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  • Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group special briefing 6 May 2020

    COVID-19

    Early release of Superannuation

    Assistant Commissioner Sonia Corsini provided an update on early release of superannuation. The latest publicly released figuresExternal Link by the Prime Minister are that over 1 million applications have been received totalling almost $10 billion.

    The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has issued statistics for the first week of applicationsExternal Link showing that funds took on average 1.6 days to make payment.

    The ATO will shortly commence contacting individuals where there are concerns about their eligibility.

    Service Delivery

    Deputy Commissioner Grant Brodie provided an update on the ATO’s contact centres. The ATO is still experiencing a significantly high number of calls each day. Average wait times have halved from last week. From Monday 4 May 2020 the ATO contact centre has commenced operating from 8.00am–8.00pm AEST.

    Frequently asked questions received this week include JobKeeper and eligibility for early release of super. People are already asking ‘Where’s my money?’ We expect that questions will shift as payments start being issued. Common questions about JobKeeper, cash flow boost and early release of super are being captured on our ato.gov.au.

    Cash flow boost

    Assistant Commissioner Kasey Macfarlane provided an update on the cash flow boost measure. Cash flow boost credits are now being allocated to eligible businesses as the March 2020 activity statements are lodged.

    Clients that have not lodged or have a deferral of time to lodge the 2018–19 income tax return will not be disadvantaged or excluded from accessing the cash flow boost credits provided that an activity statement has been lodged within the period of 1 July 2018 and 12 March 2020, showing taxable supplies. Credits will be automatically applied.

    In circumstances where clients have not lodged income tax returns or activity statements for these periods and consider they would otherwise be eligible for the cash flow boost, they should contact the ATO to provide evidence of their business activities to confirm eligibility.

    Cash flow boost credits are a credit on the activity statement that are offset against GST and pay as you go liabilities reported on the same activity statement. Where there is residual credit, this will be refunded. Credits will not be offset against any other ATO debts or liabilities that do not form part of that activity statement.

    We encourage clients to contact us if they receive credits they are not eligible for, or if they have not been paid their expected entitlement after lodging their March 2020 activity statement.

    Communications

    Assistant Commissioner Sally Bektas provided an update on communication activities. Sally advised legislation has been updated to include JobKeeper eligibility for 16 and 17 year olds. Communication regarding this update was sent to Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group members on Wednesday 6 May 2020.

    A common question being raised now is ‘When is my JobKeeper payment coming through?’ We are still seeing questions around eligibility. JobKeeper is also currently trending number one on Twitter.

    A joint webinar with the ATO and Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) is scheduled for 12 May at 11.00am AEST featuring ATO Deputy Commissioner Hoa Wood and TPB Secretary/Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Neill. The webinarExternal Link will focus on compliance and support available for tax practitioners.

    The ATO will continue to keep clients informed as much as possible utilising all channels.

    Tips and links

    • Your clients may account for GST on a cash or accruals basis. Find out how they can calculate their GST turnover when determining their eligibility for the JobKeeper payment.
    • We have reminded tax practitioners through our Tax professionals newsletter that using your clients' personal login details to access their individual ATO Online accounts through myGov is not an approved channel to manage your clients' tax affairs.
    • Some sole traders and other entities (such as partnerships, trusts or companies) may need the Commissioner to exercise his discretion to be entitled to JobKeeper payment under the business participation entitlement. The JobKeeper – application form for Commissioner’s discretion in respect of an eligible business participant has now been released.

    Links

      Last modified: 19 May 2020QC 62658