regional travel voucher program at 10am on 30 March — note that the time is important as it is again being offered on a first come, first served basis. The first round of $200 vouchers launched last December crashed the government’s system quick-smart, and the second offering made recently saw all 50,000 allocated within half an hour. For the March vouchers, you’ll need to register on the Victorian Government’s website.


The ATO’s ‘Online services for business’ launched
The ATO has announced that a new portal is now available, which is in beta format and requiring feedback from participants (there’s a form at the bottom of each page). 'Online services for business' is to replace the Business Portal and the electronic superannuation audit tool (eSAT), although these will still be available until decommissioned later this year. The new service can be accessed on multiple devices, including mobile phones or tablets.


More consultation by BOT on CGT rollovers
The Board of Taxation has issued a second consultation paper in regard to its review of CGT rollovers, with submissions due 5 February. BOT emphasises that rationalising and simplifying CGT roll‐overs is not merely a matter of rewriting the existing law without disrupting the status quo. It involves confronting some quite fundamental questions about the role that roll‐overs should play in a mature business tax system, when relief should be available and to whom, and how it should be designed.


27 January 2021

NSW boarding house and low-cost accommodation land tax relief
Revenue NSW has issued rulings that spell out certain land tax exemptions for low-cost accommodation properties. Relief from land tax or a reduction in taxable land value is available for property mainly used to provide boarding house accommodation in accordance with guidelines approved by the NSW Treasurer. See LT 109 for details.


SG for quarter ending 31 December due tomorrow
COVID-19 is still having an impact on many businesses, and a generally quieter start to the year may come to a sudden halt with the super guarantee contribution deadline of 28 January (for the last quarter of 2020) for some of your clients. The ATO says it is unable by law to extend the due date, so employers who may miss the deadline will need to lodge a superannuation guarantee charge statement to the ATO by Monday 1 March 2021 to avoid penalties.


NSW to issue more economy-boosting vouchers
The NSW voucher scheme labelled Dine & Discover will be available from March in a bid to further aid the economic recovery after the havoc created by COVID-19. NSW residents aged 18 and over will be eligible for four $25 vouchers ($100 in total).  Vouchers can be used at participating NSW businesses that are registered as COVID Safe. They will be divided into two categories — two $25 vouchers to be used for eating in at restaurants, cafes, bars, wineries, pubs and clubs from Monday to Thursday (excluding public holidays), and two $25 vouchers to be used for entertainment and recreation, including cultural institutions, live music, and arts venues, any day of the week (excluding public holidays).


ASFA is to hold a virtual conference early February
The Australian Superannuation Funds Association (ASFA) is to host a virtual conference from 10 to 12 February 2021, and while the ATO will not have a booth or be attending the conference in a physical sense, it is making its presence felt and says attendees will be provided with many options to engage with the ATO. Along with its virtual showcase page, the ATO is making tax officers available to answer emailed questions from delegates. Presenters include former Prime Minister Paul Keating, the ABC’s Leigh Sales, demographer Bernard Salt and former Lord Mayor of Sydney Lucy Hughes-Turnbull.


ATO is reminding SMSF service providers that it is the client who will get the alert
The ATO is reminding SMSF professionals that the relevant client will receive an SMS or email should a change be made that affects the fund. These changes include updating details of financial institutions, electronic service addresses, authorised contacts and member details. SMSF practitioners may conduct regular services for a client’s fund or make updates, but so as to not alarm clients, the ATO says a quick email or call to those clients may be advisable.


25 January 2021

ACT extends payroll tax exemptions
The Revenue Office of the ACT has issued determinations to extend COVID-19 payroll tax exemptions to 30 June 2021 for eligible employers. For details, see Taxation Administration (Payroll Tax — Businesses Not Permitted to Operate) COVID-19 Exemption Scheme Determination 2021 (DI2021-10) and Taxation Administration (Payroll Tax) COVID-19 Exemption Scheme Determination 2021 (DI 2021-11).


NSW issues 2021 guidelines for COVID-19 land tax relief
State Revenue NSW has issued guidelines for 2020 land tax relief for eligible landowners providing rent reductions to tenants affected by COVID-19. Guidelines for 2021 are also available, which apply to eligible landowners with commercial leases in 2021 that provide a reduction in rent to a retail tenant experiencing financial distress as a result of COVID-19. The relief provides a reduction of up to 25% on land tax payable for 2021 for the relevant parcel of land.


Land tax exemptions for 2021 in Victoria
SRO Victoria has released information on the eligibility criteria and application process for 2021 coronavirus land tax relief measures. The SRO says landlords of residential and commercial properties who provide eligible rent relief from 1 January to 28 March 2021 can apply for a 25% reduction on 2021 land tax, and defer the balance owed to 30 November 2021. For commercial landlords, the rent relief provided must also be consistent with the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme.


OECD updates its guidance on tax treaties and the impact of COVID-19
Re-issued just last week, the OECD has provided an update to guidance first issued in April 2020 on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tax treaties. The guidance addresses tax issues associated with the temporary dislocation of people during the COVID-19 crisis, including the creation of a permanent establishment, corporate and individuals’ tax residency, and implications for cross border workers.


Second JobMaker period now open
The second JobMaker period is now open, spanning the period from 7 January to 6 April 2021. Claims for eligible employees taken on over this period can be made when the second claim period opens on 1 May. Note that both the employer and employee need to meet the eligibility criteria for the period of the claim.


18 December 2020

This will be our final Daily Update for 2020. We hope you've found them helpful! We'll resume keeping you up-to-speed on the news you need to know in January 2021.

Working-from-home shortcut method now applicable until June 2021
The ATO's temporary shortcut method for tracking working-from-home-related expenses, initially valid until June 2020, has been extended to 30 June 2021 - with advice that it may be extended further depending on how the COVID-19 situation progresses. The shortcut method can be used to calculate expenses from 1 March to 30 June 2020 in a 2019–20 tax return, and 1 July to 30 June 2021 in a 2020–21 tax return.


Staying JobKeeper compliant with bring-forward payments for the holiday season
The ATO says that where an eligible employer with a regular fortnightly pay cycle (or shorter) makes additional payments to its employees in the JobKeeper fortnight immediately before its holiday closure, and those additional payments relate to a future JobKeeper fortnight or fortnights during that holiday closure, it will treat the additional payments as having been paid in the subsequent fortnight or fortnights for the purposes of satisfying the wage condition.


Key dates issued for employers interested in the JobMaker Hiring Credit
The ATO has published the key dates employers will need to know if they want to take advantage of the JobMaker scheme. For example, to start claiming from 1 February 2021, and that the credit applies to all eligible new positions created until 6 October 2021. It also provides a table of all the JobMaker claim periods.


Payroll relief for contractors in Victoria who ordinarily perform services for the public
Payments made to a contractor in Victoria may be excluded from a payroll tax liability under certain conditions. The Victorian SRO has issued a revenue ruling, PTA-021v2, that spells out the factors the Commissioner generally considers in determining this exclusion.


PBO releases medium-term fiscal projections
The Parliamentary Budget Office has put together a research report (download it here) that describes the medium-term fiscal projections for 2020-21. The report provides detailed analysis and projections of Australian government receipts and payments over the forward estimates and the medium-term period. It shows the profound impact that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on Australia’s fiscal position.


Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) 2020-21
The Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) updates the economic and fiscal outlook from the previous budget. Clause 14 of the Charter of Budget Honesty requires the release of a MYEFO each year by the end of January, or six months after the last budget, whichever is later. As well as updating the economic and fiscal outlook, the MYEFO updates the budgetary position. In particular, the MYEFO takes account of all decisions made since the release of the budget which affect expenses and revenue and hence revises the budget aggregates. An appendix to MYEFO summarises all policy decisions taken since the budget.


PCG spells out working from home additional running expenses claims
The practical compliance guideline PCG 2020/3 states that as a result of COVID-19, a significant number of employees and business owners are working from home and incurring additional running expenses in relation to their income-producing activities, but also covers the “shortcut method” of claiming 80c an hour. The PCG is in force until 30 June 2021.


17 December 2020

Global exchange of financial account information: Latest report
The OECD has released its report on the implementation of new international standards on the automatic exchange of information for tax purposes by countries worldwide. The Peer Review of the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information has been published by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. The OECD says that 88% of jurisdictions that engaged in automatic exchange since 2017-18 were deemed to have satisfactory legal frameworks in place.

Key COVID focus areas of financial reports highlighted by ASIC
ASIC has highlighted key focus areas for financial reporting by companies for years ending 31 December 2020. Under COVID-19 conditions, ASIC expects directors, preparers of financial reports and auditors to pay particular attention to asset values, provisions, solvency and going concern assessments, events occurring after year end and before completing the financial report, as well as disclosures in the financial report and Operating and Financial Review (OFR). As the impact of COVID-19 continues, the areas identified are complemented by guidance provided in frequently asked questions on the ASIC website.

WA to exempt some apprentice wages from payroll tax
The WA Government has announced a payroll tax exemption for eligible employers on wages subsidised through the Boosting Apprenticeships Commencements scheme to help recovery from COVID-19. The scheme applies to apprentices or trainees of eligible businesses who commence and undertake training between 5 October 2020 and 30 September 2021. The scheme reimburses eligible businesses up to 50% of wages paid to an apprentice or trainee, to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter.

Ruling issued on withholding tax exemption for foreign resident super
Law companion ruling LCR 2020/3 provides technical guidance on key concepts relating to sovereign immunity and the “superannuation fund for foreign residents” withholding tax exemption. The ruling will provide certainty to foreign investors in understanding their eligibility for certain tax exemptions when they invest in Australia. The ruling includes eleven examples that illustrate the application of the law.


16 December 2020

TPB’s last webinars for the year are on today
Just in case you’re scrambling for some last-minute CPD hours, the TPB is hosting two webinars today, at 1pm and 3pm AEDT. Details and registration can be found here.


Requirement for SMSFs to prepare reports 45 days early dropped
The final version of the instrument Treasury Laws Amendment (Miscellaneous and Technical Amendments) Regulations 2020, registered this week, has dropped an earlier proposal contained in its exposure draft to have SMSFs prepare financial statements 45 days before lodgment.


ATO to issue certificates for taxpayers who apply for travel support
To support clients applying for the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program payment being administered by Services Australia, the ATO will be issuing a certificate of tax information. If your clients apply, you may receive their certificate of tax information. To help ensure integrity and to simplify the process, the ATO will only issue certificates for ABNs that have been provided to the ATO by Services Australia following an initial grant application. If you receive a certificate on behalf of your client, you should forward this as soon as possible, to support them to meet the application deadlines for the program.


COVID early release of super over Christmas-New Year period
If your clients have been adversely financially affected by COVID-19, they may be able to access some of their superannuation early. The ATO says end-of-year pubic holidays may delay COVID-19 early release of super processing and payments. Applications must be received in myGov by 11:59pm AEDT on 31 December 2020 (this means 8:59pm local time in WA). Processing and payments by super funds may occur into January 2021. If your clients have issues applying online between 29 and 31 December, they can call 1300 66 22 11 between 10am and 6pm AEDT (this line will be activated on these days only).


Research shows inflation expectations improved, but still down from pre-COVID
A Roy Morgan survey between April and November has revealed that Australians expect an inflation rate of around 3.4% for the next two years. The result is up from recent months but significantly down on pre-pandemic expectations. A consistent element found in the Roy Morgan research is that home owning taxpayers are more likely to have higher inflation expectations than renting taxpayers.


15 December 2020

JobMaker Hiring Credit payment estimator
The ATO has constructed an estimator tool for employer clients who are keen to get a feel for the amount of JobMaker payments that their situation will generate. The estimator does not determine eligibility, and the calculated results are based solely on the information provided at the input details section. The ATO emphasises that the exact amount of your JobMaker Hiring Credit payment will be calculated only when you complete your claim form.


Services Australia's guidance for clients on JobKeeper and its income support payments
Services Australia — the agency many of your clients may still refer to as Centrelink — has published guidance that some of your clients may find useful, which deals with other income support payments that Services Australia manages and their interactions with the temporary JobKeeper COVID-19 support payment. These include JobSeeker, the Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, Disability Support Pension and the Age Pension.


Economic impact of COVID’s second wave and the early recovery
Australian statistician Dr David Gruen has provided a summary of the early recovery of the Australian economy, tempered by second wave COVID-19 impacts and continued restrictions. In an article released via the ABS, Recovery tempered by second wave impacts – the September quarter 2020, Gruen says the COVID-19 period saw the fastest and largest fiscal response to an economic event in Australian history, with several hundred policy interventions announced across all levels of government. Expenditure on the JobKeeper wage subsidy alone totalled around $70 billion by 30 September 2020, compared to total Commonwealth government expenditure of $57 billion on all stimulus policies in response to the 2008-09 global financial crisis.


Tax avoidance taskforce 2019-20 highlights
The ATO says that its Tax Avoidance Taskforce last financial year managed to raise $4.3 billion in liabilities and collected nearly $2.5 billion in cash from audits in the 2019-20 financial year. The ATO’s compliance activities generated $2.7 billion in tax liabilities and $1.6 billion in audit yield from large public groups and multinational corporations, wealthy individuals and private groups. It has also included its stated focus for the current income year, which is on specialist large market advisers that promote and implement tax avoidance schemes, and engage in uncooperative, misleading and obstructive behaviour, including the misuse of legal professional privilege (LPP) during reviews and audits.


14 December 2020

Treasury consulting on education and training expense deductions
In the 2020-21 Budget, the Federal Government announced that it would consult on allowing individuals to deduct education and training expenses they incur, where the expense is not related to their current employment. A consultation paper has now been released. Individuals can currently deduct education or training expenses they incur that are sufficiently related to their current employment, reflecting the general principle in the income tax law that allows deductions for expenses incurred in the course of earning assessable income. Comments and submissions are open until 22 January 2021.


SMSF trustees note: TBC indexation reliant on December CPI
The ATO notes, in regard to the indexing of the transfer balance cap, that this will only occur if the result for the consumer price index for the December 2020 quarter is 116.9 or higher. The CPI figure for the September 2020 quarter released on 28 October was 116.2. If TBC indexation is triggered by the December CPI, this will apply from 1 July 2021. The ATO emphasises that once indexation of the general transfer balance occurs, there will be no single transfer balance cap which applies to all individuals.


User guide provided by ATO supplements online help available for agents
A user guide provided by the ATO complements the help section available in the system Online services for agents (which the ATO has started to refer to by the acronym OSfA). It reminds practitioners that the functions available to you in OSfA depends on if you are a tax or BAS agent, your Access Manager permissions, and of course if a function is relevant to your client.


Updated guidance issued on adjusting unclaimed super
The ATO states that if a practitioner becomes aware of a material error or omission in a previously unclaimed superannuation money statement, you have 30 days from when you find the error or omission to lodge a valid adjustment request. To help lodge a valid adjustment, the ATO has recently updated its guidance Adjusting unclaimed superannuation to include examples of what it would consider to be a valid or invalid adjustment request.


11 December 2020

Banking sector reform bill looks to end ‘fee for no service’ drag on SMSFs
Legislation to address four recommendations from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (FSRC) relating to financial advice, the Financial Sector Reform (Hayne Royal Commission Response No. 2) Bill 2020, has passed the lower house and is headed to the Senate. Schedule 3 to the bill amends the SIS Act to provide greater protection for super members against paying fees for no service. The EM states: “The amendments increase the visibility of advice fees for all superannuation products and prohibit the charging of ongoing advice fees from MySuper products.” Schedule 1 of the bill amends the Corporations Act to require financial services providers under an ongoing fee arrangement to provide clients with a fee statement each year.


FASEA to be wound up and some functions moved to Treasury
In a media release, the Federal Government has announced that the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) is to be dissolved, with some elements of its functions to be taken over by the Financial Services and Credit Panel (FSCP) within the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). Its standard-making functions will move to the Treasury and standards set by legislative instrument.


ATO provides helpful map to the maze of turnover thresholds and business concessions
Clients can be understandably confused when it comes to the many concessions made available in regard to deductions, the calculation of income tax, record-keeping and the available concessions on different taxes such as GST, CGT, FBT and more - not confused about the concessions per se, but the many and varied thresholds that apply to determine eligibility (probably quite a few readers would admit to similar head-scratching at times). Clarification has now been issued by the ATO in the form of tables that spell out what concession is available under which levels of turnover threshold, all in one place. Tip: bookmark it.


Practical compliance guideline on cross-border related party financing
PCG 2017/4, which has just been updated, deals with the ATO compliance approach to taxation issues associated with cross-border related party financing arrangements and related transactions. The guideline states that where such an arrangement is rated as low risk, the Commissioner will generally not apply compliance resources to review the taxation outcomes other than to fact-check the appropriate risk rating. If it falls outside the low risk category, the Commissioner will monitor, test and/or verify the taxation outcomes. The higher the risk rating, the more likely arrangements will be reviewed as a matter of priority.


ASIC releases technical updates to conflicted remuneration regulations
ASIC has released technical updates to Regulatory Guide 246 Conflicted and other banned remuneration to reflect recent changes to the law. The updates reflect the end of the grandfathering of conflicted remuneration for financial product advice from 1 January 2021, as well as the extension of the ban on conflicted remuneration to stamping fees paid in relation to listed investment companies and listed investment trusts (excluding real estate investment trusts) that took effect on 1 July 2020.


10 December 2020

FBT guide for employers updated to reflect small business threshold increase
Chapter 20 of the ATO’s Fringe benefits tax — a guide for employers has been updated in light of the increase in the threshold to define a small business entity from $10 million to $50 million from 1 April 2021. This is relevant for exemptions for certain work-related items and small business car parking (which is also under review).


The Commissioner flexes his discretionary remedial muscle
The Commissioner of Taxation's “remedial power” is a discretionary option that can be used in limited circumstances to resolve smaller unintended outcomes in the taxation and superannuation law. This ATO page provides an index of the Commissioner's use of this power (with one example as recent as this month), and provides links to the relevant legislative instruments and explanatory material.


Banks, building societies and credit unions targeted by APRA over repurchased (repayment deferred) residential mortgage loans
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) recently identified repurchased residential mortgage loans at some authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADIs) that were subject to repayment deferral from their securitisations. In APRA’s view, this represents implicit support, which is inconsistent with a prudential standard that requires that mortgages are not repurchased by ADIs if the borrower is in hardship or the loan is of lower quality, as this would undermine the principle of a clear transfer of credit risk that is at the heart of the regulatory treatment of securitisation.


National audit office flags potential in-depth review of JobKeeper
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has stated the case for a potential audit of the JobKeeper scheme sometime in 2020-21. The ANAO says its audit would assess the effectiveness of the ATO's administration of the JobKeeper scheme, and would follow on from the Auditor-General performance audit of the ATO's management of risks related to the rapid implementation of COVID-19 economic response measures. The audit would include examination of the implementation of integrity measures designed to protect the scheme against fraud and other abuse. Separately the ABC reports that the ATO has 19 active criminal investigations into fraud against the $101 billion JobKeeper scheme. It has also issued fines to another 19 applicants to the wage subsidy program who have made false or misleading statements, and is considering penalties for another 24.


9 December 2020

JobMaker reporting obligations spelled out
A legislative instrument has been registered that spells out the reporting obligations for participants in the JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme. The ATO says it is necessary to obtain certain information from eligible employers to ensure that they can participate in the scheme, and to enable the ATO to determine the value of the payments participating employers are entitled to. The instrument also explains how reporting must be undertaken, and when reports are due. This instrument commences from 4 December 2020 and applies for all JobMaker periods commencing on or after 7 October 2020.


BAS and tax agent fast key code for ATO telephone support
The ATO has provided a fast key code guide to the BAS agent phone services that it offers, so that agents can find the right phone number for the topic they need. Before phoning, it may pay to check the BAS agent online services guide to get the most out of the ATO’s online services. There is a similar fast key code guide for tax agents, as well as a corresponding online services guide.


ATO’s interest rates updated for GIC and SIC, January – March 2021
There are new general interest charge (GIC) rates and shortfall interest charge (SIC) rates published on the ATO website, applying for the period from 1 January 2021 to 31 March 2021. They are 7.02% GIC, compounding at 0.01923288% a day, and 3.02% SIC, compounding at 0.00827397% a day.


SAR lodgment must be preceded by appointing an approved auditor
In view of the upcoming silly season, and so that important lodgment requirements don’t slip through the cracks, the ATO is reminding SMSF trustees that the first step in completing an SMSF annual return (SAR) is to appoint an approved auditor at least 45 days before the lodging deadline. If a client’s due date is, for example, 28 February 2021, the latest they can appoint an auditor is 13 January 2021. Given that this is usually a very quiet time of the year, it may pay to remind clients of this fact if they want to ensure seamless compliance for their fund. Failing to lodge the SAR by the due date can have unwanted consequences, such as the regulation details of the SMSF being removed from Super Fund Lookup (SFLU), and the potential loss of tax concessions.


Update to landholding valuation ruling for Victoria
SRO Victoria has issued revenue ruling DA-060v2, issued 7 December 2020 but with effect 19 June 2019, which outlines the type of valuation evidence, and the circumstances where this may be needed, when determining whether a company or unit trust scheme is a landholder as well as the amount of duty payable. From June last year, a land holding is also deemed to include an economic entitlement, as well as an interest in fixtures, that may be separate to the land.


8 December 2020

JobMaker rules released, with added integrity teeth
The draft JobMaker rules have been sketched out by Tax & Super recently, but just last Friday the final rules for the measure were released via a legislative instrument, which differs from the draft rules we’d previously had access to in a number of ways. One of the stand-out differences is the integrity measures in place in the final rules that are to act to prevent employers gaining access to JobMaker payments by dubious means (such as sacking older workers to then employ younger eligible workers). The integrity rules are set out in section 29 of the instrument.


Ask your clients to check now if RAM authorisations are about to expire
The ATO advises that if your client is a “primary person” they can only be linked to an organisation in Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) for up to 12 months. Especially in the lead up to the coming summer break, the ATO says it could pay for your clients to check if they need to renew their links or authorisations in RAM before these expire.


Payment plan process changes
From early December, practitioners may have noticed a change in the ATO’s payment plan service. It says that payment plans have been updated “to provide a more tailored plan to better suit your client's circumstances”. The online services for agents portal is now set up so that payment plans for your clients can be initiated and commenced without the need to contact the ATO. You can set up a payment plan if your client has an existing debit amount under $100,000 (total balance or overdue amounts), and hasn't defaulted on a payment plan for the relevant account more than twice in the past two years.


Taxation 2020 in review (OECD data)
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has released some statistics regarding taxation revenue for 2020 as well as statistics on consumption tax trends for the year. The revenue statistics cover data on government tax revenues from OECD countries for the period 1985 to 2019. Consumption tax data covers VAT/GST and excise rates, trends and policy issues. The OECD made the observation (that we would naturally assume) that COVID-19 will have been likely to significantly affect tax revenues in 2020, although from the data it seems that the main source of the reduced revenues has come from consumption taxes such as Australia's GST.


7 December 2020

$10,000 cash payment ban plan quashed in Senate
Legislation introduced more than a year ago, the Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill 2019, has been unanimously voted down in the Senate, described by one Senator as “officially dead”. The bill had previously had support in the upper house, which would have made it a criminal offense for entities to make or accept cash payments of $10,000 or more. The change in sentiment, with other factors in play of course, has been attributed to the intervening COVID-19 induced economic turmoil.


Taxpayer alert on imputation benefits on derivative instrument
The ATO has issued a taxpayer alert regarding structured arrangements to give access to imputation benefits on listed equities acquired where risk is offset through the use of derivative instruments. TA 2020/5 states that the ATO is reviewing arrangements that are intended to provide imputation benefits to Australian taxpayers in respect of a parcel of shares where, as a result of the arrangement making use of derivative instruments, the taxpayer retains no or nominal economic exposure to the dividend and capital performance associated with that parcel of shares.


The end is nigh for paper activity statements
The ATO has issued guidance that indicates that the days of having activity statements issued on paper are fast approaching dinosaur status. It says that when an activity statement is lodged electronically through one of four channels — online services for agents, the practitioner lodgment service (PLS), Standard Business Reporting (SBR) enabled software, or when a client links their myGov account to the ATO — paper statements from then on will not be issued. One last paper statement may be sent out if the first electronic lodgment is after the activity statement generate date, but the ATO says electronic filing should be maintained thereafter.


ATO inviting “neighbourhood watch” type evasion tip-offs
The ATO says it is interested in any COVID-19, JobKeeper, phoenix, tax evasion and black economy tip-offs you may have about members of the community who gain an unfair advantage by intentionally doing the wrong thing. As a tax professional, the ATO posits that you may see others representing themselves as tax professionals when they are not, or be concerned about the inappropriate conduct of a client's previous tax professional, (consider voluntary disclosure so your client avoids possible penalties and interest charges), or hear about clients who have been offered, or are involved in potential tax avoidance schemes.


4 December 2020

Some JobKeeper entities can elect to exclude government grants from turnover
A form has been provided by the ATO to elect to exclude government grants from the JobKeeper turnover test. The election is only available to entities that are a charity registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), and not a university or school. The election cannot be cancelled once it is made, applies to all decline in turnover tests, and can only be made if, by applying the election, the entity still meets the original decline in turnover test and the actual decline in turnover test for JobKeeper extension 1.


Economic activity makes a partial comeback, according to ABS
While the quarter to June 2020 suffered a -7% decline in activity, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that the quarter to September showed a partial recovery in that economic activity, while still in decline, was shown to be less of a fall at -3.8%. The ABS says this indicates a seasonally adjusted rise in economic activity of 3.3%. It says household spending drove the economy, rising 7.9% due to increased spending on both goods and services.


Parliamentary library issues paper on OECD’s approach to multinational tax
The paper, Multinational tax: the OECD’s Pillar One proposal, seeks to provide background information about the OECD’s attempts to provide countries with a “fair share” of tax from highly digitalised multinationals that have a significant economic presence, but a limited, or no, physical presence in the host country (broadly known as the Pillar One proposal).


Mark this on your calendar: ATO’s closure dates over Christmas/New Year
The ATO says it will close for the festive season at midday Thursday 24 December 2020 and reopen Monday 4 January 2021. For those planning on working during this period, it recommends checking this system maintenance page first which will be updated with the details of all upcoming maintenance. See this page for details of the availability of operational dashboards, lodgment, the super clearing house and more.


3 December 2020

Report into TPB leads government to reconsider accountants’ advisory role in super
The final report into the TPB recently released has prompted the Federal Government to review what advice accountants and tax practitioners can or cannot provide to clients in regard to superannuation. This is in light of the removal of the accountants’ exemption. One of the recommendations in the final report, which the government has indicated it agrees with (see recommendation 7.2), states: “Having recommended the regulatory burden on tax (financial) advisers is to be reduced, the review believes it is reasonable that a similar level playing field should be considered for accountants.” Although the government says consideration will also be given to recommendations in this area stemming from the Hayne report.


Guide released by Federal Government on payment times reporting scheme
The Department of Industry has released a guide on the required transparency from large businesses to small businesses in order to comply with the reporting requirements of the payment times reporting scheme that was legislated earlier this year. The scheme comes into force from 1 January 2021.


SA will be handing out more $100 COVID recovery vouchers soon
The South Australian Tourism Commission’s $4 million voucher scheme launched in October provided $100 vouchers for use at participating CBD hotels, and $50 vouchers to spend in regional and suburban accommodation as part of a significant tourism stimulus package to further boost the visitor economy and local jobs. And they are coming back! The SA Government has announced that a second round, which will be expanded to interstate visitors, will launch from 5 January 2021. Bookmark this page and come back then.


Screen production in Australia gets a tax incentive boost
The Federal Government is to provide $30 million in funding to Screen Australia over two years to support the production of Australian drama, documentary and children’s film and television content. A large portion of the increased support is to come from the harmonisation of the refundable Producer Offset to a flat 30% for eligible television and feature film content. See this fact sheet for more details.


2 December 2020

JobKeeper deadlines extended for Christmas/New Year period
The ATO has extended the date that employees need to be paid for JobKeeper fortnight 20 from Sunday 3 January 2021 to Monday 4 January 2021. Also, for JobKeeper fortnights 21 and 22 only (from 4 January and 18 January respectively), the wage condition will be satisfied if payments are made to employees by 31 January 2021. See this ATO page and scroll down to just below the table “JobKeeper fortnights”.


ATO’s own performance scorecard has a few red marks this tax time
The ATO regularly publishes its current year service commitment performance, based on a set of criteria with an achievement status ranked by a colour-coded “on-target or not” score — a green tick for satisfactory, an amber horizontal line for a marginal miss of less than two percentage points from the target measure, and a red X for a larger fail. The self-assessed scorecard for the latest month, to 31 October, is mostly a well-deserved green, but there is one service commitment marked with a red “fail”, with another two dismally so. Its commitment to resolve 85% of taxpayer complaints within 15 business days was in the red (just) for delivering an 82% score. However the commitments to finalise 60% of SG employee notification cases within four months scored a poor 14% of the 60% aspired-to score, and 57% of the hoped-for 90% finalisation within nine months.


Data match program announced for online selling
The Commissioner has announced via the Commonwealth Gazette that the ATO will conduct a data matching program. The ATO will acquire data on Australian sales made through online selling platforms for 2018-19 through to 2022-23 financial years. These records will be electronically matched with ATO data holdings to identify non-compliance with registration, lodgment, reporting and payment obligations under taxation laws. The data collected may contain client identification details and the account details of individuals and businesses.


1 December 2020

e-Invoicing consultation has eye on mandatory adoption
Treasury has issued for consultation an options paper containing scenarios looking at the mandatory adoption of electronic invoicing by businesses. Treasury says it will also consult broadly with industry representatives and other interested parties on the topics discussed in this consultation paper. It notes that according to Deloitte Access Economics estimates, every time an e‑Invoice replaces a paper invoice it can deliver up to $20 in cost savings to the businesses involved. Interested parties are invited to comment on the issues raised in this paper by 18 January 2021.


JobKeeper uptake far fewer than expected
The Federal Government has indicated that its data shows that around 450,000 fewer businesses and around 2 million fewer employees qualified for JobKeeper in October than in September. Around 86% of workers qualified for the Tier 1 payment of $1,200 per fortnight, with around 14% on the Tier 2 payment of $750 per fortnight.


Rental deferral determination for SMSFs now in force
As a result of the financial impacts of COVID-19, some self-managed super fund trustees have needed to provide rental relief in the form of deferrals to a related party tenant. The determination to allow this, SPR 2020/2 (Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (COVID-19 Rental income deferrals – In-house Asset Exclusion) Determination 2020) is now registered and became effective from 27 November 2020.


Proposed changes to FBT record keeping still on the cards
The ATO is reminding employers and their tax agents that the Federal Government has proposed that it will provide the Commissioner of Taxation with the power to allow employers to rely on alternative records, such as existing corporate records where adequate to finalise their FBT returns. This would be an alternative to employee declarations and other prescribed records. When enacted, the change will have effect from the start of the first FBT year (1 April) after the date of royal assent of the legislation, which cannot be earlier than 1 April 2021.


30 November 2020

HomeBuilder scheme extended to 31 March 2021
The Federal Government has announced that the HomeBuilder scheme will be extended past its previous expiry date of 1 January 2021 to the end of March. Price caps are to be raised during the extension period for builds in NSW and Victoria (from $750,000 to $950,000 NSW and $850,000 Victoria), but the size of the grants will decrease to $15,000 (down from $25,000). The reduced grant is for building contracts (new builds and substantial renovations) signed between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2021 inclusive, however the extended deadline is for all applications, including for the original $25,000 grant and the new $15,000 grant. Applications can now be submitted up until 14 April 2021 (inclusive). This will apply to all eligible contracts signed on or after 4 June 2020. Government data (scroll down) shows that as at 20 November nearly 24,000 grants have been applied for.


Government response to TPB review raises spectre of heavy sanctions for errant agents
In response to the released review of the Tax Practitioners Board, which has been welcomed by the TPB, the government has agreed to 20 of the 28 recommendations the review put forward. Misconduct by tax practitioners has come under focus, with options floated for permanent disbarment from the tax profession, enforceable undertakings, interim suspensions, quality assurance audits, infringement notices, and external interventions to wind up a practice. Recommendations also include a call to introduce a new administrative penalty regime, administered by the ATO, to impose penalties on tax practitioners who demonstrate an intentional disregard of the taxation laws.


Changes to incumbent ABN arrangements
New regulations, to commence 1 April 2021, have been registered. The New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Regulations 2020 put in place improvements to the operation of the Australian Business Number system before the existing regulations sunset. While the changes do not substantially affect the operations of the ABN system, improvements have been made by repealing redundant provisions, simplifying language and restructuring provisions for ease of navigation.


27 November 2020

Good news for some to hold on to over the weekend
The extra COVID-19 economic support payments announced by the Federal Government recently will start to hit people’s accounts next week. Eligible recipients will receive two separate $250 payments, with the first to be paid progressively from 30 November 2020 and the second from 1 March 2021. The payments will support more than 2.5 million Age Pensioners, about 400,000 self-funded retirees with a Commonwealth Seniors Health card, more than 1 million people with disabilities and carers, 760,000 low-income families as well as other eligible pensioners and veterans.


Victoria’s Sole Trader Support Fund deadline extended
Applications for Victoria’s Sole Trader Support Fund are now open until 30 December to assist more sole trader businesses in specific industries with their transition to "COVID normal". Grants of $3,000 are available to help with overhead costs. Apply with Business Victoria.


How many jobs did JobKeeper keep?
The Reserve Bank has produced a paper studying the outcomes of the JobKeeper payment scheme and the extent to which JobKeeper cushioned employment losses in the first four months of the program. To do this, the RBA researchers used worker-level data from the Labour Force Survey and an identification strategy that "exploits a threshold in eligibility to infer causality". The paper does not consider the longer-run effects of JobKeeper on employment or the indirect channels through which JobKeeper may have affected employment.


Clients may need to act now to beat the early-release-of-super Christmas rush
The ATO advises that should clients be contemplating accessing some early released super under this COVID-19 support measure, time is short. If they apply through ATO online services in myGov before 11 December 2020, the ATO says in most cases this should allow enough time for it to process their application. Note that if early release is based on compassionate grounds, the deadline is 4 December. Applications cannot be accepted after 31 December. If clients have trouble applying online, there is one more last-minute window of opportunity where they can call 1300 662 211 for assistance between 29 and 31 December 2020 (10am and 6pm AEDT).


26 November 2020

First Peoples’ COVID-19 Business Support Fund
Applications are now open for the First Peoples’ COVID-19 Business Support Fund. Aboriginal businesses that have been affected by the pandemic, such as through temporary closure or trading restrictions, can apply for grants of up to $10,000 to help them get back on their feet. Applications with Business Victoria are open until 29 January 2021 or until funds are exhausted, whichever is earlier.


APRA publishes superannuation statistics to September 2020 quarter
APRA has released its quarterly superannuation performance publication and the quarterly MySuper statistics report for the September 2020 quarter. Among its findings was a 1.6% reduction in the value of total superannuation assets over the 12 months to 30 September 2020, which was primarily a result of investment losses sustained across the industry during the March quarter.


First home owner state budget boost for regional Victorians
In case you missed it, also announced (scroll down) in the Victorian budget was that the First Home Owner Grant of $20,000 for new homes built or bought in regional Victoria will be extended by 12 months to apply for contracts of sale entered into before 30 June 2021.


Cheers: Some Sydney pubs are doubling the NSW Government's shout
The Sydney Collective – which includes Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel, Balcony Byron Bay, The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room, Imperial Erskineville, Park House, Northies, Daniel San and Republic Hotel – has announced it will double the value of the $25 “Out & About” vouchers the NSW Government is handing out to six million Sydney residents when they present them at any of the group’s venues. Sydney Collective says it wants to support the communities who have helped keep the local watering holes alive during the time of COVID-19.


25 November 2020

Victorian Budget handed down
Highlights include more than $2 billion in tax deferrals, including allowing businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million to defer their 2020-21 payroll tax liabilities for up to 12 months. There will also be a full refund and waiver of 2019-20 payroll tax for small and medium businesses, as well as exempting businesses in Victoria participating in the JobKeeper program from payroll tax and WorkCover premiums on additional wages paid to staff who were stood down or earned less than the JobKeeper payment. Businesses will get a tax credit of 10 cents for every dollar increase in taxable Victorian wages. The Government is also waiving 2020 and 2021 liquor licence fees, while the 2020-21 Fire Services Property Levy is frozen at the 2019-20 revenue target. Increases to the landfill levy have also been deferred. Also, for contracts entered into from 25 November to 30 June 2021, there will be a stamp duty concession of up to 50 cents in the dollar for homes valued at up to $1 million. Relief will be targeted at newly built or “off-the-plan” homes, which will receive the 50% waiver. Existing homes will be eligible for a 25% waiver. See the full suite of Victorian Budget papers here.


Free TPB webinars today; so register NOW
The TPB is hosting two free webinars for tax practitioners today. At 11am AEDT the topic is professional indemnity insurance (register here), and at 3pm AEDT (register here) the TPB will showcase its compliance projects and its focus on targeting those cases with the highest risk. It will also share some recent compliance case studies.


Responsible lending changes resisted by consumer group coalition
A coalition of consumer advocates have published a submission to Treasury on exposure draft legislation that the group says would repeal responsible lending laws in the National Consumer Credit Protection Act. The submission (which is not yet published on the Treasury site) provides detailed analysis, including case studies, about what the group labels as concerning implications of the proposals.


24 November 2020

Corporate regulator consults on reference checks for financial advisers and mortgage brokers
ASIC has released a consultation paper, Implementing the Royal Commission recommendations: Reference checking and information sharing, which is looking for feedback on its proposed approach to implementing aspects of certain law reforms arising from the Hayne Royal Commission recommendations.


Your client should talk to you, but if not, here are the ATO's business wind-up red flags
Ideally your clients, when considering pausing, changing or closing their business due to the current economic conditions, will talk to you. But you could do them a favour and warn them about untrustworthy advisers who may recommend inappropriate or illegal behaviour. This could include illegal phoenix activity, where businesses intentionally remove their assets prior to winding up so that they can be used in a copy of the original business. The ATO has a list of red flags to watch for.


ATO is to call entities it believes have outstanding associated schedules
Depending on the information provided in an income tax return, the entity involved may have an obligation to lodge an associated schedule. In the coming weeks, the ATO will be contacting publicly listed and multinational business clients that have outstanding income tax schedule obligations. As their authorised tax adviser, you may be required to be involved.


Financial institutions needing to file a FATCA report
A Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) report is required from reporting Australian financial institutions every calendar year. The ATO has provided a “Small Reporter Tool” user guide to aid those required to lodge a FACTA.


23 November 2020

More businesses to qualify for full expensing asset write off
Treasury has announced that the Federal Government is to expand the eligibility rules for the full expensing of assets to allow for a new alternative test to access the temporary measure. To satisfy the new test, companies must have less than $5 billion in total statutory and ordinary income (excluding non-assessable non-exempt income) in either the 2018‑19 or 2019‑20 income year; and invested more than $100 million in tangible depreciating assets in the period 2016‑17 to 2018‑19. Treasury says the change will mean businesses with an aggregated turnover of more than $5 billion due to the income of an overseas parent or associate will now be able to qualify provided they meet the additional investment requirements.


JobMaker ‘rules’ still open for suggestions and input
While the JobMaker Hiring Credit legislation has passed into law, the rules that govern the operational realities of this measure are still subject to consultation. But you’ll have to be quick, as submissions close at the end of this week.


ASIC releases consumer research on insurance in super
ASIC has released independent research on the experiences of superannuation fund members who directly engaged with their fund about insurance held through superannuation. The report, Consumer engagement in insurance in super, presents findings from research exploring the experiences of super fund members, who were not using a financial adviser and directly contacted their fund to make inquiries about or make changes to their insurance arrangements.


Guidance on remission of SG charge and penalty relief
Practice Statement PS LA 2020/4 sets out what ATO officers will need to consider in making a decision on the remission, in whole or part, of the additional super guarantee charge (SGC) imposed under subsection 59(1) of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 (SGAA) where an employer fails to lodge a super guarantee (SG) statement by the lodgment due date. This additional SGC is referred to as the Part 7 penalty. The PS LA 2020/4 also sets out when penalty relief is appropriate to be applied.


20 November 2020

No more activity statement notification emails to registered agents
The ATO has issued a statement notifying practitioners that it will no longer be sending activity statement notices by email. Your clients' monthly and quarterly activity statements will be available online by the 16th of each month before they are due. The ATO says you can use on-demand reports to check when activity statements are due, which will help you and your clients take action or vary instalment activity statement amounts on time, if needed. Guidance on setting up on-demand reports can be found on this ATO page.


Tasmania’s Terrorism Insurance Act and general insurance premiums guidance
The State Revenue Office of Tasmania has issued a guideline explaining the calculation of duties payable on insurance premiums collected under the state’s Terrorism Insurance Act 2003. The guideline provides that duty paid on a premium regarding general insurance is calculated on the total consideration received, including GST and Fire Service Levy paid, so as to affect the insurance.


TPB says declaration concessions don’t mean you can drop the ball completely
The TPB has issued a reminder to practitioners that although it has eased up on the deadline on annual declarations (with an exemption if it’s due on or before 30 June 2021), you are still required to meet the ongoing obligations to maintain your tax agent, BAS agent or tax (financial) adviser registration. You still need to maintain professional indemnity (PI) insurance, undertake continuing professional education (CPE), satisfy fit and proper requirements, and comply with the Code of Professional Conduct, including maintaining your personal tax obligations.


Ruling issued on managed investment trust non-concessional income
Law companion ruling LCR 2020/2 outlines the ATO’s aim to improve the integrity of the income tax law for arrangements involving stapled structures, and to limit tax concessions for foreign investors in a managed investment trust (MIT). The provisions apply to increase the withholding rate on fund payments by MITs, to the extent they are attributable to non-concessional MIT income, to 30%.


19 November 2020

Be prepared: Next 5,000 streamlined assurance review
The ATO says practitioners' clients may be picked at random for a Next 5,000 streamlined assurance review. It says the evidence typically requested includes matters of group structure, that any misalignment between accounting and tax results is explainable and appropriate, the right amount of tax on profit from Australia-linked business is being recognised in Australia, matters of tax governance and risk management, transactions, acquisitions and disposals, plus that tax risks are flagged to the market.


Consultation open regarding COVID-19 commercial leasing income tax and GST obligations for landlords and tenants
As part of the COVID-19 stimulus package, the Federal Government issued a national mandatory code of conduct for commercial leasing. This applies to commercial tenants with an annual turnover of up to $50 million that are also eligible to receive JobKeeper payments for eligible employees. It contains a number of principles that apply to negotiating amendments in good faith to existing leasing arrangements. The ATO is seeking targeted consultation to obtain feedback on proposed COVID-19 commercial leasing income tax and GST obligations fact sheets for landlords and tenants.


NSW budget extends COVID-19 land tax relief
The NSW Government’s COVID-19 land tax relief for landowners has been extended to 28 March 2021 in modified form. To be eligible for relief, from 1 January 2021 to 28 March 2021 the lease must be a retail lease, the annual turnover of the tenant must be less than $5 million, and the tenant needs to re-establish eligibility by demonstrating a 30% decline in turnover (15% for non-profits) for the December quarter 2020. (See page 4-4 of this Budget Paper.)


Guideline issued on Tasmania’s home business land tax concession
The Tasmanian State Revenue Office has issued a guideline paper on the eligibility requirements for the state’s qualifying home business concession. It explains the eligibility requirements of the concession and the responsibility for landowners to satisfy the Commissioner that a business is a qualifying home business.


Extension of the Child Care Subsidy
If your clients have not submitted their 2018-19 tax returns, they can still access the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) until 31 March 2021, the ATO says. While additional time has been granted to access the CCS, this doesn’t mean your clients have an extension of time to lodge their 2018-19 income tax returns. If your clients do not need to lodge you should notify the ATO if lodgment is not required and tell your clients to let Services Australia know. If your clients receive Family Tax Benefit and did not confirm their family income by 30 June 2020, they should phone the Services Australia families line. Services Australia can assist those who had special circumstances preventing them or their partner from lodging before the deadline.


18 November 2020

Consultation open regarding JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme and STP
The freshly legislated JobMaker Hiring Credit, the new incentive for businesses to employ additional young job seekers, is to be administered by the ATO. To be eligible, employers must hold an Australian business number (ABN), be up-to-date with their tax lodgement obligations, be registered for pay-as-you-go (PAYG) withholding, and be reporting through Single Touch Payroll. The ATO is currently taking steps to seek targeted consultation and feedback on the impacts for Single Touch Payroll reporting for the JobMaker Hiring Credit.


Parliamentary Budget Office releases costings and budget analyses
The Parliamentary Budget Office has publicly released some reports on costings, either because they were not requested on a confidential basis, or following advice from the parliamentarian who made the initial inquiry they are no longer confidential. Reports released include Loss of public revenue and a distributional analysis of the tax cuts packages, Impact of accelerating Stage 2 personal income tax cuts, Exempting historic vehicle imports from the luxury car tax, Increase JobSeeker Payment and more.


NSW budget lifts payroll tax threshold, cuts rate
The NSW state budget delivered yesterday increased the payroll tax threshold from $1 million to $1.2 million. The rate was cut from 5.45% to 4.85%, and backdated to 1 July 2020, which will remain for two years. Elsewhere it was announced that businesses that are under the payroll tax threshold will receive $1,500 digital vouchers to cover government fees. Also 15 hours of free preschool per week is to be extended to the end of 2021, and $100 worth of “Out & About” vouchers will be distributed to every adult resident. The state is also launching a public consultation on enabling home buyers to opt out of stamp duty and instead choose a smaller annual property tax.


Reminder for clients: Make sure there’s no unrecognised JobKeeper ‘eligible business participants’
The ATO has published information targeted to taxpayers to make sure there are no previously un-identified eligible business participants who may qualify for JobKeeper payments. It says an eligible business participant is an individual who’s not an employee of the business but is actively engaged in its operation. For example, they might manage the sale of the business’s goods, or exercise control over the business’s strategy.


17 November 2020

Extended payroll tax relief in two states
Three states handed down their delayed 2020-21 budgets last week. While the Northern Territory budget focused on providing support for small businesses, South Australia and Tasmania have extended payroll tax relief. South Australia’s payroll tax concessions introduced for COVID-19 have been extended for another six months for the period covering January to June 2021 for businesses with grouped Australian wages up to $4 million (waiver) and for businesses with grouped Australian wages over $4 million and eligible for JobKeeper (deferral). Tasmania’s Payroll Tax Rebate Scheme is being extended to 30 June 2022 for apprentices and trainees and will now cover all industries (this was previously limited to building, construction, tourism, hospitality and manufacturing) and for all youth employees (aged between 15 and 24). The NSW state budget will be handed down today. Revisit this site for the budget papers later today.


Being eligible for GST margin scheme
The ATO is keen for practitioners’ clients to know that they can avoid the common errors made when selling property using the margin scheme by making sure suppliers meet the eligibility criteria, calculate the margin correctly, and report the amount of the margin on the sale at G1 Total sales – not the full amount of payment received.


Post pandemic landlord-renter dynamics
A research paper from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute investigates the mental and economic wellbeing of landlords and tenants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For landlords and tenants that have lost employment, had reduced income, or are seeking employment, the pandemic leaves a challenging financial situation for meeting rent or mortgage payments. Read the paper here, or the executive summary.


16 November 2020

Report published on post-COVID Tasmanian economy
A report has just been published by the Centre for Future Work titled The Choices We Make: The Economic Future of Tasmania. This report analyses the economic effects of COVID-19 on Tasmania, and suggests how Tasmania can rebuild its way out of the crisis. It also makes some key recommendations, and has explored what the shape of Tasmania’s economy could look like, and how it can recover and reconstruct after this pandemic.


APRA releases paper for consultation on revised cross-industry remuneration standard
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has released for consultation a revised remuneration prudential standard designed to strengthen market practice, underpin sound remuneration practices and enhance accountability in the institutions it regulates. The new draft standard responds to industry feedback from the initial consultation, sets robust minimum standards for APRA-regulated entities and addresses the relevant Royal Commission recommendations.


Commissioner has the discretion to retain a refund
A new draft law administration practice statement (PS LA 2020/D2) spells out the Commissioner’s extended discretion to retain refunds where the taxpayer has an outstanding notification which could affect the amount of the refund. The amending legislation commenced on 1 April 2020 and does not limit the Commissioner’s application of the extension to this discretion. The guidance says the discretion is intended to be exercised where there are reasonable grounds to believe the taxpayer is displaying high-risk behaviour, such as phoenix-type activities. The ATO will issue written communication notifying a taxpayer of the amount retained and outstanding notifications to be lodged.


ATO reminds SMSF auditors of an often forgotten obligation
The ATO says that if an auditor is appointed to audit an SMSF, and they identify a contravention of SISA in the course of undertaking that audit, but their engagement is terminated before they finalise the audit (and give the trustees a report on the fund’s operations), the reporting obligation still exists.


13 November 2020

ASIC to extend “no action” position in face of continued COVID conditions
ASIC has announced that it will extend the deadline for both listed and unlisted entities to lodge financial reports under Chapters 2M and 7 of the Corporations Act (the Act) by one month for certain balance dates up to and including 7 January 2021 balance dates. The extended deadlines for lodgement of financial reports will assist those entities whose reporting processes take additional time due to current remote work arrangements, travel restrictions and other impacts of COVID-19.


Penalties to be introduced for unfair contract terms
Following discussions at the Consumer Affairs Forum last week, the Commonwealth and state and territory governments have agreed to strengthen existing unfair contract term protections in the Australian Consumer Law, by making unfair terms unlawful and giving courts the power to impose a civil penalty; expanding the definition of small business and removing the requirement for a contract to be below a certain threshold; and improving clarity on when the protections apply, including on what is a ‘standard form contract’. Further detail on the reforms is available on the Treasury website.


TPRS client contacting push from ATO
The ATO says it will soon start contacting some businesses and contractors (excluding Victorian businesses) to help them understand the Taxable payments reporting system (TPRS). Clients contacted will be those who provide cleaning, courier or road freight, IT, surveillance, investigation or security services. Some of these businesses and contractors may be your clients, and the ATO will contact you if they prefer.


JobKeeper enrolment deadline for November fortnights
Your JobKeeper recipient clients should be aware that to claim payments for the November JobKeeper fortnights, they must enrol by 30 November.


New resource webpage for SuperStream Rollovers
The ATO has launched a new SuperStream Rollovers v3 web page as a central repository for all onboarding and implementation documents. CRT alert 047/2020 will assist APRA-regulated funds and digital service providers (DSPs) in the transition to SuperStream Rollover v3 and SMSF DSPs in implementing SuperStream Rollover v3 (which will include SMSFs from 31 March 2021).


12 November 2020

Tasmania to extend payroll tax rebates
The Tasmanian Premier has announced that the upcoming state budget will include an extension of payroll tax relief in the form of rebates. This includes extending the current payroll tax rebate for all youth employees for a further 18 months, extending the rebate for apprentices and trainees for a further 12 months, and extending both rebates to all industry sectors. It will also be extending the Targeted Apprentice and Trainee Grant for Small Business to any small business that employs an apprentice or trainee until 30 June 2022.


WA de facto couples and splitting superannuation
The Family Law Amendment (Western Australia De Facto Superannuation Splitting and Bankruptcy) Bill 2019 has been passed by the lower house. The bill gives effect to a referral of power from WA to the Commonwealth in respect of superannuation matters in family law proceedings for separating de facto couples in WA, extends federal bankruptcy jurisdiction to the Family Court of Western Australia to hear bankruptcy proceedings concurrently with family law proceedings, and provides for transitional arrangements.


Payment due date for company and super clients
Companies and superannuation funds have a variety of lodgment due dates determined by registration type or income reported in their last return. If you have company or super fund clients who have a lodgment due date of 15 January 2021, their payment is due by 1 December 2020. To check if your clients have a 1 December payment due date use Online services for agents or the practitioner lodgment service.


NT 2020-21 budget includes its own boost to the Federal JobMaker hiring credit scheme
The Northern Territory budget, handed down this week, has the NT’s own incentive to hire younger unemployed locals. Small businesses that hire a Territorian in receipt of JobSeeker payments will receive the new JobMaker Booster wage subsidy at the weekly rate of $100 for new employees aged 30 to 35 years, and $200 for new employees aged over 35 years. The budget also extends the stamp duty homeowner assistance scheme from the original end date of 30 November 2020 to 30 June 2021.


11 November 2020

Don’t leave tasks to weekend, because ATO systems will be down
Practitioners should note that the ATO’s systems are undergoing some much needed maintenance this coming weekend (14-15 November). Online services will be unavailable for both taxpayers and tax practitioners from 6am AEDT Saturday and are expected to be back by 11pm Sunday. Note that the deadline for the next monthly JobKeeper declarations is also 14 November, but the ATO says it will continue to process reimbursements past that due date. You can visit the ATO website for a full list of systems and planned systems maintenance.


JobSeeker COVID-19 supplement extended, but at reduced rate
The coronavirus supplement for JobSeeker recipients is to be extended until the end of March 2021. That fortnightly supplement, initially $550 and currently $250, was due to expire at Christmas. The extended supplement however is to be reduced by $100. The change will require legislation as amendments to the original bill in the Senate provided broad powers to the Minister for Families and Social Services to change any payment rate via a legislative instrument, however these powers will expire on 31 December 2020.


NSW endorsement of instruments to no longer trigger duty
NSW State Revenue has approved procedures for endorsement of duty on an instrument processed through Electronic Duties Returns (EDRs) and eDuties. The office says in transitioning to fully digital conveyancing, there is no longer a requirement to endorse instruments using a duty stamp.


SA state budget includes boost to COVID-19 personal financial support
The state budget of the South Australian Government, released yesterday, included a $330 million package over three years in response to the pandemic. This includes a Cost of Living Concession, so that households that receive the JobSeeker payment also receive a once-off boost of $500. For eligible homeowners, the 2020-21 payment of $215.10 becomes $715.10, and eligible tenants receive $607.60. Also a $300 payment will be provided to those who need to self-isolate. Hospital staff will be provided with free parking and free public transport for the duration of the pandemic.


Free kinder and child care for Victorians in 2021
The Victorian Government is to provide free kindergarten for 2021 and support for more outside school hours care. Subsidies will be offered to early childhood services providing funded kindergarten programs – meaning free kinder for four-year-olds and eligible three-year-olds attending a participating sessional kinder.


10 November 2020

SA launches second round of cash grants
Thousands of South Australian small businesses that continue to be impacted by COVID-19 will be eligible for a second $10,000 cash grant, the SA Government has announced. And for the first time the SA Government will introduce a $3,000 cash grant for eligible businesses that do not employ staff, including sole traders and partnerships, operating from a commercial premise and suffering financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.


JobKeeper disputes entailing Fair Work elements
The Fair Work Commission is involved with the JobKeeper scheme in that some elements of the program cross over into Fair Work territory. Temporary JobKeeper provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 give the Fair Work Commission power to deal with some disputes, however it has limited power dealing with payments being passed on to an employee. The Commission has given examples of the disputes it can help with and those it cannot.


ATO posts activity statement forms
Available on the ATO website, download BAS P (NAT 4646), which is for taxpayers who report and pay GST (or claim a refund) annually or pay GST by instalments and report annually, BAS R (NAT 4753), which is for taxpayers who report and PAYG quarterly, and IAS N (NAT 4648), which is for taxpayers with annual PAYG instalment obligations.


9 November 2020

JobKeeper declaration problem being resolved by ATO
As reported in the Daily Update last week, there was a problem lodging JobKeeper declarations this month, with an apparent system-wide inability to select the “tier” for an employee, and communication errors between STP and the portal. Many members commented they had experienced problems. The ATO indicated in an email to Tax & Super Australia (TSA) over the weekend that the software issues affecting “tiering” were being resolved with the provider. Nevertheless we are still getting reports that the issue may not be fully fixed. We will keep you informed of further developments. Practitioners should note that October JobKeeper reporting and turnover eligibility data is so far still expected to be filed 14 November.


COVID-19 early release of super over coming holiday period
The ATO has issued CRT 043/2020, which serves as notification to funds about the end-of-year shut-down arrangements for COVID-19 early release of super applications, should applicants find their circumstances mean they need to access their super money when the ATO is usually closed for Christmas. All applications close at 11:59pm 31 December anyway, however the ATO says there may still be a small number of fund approval files into January 2021 relating to applications that require remediation. A new CRT will be issued dealing with this situation as the need arises.


NSW discretionary trust opportunity to save on duties closing soon
As reported by TSA some months ago, an opportunity for land holding discretionary trusts in NSW to save certain surcharge costs, which could add up to quite a tidy sum, is soon to be closed off for trustees. NSW land tax and duty provisions impose surcharges in relation to the acquisition and ownership of residential land by “foreign persons”, with both surcharge purchaser duty (8%) and surcharge land tax (2%) payable in addition to any other transfer duty or land tax. Legislation passed in February 2020, the State Revenue Legislation Further Amendment Bill 2019 (NSW), basically deems any trustee a foreign trustee (see schedule 2 on page 3 of this explanatory note) unless the trust deed specifically prevents a foreign person from even being a potential beneficiary. There is a time-limited window to amend discretionary trust deeds to prevent this, but that window closes at midnight on 31 December 2020.


6 November 2020

Jobs initiative launched by NSW
The NSW Government will encourage domestic and international business into NSW through payroll tax relief as part of a new $250 million Jobs Plus program, which aims to support companies who want to relocate their head offices to NSW, or expand their jobs footprint in NSW. Support will include payroll tax relief, up to a four-year period, for every new job created where a business has created at least 30 new net jobs.


BAS agents authorised to offer expanded super guarantee charge services
Following extensive consultation with key stakeholders, the Tax Practitioners Board has registered a new BAS services legislative instrument, Tax Agent Services (Specified BAS Services No. 2) Instrument 2020. The new legislative instrument allows BAS agents to provide an expanded range of services in relation to the superannuation guarantee charge, including supporting clients in their interactions with the Commissioner of Taxation.


COVID-19 and economic recovery: Webcast
Tune in for the ATO’s next tax professionals webcast next week on 12 November at 2pm AEDT. The ATO panel will discuss the necessary moves that will need to be made as the nation edges towards economic recovery at the same time as many Australians are still feeling the impact of the pandemic.


Your client STP uptake report to come soon
The ATO says it will soon be providing tax agents with a list indicating which of your clients are reporting through single touch payroll (STO) and which have yet to make the transition. It says that among other positives, reporting through STP may help some clients streamline receiving COVID-19 stimulus package support, and that practitioners should consider helping non-STP reporting clients get on board.


5 November 2020

Problems experienced with JobKeeper declarations
Members are reporting an urgent problem when lodging JobKeeper declarations this month, with an apparent system-wide inability to select the “tier” for an employee, and communication errors between STP and the portal. Reports include that the STP is being lodged by the employer or STP provider but this information is not translating correctly, if at all, to the ATO. Not being able to select a tier means declarations cannot be prepared at all. The problems have the very real potential to delay JobKeeper reimbursements to clients. The ATO’s instructions when questioned by members about this issue has been to wait 72 hours as they may still be processing the STP file. However with the 14 November deadline fast approaching, this is of little comfort to members. If you are experiencing this or similar problems, please enter a comment in the fields provided at the bottom of this page (scroll to end).


Significant SMSF reporting change buried in Treasury’s “portfolio” amendments
Treasury released Miscellaneous amendments to Treasury portfolio laws 2020 late in October, however a change to SMSF reporting has been discovered that may have implications for trustees. The explanatory statement (see page 8) states that the change to the rules will require that accounts and statements of an SMSF must be prepared at least 45 days before the day by which section 35D of that act requires a return to be lodged for the entity. This is the same day by which an approved SMSF auditor must be appointed.


First Home Super Saver deadline looms for pre-Christmas payment
The ATO is warning prospective First Home Super Saver (FHSS) scheme applicants that they may be able to receive their FHSS release amount before Christmas if they apply online by 18 November 2020. It says FHSS requests submitted after 18 November 2020 may not be finalised before Christmas. Any requests received between mid-December 2020 and 4 January 2021 will be delayed due to the Christmas/New Year holiday period.


4 November 2020

Changed conditions and status of businesses may need update with ATO
Change is inevitable in the current COVID-19 environment, and the ATO says it is aware that many organisations will have needed to adapt to the circumstances to maintain their viability. If your client’s organisation has changed recently, their tax situation may also have to be adjusted, and you may need to notify the ATO about the change.


The ATO to keep collecting visa data
The ATO collects information from the Department of Home Affairs on active and newly granted visas. Visa data for 1 March 2020 to 28 March 2021 will be used to assist in confirming eligibility for JobKeeper in instances where it is being claimed. The data is also matched against other records to ensure visa holders, visa sponsors and migration agents are meeting their tax and superannuation obligations. The ATO has released its protocol which outlines its intention to continue collecting data on visas granted in the period 2020-21 to 2022-23 financial years.


Foreign resident reportable accounts reporting
Australian financial accounts held by foreign tax residents as at 31 December 2018 collected under the common reporting standard (CRS). CRS obligations are imposed on Australian financial institutions through the operation of Subdivision 396-C of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (TAA 1953).


3 November 2020

Survey finds SA businesses back GST increase if state-based costs wound back
The seventh annual BDO State Business Survey closes tomorrow (so get in quick if you want to have a say), but early results from the first such survey since the COVID-19 era reveal a surprising change of mind from South Australian business participants. Adelaide Independent News reports that almost two-thirds of businesses who have responded have backed a GST hike as a way of boosting job creation without causing additional pain on the state’s already stretched bottom line. The 64% result is significantly up on the past three years when only about half supported a GST increase if it meant relief from state taxes.


PAYG instalments calculated in error
The ATO has recently become aware that the reduction in the company tax rate was not applied correctly from 1 July 2020 for businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million. This resulted in pay as you go instalments (PAYG) being calculated at a higher rate. This is being corrected, and the ATO will notify you or your clients if this applies to them.


Taxation outlook in a post-COVID world
The ATO’s Second Commissioner Client Engagement, Jeremy Hirschhorn, gave a speech last week in which he cast an eye on the evolving post-COVID world and how taxation will fit with the new COVID normal.


2 November 2020

Record dispute resolution actions between Victorian businesses and landlords
The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) says it has responded to a staggering 13,206 inquiries in 2019-20, many of which were from small business owners and landlords needing advice about rent relief as a result of COVID-19. After rent relief and retail leases, the big issues causing disputes were small businesses not being paid, disagreements over rights and obligations in a signed contract, and goods or services that weren’t delivered or were thought to be of poor quality.


PI insurance a priority push from TPB
The Tax Practitioners Board will be contacting tax practitioners from now onwards to check if professional indemnity (PI) insurance details are up to date with TPB records. It reminds practitioners that while annual declarations were suspended due to COVID-19, PI insurance is still a must-have for continued registration. The TPB says failure to update PI insurance details within 14 days of being notified of this requirement by the TPB will result in tax practitioners not meeting their ongoing registration requirements.


An Australian guide to the next US administration (either red or blue)
The United States Study Centre at Sydney University has produced a report for all Australians who are keenly following the US election. This publication is designed in two sections: Blue Book: What to expect in a Biden administration — and Red Book: What to expect in a second term of the Trump administration. Each section is designed to give a robust guide to the major policies of each candidate. There are some things that will stay the same under either administration.


30 October 2020

Victorian licensed hospitality venue fund
Liquor licensees who serve food and alcohol may be eligible for grants of up to $30,000 under the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund. If you believe your client is eligible and has not received an invitation to apply for a grant from Business Victoria, you may need to create a liquor portal e-Licence account. More information is available here including directions on how to apply.


Tasmanian land tax guidelines released
Tasmania’s State Revenue Office (SRO) has released several guidelines related to land tax, including the definition of a registered trustee company for the purpose of the principal residence land classification in Tasmania, also the grouping of related companies to determine the amount of land tax payable, land tax and apportionment of principal residence land in Tasmania as from 1 July 2017, the land tax exemption for a new dwelling available for long-term rental and related frequently asked questions (FAQs), and the land tax exemption for short-term visitor accommodation converted to long-term rental and related FAQs.


JobKeeper extension areas of compliance focus
The ATO states that the JobKeeper extension has brought different compliance concerns to the forefront. As well as the existing focus areas, it now has two new areas of focus for compliance with the JobKeeper extension — the actual decline-in-turnover test and claiming the incorrect higher tier rate of JobKeeper payment. It has also provided guidance about its compliance approach for eligible business participants and businesses that can’t operate.


29 October 2020

Key JobKeeper date looming large
Your employer clients should be made aware that 31 October is the due date to meet the wage condition for fortnights starting 28 September 2020 and 12 October 2020. It is also the due date for new entities enrolling for JobKeeper, and these will need to enrol and submit their “Check decline in turnover” form to the ATO online. See actual decline in turnover test.


CPI rises for September quarter
The Australian Bureau of Statistics says the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.6% in the September 2020 quarter. The September quarter rise followed a record fall of 1.9% in the June 2020 quarter, when child care was free and petrol prices fell 20% — which the ABS says were the most significant contributing factors to the rise in CPI. Significant rises were also recorded for automotive fuel (9.4%) following a rebound in world oil prices, and pre-school and primary education (11.1%). Other notable increases included furniture (6.4%), major appliances (5.3%) and small appliances (5.8%).


Business Victoria provides industry re-start guidelines
Victoria’s roadmap for re-opening outlines considered and gradual steps to ensure that businesses can re-open safely and efficiently. As Victorian businesses begin to open their doors, the priority will be the health and safety of workers and customers. Industry restart guidelines are available to help businesses in different industry sectors prepare to safely operate in accordance with the easing of restrictions.


Who wants virtual AGMs and online document execution to be permanent?
Treasury is seeking stakeholder views on exposure draft legislation that makes permanent changes to the Corporations Act 2001 in relation to virtual meetings and electronic document execution. The reforms make permanent the temporary relief, which allows companies to hold meetings virtually, send meeting-related materials electronically and validly execute documents electronically. Stakeholders are invited to have a say, but the deadline for doing so is tomorrow.


28 October 2020

JobKeeper eligible business participant still recognised if business can’t operate due to COVID
While the JobKeeper rules require an eligible business participant to be “actively engaged” in the fortnight to which a payment relates, the ATO is aware of the fact that many businesses have not been in a position to operate in an active manner due to COVID-19 restrictions. In these circumstances, the ATO says it recognises (scroll down to “Example – Business shuttered…”) that an eligible business participant may still have been actively engaged even if the business is temporarily not able to sell goods or provide its services. It says that providing the business has not ceased entirely, the eligible business participant may still be eligible.


Report on the impact of COVID-19 on parents and their children
The Australian Childhood Foundation undertook an online survey of a nationally representative sample of parents just as the first version of lockdown was being eased and prior to the second round of restrictions being put in place in Victoria. The resulting report seeks to understand more about the needs of parents and children during periods of such large scale disruption and transition related to the pandemic.


Victoria launches the state’s third “social impact bond”
The Living Learning initiative was launched this week by the Victorian Minister for Youth Ros Spence as part of the government’s Partnerships Addressing Disadvantage social impact investment program. Young people who have become disengaged from school and are living with mental health conditions will receive additional care and support to complete their schooling, under the flagship new program.


JobKeeper misdemeanours found by ATO
The ATO says it has detected some businesses that have sought to inappropriately take advantage of the benefits of JobKeeper, and that it has been firm in requiring them to repay JobKeeper overpayments. In some instances it has also applied administrative penalties and pursued offences for false and misleading statements. Examples include stating a 30% decline in turnover when the business should be in the 50% decline category, manipulating sales data to suit turnover needs, backdating employment records and more. See more details here.


27 October 2020

Melbourne COVID-19 restrictions eased: Here are the details
See this PDF (8 pages) for a summary of all restriction easing announcements made yesterday for Victoria, with effect from 11:59pm tonight and 11:59pm 8 November.


COVID-19’s wave of disadvantage across NSW
The New South Wales Council of Social Service has produced a report looking at how COVID-19 has started what it calls an “economic tsunami” that threatens to overwhelm progress towards reducing disadvantage across NSW. This report provides estimates based on international, Australian and original research on the impact of rising unemployment on disadvantage across NSW’s regions.


SMSF annual returns due within days: Apply for deferral now
Some SMSFs have a lodgment due date for the annual return of 31 October (or 2 November this year as that date is a Saturday). Should any SMSF trustee foresee difficulty completing their fund’s annual return (SAR), advice from the ATO is to apply for deferral well ahead of time. It says that any SMSF that is more than two weeks overdue on any annual return lodgment, and the trustees have not requested a deferral, will have their status changed on Super Fund Lookup to “Regulation details removed”. This status will remain until any overdue lodgments have been brought up to date.


IGTO’s annual report highlights the trends in taxation complaints
The office of the Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman (IGTO) has tabled its annual report for 2019-20. A highlight is the processing of 2,775 complaints, of which 93.7% have been finalised. The majority of complaints received (68%) were from self-represented individuals. The remaining complaints came from self-represented businesses (20%), individuals represented by another party, for example a tax practitioner, lawyer, family member or friend (9%) and represented businesses (3%). It says taxation complaints have increased 29% in five years.


26 October 2020

Legislation introduced to support those feeling brunt of COVID economic impact
A bill has been introduced to Federal Parliament, the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Coronavirus and Other Measures) Bill 2020, which contains several measures to support Australians who are experiencing negative economic consequences of COVID-19. Among these are two additional payments of $250 for pensioners and other support cardholders (about 5 million recipients) to be paid from the end of November and February. The bill also amends the independence criteria for the youth allowance, incentives to encourage agricultural employment, temporary easing of the paid parental leave work tests, and changes to infant death payments and child support.


Inaugural foreign ownership of residential land register published
The first two Insights into foreign purchases and sales of residential real estate reports publishing data from the Register of Foreign Ownership of Residential Land are now available on the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) website. Information has been extracted from the register to provide insights into the flow of purchases and sales of residential real estate by foreign persons for 2017-18 and 2018-19.


More ATO Open Forums available
With the ATO’s round of Open Forums now exclusively online, with no need to move the physical forum from location to location around the country, greater coverage of topics for tax practitioners can now be organised. The ATO has now opened up for bookings for its Open Forum schedule for November and December. As mentioned in a recent 5 minute update, the topic du jour up to the end of October has been COVID-19 and support on offer to practitioners. The new round of “conversations” includes e-invoicing, what has been delivered for myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) and the features to come in future releases, and the ATO’s key focus areas for quarter 4 updates and the development plan for 2021. There are also special sessions specifically for BAS agents. See the upcoming schedule and book here (CPD value).


23 October 2020

ABS: Less reporting fall in turnover in October compared to July
The Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just published a report that shows the proportion of businesses reporting a fall in their monthly revenue decreased from 47% in July to 31% in October. Its latest Business Impacts of COVID-19 Survey also showed that almost three quarters (73%) of businesses had not sought additional funds over the previous six months. Almost two in five of all businesses (38%) reported that available cash on hand could sustain their business operations for six months or more, while 29% reported that cash on hand could sustain operations for less than three months.


Law companion ruling addendum for JobKeeper decline in turnover
LCR 2020/1 has an addendum that aims to clarify that the ruling addresses the original decline in turnover test introduced by the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Rules 2020 and does not cover in detail the actual decline in turnover test that was introduced as an additional requirement for JobKeeper fortnights from 28 September 2020 by the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Amendment Rules (No. 8) 2020. It also includes minor updates to reflect legislative amendments to the original decline in turnover test following the extension.


Future investment risk from climate study released by Australian Council of Superannuation Investors
To assess climate risk, investors require sufficiently granular climate-related disclosure to adequately understand their investment exposure and consider the impacts of transition and physical risks. This research provides an overview of the current state of climate-related disclosures in ASX200 companies. To reach their conclusions, researchers reviewed all publicly available documents produced by ASX200 entities as at 31 March 2020.


22 October 2020

JobKeeper and general interest charge
Online services for agents now includes a critical response account for transactions relating to the JobKeeper payment scheme. This account may show amounts your clients owe if the ATO is asked to amend the JobKeeper payment amounts they have claimed. From 28 September 2020, general interest charge (GIC) will automatically apply to outstanding amounts in your clients’ critical response accounts. GIC applied before this date will be remitted, and you will see this on the account. See here for more on JobKeeper overpayments.


APRA updates early release initiative and COVID-19 data collections
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has determined the need for changes to the Early Release Initiative (ERI) data collection and COVID-19 Pandemic Data Collection (PDC). Some data collection has been discontinued from 30 September 2020. Updated ERI reporting requirements for superannuation entities are available on the APRA website. Updated FAQs on the PDC are available at: Frequently asked questions - Pandemic Data Collection.


Two thirds of working Australians keenly feel the COVID impact
Researcher Roy Morgan has tracked the impact of COVID-19 on the employment situations of Australians, which shows that two-thirds of working Australians (67%) have had “a change to their employment” due to the pandemic. Just before the end of the financial year, 11.2 million working Australians (72%) reported a change to their employment circumstances because of COVID-19. By the first month of the new income year, there were still 10.4 million reporting their employment situation had changed. Nearly three-quarters of working Tasmanians (74%) have had a change to their employment due to the impact of the coronavirus, which is just ahead of people working in Victoria (71%) and New South Wales (70%). The impact has been noticeably less in the three states which have dealt most effectively with COVID-19. Only 57% of working people in South Australia have had a change to their employment and 62% in each of Western Australia and Queensland.


21 October 2020

Tax Practitioners Board’s annual report highlights difficulties and challenges ahead
In something of an understatement, the TPB’s annual report states that 2019-20 has been one of the most challenging years for the TPB and tax practitioners. The just-released annual report reflects the TPB’s focus on keeping tax advice to consumers of the highest standard, with an increase in practitioner termination of registration (up 129%), sanctions (up 32%), with also a slight growth in written cautions. There has also been a 25% increase in the ATO referring matters to the TPB.


JobMaker Hiring Credit legislation passes lower house, prepares for Senate amendments
The Economic Recovery Package (JobMaker Hiring Credit) Amendment Bill 2020, otherwise known as the JobMaker scheme, has moved to the Senate among reports that Greens senators intend to move amendments to quarantine larger businesses from JobMaker payments, which are made when a busines puts on certain cohorts of employees based on age. Schedule 1 to the bill amends the act to allow the Treasurer to make rules for a kind of coronavirus economic response payment that is primarily intended to improve the prospects of individuals getting employment or increase workforce participation.


Surprisingly low “mortgage stress” during COVID: Roy Morgan
New research from Roy Morgan found that in the three months to August 2020, 20.2% of mortgage holders were “at risk” (751,000) which is near the record low of 723,000 reported a year ago in the three months to October 2019. The researcher notes however that the significant support provided to the economy by the Federal Government, as well as measures taken by banks and financial institutions to support borrowers over the last six months, is not going to last forever.


20 October 2020

ATO provides options when JobKeeper overpayments discovered
Under the first version of the JobKeeper scheme put in place in the earlier stages of the COVID-19 crisis, eligibility to participate was determined by a decline in “projected GST turnover” — not the actual GST turnover that JobKeeper 2.0 requires. This put an unintended dampener on uptake and a reported reluctance of some businesses to even apply — a survey at the time indicated that 40% of eligible business clients did not take up JobKeeper. The ATO has flagged again the options for when an overpayment does not have to be repaid, and when overpayments do have to be repaid.


Three years of transitional land tax relief in SA
Significant reforms to the aggregation rules for landowners in South Australia, for which some property owners may be facing much higher land tax bills, has led RevenueSA to offer a three-year package of relief. A transition fund has been established for relief of up to $50,000 in 2020-21, $30,000 in 2021-22 and $15,000 in 2022-23 for eligible individuals and company groups. Applications are now open.


Crypto-currency and tax: An OECD prespective
Crypto-assets, and virtual currencies in particular, are in rapid development and tax policymakers are still at an early stage in considering their implications. As such, the OECD has prepared with the participation of over 50 jurisdictions the report Taxing Virtual Currencies which is the first comprehensive analysis of the approaches and policy gaps across the main tax types (income, consumption and property taxes) for such a large group of countries.


The 85% lodgment benchmark off the table this year
The ATO has repeated its earlier call-out to tax practitioners that for the 2019-20 lodgment program, it will not be applying the usual 85% lodgment performance score. “We acknowledge that your current focus is on guiding your clients to understand and access relevant COVID-19 support measures at this time. Additionally, the devastating bushfires that affected large parts of Australia during 2019-20 may have significantly disrupted your lodgment program,” the ATO says.


19 October 2020

JobKeeper rule changes for child care providers
Employees who work for a child care subsidy (CCS) approved provider will no longer be eligible for JobKeeper payments. This includes sole traders operating a child care service. To prepare for this change, the ATO says if an employer has staff working in child care they should assess if these staff duties relate principally to the delivery of a CCS approved service.


AMA (NSW) says Victorian Court of Appeal decision could close NSW practices
The president of the Australian Medical Association NSW says a Victorian court decision on payroll tax has potentially placed GP and other specialist practices in NSW in danger of being forced to close. “Standard procedure for many medical practices is for the practice to manage the money by receiving payment on behalf of the doctors and later distributing it to them,” Dr Danielle McMullen said. “A decision by the Victorian Court of Appeal, in relation to a similar business model, demanded that payroll tax be applied to money before it is distributed to individual staff, despite the fact the money was only being held on their behalf. These practices are incredibly common throughout NSW and are now pretty much the standard for how medical care is offered outside hospitals.”


Administrations and defaults on the rise for September 2020
According to the CreditorWatch Business Risk Review for September 2020, in comparison to August 2020, the number of businesses entering into administration rose for the first time since June, up 11% in September; while the number of business defaults increased by 23% in September – the first increase recorded since May 2020. Victoria recorded a 23.8% increase in business administrations, following a 49.3% decrease in August. Queensland recorded a 24.1% increase in business administrations, following a decrease of 25.4 in August, but NSW recorded a further 1.6% decrease in business administrations, following a 34.3% decrease in August.


COVID-19 and gambling risks
The global COVID‑19 pandemic and related government restrictions led to changes in the availability of gambling in Australia, with land‑based gambling venues temporarily closed and major national and international sporting codes suspended. The Federal Government’s Institute of Family Studies has completed research into the social impacts this has had. The research findings from this study aim to inform the development and implementation of policy and practice responses to prevent and reduce gambling-related harms in Australia.


16 October 2020

WA to introduce extended pay roll legislation
Western Australia will introduce urgent legislation that will allow the Government to provide additional payroll tax support for Western Australian businesses impacted by COVID-19, if they are needed after the March State election. Current laws that give the Government the power to introduce payroll tax support measures to respond to economic impacts of COVID-19 expire in April next year. The Pay-roll Tax Relief (COVID-19 Response) Act passed through Parliament in April gave around 10,700 small businesses a four-month payroll tax waiver as well as payroll tax exemptions for payments made under JobKeeper scheme.


Corporate residency clarification moves ahead
On Federal Budget night it was announced (Budget Paper No 2, p14) that the Federal Government will make technical amendments to clarify the corporate residency test, accepting the Board of Taxation’s recommendation in its report to modify the central management and control test to determine residency. The law will be amended to provide that a company that is incorporated offshore will be treated as an Australian tax resident if it has a “significant economic connection to Australia”. This test will be satisfied where both the company’s core commercial activities are undertaken in Australia and its central management and control is in Australia.


TPB clarifies tax practitioner standing in regard to the Fair Work provisions of JobKeeper
In its FAQs section of its website, the Tax Practitioners Board has clarified its view regarding a tax or BAS agent providing certification to clients that confirms a 10% decline in turnover (to give that client access to temporary flexibilities under the Fair Work Act). The concern among many was that in providing this service, practitioners are acting under the Fair Work Act and as such, this is not a tax agent service for the purposes of the Tax Agent Services Act. The TPB says it will still consider misconduct for these purposes under its own Code of Professional Conduct.


Government publishes its high-risk weather season crisis plan
A new version of the Federal Government’s Crisis Management Framework (AGCMF) has been released, which came into effect from Monday 12 October 2020. The updates ensure that arrangements which set out the Government’s response to emergencies and natural disasters are up-to-date in preparation for the 2020-21 high-risk weather season.


15 October 2020

Queensland exempts small business restructures from duty payments
The Queensland Commissioner of State Revenue has issued public ruling DA000.16.1 Administrative arrangement—duty exemptions for eligible small business restructures, which exempts small business entities from transfer duty on property transfers undertaken as part of a restructure of their business, with effect from 9 October. Note that if a transaction qualifies for an exemption from transfer duty, it will also be eligible for an exemption from vehicle registration duty, if applicable.


If SMSF numbers suffer a COVID drop, it’ll be on the back of a previous year high
ATO statistics on SMSFs just released indicate that net establishments of SMSFs for the last financial year were at their highest since the 2015-16 financial year. The latest quarterly statistical report (to 30 June 2020) shows the number of new SMSFs established at more than 18,000, which compares very favourably to the previous financial year’s establishments of 4,694. With a significant lag in getting data, the impact of the present COVID-19 period on the population of SMSFs may not be evident for some time, but it will come on the back of a significant recent growth in their number.


Free TPB webinars to mark in the calendar
Join the Tax Practitioners Board on 29 October for two free webinars. At 11am, learn about the process of verifying the identity of a client and assessing their suitability, along with the potential risks of illegal intentions towards the business relationship. At 2pm, the TPB will be presenting the latest information about the new policy guidance it has developed to help registered tax practitioners meet their obligations.


14 October 2020

Support schemes also make for more targets for scams
Scammers never seem to rest, with even the lastest JobKeeper iteration coming in for some scam treatment. In a new update the ATO reports that it is receiving reports of email scams about JobKeeper and backing business investment claims. “The fake emails say we’re investigating your claims. They ask you to provide valuable personal information, including copies of your driver’s licence and Medicare card.” See here for tips to stay safe.


Podcast: Federal Budget 2020 business highlights
The podcast Tax Wrap speaks with Tax & Super Australia’s tax counsel John Jeffreys about some intriguing business aspects of the Federal Budget, including full expensing write-offs, the loss carry-back, the increase in turnover threshold, FBT changes and CGT & granny flats. Listen here (CPD value).


JobKeeper alternative decline in turnover tests
To qualify for the JobKeeper payment, most businesses must have a 30% or greater decline in turnover when comparing the GST turnover of the September 2020 quarter with the September 2019 quarter. This is known as the basic test. But there are also alternative tests.
View this short video for a quick but concise explanation.


13 October 2020

NSW COVID-19 payroll deferrals can be paid off over two years
Revenue NSW has offered the state’s businesses an arrangement where they can establish a “Stimulus Payment Arrangement” (only between 26 October to 29 November 2020) that will allow them to pay off the deferred liabilities over 24 months, with 12 months of this interest-free.


Is ATO being put on a cost-of-operation diet?
Buried in Federal Budget 2020-21 paper number 4, “Agency Resourcing”, is what many would see as a sobering fact. On page 176 the ATO is listed in the table “Departmental Expenses”, which includes wages but excludes net capital investment. The ATO is shown as having operating costs of a little over $4.2 billion for 2020-21, which over the forward estimates out to 2023-24 drops to a tad over $3.2 billion. So a shrinking of the ATO's pool of operating cost allocation of a cool billion dollars.


More details released on extra First Home Loan Deposit Scheme places
As mentioned in the Daily Update of 5 October, the Federal Government announced an additional 10,000 First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS) places will be provided to support the purchase of a new home or a newly built home. More details have now emerged from the FHLDS website. The New Home Guarantee builds on the existing offering, as announced in the 2020-21 Federal Budget.


Withholding schedules updated and made available
Also mentioned last week was that the newly introduced tax rates would require an update to withholding schedules. These have now been released as a legislative instrument titled Taxation Administration Act Withholding Schedules No.2 2020. It is noted that employers may need a short time to make the changes in their payroll processes and systems in order for the tax cuts to be reflected in people’s take home pay.


12 October 2020

The alternative decline in turnover tests legislative instrument
The rules for the JobKeeper extension alternative turnover tests have been released. The rules state that an entity can use one of the alternative tests if:

  1. the entity’s business had temporarily ceased trading due to an event or circumstance outside the ordinary course of the entity’s business;
  2. trading temporarily ceased for a week or more;
  3. some or all of the relevant comparison period occurred during the time in which the entity’s business had temporarily ceased trading; and
  4. the entity’s business resumed trading before 28 September 2020.

 


Foreign resident capital gains and PAYG withholding variation
A legislative instrument, which commenced 10 October, applies when an authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI) exercises the power of sale of taxable Australian real property owned by a foreign resident and the proceeds of sale are insufficient to discharge the mortgage. The instrument removes the need for the mortgagee to apply to the Commissioner for a variation under s 14-235(2) of Sch 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953.


A minor factor to remember for your clients’ long-term tax planning
The income bracket to which the 32.5% rate applies has expanded with the Federal Budget to now cover those earning between $45,000 and $120,000. This was stage 2 of the Federal Government’s tax plan, and was brought forward to apply to the current income year instead of from 1 July 2022. Part of that earlier plan was the ditching of the low and middle income tax offset (LMITO). The offset amount is between $255 and $1,080, and was introduced as a temporary measure from 2018-19. But the part of the plan that would have seen LMITO disappear at the same time as the tax bracket expanded was changed, so that LMITO’s expiry date was brought forward not two years earlier but one (a “one-off additional benefit in 2020-21” to quote page 5 of this Budget fact sheet). But if you have a client who is being thorough and planning ahead, it may pay to remind them that the LMITO is still set to end on 30 June 2021.


9 October 2020

More about Your Future, Your Super
The Federal Budget had brief coverage of the new initiative Your Future, Your Super, but Treasury has now published more information, which features a 40-page document, as well as a three-page fact sheet to help members and funds to quickly get on top of the initiative. The changes foreshadowed will start from 1 July 2021, and by then a new interactive online YourSuper comparison tool will help fund members decide which super product best meets their needs.


New JobKeeper 80-hour threshold guidance
The ATO has issued guidance regarding the 80-hour threshold for employees in reaching entitlement to the JobKeeper extention, for tier 1 and tier 2 levels of payment. It notes that sometimes closer examination may be required for eligible employees that are part-time, are long-term casuals, are not paid on an hourly basis or are stood down.


ATO ready and waiting with updated withholding schedules
In accordance with longstanding practice, the ATO will publish updated tax withholding schedules as soon as possible after bipartisan support has been confirmed for the Treasury Laws Amendment (A Tax Plan For The Covid-19 Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 containing the amendments to bring forward the announced tax cuts. It will publish updated tax withholding schedules at ato.gov.au/taxtables. Employers may need a short time to make the changes in their payroll processes and systems in order for the tax cuts to be reflected in people’s take home pay.


8 October 2020

Business support grants in Victoria to be non-assessable
As confirmed in the Federal Budget (see Budget Paper No 2, p 14) the Federal Government will make the Victorian Government’s business support grants for small- and medium-sized business – as announced on 13 September 2020 – non-assessable, non-exempt (NANE) income for tax purposes. The Federal Government will extend this arrangement to all states and territories on an application basis. Eligibility would be restricted to future grants program announcements for small- and medium-sized businesses that are facing similar circumstances to Victorian businesses. The Government will introduce a new power in the income tax laws to make regulations to ensure that specified state and territory COVID-19 business support grant payments are NANE income. Eligibility for this treatment will be limited to grants announced on or after 13 September 2020 and for payments made between 13 September 2020 and 30 June 2021.


More support payments for pensioners
Services Australia has already published the Federal Budget announcement that two separate $250 economic support payments will be provided to eligible recipients. The first payment will be made from December 2020 and the second from March 2021.


Paid Parental Leave extended work test conditions
The Federal Government 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.


7 October 2020

Federal Budget: All you need to know
Delayed by COVID-19 and moulded by the need to pull Australia out of its first recession in decades, last night’s Federal Budget was an exceptionally important one. As always, Tax & Super Australia watched and listened closely to analyse, distil and report back to you on what it all means.


Frontline healthcare worker access to life insurance cover ensured further
In April, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) approved a Financial Services Council initiative to help frontline healthcare workers looking to take out new life insurance cover. It ensures that frontline healthcare workers are not prevented from obtaining life insurance cover with participating life insurance companies on grounds of exposure, actual or potential, to coronavirus. The commitment has now been extended to 1 January 2021.


Has COVID-19 led your business clients to change structure?
The ATO is concerned that many small businesses may have changed their business structure from a sole trader to more complex company or trust structures, especially under the changing environment. It is reminding practitioners to be on the lookout for some of the common errors that can crop up, which include reporting income for the wrong entity, claiming expenses incurred by another entity as business expenses, and the personal use of business bank accounts.


6 October 2020

Financial complaints body modifies some operations due to COVID-19
Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) says it has modified its dispute resolution approach to consider all regulatory and legislative changes due to Australia’s COVID-19 response. It has also paused processing complaints against insolvent firms.


TPD insurance initiative extended
The Financial Services Council put in place an initiative, initially running from March to the end of September, so that individuals who lose their jobs, are stood down or have reduced working hours due to COVID-19 and are insured with participating life insurance companies will not have their total and permanent disability (TPD) cover affected. The FSC has now extended this scheme to 1 January 2021 (claims to be made by 31 March 2021). Life insurance companies will confirm their participation by making a public statement and announcement on their website, including details of how they will apply the initiative.


ASIC extends COVID-19 relief for certain capital raisings
ASIC is extending the temporary relief for capital raisings, which aims to assist listed entities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to raise capital in a quicker and less costly way without undermining investor protection. The temporary relief enables certain “low doc” offers (including rights offers, placements and share purchase plans) to be made to investors without a prospectus, even if they do not meet all the normal requirements. To extend relief, ASIC has registered the ASIC Corporations (Amendment) Instrument 2020/862. It has also amended its no action position for superannuation trustees to extend it until 31 December 2020 to align with the extension of the COVID-19 early release of superannuation scheme.


5 October 2020

Business Support Fund grants in Victoria excluded from turnover
Further to the hint that some grants received by Victorian businesses will not be assessable, Business Victoria has supplied the following, sourced from community enquiries and responses on its Business Support Fund FAQs web page (scroll down). The question asked was: “Should I include grant funding in determining my business’s annual turnover figure?” And the answer given: “Government grants received, such as JobKeeper and the Business Support Fund - Expansion, when the grant is a ‘payment for no supply’ and not taxable, are not to be included in annual turnover figures.”


Thousands more First Home Deposit places to open
The Federal Government has announced an additional 10,000 First Home Deposit scheme places will be provided from 6 October 2020 to support the purchase of a new home or a newly built home. More information will be available from this government website from 6 October.


Victorian outdoor eating and entertainment grants
The Victorian Government has launched a $58 million grants program to help hospitality businesses prepare for "COVID Normal" by creating safe outdoor dining spaces. Eligible businesses can apply for a grant of $5,000 that can be used to pay for practical things like umbrellas, outdoor furniture, screens and other equipment needed for new, expanded or enhanced outdoor dining and food services. Grant funds can also be used to assist businesses with training, marketing and other costs of modifying trading operations to focus on outdoor dining. Businesses located within the City of Melbourne are not eligible for this package, but can apply for the Melbourne City Recovery Fund. Applications are now open and will remain until 11.59pm on 11 December 2020 or until funds are exhausted, whichever is earlier.


2 October 2020

COVID-19 inspired relief on insolvency regime
The Federal Government is planning to overhaul Australia’s insolvency laws, adopting a US-style model to assist small businesses in a post-COVID world. Affected entities will have the choice to either restructure or fold. It has been described as the most significant and ambitious proposed reform of Australia’s insolvency laws in decades. Treasury has issued a fact sheet summarising the changes.


APRA’s FAQ on interaction between JobKeeper payments and ‘work test’ contribution
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has published frequently asked questions it has received, the newest of which (see question 14) outline APRA's view on the interaction between JobKeeper payments and satisfying the “work test” for the purpose of voluntary superannuation contributions.


Final cash flow boost instalment in the offing
Your business clients, if eligible, will receive the final instalment of the additional cash flow boost when they lodge their September monthly or quarterly activity statements. The ATO says that while the September activity statement is the last one to receive cash flow boosts, it understands some organisations may still be struggling. If your client is concerned they won’t be able to pay on time, or if they’ve already missed a due date, the ATO urges them to contact it as early as possible to discuss the range of support options available.


1 October 2020

Stamp duty relief extended in SA
RevenueSA has expanded its existing stamp duty relief for the purchase of a replacement home destroyed by bushfire. The updated measure now provides for the purchase of vacant land, capped at $48,830 for land valued above $1 million, and will be available until 20 January 2024.


JobKeeper extension guidance for sole traders
The ATO has updated its guide for sole traders applying for the JobKeeper payment in light of the extension to the scheme. The guide looks at enrolling as a sole trader under the business participation entitlement, identifying and maintaining employees, making a monthly business declaration and, from 28 September 2020, checking the actual decline in turnover to receive payments under the extension.


Option left on the table to extend working-from-home shortcut even further
Following on from yesterday’s in-the-nick-of-time revelation that the shortcut method for claiming working-from-home expenses is to go beyond its original sunset of 30 September (it has been pushed out to 31 December), the ATO has re-issued the practical compliance guideline that legally enabled the original measure, PCG 2020/3. In the updated guidance (see paragraph 6) a further extension is mentioned as a possibility.


30 September 2020

Working-from-home: The ATO extends the shortcut method to year end
Tax & Super would never claim credit where it’s not due, however just after our Daily Update of yesterday was sent, it was noted that the ATO had quietly updated its guidance on the shortcut method of claiming working-from-home expenses. You will now see that the date of application has been extended to 31 December 2020.


JobKeeper extension: Key dates to keep in mind
With the commencement of the first new JobKeeper period this week (28 September), the payment rates for eligible employees have changed, based on the total hours each employee worked during the reference period. Your business clients will need to pay eligible employees at least the JobKeeper amount that applies to them each JobKeeper fortnight. This will be $1,200 per fortnight (tier 1) or $750 per fortnight (tier 2) before tax. The ATO reminds practitioners that there are some key dates to keep in mind.


Commercial tenancies get extension in WA
The WA Government is extending the emergency period under WA’s Commercial Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 a further six months. The extension means existing laws, including the moratorium on evictions, freeze on rent increases and code of conduct for small business commercial lease rent relief negotiations, will continue to apply in a more targeted manner until 28 March 2021.


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Natural disasters and emergencies: ABN could be a lifeline


The ATO is reminding Australians that keeping Australian business number details up to date can be essentially important, especially coming into a period of the year where the risk of natural disasters like bushfire and cyclones increases. It might be the last thing on your clients’ minds, but it may pay to remind them that during times of emergency or natural disaster, their ABN details are used by emergency services and government agencies to help identify business in affected areas that might need help or support.

29 September 2020

Working-from-home claims, shortcut method ends
If you have any clients who have been using the shortcut method to claim for working-from-home expenses, it may pay to remind them that this ends tomorrow (30 September), unless there is a late reprieve.


Recovery package for early childhood education and care sector
From this week until 31 January 2021, and administered by the Federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment, a $305.6 million recovery package will provide continued support for the sector nationally, with special concessions for Victoria. The package includes:

  • 25% “recovery payment” for Victoria
  • Additional 15% payment for outside school hours care (OSHC) services in Victoria
  • Provisions to extend financial support if similar outbreaks occur elsewhere in the country and restrictions come into force
  • Support for services at risk of imminent closure where they meet relevant criteria.

 


WA extends payroll tax exemption for JobKeeper payments to March
Western Australia’s Department of Finance has announced that regulations just passed mean Western Australian businesses will be exempt from payroll tax on JobKeeper wage subsidies paid from 28 September 2020 to 28 March 2021. Also see all payroll tax jurisdiction guidances.


SA extends payroll tax relief even further
A just-announced initiative will see SA businesses with annual payroll (grouped) of up to $4 million granted an extra three-month payroll tax waiver in addition to the six months’ relief they have already received. Eligible businesses will be able to defer liabilities due in October to December 2020* until 14 January 2021. Any previously deferred amounts relating to April to September payments may also be further deferred to 14 January 2021. Also see all payroll tax jurisdiction guidances.


28 September 2020

Victorian business grant income tax exemption
We have had some queries to a Daily Update from last week regarding the income tax exemption for Victorian business grants, which was announced by the National Cabinet (second last item). Readers should note that there is no “official” documentation available or instrument put in place as yet, but we will publish anything regarding this measure as it comes to hand.


Victorian Sole Trader Support Fund: Applications now open
Applications are now open for the Victorian Government’s Sole Trader Support Fund. You may be eligible for a $3,000 grant if you are a non-employing Victorian sole trader within an eligible business sector operating out of a commercial premises or location. See here for full details on the eligibility criteria and advice on how to apply.


ACT issues further determinations on payroll tax exemptions
The ACT Revenue Office has issued two determinations to provide payroll tax exemptions for eligible employers in response to COVID-19 conditions. Taxation Administration (Payroll Tax) COVID-19 Exemption Scheme Determination 2020 exempts wages paid to eligible employees from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021 (see the instrument for specifics). And Taxation Administration (Payroll Tax — Businesses Not Permitted to Operate) COVID-19 Exemption Scheme Determination 2020 exempts wages for businesses not permitted to operate due to ACT Government restrictions from 1 September 2020 to 30 November 2020. The exemption may apply to payroll tax ordinarily payable in the months of October, November and/or December 2020. The instrument applies from 10 September 2020 to 8 December 2020.


This tax time, ATO allows extra time for new clients
If practitioners take on new or re-engage previous clients who have overdue tax returns, the ATO says you can request additional time to lodge their overdue tax returns if their 2020 tax return is due by 31 October 2020. The ATO says practitioners should complete the Deferral application for new or re-engaged clients with overdue tax returns form (available here) and send it through Online services for agents. You can only use this application if your client's 2020 return is due by 31 October 2020, and it should not be used for any other obligations. The usual period of time allowed for the deferral is 42 days from the date of request. If you need more than six weeks, its advice is to use the ATO assessed deferrals process.


25 September 2020

Tasmania’s business growth loans now open
Opening last week, Tasmania’s $60 million Business Growth Loan Scheme will provide concessional loan funding to support the state’s businesses to recover, adapt, grow and develop enhanced business models that support employment retention and business growth. It will also support new projects that contribute towards employment and growth of the Tasmanian economy. The program will remain open for one year or until the funding has been exhausted.


Bureau of Statistics survey shows business has warmed to some COVID modifications
Many businesses expect modifications put in place to manage the impacts of COVID-19 will be kept long-term, according to the latest survey results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). It shows that two-thirds of businesses have been able to keep trading with modifications made because of the pandemic, and that many businesses are expecting to keep changes they have made to keep operating.


Tasmanian payroll tax exemption for JobKeeper payments extended
The Tasmanian Government has announced that its Payroll Tax (Pandemic) (No 2) Amendment Order 2020 (Tas) amends the Payroll Tax (Pandemic) Order (No 2) 2020 (Tas) to extend the state’s payroll tax exemption for JobKeeper payments to 28 March 2021.


STP delayed adoption concession for micro employers
The ATO says micro employers (those with one to four employees) who need more time to move to Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting can ask their registered tax or BAS agent to report on their behalf on a quarterly basis until 30 June 2021. This concession will only be considered for those micro employers experiencing exceptional or unforeseen circumstances.


24 September 2020

JobKeeper extension webinar tomorrow
Tomorrow’s TSA webinar on the JobKeeper extension will cover everything that tax and accounting professionals need to know, including important new information released by the ATO in the last day or so. In addition to the live presentation by our Tax counsel John Jeffreys, all attendees will receive detailed notes, a recording of the webinar and have an opportunity to ask questions. Book your spot while registrations are still open.


Some “fingers crossed” guidance from Queensland about the ACT
The Queensland Government has issued information that will only be applicable if there are zero cases in the Australian Capital Territory between now and 1am Friday 25 September. It builds on restriction easing that has already been put in place (as reported in the Daily Update for 23 September). If applied, the new measures will de-classify the ACT as a “hotspot” and release ACT residents from having to quarantine upon arrival in Queensland.


COVID-19 support for NSW commercial tenants and landlords to continue to year end
The NSW legislation Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2020 is to be extended until 31 December 2020 (it was to expire 25 October). Landlords will also be able to receive up to 25% land tax concession where they provide rent relief to commercial and residential tenants in financial distress from October to December. Tenants will be required to re-establish their eligibility under the extension to the regulation if they wish to request further rent relief, while landlords will also be required to respond to a tenant’s request for further rent relief in a reasonable time frame. Also see here for information on commercial lease support in NSW.


23 September 2020

Extension of critical health services nationwide
Medicare-subsidised telehealth and pathology services, GP-led respiratory clinics, home medicines delivery, public and private hospital services will all be extended to 31 March 2021, says the National Cabinet. Telehealth is also being extended for essential specialist services, such as consultant physician, geriatrician, and neurosurgery services. Eligible people will continue to get free home delivery of essential medicines by the Home Medicines Service.


Energy grants for more Tasmanian businesses
Tasmania’s COVID-19 Small Business Energy Support Grant Program provides one off grant payments of $1,000 to eligible businesses who have not been eligible for the COVID-19 electricity, water and/or sewerage wavier available from service providers. The program is now open for applications and remains open until 12 noon on 26 October 2020.


New Queensland border directions take affect from 3pm today
Queensland Health has scheduled new border restrictions (direction no. 14, which supersedes direction no. 13) which kick-in from 3pm, 23 September. The new rules will:

  • give effect to the Queensland Freight Protocol
  • allow people to enter Queensland to fulfil informal shared parenting and child contact arrangements
  • allow NSW border zone residents to travel anywhere in Queensland for informal shared parenting arrangements, without quarantining. Similarly, Queensland residents can travel to the NSW border zone for this purpose and re-enter Queensland without quarantining
  • introduce a new ‘H’ category for the border declaration pass for people coming to Queensland for day health appointments
  • make the use of the approved Queensland Health approved essential health care form (DOCX) mandatory for private health practitioners providing health care to people entering Queensland from hotspots.

 


22 September 2020

Revenue NSW spells out payroll tax changes to support COVID-19 conditions
The payroll tax threshold in NSW has increased to $1 million (from $900,000) effective 1 July 2020. But apart from this, Revenue NSW has also announced a payroll tax deferral arrangement. In addition, businesses with total grouped Australian wages for the 2019-20 financial year of $10 million or less will be able to have their annual tax liability reduced by 25% when they lodge their annual reconciliation.


Income tax exemption for small and medium business grants in Victoria
The Federal and Victoria Governments have reached an agreement to make the grants to small and medium business recently announced under Victoria’s Business Resilience Package exempt from income tax. The Federal Government will extend this arrangement to all states and territories on an application basis. Eligibility would be restricted to future grants program announcements for small and medium businesses facing similar circumstances to Victorian businesses. Any tax exemption would be time limited for grants paid until 30 June 2021.


International arrival caps for returning Australians under review
National Cabinet has announced that Queensland and Western Australia will adopt a two-stage increase in international passenger arrival caps over the weeks to the first full week in October. The move will see an additional 500 Australians returning through each jurisdiction each week. Queensland will commence with an additional 200 passengers from Monday 28 September 2020, increasing to 500 passengers from Monday 5 October 2020. Western Australia will commence with an additional 200 passengers from 28 September, increasing to 500 passengers from Monday 12 October 2020. New South Wales and South Australia will continue to implement existing plans to accommodate more returning Australians by increasing their current international passenger arrival caps by 28 September 2020 by 500 and 100 respectively. National Cabinet also agreed that any facilitation of special commercial services would be carried out through the jurisdictions of South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory. Victoria remains under lockdown.


21 September 2020

NSW workers to get pandemic leave
The NSW Government has partnered with the Federal Government to give NSW workers without leave entitlements access to the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment arrangements. Under the arrangement, any NSW worker who has no leave entitlements will be eligible for a one-off $1,500 payment for each 14-day period that they are directed by NSW Health to self-isolate or quarantine, or during which they are caring for someone with COVID-19. This includes holders of a temporary visa that gives them the right to work in Australia.


QLD’s moratorium on commercial leaseholder evictions extended
The Queensland Government’s moratorium on evictions for commercial leaseholders has been extended to the end of 2020. The state’s Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Yvette D’Ath, said the three-month extension, effective to 31 December 2020, means that to the end of 2020 commercial leaseholders under affected leases can’t have their lease terminated if they fall into arrears as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.


Third round of support grants to Victorian businesses
The Victorian Government recently announced a third round of the Business Support Fund – ensuring businesses affected by COVID-19 restrictions continue to receive the support they need to make it through restricted trading. Through this third round of the Business Support Fund, eligible businesses will receive grants of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 depending on a business’s annual payroll. Apply here.


Pandemic ongoing, working-from-home short-cut claim method not so robust?
The short cut method for calculating home office expenses is set to expire on 30 September 2020 and (so far) there has been no mention of a further extension (despite the ongoing pandemic impacts, particularly in Melbourne).


JobKeeper extension webinar this week
Helpline queries to Tax & Super Australia regarding the JobKeeper extension will be answered after our webinar on this topic this coming Friday (details and bookings here). The webinar is free of charge for members and non-members are also invited to participate. Our Tax Counsel, John Jeffreys, will cover all of the important information with reference to real-world applications and examples, and as always, all attendees will receive access to detailed notes as well as a recording of the webinar. Note that there is still certain information yet to be released by the ATO, which is why we have scheduled the webinar for 25 September so that we can give attendees as much information as is possible.


18 September 2020

All your JobKeeper extension questions will be answered
Helpline queries to Tax & Super Australia regarding the JobKeeper extension will be answered after our webinar on this topic next Friday (details and bookings here). As part of our ongoing commitment to keeping members informed and equipped to deal with COVID-19-related changes, the webinar is free of charge for members and non-members are also invited to participate. Our Tax Counsel, John Jeffreys, will cover all of the important information with reference to real-world applications and examples, and as always, all attendees will receive access to detailed notes as well as a recording of the webinar. Please note the ATO is yet to release certain information concerning the JobKeeper extension, and it's for this reason that we have decided to schedule the webinar for 25 September which will enable us to provide you with all the information you need.


Updated guidance on JobKeeper from ATO
The ATO has published some new information based on the JobKeeper payment extension law being passed. The new guidance includes: Payment rates, 80-hour threshold for employees, Decline in turnover tests, and Actual decline in turnover test.


WA pandemic leave disaster payment
The West Australian Government has in place a Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, which is a lump sum payment to help its residents during the 14 days required if they need to self-isolate, quarantine or care for someone. You can check the eligibility criteria here. If people need longer term help, there may be other payments available. The WA Government has provided a payment guide to check what other payments residents may be eligible for.


Support for older Australians dealing with COVID-19
The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line provides information and support to senior Australians, their families and carers. Call 1800 171 866 Monday to Friday, except public holidays, from 8.30am to 6pm AEST.


17 September 2020

Three legislative instruments released on JobKeeper extension
The three instruments released late yesterday were as follows.

Our expert tax team are well underway in compiling all the information and guidance that tax and accounting professionals need to know, and will be sharing that in our JobKeeper Extension webinar next week.

 


Some events in SA may require a COVID marshal to attend
In South Australia, certain activities and operations may require a COVID marshal to be in attendance. The prescribed operations are:

  • The onsite purchase and consumption of food or beverages (indoors or outdoors)
  • Religious or faith-based ceremonies (other than wedding ceremonies or funeral services)
  • Supermarkets and hardware stores
  • Distribution centres (including associated transport operations)
  • Gymnasiums and fitness centres
  • Swimming pools used by the public
  • Sporting clubs
  • Any activity where a COVID Management Plan is required
  • Any operation which may be defined by the state coordinator.

 


Meet Treasury’s Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit
The Australian Treasury has set up a Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit, which has been formed to engage with peak business and industry groups on systemic issues arising from COVID-19 to ensure these are being brought to the attention of Federal Government. The unit is hearing from business on a regular basis and providing updates to government, focusing on crucial issues where the government may be able to undertake additional work to support what business is doing. To contact the unit, email [email protected].


16 September 2020

JobKeeper 2.0 rules have been released
Legislation to extend JobKeeper has passed both houses and received royal assent, and just registered yesterday afternoon is the legislative instrument Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Amendment Rules (No. 8) 2020. The instrument sets out the decline in turnover test for the extension of JobKeeper to 28 March 2021, and the new two-tiered payment rates. Further guidance from the ATO is expected very soon, which may allow the Commissioner to set alternative references for applying the now alternative rates of payment.


Recent JobKeeper changes still leave some elements intact
Members are reminded that while the recent changes to JobKeeper 1.0 moved the eligibility date from 1 March 2020 to 1 July 2020 for some employees, it did not change the requirement that entities need to be carrying on a business as at 1 March 2020 to qualify for the JobKeeper scheme. Further, the “1 July 2020” amendments did not change the eligibility requirements for eligible business participants, including the 12 March 2020 requirements around generating assessable income, or making a supply and reporting it to the Commissioner.


Eligibility criteria for Victorian sole trader support
Readers have been keen to get an idea of the eligibility criteria for sole trader support as mentioned in yesterday’s Daily Update. The Business Victoria website says that full details will be published when applications open. However in the meantime, the basic eligibility run-down is that a business must:

  • operate a business located within Victoria
  • participate in the Federal Government’s JobKeeper scheme
  • employ people and be registered with WorkSafe
  • have had an annual payroll of less than $10 million in 2019-20
  • be registered for GST
  • hold an ABN
  • be registered with the responsible federal or state regulator.
An eligible business will receive:
  • $10,000 if its annual payroll is less than $650,000
  • $15,000 if its annual payroll is between $650,000 and $3 million
  • $20,000 if its payroll is between $3 million and $10 million.
Grant applications open this Friday 18 September 2020, so bookmark this Business Victoria webpage.

 


15 September 2020

Sole trader support in Victoria boosted by $100 million
Victorian Minister for Business Precincts Martin Pakula has announced, one day after a business support package worth $3 billion was revealed (see yesterday’s Daily Update), that the Victorian Government will also provide access to $3,000 grants to around 33,000 sole traders across the state. Also other cash grants will support SMEs that are most affected by COVID-19 restrictions as part of the third round of the Business Support Fund. Businesses with payrolls up to $10 million will receive grants of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 depending on their size. While the primary income support has been the federal JobKeeper package, the Victorian initiatives aim to help businesses with expenses and overheads, which would not have been covered by JobKeeper, in order to help get these businesses back on their feet. In addition, the Melbourne City Recovery Fund will help businesses with new infrastructure in preparation for the warmer months as activities can move outdoors. This is part of an additional $290 million package announced yesterday.


JobKeeper compliance update supplied by ATO
Following media reports yesterday about several taxpayer-sourced reports of JobKeeper non-compliance to the ATO, late yesterday the regulator published an update of larger businesses and JobKeeper compliance status so far. Apart from not keeping adequate records, the ATO found some issues at work included businesses: that are part of SGE groups and are incorrectly calculating their aggregated turnover (applying a 30% decline in turnover instead of the 50% decline in turnover) applying for JobKeeper payments prior to their nomination period projecting GST turnover at the economic group level rather than entity level incorrectly calculating GST turnover, with common errors including excluding irregular GST turnover amounts or using general sales rather than GST turnover.


Report of economic impacts on Melbourne LGA
PricewaterhouseCoopers has released a report detailing the forecast economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the City of Melbourne local government area as well as Victoria, highlighting a range of response actions for the government in rebooting the Victorian economy.


14 September 2020

$3 billion Victorian business survival package
$3 billion Victorian business survival package A package of $3 billion in cash grants, tax relief and cashflow support will be delivered to Victorian businesses that have been most affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, the Premier Daniel Andrews has announced. The package will provide:

  • A third round of the Business Support Fund to provide up to $20,000 for business with a payroll of up to $10 million
  • Grants of up to $30,000 for licensed pubs, clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants and reception centres, based on their venue capacity and location
  • Grants of up to $20,000 to help alpine businesses
  • A competitive grants program to support metropolitan and regional business chambers and trader groups.
Payroll tax is also to be deferred (note, not waived, but deferred) for 2020-21 for businesses with payroll up to $10 million. Also deferred is a planned increase in the land fill levy for six months, and the bringing forward of the 50% stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial property for all of regional Victoria. There are some waivers however, such as waiving 25% of the Congestion Levy this year, with the outstanding balance deferred, liquor license fee waivers for 2021, and waiving Vacant Residential Land Tax for vacancies in 2020. More details here.

 


Sun will not have set on permitted worker permits, so re-issuing not necessary
Some employer clients may be concerned that worker permits issued to some of their staff may have expired as at 13 September, which was the date previously fixed when these permits were first required. But the Department of Health and Human Services indicates that the dates on existing permits can be edited and added to by employers as required. If a new form is in fact required, here is the link.


Land duty valuations: New guidance from Victorian SRO
The Victorian SRO has provided clarification on circumstances where information may be required in addition to a letter of appraisal as evidence of value for duty purposes. The guidance says because real estate agents are typically not qualified valuers, their letters of appraisal are not considered formal valuations, and while the Commissioner may accept such letters of appraisal as evidence of value for duty purposes, additional information or a formal valuation may be required.


11 September 2020

More COVID-19 tax relief for Victorian landholders
The Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has announced that the State Government will waive the Vacant Residential Land Tax for properties that are vacant in 2020. He says that with travel restrictions in place and property inspections not currently possible, many properties are vacant that would be otherwise occupied. Car park owners can also defer any outstanding balances until next year.

Queensland Treasury has crunched the COVID numbers
The Queensland Government has released its Treasury’s COVID-19 Fiscal and Economic Review, which provides an update on Queensland’s economic and fiscal estimates over 2019-20 and 2020-21 but also incorporating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to date. Highlights include an ongoing focus on supporting small business (more than 97% of all state businesses), many thousands of which are in tourism-related and other key services sectors, which have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19.

Some Victorian trust evidence in regard to non-dutiable property can now be scans
In regard to exemptions to land transfer duty, the State Revenue Office of Victoria has made changes to the evidentiary requirements for the establishment of a trust relating to non-dutiable property. A scanned copy of the original trust instrument is now sufficient (see also here). Before these changes, a physical original executed trust instrument was required to be sighted.

Planned consultation by the ATO for September
While the ATO’s public advice and guidance program continues to have a focus on COVID-19 related issues, it has announced that during this month it plans to consult with tax professionals and the wider industry on certain tax matters — specifically for September, expenses associated with vacant land and the retention of funds on outstanding notifications.


10 September 2020

ATO live webcast to deal with the new JobKeeper
Practitioners may want to mark next Thursday 17 September on their calendar, which is when the ATO will be hosting a live webcast that among other topics will look at the extensions to the JobKeeper payment scheme, and changes from 28 September 2020. An expert panel will be in attendance, comprised of representatives from the ATO, the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) and professional associations. You can email questions for this panel by close of business Monday 14 September.

ATO to take it easy on COVID varied PAYG instalment mistakes
The regulator has just affirmed that due to the exceptional circumstances surrounding COVID-19, it won't apply penalties and interest for excessive pay-as-you-go (PAYG) instalment variations when your clients make their best attempts to estimate end of year tax. “This is in recognition of difficulties they may face in making accurate estimates of final tax liabilities in these uncertain economic times,” the ATO says.

School formals in NSW to go ahead
The annual schoolies shindigs in Queensland are out, but the consolation prize is that the NSW Government has announced that Year 12 students will be able to celebrate finishing school with COVID-19 safe graduation ceremonies and formals being allowed to take place during Term 4.

Roy Morgan survey out today shows most Victorians think SMEs should be compensated
A snap SMS survey held this week by Roy Morgan Research and published today reveals that 76% of Victorians consider that small businesses forced to close because of the state government’s COVID-19 restrictions should be provided with financial compensation. The research also showed support for the nightly curfew, and found that 70% approve of Premier Daniel Andrews. Roy Morgan has held weekly surveys during the Stage 4 Victorian restrictions, with political leanings noted but not found to greatly sway conclusions.


9 September 2020

ATO to issue practitioners with list of their JobKeeper clients
In order to help with tax time this year, the ATO says it will soon be providing practitioners with a list of their clients who have been enrolled in the JobKeeper scheme and have received JobKeeper payments as an employer or eligible business participant. It also briefly runs through the tax treatment of payments for the variety of entities practitioners will be dealing with.

Financially distressed businesses to get an extension of relief
Temporary insolvency and bankruptcy protections, first announced in mid-August, have been extended until 31 December 2020. To lessen the threat of actions that could unnecessarily push otherwise profitable and viable businesses into insolvency and help ensure they can resume normal operations when the crisis has passed, the following temporary measures were put in place: Relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent Increasing the threshold for creditors issuing a statutory demand on a company from $2,000 to $20,000 and extending the timeframe for a company to respond from 21 days to six months Increasing the threshold for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings from $5,000 to $20,000 and extending the time period for debtors to respond to a bankruptcy notice from 21 days to six months and extending the period of protection a debtor receives after declaring an intention to enter voluntary bankruptcy from 21 days to six months 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 more information, read the Federal Government fact sheet.

SG amnesty is now closed
The ATO says that as per previous announcements in regard to the super guarantee amnesty, the opportunity to use the amnesty is now closed, as at 11.59pm 7 September. If your business clients didn't apply for the super guarantee amnesty and have any unpaid or late paid super to disclose, they will need to lodge a Superannuation guarantee charge statement and pay the super guarantee charge (SGC).

Revenue NSW releases practice note on payroll tax and shares
Practice note CPN013 deals with NSW payroll tax as applied to wages which are provided in the form of shares and options, or are based on shares and options, under an employee share scheme.


8 September 2020

Queensland establishes more COVID-19 support
The Queensland Government has announced more COVID-19 support measures. They include:

  • a two-month waiver of payroll tax for July and August 2020 for businesses with annual Australian taxable wages up to $6.5 million
  • continuing to exempt JobKeeper subsidy payments from payroll tax – despite the Federal Government making these payments liable for income tax
  • allowing businesses to pay off existing payroll tax deferred liabilities over the course of 2021
  • for businesses renting state government premises and incurring a demonstrable COVID impact, extending existing rent relief to the end of calendar 2020.

 

SA announces extension to land tax relief
The South Australian Treasurer has announced that a land tax relief scheme that supports landlords in providing significant rent reductions for their residential and commercial SME tenants impacted by COVID-19 restrictions will be significantly expanded and extended by six months, to the end of April next year. Under the scheme, eligible landlords now can receive up to a 50% reduction on the 2019-20 land tax liability on affected properties (up from 25%) provided they pass on the full benefit in land tax relief to their impacted tenants. Applications for the land tax relief scheme will be available via the RevenueSA website.

Annual declaration extension from TPB
The TPB says that any tax practitioner that has an annual declaration due on or before 30 June 2021 will not be required to submit it. These practitioners will next need to complete their annual declaration in 2022 or 2023 (if their registration renewal is due in 2022). However the TPB says practitioners must continue to meet their other ongoing obligations, including around professional indemnity insurance, fit and proper requirements and personal tax obligations.

TPB extends other COVID-19 concessions
Tax practitioners now have access to extended TPB COVID-19 concessions to assist them to meet their registration and renewal requirements during the pandemic. In addition to the existing extension of the annual declaration concession to 31 December 2020, other initiatives have been extended as follows:

  • continued professional education (CPE) (private reading and activities) concessions to be extended to 31 December 2020
  • renewal concession to continue to 30 June 2021
  • relevant experience concession to continue to 30 June 2021.

 


7 September 2020

lRe-opening: Victorian Government releases “roadmaps”
From 11:59pm 13 September, some restrictions will be eased across Victoria. Melbourne metro and regional Victoria each have their own roadmaps, relating to how many active cases there are currently in the community.

Commercial tenancies legislation in Victoria extended
The COVID-19 Commercial and Residential Tenancies Legislation Amendment legislation would have automatically expired on 29 September, so the part of the omnibus act that introduced it has therefore been extended to 26 April 2021. Note that this version of the bill changes the definition of “eligible lease”.

COVID-19 resources for industry and the public
The Department of Health is offering a range of resources for free, including information and fact sheets, posters, videos, apps and more to help the general public and industry stay informed and share important messages.

TPB policy response to the pandemic
In response to the challenging circumstances tax practitioners have encountered this year, the Tax Practitioners Board has offered support to tax practitioners through a range of initiatives. The TPB says these concessional arrangements are consistent with a whole of government approach to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.


4 September 2020

Financial assistance offered to Australians stuck overseas
The Federal Government is offering interest-free loans to Australians who are unable to return to Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions and are experiencing financial distress. Under strict eligibility criteria, one-off loans may be granted to cover two types of expenses — Living costs (to cover emergency living costs until a commercial flight becomes available), and Flight back to Australia (to help cover the costs of a flight to return to Australia).

Small business ombudsman wants to axe fringe benefits tax to stimulate cash flow
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has urged the Federal Government to abolish fringe benefits tax (FBT) for at least two years to provide a much-needed cash flow boost to the economy and support struggling small businesses.

Arrivals in Northern Territory face strict controls
There are strict border controls in place for all arrivals to the Northern Territory, including returning Territorians. All arrivals to the Northern Territory must fill in a Border Entry Form , and complete 14 days of mandatory supervised quarantine at their own expense (there are minor exemptions), if those returning have recently been in an active declared COVID-19 hot spot.

What’s up with COVID-19? There’s a WhatsApp for that
The Federal Government has a COVID-19 WhatsApp channel to learn the latest on Australia's response to coronavirus. The WhatsApp channel provides guidance and information on the latest news, case numbers, how to check symptoms, how to stop the spread, and ideas to support individuals, their family and friends.


3 September 2020

Early hint at some good news for tax agents on JobKeeper 2.0
While the official details for the JobKeeper extension are not public yet, the ATO yesterday preemptively published an announcement summarising some information on extending the payment from 28 September to 28 March 2021. The ATO labels the overall extension as JobKeeper Extension 1 (28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021) and JobKeeper Extension 2 (4 January to 28 March 2021), as the rates paid will be different. The good news is let slip right near the bottom of the announcement, under a heading “What doesn’t change”. Here, the ATO states: “You don’t need to re-enrol for the JobKeeper extension if you are already enrolled for JobKeeper for fortnights before 28 September.” Tax & Super Australia emphasises that the legislation is not yet available, but if the above bears out in the official rules, that is good news for practitioners.

SMSF regulations to allow six members under new legislation
A bill has been introduced that partially implements the measure to allow an increase in the maximum number of allowable members in self-managed superannuation funds and small APRA funds from four to six. The full implementation of the change requires updates to regulations, not legislative changes.

Victorian Government extends “state of disaster” to 13 September
Previously set to expire at 6pm 2 September, Victoria's "state of disaster" status has been renewed until 11:59pm on 13 September 2020, bringing it into line with the existing "state of emergency" declaration and allowing advice about any future continuation to be made once the Victorian Government’s roadmap for easing restrictions has been released. The move puts in place the necessary legal mechanism to underpin a number of the current Stage 4 restrictions, including the 8pm to 5am curfew and the 5 kilometre limit for exercise and shopping within metropolitan Melbourne.

NSW-Victorian border mobility changes
The NSW Government has announced that a single border region will be reinstated that extends to around 50 kilometres on either side of the border. The new border region and “border region resident” permit will come into effect at 12:01am on Friday, 4 September 2020.

NSW Energy Accounts Payment Assistance vouchers are available
If your client is having difficulty paying their current household energy bill because of a short-term financial crisis or emergency, such as unexpected medical bills or reduced income due to COVID-19, they could be eligible for Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) $50 vouchers from the NSW Government.


1 September 2020

New JobKeeper guides released by ATO
The ATO has issued updated JobKeeper guides. See the following for a JobKeeper payment guide for employers not reporting through single touch payroll (STP), a JobKeeper guide for employers reporting through STP, and the ATO JobKeeper guide for sole traders.

Land tax relief for Victorian landlords and businesses re-opens for applications
The Victorian State Revenue Office has announced that applications for land tax relief have reopened via the SRO’s page “My Land Tax”, which has now been updated with further relief measures for landlords and business owners announced by the Victorian Government. Your clients can check eligibility for all land tax relief measures and find out what supporting documents they will need to upload with the application on the SRO’s "Apply for coronavirus land tax relief" webpage. If they have previously applied for a 25% waiver and want to apply for this further relief, they must make a new application through My Land Tax, or make a new registration.

ACT pushes ahead with tax reforms
The “Jobs and Recovery Plan” of the ACT Government, mentioned in yesterday’s Daily Update, is more than a response to the COVID-19 crisis, and is being tied in closely with a more general undertaking by the territory to pursue tax reform. Taxes such as conveyance duties are gradually being phased out, with revenue being replaced by increases in general rates.

ASIC instrument to allow COVID hardship withdrawals from "frozen" managed investment schemes
A new relief measure has been released by ASIC in the form of an instrument that will facilitate withdrawals by “responsible entities” of registered managed investment schemes facing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic where the scheme has become “frozen”. This occurs when redemptions are cancelled or suspended to stop withdrawals from destabilising a fund.


26 August 2020

NEWS

Legislation released for JobKeeper 1 July changes
The latest compilation of the JobKeeper rules, incorporating the "1 July 2020" changes, was released late yesterday. It shows the text of the law as amended and in force on 15 August 2020, with the notes at the end including information about amending laws and the amendment history of provisions of the compiled law. Here is a link to the legislation.

Post-1 July start-ups may need to take action on a JobKeeper anomaly
For businesses that commenced on or after 1 July 2019, made sales on or before 31 December 2019, and were not registered for GST, notice of those sales was required to be provided to the ATO by 30 June 2020. The instructions on the ATO website (QC 62916) was for those businesses to enrol in JobKeeper and the ATO “will then contact you via email with instructions on how to provide us notice”. However as many taxpayers enrolled in JobKeeper directly, rather than through their tax agents, the emails may not have been actioned appropriately. In these cases taxpayers or their tax agents should contact the ATO and seek an extension of time to submit the required information.

Taxis in Queensland get extra funding support
The Queensland Government has announced additional financial assistance of $23 million to support the taxi and limousine industry through the economic impacts of COVID-19. On offer are one-off lump sum payments of $1,000 per licence to taxi and limousine licence holders, $3,500 per licence to taxi and limousine operators, $1,000 per licence as an additional incentive payment for wheelchair accessible taxi operators, and $1,500 per vehicle to authorised booking entities for each affiliated taxi or limousine, capped at 1,000 vehicles, for entities that provide booking services predominantly for taxis and/or limousines. Applications to access this funding close next week on Friday 4 September. Visit the QRIDA website for eligibility information and instructions on how to apply.

South Australian call centres and information lines
The SA Government has gathered the most helpful call centre numbers and helplines together on one web page. They include the COVID-19 Information Line, Communicable Disease Branch line, the Coronavirus Information Helpline, SA COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line, COVID-19 Relief Call Centre, Red Cross Telecross REDi service, interpreting services and more.


25 August 2020

NEWS

$45 million for NSW southern border small businesses
NSW small businesses will benefit from a new $45 million grant program, the Southern border small business support grant , designed to cushion the economic impacts of the NSW southern border closure. Businesses in 13 local government areas along the NSW and Victorian border will be able to apply for $5,000 and $10,000 grants through Service NSW from Tuesday 8 September.

COVID-19 report of family hardship in WA
A new report from WA’s Centre for Social Impact presents the experiences of the pandemic, its restrictions and its early economic and social affects among 158 family members in a study, who completed a supplementary COVID -19 survey between May and July 2020 for the Centre for Social Impact. The report is entitled The impact of COVID-19 on families in hardship in Western Australia.

Lowy Institute has issued a paper on Australia’s economic prospects post-COVID
The Lowy paper, entitled The costs of covid: Australia’s economic prospects in a wounded world, argues that Australia is emerging from the pandemic sooner, and at less economic cost, than expected. There is however higher unemployment and elevated debt. Businesses and households are more uncertain than usual, though the recovery is already underway and will likely gain momentum over coming months.

Queensland's market diversification and resilience grants deadline this Friday
The Queensland Government has provided assistance for businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak through its Market Diversification and Resilience Grants (MDRG) Program. The first round of the program provided eligible Queensland-based agriculture, food, or forestry exporters with funding for $7,500 for equipment purchases and $50,000 for larger projects. The second round of grants specifically for fisheries ends this Friday 28 August 2020 at 5pm. It is targeted at commercial fishing, charter fishing and aquaculture businesses. More details and application forms are here.


24 August 2020

NEWS

NSW pokies purveyors get tax break
The NSW Government announced the following changes to payment of gaming machine tax as part of its economic stimulus package. Gaming machine tax normally paid by clubs between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020 is deferred to 1 September 2020. Payments by hotels between 1 April 2020 and 30 September 2020 is deferred to 1 October 2020. There are also other measures in place, such as payment arrangements in place plus no interest charged.

Emergency powers, public health and COVID-19
The Parliamentary Library and Information Service of Victoria has made available a research paper entitled Emergency powers, public health and COVID-19. The paper describes and contextualises the kinds of powers used by the Federal and Victorian governments during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intended as both a resource that captures the emergency response to COVID-19 and a primer on some of the wider issues related to that response.

Advice and support for exporters from Austrade
Austrade (the Australian Trade and Investment Commission) is working closely with the network of government departments and industry agencies to help Australian businesses overcome complex and fast-evolving COVID-19–related challenges. It has provided a web page with news and links for exporting and cross border trade issues.

Rights of disabled under COVID-19 under spotlight
The Australian Human Rights Commission says policy responses to COVID-19, including isolation and social distancing measures, may in certain circumstances have a greater impact on some people with disability, particularly those who rely on carers and other support people, and those who live or work in high-risk environments. It has produced a set of guidelines on the rights of people with disability in health and disability care during COVID-19.


20 August 2020

NEWS

WA commercial tenancy support
The WA Government passed new laws to help commercial tenants and landlords reach agreements about rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the implementation of the commercial tenancy changes, several real-life situations have manifested as Q&As put to the WA Small Business Development Corporation.
 
Canberra extends land tax landlord rebate
The ACT Government has announced that the land tax rebate for landlords who provide lower rents to tenants affected by COVID-19 will be extended by three months to December 2020 (note that this is not available to landlords who rent their property to a company in the business of providing short-term rentals, that is, serviced apartments).

Tasmanian registration freeze for light and heavy vehicles
Small businesses in Tasmania looking to suspend activity due to the COVID-19 business downturn and trading restrictions can apply to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to freeze their business vehicle registrations for both light and heavy vehicles (apply here). Registrations can be reactivated at no cost to them when the business restarts. The maximum period that a registration can be frozen is 12 months.

Victorian Dairy Farm Induction Program
The Dairy Farm Induction Program funded by the Victoria Government will assist to safely, effectively and rapidly on-board new dairy farmhand workers and provide opportunities for people seeking to kick start their career in dairy in Victoria. The program aims to provide a seamless experience for both dairy farmers and job seekers to access the information they need to successfully gain employment on Victorian dairy farms during COVID-19 and beyond. Clients can register their interest here.

19 August 2020

NEWS

JobKeeper amendment rules: Don't miss this Friday's deadline!
The latest amendment to JobKeeper requires employers, by this Friday 21 August 2020, to notify any newly eligible employees in writing of the business’s intention to apply for JobKeeper on their behalf. Meeting the wage condition deadline is 31 August. For more details, see "What employers should do now".
 
See this Fact and action checklist for all the latest JobKeeper amendments.

SA land tax reform transition fund
The SA Government has in place a measure affecting the previously announced land tax reform transitional relief fund, which is available to eligible taxpayers whose land tax bill will increase as a result of the changes in aggregation of land commencing from 1 July 2020. This will be boosted from 50% to 100% of the increase in an eligible taxpayer’s 2020-21 land tax assessment, and will be subject to the existing criteria. More details here.
 
Employees guide for work expenses
The ATO has recently updated its Employees guide for work expenses which can help employees decide whether expenses are deductible and what records are needed to be kept to substantiate them.
 
Guide to continuing business
The Federal Government has issued Guide on continuing in business in the face of the recent bushfires and COVID-19, which have had devastating outcomes for businesses. This guide provides positive steps your client can take now to help keep their business operating, including topics such as planning recovery, getting support, assessing finances, keeping operations running, reaching out to customers, and protecting the business.

 

18 August 2020

 

HELPLINE QUESTION

The current JobKeeper rules require that an entity carried on a business in Australia on 1 March 2020 to be eligible. Given the test time for eligible employees appears to be moving from 1 March 2020 to 1 July 2020, will the date at which an entity is required to be carrying on a business also change?

Answer: The information we have from the currently available fact sheets do not indicate any change to this requirement. However we have to wait until the JobKeeper 2.0 rules are released before we can have certainty on this question.

NEWS

JobKeeper employee eligibility expanded
The latest amendment to the JobKeeper 1.0 rules has been released. The major change is the admission of employees who were on the books as at 1 July 2020, from JobKeeper fortnight 10 (3-16 August). And in recognition of the short time available to employers to meet the wage condition for newly eligible employees, particularly in relation to JobKeeper fortnight 10, the ATO has given employers until 31 August 2020 to meet the wage condition for JobKeeper fortnights 10 (3-16 August) and 11 (17-30 August). Many more details here.
 
JobKeeper updates just keep coming
The ATO has issued some minor updates to JobKeeper guides for employee test requirements, employers reporting through STP, employers not reporting through STP, sole traders and not-for-profits and charities.
 
Guidance on long-term casual employee JobKeeper eligibility
The ATO has issued some guidance for employers to determine if their employee can be considered a long-term casual employee for JobKeeper purposes. If a casual employee was not an eligible employee prior to 3 August 2020, your employer clients can use the 1 July 2020 test to reassess that employee’s eligibility. The test requires that the employee be employed on a regular and systematic basis for the period 2 July 2019 to 1 July 2020.

17 August 2020

HELPLINE QUESTION

Question: Will the “12 March 2020” tests change in the JobKeeper 2.0 rules?
Answer: The information we have from the currently available fact sheets do not indicate any change to this requirement. However we have to wait until the JobKeeper 2.0 rules are released before we can have certainty on this question.

NEWS

Returning traveller quarantine fees in NSW: Only ex-Vic returning residents get waiver
As mentioned in the 13 August Daily Update, a moratorium on fees is in place for NSW residents returning to the state until 11 September. But the NSW Government has made it clear in a subsequent announcement that fees will still apply to returning international and domestic travellers who are not specifically returning from Victoria.
 
PCG for JobKeeper compliance concerns
Practical compliance guideline PCG 2020/4 deals with the ATO's compliance focus regarding schemes devised to access or increase JobKeeper payments. The guideline takes aim at contrived and artificial arrangements that technically satisfy the eligibility requirements, but have been implemented for the sole or dominant purpose of accessing a JobKeeper payment.
 
ACT payroll tax exemption for businesses that take on apprentices
The ACT Government, stating that economic impacts of COVID-19 are falling disproportionately on young people, has announced that it will offer a six-month payroll tax exemption for businesses who take on new or additional apprentices or trainees. The exemption would apply to six months of wages for eligible employees recruited from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021. The ACT Public Service graduate, cadet and apprenticeship program will also be extended to provide more positions over the next two years.
 
Support package for Canberran children, young people and families
Another ACT Government initiative (scroll down) is the Supporting Children, Young People and their Families Package. This includes:
  • One-off payments of $300 for each child and young person in foster and kinship care to support the wellbeing of young people and help ease the financial stress for carers whose employment or income may have been affected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • An extended carer subsidy for young people in out of home care who turn 18 this year to support living expenses, housing costs or connect them with training and employment.
  • Funding to support young carers to meet additional expenses, maintain wellbeing and support educational participation.
  • One-off grant payments to non-government service providers to assist with direct service delivery, brokerage and support for young people and their families to respond to increased demand for services.
     

15 August 2020

JobKeeper 1.0 Changes
Amendments to the JobKeeper 1.0 Rules were released on Friday 14th August. The amendments reflect the changes previously announced by the Treasurer and incorporated into the “JobKeeper Payment” factsheet.

The major change is the admission into the JobKeeper scheme of employees who were on the books as at 1 July 2020, from JobKeeper fortnight 10 (3rd August – 16th August). Additionally there are other tweaks to the 1.0 Rules which, at first glance, appear to be in line with changes Tax & Super Australia and other member advocates have been agitating for.

Tax & Super Australia will fully review the changes and bring you a comprehensive analysis next week

Wage Condition – JobKeeper Fortnight 10 and 11
As previously indicated by Tax & Super Australia, in recognition of the short time available to employers to meet the wage condition for newly eligible employees, particularly in relation to JobKeeper fortnight 10, the ATO have given employers until 31 August 2020 to meet the wage condition for JobKeeper fortnights 10 (3rd August – 16th August) and 11 (17th August – 30th August). 

14 August 2020

NEWS

Moratorium on hotel quarantine fee for NSW residents
NSW residents returning from Victoria will have their hotel quarantine fee waived for the next month to ease the financial burden on returnees.

APRA re-starts its engines in phased manner
In March, APRA announced the suspension of the majority of its planned policy and supervision initiatives in response to the impact of COVID-19. In April, the issuing of new licences was also suspended due to the significant challenges new entrants would have faced due to economic uncertainty. But it has this week announced that it will recommence public consultations on select policy reforms and begin a phased resumption of the issuing of new licenses.
 
Victorian mental health support
Locked-down Victorians should know that the state’s mental health system is to receive a $60 million shot in the arm to help citizens through the pandemic crisis — now and after the pandemic is over and its effects are still being felt.
 
COVID-19 frequently asked questions
The ATO COVID-19 frequently asked questions have been archived on the ATO’s legal database and embedded within the relevant topic areas on the ATO website. The documents provide a record of the frequently asked questions that were published to the main ATO website in the period following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Isolation payment increase for Victorians
Victoria will increase coronavirus isolation payments from $300 to $450 to encourage more people to stay home as they wait for COVID test results.The worker support payments are for employees who test positive and do not have any sick leave. More than 17,000 Victorians have applied for the payments so far.

13 August 2020

NEWS

Hotel quarantine fee relief for NSW residents returning from Victoria
NSW residents returning from Victoria will have their hotel quarantine fee waived for the next month to ease the financial burden on returnees, the NSW Government has announced. The charge will be waived retrospectively and apply to NSW residents already in hotel quarantine after travelling from Victoria. 
 
Regional tourism accommodation support for Victoria
The new restrictions mean residents in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, as well as some interstate visitors, are not able to travel to regional Victoria. As a result, there have been significant booking cancellations with regional accommodation providers. Businesses in regional Victoria impacted by these cancellations will be able to apply for a payment of up to $225 per booking, per night up to a maximum of $1,125. Applications are open until the end of the current Stay at Home restrictions or when funds are exhausted. Applications can be made at Business Victoria.

Temporary changes to director obligations
The Federal Government has announced that to lessen the threat of actions that could unnecessarily push otherwise profitable and viable businesses into insolvency and help ensure they can resume normal operations when the crisis has passed, the following temporary measures have been put in place:

  • Relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent
  • Increasing the threshold for creditors issuing a statutory demand on a company from $2,000 to $20,000 and extending the timeframe for a company to respond from 21 days to six months
  • Increasing the threshold for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings from $5,000 to $20,000 and extending the time period for debtors to respond to a bankruptcy notice from 21 days to six months and extending the period of protection a debtor receives after declaring an intention to enter voluntary bankruptcy from 21 days to six months
  • 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 more information, read the Federal Government fact sheet.
 
Find out how your local government can assist
Local governments across the state of Victoria are doing what they can to support businesses and local communities at this time. To find out how your council can help your business, please visit www.viccouncils.asn.au/find-your-council.

12 August 2020

 
HELPLINE QUESTION
Question
: Can I close my business while receiving JobKeeper? 
Answer: A business can “hibernate” (the Prime Minister’s phrase) during the pandemic with a view to being in a position to reopen as soon as possible and permitted, and remain eligible for JobKeeper. It is necessary for its employees to remain “on the books” for the JobKeeper payments to be made to those employees. Additionally the eligible business participant must remain “actively engaged in the business”.

Also, an entity does not qualify for the JobKeeper scheme at a time if:
  • where the entity is a company—a liquidator or provisional liquidator has been appointed in relation to the company; or
  • where the entity is an individual—a trustee in bankruptcy has been appointed to the individual’s property.

NEWS

Last chance to apply for NSW COVID-19 recovery grant
This coming Sunday, 16 August, is the cut-off date for applications for the NSW Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Grant. If your client’s small business or not-for-profit organisation has experienced a decline in turnover as a result of COVID-19, they may be eligible for a small business recovery grant of between $500 and $3000. But applications close in a few days, so your eligible clients will appreciate a phone call. See here for eligibility conditions, and here to apply online.

Tax Practitioners Board offers helping hand
The TPB has reached out to Victorian practitioners with offers of help. It says it has taken temporary measures in revising some of its policies and are providing additional support around registration renewals. These include:

Working for Victoria Fund
The Victorian Council of Social Services and Victorian Trades Hall Council, alongside the Victorian Government, will administer a $500 million Working for Victoria Fund. Displaced workers will be eligible to apply for different opportunities for paid work and to contribute to Victoria’s ability to manage this event and support the community. The initiative also assists businesses to employ Victorian job seekers who have lost jobs as a result of COVID-19. Further information is available for job seekers and for businesses

Top end closed to the rest of the country for at least 18 months
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has said that he will keep the Territory’s border guarded for at least another 18 months, and aims to recruit extra police to keep the barriers in place. Victorians are likely to be banned indefinitely, he said.

NEWS

Victorian pubs, clubs and restaurants support
Business Victoria has announced a $40 million package of support for pubs, clubs and restaurants in order to provide rent relief to venues that are not covered by the Commercial tenancy relief scheme. This initiative provides eligible businesses with:

  • Reimbursement of up to $20,000 per business group for expenses incurred in obtaining specialist business and tenancy advice since 29 March 2020
  • Free mediation services to help tenants and landlords reach a fair and proportionate commercial outcome on rental payments
  • Relief for commercial rent hardship of up to $150,000 per business group where it can be shown that the business has sought to negotiate in good faith with the landlord with no result.

Liquor licence fee relief
Victorian businesses that have paid for a renewable liquor licence for 2020 will be reimbursed their licence fee and those yet to pay will have the fee waived. The State Revenue Office will administer the reimbursement, regardless of whether the licence fee was paid to it or the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.
 
Payment terms for government suppliers fast-tracked
The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) says that the Government will pay all outstanding supplier invoices within five business days. VCCI says it is urging the private sector to do the same where possible.
 
Social Security determination regarding JobKeeper re-issued
A determination issued on 28 April this year modified the Administration Act to authorise the provision of JobKeeper information (including TFNs) by the Commissioner to Social Services. It also modified the operating rules to allow determining if a person who benefits from JobKeeper has also made a claim for a social security payment, or indeed qualified for one. The new determination (Social Security (Coronavirus Economic Response—2020 Measures No. 12) Determination 2020) amends the previous one (No. 5) to determine additional modifications for which the Social Services can use JobKeeper information provided by the Commissioner under section 204A of the Administration Act.
 
CBD business support fund: More details
Mention was made in yesterday’s Daily Update that early registration of interest was being accepted for participation in the Business Victoria CBD business support fund. The City of Melbourne released its local economic stimulus package to support city businesses affected by COVID-19. The package includes the suspension of fees for Food Act registrations and street trading permits for three months, halving rent for eligible tenants in Council owned buildings for three months and rates hardship support. For immediate support, contact the Business Concierge Service on 9658 9658 (press 1 for Business Concierge) or visit City of Melbourne Business for more information.

7 August 2020

NEW CHANGES TO JOBKEEPER LEGISLATION

Today the Treasurer announced two changes to the JobKeeper scheme. The first makes it easier for organisations to qualify for the JobKeeper payment extension from 28 September 2020, while the second change adjusts the reference date for employee eligibility.

  • Business Turnover Test
    Businesses will need to meet one of the decline in turnover tests for the September 2020 quarter to be eligible for JK for the period 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021. Further businesses will have to have met the decline in turnover tests for the December 2020 quarter to be eligible for JK for the period 4 January to 28 March 2021.
  • Eligible Employee Test
    The reference date for assessing which employees are eligible for the JobKeeper Payment is now 1 July 2020 with effect from 3 August 2020. The reference period for employees regarding their hours worked to determine their tier of payment will be the two fortnightly pay periods prior to 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020. The period with the higher number of hours is to be used for employees who were eligible at 1 March 2020.

Read more information from Treasury.

Helpline Questions

Do the CFB, JK and the various other Federal and State COVID-19 assistance packages need to be included in the calculation of GST turnover for the decline in turnover tests and monthly reporting?

Only consideration for supplies (as defined in the GST Act) need to be included in the calculation of GST turnover. Government assistance and grants are only considered to be consideration for a supply where the recipient of the grant is required to perform some action, or give up something in order to receive the assistance or grant. This is not the case for the various COVID-19 assistance. Therefore the various assistance packages should not be included in the calculation of GST turnover. Please refer to Law Companion Ruling LCR 2020/1 paragraphs 24 ~ 25 and also see GST and grants QC 21423.

 

For more frequently asked questions...

The ATO's COVID-19 frequently asked questions have been archived on the ATO’s legal database and embedded within the relevant topic areas on the ATO website.


NEWS

Employees guide for work expenses

The Employees guide for work expenses to help employees decide whether expenses are deductible, and what records need to keep to substantiate them, has been updated.


Business grants program expanded

The Victorian Government has announced that the one-off support grants that it had earlier established are to be expanded. Grants will be made available to eligible businesses under the Business Support Fund-Expansion program:

  • $10,000 for employing businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire in recognition of spending longer under restrictions
  • $5,000 for employing businesses in regional local government areas (except Mitchell Shire)
Businesses that have already received a Business Support Fund-Expansion grant, or have applied for one, will not need to re-apply. Successful applicants will automatically receive this additional allocation. Also, applications for the program will be extended until 14 September 2020.
Under current law, such grants are assessable under s 6-5 or s 15-10 of ITAA 1997 (ie a bounty or subsidy that is received in relation to carrying on a business). See also TR 2006/3 which provides that a "government payment to industry" to assist a business to continue operating, except where the payment is for agreeing to give up or sell part of the profit yielding structure, is included as assessable income of the recipient under section 6-5 or section 15-10.

 

Coronavirus payroll tax relief - claim a refund

Businesses with annual Victorian taxable wages up to $3 million will have their payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year waived. Eligible businesses can claim an emergency tax relief refund of payroll tax already paid in the 2019-20 financial year (see this SRO page for details).


Commissioner’s pledge to Victorian practitioners

The Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan has published a message of support to Victorian tax professionals. He states that the ATO is committed to providing the help you need through this difficult period and that it has a range of practical support options available.


Surgeries on hold in regional Victoria

From midnight last night, public hospitals in regional Victoria have wound back all non-urgent surgery. Where possible, Category 3 and non-urgent Category 2 surgery which is already booked should still take place, however that will be at the hospital’s discretion. No new non-urgent surgeries will be booked.


Worker support payment and test isolation payment

If you or a client test positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact of a confirmed case, you may be eligible for the $1500 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Support Payment that provides financial support while you are quarantining at home. Also available is a $300 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment that provides financial support while taxpayers self-isolate to wait for the results of a coronavirus (COVID-19) test.


6 August 2020

Helpline Question

Topic: Client access during lockdown
Question: Can a tax agent in the Stage 4 areas visit clients?
Answer: The industry restrictions guidance mentioned in Tuesday’s Daily Update rule this out. With accounting services not listed as a permitted activity, tax professionals will not be allowed to apply for the permitted worker scheme to allow employees to travel to work. However the introductory text says: “Sole operators can continue to operate, if they do not have contact with the public, or with people other than those persons living in their primary household”. Tax agents with doubts could check with Victorian police, or call the Department of Health & Human Services on 1300 650 172 or Business Victoria on 13 22 15.

Submission made to Victorian Premier
Regarding the above, members should note that Tax & Super Australia, along with 10 other professional accounting and bookkeeping bodies, has made a request of the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to grant tax professionals access to the permitted worker scheme to travel to their own practices or their clients’ business premises to access crucial physical documents. “For some tax practitioners and their clients, these restrictions will result in an inability to access time-critical tax advice, lodge obligations on time (e.g. payment summaries) or make payments on time (eg payment notices such as notices of assessment for clients could go unopened for six weeks, extending beyond the due date of the payment),” we said. “Also, some may miss out on stimulus payments (eg not claiming JobKeeper on time) and suffer significant penalties (eg where they are unable to access the superannuation guarantee amnesty).” We will advise of any response as it comes to hand.

JobKeeper still open
Members are reminded that applications for the JobKeeper subsidy are still open. Some accountants are still confused by this. Some are under the impression that the ability to claim the JobKeeper subsidy was closed at some stage in the year ended 30 June 2020. This is not the case. For example, if a client projects a downturn in turnover of greater than (for most cases) 30% for the months of August or September 2020 or for the quarter ending 30 September 2020, the JobKeeper subsidy can still be claimed. Due to the rapid imposition of Stage 4 restrictions in parts of Victoria, some businesses that previously may have thought that they would not suffer a 30% or more decline in turnover may now consider that this will occur. Tax & Super Australia is involved with a submission to the ATO with regard to assisting businesses in this situation and we will let you know the outcome of the submission as soon as we can.

Victorian childcare centre top-up from Federal Government
In a measure that stops short of re-introducing free childcare, the Federal Government will make top-up payments to Victorian childcare centres and give parents an extra 30 days of allowable absences to maintain their enrolments. Childcare centres will receive a 5% top-up payment in addition to the transition package outlaid for the sector to replace JobKeeper in June. A larger top-up of between 10% and 25% of the existing transition payment will be given to centres that see attendance levels reduce to less than 30% over the next six weeks, in a bid to ensure revenue remains about 80% to 85% of pre-COVID levels, on average, across the sector. Also see the Premier’s announcement  regarding access to childcare.

5 August 2020

Pandemic leave payments to start for Victoria
The Federal government has announced, via Services Australia, that it is to introduce a pandemic leave disaster payment of $1,500 a fortnight for workers without sick leave who need to self-isolate. To be jointly funded by state governments declared in a “disaster”, the new $1,500 payment is intended to “supplement and support” Victoria’s existing payment system by covering the fortnight of self-isolation after a positive result. The fastest way to claim is to call Services Australia on 180 22 66. More details are here.


Working permits required from tonight

From 11.59pm Wednesday 5 August 2020, Victorian employers that require their staff to attend a place of work must issue each staff member with a worker permit. See this Business Victoria web page for eligibility and for the permit template.


Stage 4 law states that operational businesses must have a COVID Safe Plan

Under Victoria’s Stage 4 restrictions, there are new requirements for businesses. Certain services and industries will be able to remain operational and will be required by law to have a COVID Safe Plan. Every employer must complete this plan by 11.59pm 7 August 2020. See this web page for guidance, templates and conditions.


Strict new procedures for Victorian flights to NSW

The NSW government has announced that a strict permit system will be in place for all flights arriving in NSW from Victoria, with all passengers undergoing police and health checks on arrival. The new health measures in place for all Victorian flights will help stop the spread of COVID-19 in NSW.


Commercial tenancy relief scheme

Through Business Victoria, the Commercial tenancy relief scheme will provide the following support:

  • a six-month moratorium on commercial tenancy evictions from 29 March 2020 for the non-payment of rent for small to medium enterprises with an annual turnover under $50 million that have experienced a minimum 30 per cent reduction in turnover due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • freeze on rent increases during the moratorium for commercial tenants
  • a rental payment waiver or deferral proportionate to commercial tenants’ income reduction due to coronavirus (COVID-19), to be negotiated between tenant and landlord
  • a mediation service for commercial tenants and landlords to support fair tenancy negotiations.

 

Tax relief — landlords, businesses
The Victorian Government has announced a range of tax relief measures – land tax relief, payroll tax relief, liquor licence fee relief and motor vehicle duty relief – in response to coronavirus (COVID-19). The Treasurer has directed the Commissioner of State Revenue to give effect to these measures. In addition to these measures, the State Revenue Office is assisting people impacted by the pandemic by remitting penalties and interest charged on some assessments and providing interest-free instalment plans.

See video on how to apply for land tax relief below.