Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Additional $250 Economic Support Payments on the way

Monday, December 7th, 2020
Two additional Economic Support Payments of $250 each will soon be available to people who get any one of the following:
• Age Pension;
• Carer Allowance;
• Carer Payment;
• Commonwealth Seniors Health Card;
• Disability Support Pension;
• Double Orphan Pension;
• Family Tax Benefit Part; or
• Pensioner Concession Card.
TIP: The $250 payments are not available to anyone who receives the Coronavirus Supplement.
To be eligible for the additional payments, you must receive an eligible payment (or have an eligible card) on:
• 27 November 2020 to get a $250 payment in December 2020; and
• 26 February 2021 to get a $250 payment in March 2021.
These additional cash payments follow the two $750 stimulus payments made in April and July 2020 for social security and veteran income support recipients and concession card holders.

Coronavirus Supplement extended (but reduced)

Monday, December 7th, 2020
The Federal Government’s Coronavirus Supplement has been extended for a further three months. The Supplement payments were due to end on 31 December 2020, but the latest extension will allow them to run until 31 March 2021, which will be welcome news for many individuals still struggling with unemployment and other economic difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Supplement rate will be further cut from 1 January 2021 to $150 per fortnight.
The supplement was originally introduced in April 2020 at a rate of $550 per fortnight, which effectively doubled the rate of certain social security payments, including JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Austudy. Individuals eligible for these payments received the full amount of the $550 Coronavirus Supplement on top of their payment each fortnight, lifting the total payment to $1,100 for most people.
The initial supplement was extended until 31 December 2020 at $250 per fortnight, and while the latest extension may be welcome news for unemployed or underemployed Australians, the supplement will now be further reduced to $150 per fortnight from 1 January 2021 (until 31 March 2021).
Previous arrangements that increased the income-free area of the JobSeeker payment to $300 per fortnight will continue from 1 January 2021 to 31 March 2021, meaning that recipients of various payments can earn income of up to $300 per fortnight and still receive the maximum payment rate. The partner income test cut-out will be retained at an increased rate of $3,086.11 per fortnight ($80,238.89 per year), allowing recipients to continue accessing various payments.
Those on various support payments need to also be aware of the return of mutual obligation requirements which apply to recipients in all states and territories except Victoria (at the time of writing). This includes performing tasks and activities in the individual’s Job Plan, attending to tasks in online employment services, and/or attending all appointments with their employment provider either over the phone, online or in person. Failure to fulfil these mutual obligations could lead to suspensions of payments, and penalties.
Former employees, sole traders and self-employed individuals thinking of applying for the JobSeeker payment should also be aware that the assets test now applies, as well as the liquid assets waiting period, which could see those with savings having to wait up to 13 weeks to receive payments.

Digital AGMs and signatures: legislative determination

Monday, November 9th, 2020
The Government has formally extended the ability for companies to convene annual general meetings (AGMs) and other prescribed meetings entirely online until March 2021.
This extension allows company boards to:
• provide notice of AGMs to shareholders using email;
• achieve a quorum with shareholders attending online; and
• hold AGMs meetings online, with shareholders able to put questions to board members online and vote online.
Company officers are also permitted to use electronic signatures to meet the relevant legal requirements.

Insolvency reforms announced for small businesses

Monday, November 9th, 2020
The Government has announced that it will introduce insolvency reforms to help small businesses restructure in response to COVID-19, including:
• the introduction of a new debt restructuring process for incorporated businesses with liabilities of less than $1 million, drawing on key features from Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code;
• moving from a one-size-fits-all “creditor in possession” model to a more flexible “debtor in possession” model;
• providing a rapid 20-business day period for the development of a restructuring plan by a small business restructuring practitioner, followed by 15 business days for creditors to vote on the plan; and
• creating a new, simplified liquidation pathway for small businesses to allow faster and lower cost liquidation.
Safeguards will be included to prevent companies from using the new processes to undertake corporate misconduct, including firms seeking to carry out illegal phoenix activity.
The new insolvency processes are proposed to be available from 1 January 2021.

Super guarantee amnesty now closed

Monday, October 5th, 2020
The ATO has reminded employers that the superannuation guarantee (SG) amnesty closed on 7 September 2020. The amnesty enabled employers to self-correct historical SG underpayments, without incurring the normal penalties, for SG shortfalls from 1 July 1992 until 31 March 2018.
Any amnesty applications received by the ATO after 11:59pm on 7 September will not qualify for the
amnesty and but instead will be treated as a standard lodgment of a super guarantee charge (SGC) statement.
The ATO will notify late applicants in writing of the quarters that aren’t eligible for the SG amnesty and charge the administrative component ($20 per employee per quarter), also considering whether to remit the additional SGC penalty (up to 200%). A minimum penalty of 100% will apply if the ATO subsequently commences an audit in respect of non-disclosed quarters covered by the amnesty.
The ATO will issue a notice of amended assessment with the increased SGC amount owing. Any SGC payments made after 7 September 2020 are not deductible, even if they relate to SG shortfalls disclosed under the amnesty.
To retain the benefits of the amnesty, the law requires an eligible employer to pay the outstanding SGC amount in full or enter into a payment plan with the ATO. Note that the SGC amount disclosed in an amnesty application must be paid to the ATO (not the employee’s super fund).
Amnesty payments made after 7 September 2020 are not deductible (including amounts paid under a payment plan after 7 September). If an employer is subsequently unable to maintain payments under a payment plan, the ATO will disqualify the employer from the amnesty and remove the amnesty benefits for any unpaid quarters.

Super choice of fund and enterprise agreements

Monday, October 5th, 2020
With recent changes to Australia’s superannuation law, the “choice of super fund” regime now extends to employees covered by enterprise agreements and workplace determinations made from 1 January 2021.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has said this will allow another 800,000 people to make choices about where their super guarantee contributions are invested, representing around 40% of all employees covered by a current enterprise agreement. The measure was originally announced as part of the Government’s response to the Murray Financial Services Inquiry (FSI) in October 2015.

Extended COVID-19 support and relief measures

Monday, October 5th, 2020

JobKeeper
The end date of the JobKeeper scheme has now been extended from 27 September 2020 to 28 March 2021, as announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 21 July 2020. The relevant legislation also amends tax secrecy provisions in relation to JobKeeper and extends certain provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 implemented in response to COVID-19.
From 27 September until March 2021, there will be a two-tiered JobKeeper payment:
• for the December quarter, payments will be reduced from $1,500 to $1,200 per fortnight per employee, or $750 for workers employed for less than 20 hours a week; and
• for the March quarter, payments will be $1,000 per fortnight, or $650 for workers employed for less than 20 hours a week.
The employment reference date has also been extended from 1 March to 1 July 2020 via a change in the statutory rules.
The law now requires that an eligible financial service provider issues a written certificate that relates to a specified employer, stating that the employer satisfied the 10% “decline in turnover test” for the designated quarter applicable to a specified time.

Coronavirus Supplement
The period for payment of the COVID-19 Supplement has now been extended from 25 September to 18 December 2020, but at the reduced rate of $250 per fortnight (down from $550). This measure was announced by Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on 21 July 2020. A further instrument will be made to extend the COVID-19 Supplement from 19 December to 31 December 2020.
The income-free area is temporarily increased to $300 a fortnight for certain JobSeeker Payment recipients for the period 25 September 2020 to 31 December 2020, and the partner income taper rate for JobSeeker Payment recipients has been adjusted.

COVID-19 early release of super
As part of the Economic and Fiscal Update in July 2020, the Government announced that it would extend the application period to allow those dealing with adverse economic effects of COVID-19 to access up to $10,000 of their super (tax-free) for the 2020–2021 year. This has now been achieved, allowing an application via the myGov website to access $10,000 of super until 31 December 2020 (extended from 24 September).

Bankruptcy concessions and director liability safe harbour extension
The Government has announced that it will extend its temporary insolvency and bankruptcy protections until 31 December 2020. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that regulations will be made to extend the temporary increase in the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive.
The changes will also extend the temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent.

ATO updates on new JobKeeper arrangements

Monday, October 5th, 2020

The ATO has also released an array of new and updated information sheets addressing the changes to JobKeeper. Here is a summary of some main points to consider.
Actual decline in turnover test
The ATO states that the actual decline in turnover test can be satisfied in two ways, using:
the basic test; or
the alternative test.
The basic test involves the comparison of actual GST turnover for the relevant comparison periods (eg September 2020 to September 2019). Generally, businesses will use the basic test. The option of an alternative test has been made available for some cases where the normal comparison period is not appropriate. There is also a modified basic test for group employer labour entities.
The actual decline test is similar to the “original” decline in turnover test, except that:
it must be used for specific quarters only;
actual sales made in the relevant quarter must be used, not projected sales, when working out GST turnover; and
sales must be allocated to the relevant quarter in the same way a business would report those sales to a particular BAS (if registered for GST).

Decline in turnover tests

The ATO states that existing JobKeeper participants have already satisfied the original decline in turnover test, and do not need to satisfy it again. They do, however, need to satisfy the actual decline in turnover test.

New participants also need to satisfy the actual decline in turnover test. Although they need to satisfy the original decline in turnover test, they will satisfy it if they satisfy the actual decline in turnover test – and they can enrol on that basis.
Employers now unable to claim JobKeeper should notify their eligible employees. Employees should also be advised that the employer is no longer obligated to pay them the amount equivalent to JobKeeper. Those employees will not be eligible to be nominated for JobKeeper by any other entity.
There is no obligation to do monthly reporting during extension period in which an employer is not eligible to receive JobKeeper.

JobKeeper key dates
For the JobKeeper fortnights starting 28 September 2020 and 12 October 2020 only, the ATO is allowing employers until 31 October 2020 to meet the wage condition for all employees included in the JobKeeper scheme. In addition, to claim payment for the September JobKeeper fortnights, employers must have enrolled by 30 September.

80-hour threshold for employees
The ATO states that a full-time employee who has been employed for their full 28-day reference period will usually satisfy the 80-hour threshold.
However, closer examination may be required for eligible employees who are:
part-time;
long-term casual;
not paid on an hourly basis; and/or
stood down.
If an employee has been stood down, an alternative reference period may apply to them.
Any overtime performed by an employee in the course of their employment in their 28-day reference period will count towards the 80-hour threshold. It is the actual hours of overtime performed that count; that is, if a penalty rate loading applies, it does not increase the number of hours counted.

Eligible employees
Employers cannot claim for employees who:
were first employed after 1 July 2020;
left employment before 1 July 2020 (except in limited circumstances);
have been, or have agreed to be, nominated by another employer (except in limited circumstances); or
are casual employees, unless they were employed by the employer on a regular and systematic basis during the 12-month period that ended 1 July 2020.
If employees have multiple employers, they can usually choose which employer they want to be nominated by. However, if employees are long-term casuals and have other permanent employment, they must choose their permanent employer. They can’t be nominated for the JobKeeper payment by more than one employer.
Employers must also have given a JobKeeper employee nomination notice to any additional employees who first become eligible on or after 3 August 2020 using the 1 July test. This should have been given to any newly eligible employees by 24 August 2020. If not already done, the ATO says it should be done as soon as possible.

JobKeeper extension period 1 (Stage 2) and period 2 (Stage 3)

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Although you do not need to re-enrol in JobKeeper, you do need to notify the ATO of your eligible employees and what rate you are paying them as part of your normal payday reporting in October. This can easily be done through Single Touch Payroll.

For the extension period commencing from 28 September 2020, employers will need to show that their actual GST turnover has declined in the September 2020 quarter compared to the relative to a comparable period being September 2019 quarter. For many businesses registered for GST, this calculation will match the ‘total sales’ reported at G1 on your BAS minus GST payable (1A), where applicable. If you are not registered for GST, you will work out your turnover using either the GST cash or non-cash basis of accounting. This needs to be done before 31 October 2020.

Alternative tests for determining actual decline in turnover may be available in some circumstances and the ATO encourages businesses to seek guidance if necessary.

Rates of Pay

The extension period 1 will run from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021. Tier 1: $1,200 per fortnight (before tax) Worked over 80 hours for the 4 weeks prior to 1 March 2020. Tier 2: $750 per fortnight (before tax). Worked less than 80 hours for the 4 weeks prior to 1 March 2020.

The extension period 2 will run from 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021. Tier 1: $1,000 per fortnight (before tax) Worked over 80 hours for the 4 weeks prior 1 March 2020. Tier 2: $650 per fortnight (before tax). Worked less than 80 hours for the 4 weeks prior to 1 March 2020.

The following are the key dates for employers to remember:

Time Steps
Now Notify employees about the JobKeeper payment they can expect to receive.
28 September 2020 Start paying eligible employees Tier 1 and Tier 2 JobKeeper rates, based on their hours worked.
From 28 September If the employer is using Single Touch Payroll to notify the ATO of eligible employees, then the employer should provide each eligible employee’s Tier as part of the normal payday reporting.
The employer must also enrol for the JobKeeper payment if it is doing so for the first time.
Between 1 and 14 October 2020 Complete the October JobKeeper monthly business declarations to receive reimbursement for the September fortnights.
Before 31 October 2020 Ensure the wage conditions for all eligible employees included in the JobKeeper scheme for the JobKeeper fortnights starting 28 September 2020 and 12 October 2020 are met.
From 1 November 2020 Complete the monthly business declaration and confirm what payment tier is claimed for each employee.

Grants – Victorian Government Business Support Fund 3

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

You may be entitled to the Third round of Victorian Government Business Support Grants

On 13 September 2020, the Victorian Government announced a new support package to help businesses survive the impacts of continued coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown restrictions and to keep Victorians in jobs.  Business Support Fund 3 specifically targets businesses in industry sectors that have been Restricted, Heavily restricted or Closed as a result of continued restrictions outlined in Victoria’s roadmap for reopening.

1           Standard Eligibility Criteria

1.1           To be eligible for the Fund, businesses must have all the following:

2           Demonstration of eligibility
2.1          Applicants must certify that they meet the eligibility criteria and intend to remain trading at the end of restrictions.
2.2          Industry sector: To be eligible, an Applicant’s primary business activity must be in an eligible industry sector or sub sector and this must be reflected in the applicant’s Australian Business Number (ABN) registration information. Applicants should review their details at Australian Business Register website and update these details if needed prior to submitting an application. This includes ensuring that their industry classification (ANZSIC class code) linked to their ABN registration correctly captures their primary business type.
2.3          JobKeeper ID: Applicants must provide evidence of participation in the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper Payment scheme in the form of either a JobKeeper Business Monthly Declaration Receipt ID number or JobKeeper Enrolment Receipt ID generated from the ATO business portal.
2.4          WorkSafe Number: Applicants must demonstrate they are located in Victoria and employ people by providing their WorkCover Employer Number or WorkSafe Application Reference Number.[1]

3           Available funding

3.1          The total grant will be: $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 depending on the size of the business’ payroll for 2019/20:

  • $10,000 if its annual payroll is less than $650,000;
  • $15,000 if its annual payroll is between $650,000 and less than $3 million; or
  • $20,000 if its annual payroll is between $3 million and up to $10 million.
  • Meeting business costs, including utilities, salaries or rent;
  • Seeking financial, legal or other advice to support business continuity planning;
  • Developing the business through marketing and communications activities; or
  • Any other supporting activities related to the operation of the business.
  • Any adverse findings by a regulator regarding a business;
  • A business is placed under external administration;
  • There is a petition to wind up or deregister a company or business; and
  • The business is or becomes deregistered or unregistered (including cancellation or lapse in registration.

3.2          A business as defined by its ABN can only receive one grant under Business Support Fund 3.

4           How the funding may be used

4.1          Grant funds may be used to assist the business, for example on:

5         Assessment Process

5.1          Funding will be allocated through a grant process, through which businesses are invited to apply for a grant.
5.2          As part of the assessment process, evidence provided by applicants will be subject to a crosscheck with other government agencies such as the State Revenue Office and Worksafe.
5.3          Any of the following circumstances may be taken into consideration in any decision whether to award a grant:
5.4          Businesses that have received assistance through the initial Business Support Fund, the Business Support Fund expansion, payroll tax rebate/waiver, or other coronavirus (COVID-19) programs can apply for assistance under Business Support Fund 3.
5.5          Businesses are not eligible for funding through this program where they have received funding under the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund.
5.6          Each application will be carefully considered and assessed against the eligibility criteria. If an unsuccessful applicant considers that their application has been incorrectly assessed, they will have the opportunity to lodge a complaint with Business Victoria. If after that consideration an applicant still believes their application has been incorrectly assessed, there will be an opportunity for arms-length review of their application.

6           Compliance and Audit

6.1          Commission, Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commissioner, Consumer Affairs Victoria and/or other applicable regulator.
6.2          Applicants will be subject to audit by the Victorian Government or its representatives and will be required to produce evidence (such as payroll reports to demonstrate impact) at the request of the Victorian Government for a period of four years after the grant has been approved.
6.3          If any information in the application is found to be false or misleading, or grants are not applied for the purposes of the business in accordance with the terms of funding as set out in these guidelines and attached application, the grant will be repayable on demand.

7           Other information about this Fund

7.1          The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions reserves the right to amend these guidelines and application terms at any time as it deems appropriate.
7.2          The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions will endeavour to notify all applicants of the outcome of their submitted application within 5 business days.

8           Closing date and how to apply

8.1          The Program will be open for applications until the date the Business Support Fund 3 is exhausted or 11.59pm on 23 November 2020, whichever is earlier.
8.2          Applicants are required to submit an application online via the Business Victoria website (business.vic.gov.au). All questions in the application need to be completed to ensure timely assessment and grant payment.
8.3          Further information may be found at business.vic.gov.au or through the Business Victoria Hotline at 13 22 15.


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