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  • Small Business Stewardship Group special briefing 7 May 2020

    COVID-19

    Early release of superannuation

    On Tuesday 5 May 2020 the Prime Minster announcedExternal Link that over one million applications for early release of super have been made, totalling almost $10 billion.

    The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority has advised the average time for funds to make payment is 1.6 days.

    Recent media reports that Australian Taxation Office systems have been hacked are incorrect. Limited cases of identity fraud were promptly identified and referred to the Australian Federal Police.

    Boosting cash flow for employers

    Eligibility is assessed by the ATO and credited via activity statements. The cash flow boost will still be applied to activity statements lodged after the due date.

    There continue to be questions from taxpayers not receiving the full $10,000 boost credit. Generally, upon investigation, this is because the credit has been offset against debits on the same activity statement.

    JobKeeper payments

    JobKeeper payments began flowing to the community on Wednesday 6 May 2020.

    Payments are now being made daily. The ATO sends a file to the Reserve Bank of Australia each day and funds are then dispersed to the banks. The banks then credit the amount into the bank accounts of the employers. The timing of when funds appear in employers’ accounts varies between banks, depending on their usual processing timeframes.

    The ATO is proactively engaging with employers that have enrolled for JobKeeper but have not identified their employees or made the declaration to receive payments. SMS and email reminders began issuing on Thursday 7 May 2020.

    The enrolment process has been updated to remind taxpayers to print or save a pdf copy of their enrolment receipt. Taxpayers or their agents can contact the ATO call centre to request their receipt number.

    The extension to pay employees by Friday 8 May 2020 for the first two JobKeeper fortnights will not be extended further.

    Members expressed concerns about the monthly reporting requirement potentially being used as a mechanism to stop payments for businesses that may not meet the 30% reduction in turnover test each month. However, the ATO clarified eligibility for JobKeeper is based on the initial self-assessment of reduction in turnover. If in subsequent periods the reduction in turnover is less than 30%, this will not affect ongoing eligibility.

    Agency updates

    On Thursday 7 May 2020, the Treasury, Australian Federal Police and ATO attended the Senate Select Committee Inquiry on the Government’s COVID-19 stimulus measures.

    The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) continue to receive many enquiries from small businesses. It was noted many enquiries relate to policy matters, such as only one partner in a partnership being eligible for JobKeeper payments and inconsistent outcomes relating to different types of employees.

    ASBFEO noted they have also received positive feedback from businesses who have already received their JobKeeper payments.

    The My Business HealthExternal Link web portal can be found on the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman website. The website offers free tools, templates and useful tips to help small business owners manage day to day operations while prioritising their wellbeing.

    Members insights

    Ongoing commercial tenancy issues continue to be a theme across the states and territories.

    There has been concern that JobKeeper payments may push some employers over the minimum thresholds for some state payroll taxes. The Queensland Government has announced employers whose JobKeeper payments push them over the minimum threshold will not have to pay payroll tax.

    Several members expressed a fear of negative consequences from making inadvertent mistakes and that this could inhibit eligible small businesses from enrolling in JobKeeper.

    Members were concerned that some industrial relations policy issues need further clarity. For example, can employer's direct casual employees to work more hours if their JobKeeper payment is more than they would otherwise be earning? For more information on industrial relations implications of JobKeeper, visit Coronavirus.fairwork.gov.auThis link opens in a new window

    Communication updates

    The ATO continues to refine its answers to top call centre questions published on the website.

    A principles-based approach is being developed to help taxpayers understand how the ATO will consider and support taxpayers who make genuine mistakes when claiming any COVID-19 stimulus measures.

    New JobKeeper communications for 16-17 year olds will issue to target groups on Friday 8 May 2020.

    Members are asked to share and promote ATO social media posts on JobKeeper and other stimulus measures.

    The ATO has recently released a number of JobKeeper podcasts.

      Last modified: 11 Jun 2020QC 62844