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  • Small Business Stewardship Group special briefing 24 April 2020

    COVID-19

    ABN registrations - recent highlights

    Deputy Commissioner Michelle Crosby provided an update on recent trends regarding ABN registrations.

    Registrations are growing at around 7% - down from around 8% in February.

    There is significant growth in registrations in health-related sectors, couriers, food delivery and community services. Declines in registrations are occurring in the taxi / people movement, commercial property services and take away food sectors, amongst other sectors.

    Early release of superannuation

    Assistant Commissioner Sonia Corsini provided an update on the early release of superannuation.

    Applications opened on 20 April 2020 with 450,000 received by 24 April. Processing is progressing well.

    An individual cannot apply for a determination to release super under the coronavirus early access arrangements where the super amount is held by the ATO. If the individual is not eligible for a direct payment of ATO-held superannuation, they will need to request a transfer of the ATO-held balance into an account held by a super provider on their behalf before requesting its release.

    This may mean that an individual needs to set up a super fund account if they do not have one. More information can be found at ATO-held super.

    Members highlighted that a number of small business owners are using their early release of super to pay staff so they can access the JobKeeper scheme.

    Cash flow boost

    Assistant Commissioner Andrew Watson had previously advised that credits and refunds would begin from 28 April 2020. System upgrades occurred on the weekend of 18–19 April 2020 and as a result many refunds have already been processed. The ATO website has been updated accordingly.

    The system deployment is working well and no significant issues were identified during the testing phase.

    Members reported some conflicting advice regarding the need to lodge activity statements to receive the boost and uncertainty over the treatment of start-up businesses that are yet to lodge an activity statement.

    The latest advice regarding lodgment and treatment of those yet to lodge an activity statement is available at Boosting cash flow for employers.

    Instant asset write off

    Assistant Commissioner Andrew Watson reiterated the expanded write-off must be claimed on 2019–20 income tax returns.

    Members highlighted that supply chain issues relating to COVID-19 related production and logistic delays may impact the ability of sourcing eligible machinery and equipment by 30 June 2020.

    JobKeeper

    Some key information was reiterated, including:

    • enrolments opened on 20 April – note ‘enrolling’ is different to ‘registering’ to receive information
    • employers must be enrolled and must have paid their employees to receive the JobKeeper subsidy. The due date for payments was extended from 30 April to 8 May. See Communications update.
    • businesses can still enrol in later months but JobKeeper will not be applied retrospectively
    • businesses only need to enrol once, however, there is a monthly reporting process
    • sole traders or the nominated partner in a partnership do not need to pay themselves to be eligible business participants
    • confirmation of the ‘one-in, all-in’ nature of the scheme

    A legislative instrument for alternative tests to determine eligibility for JobKeeper was enacted on 24 April 2020. Details of the alternative tests and a link to the instrument are now available on ato.gov.au.

    Members asked a number of questions about the scheme’s operation including:

    • What happens next after enrolment? When do I need to report?
    • Are start-up businesses that are yet to book revenue eligible for JobKeeper?
    • How do those businesses with irregular income streams demonstrate eligibility?
    • Will amounts transferred to salary sacrifice accounts qualify as having been paid?
    • Will Superannuation Guarantee need to be paid on the full amount of JobKeeper or for the normal salary an employee receives?
    • Will directors who are already receiving payments as employees on the payroll be eligible for JobKeeper?

    A number of these issues have been covered by the legislative instrument. Other issues will be followed up subsequent to the meeting.

    Communications update

    Assistant Commissioner Sally Bektas provided a website and communication activities update. The ATO is working to ensure that information is being updated as quickly as possible. A number of innovations include:

    • how to guides for JobKeeper are now available
    • people can subscribe to the RSS feed for the ATO’s COVID-19 web material, once subscribed, members will receive alerts when this information is updated
    • the orange banner on the ato.gov.au home page now has a link to the most common COVID-19 questions being taken by our call centres.
      Last modified: 13 May 2020QC 62618