Show download pdf controls
  • The Australian Government's economic response to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

    On 30 March, the government announced its intention to provide businesses affected by COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) with a subsidy to continue paying their employees.

    The JobKeeper Payment scheme is now law.

    Find out more:

    On 12 and 22 March, the government announced measures to help the economy withstand and recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. The following measures will be administered by us and are now law.

    JobKeeper Payment scheme

    Under the temporary JobKeeper Payment scheme, businesses significantly affected by COVID-19 can access a government subsidy of $1,500 per fortnight per employee for up to six months. This is to help them keep paying their employees.

    Eligibility

    Employers

    Employers (including not-for-profits) will be eligible for the subsidy if:

    • their business has a turnover under $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 30% compared with a similar period (of at least a month) last year
    • their business has a turnover of $1 billion or more and their turnover will be reduced by over 50% compared with a similar period (of at least a month) last year.

    Businesses subject to the Major Bank LevyExternal Link are not eligible for the subsidy.

    Employers need to:

    • apply to us
    • provide supporting information demonstrating a downturn in their business
    • report the number of eligible employees employed by the business on a monthly basis.

    Eligible employers will receive the payment for each eligible employee who:

    • was on their books on 1 March 2020
    • continues to be engaged by that employer.

    Self-employed individuals

    Self-employed individuals will be eligible to receive the JobKeeper payment if their turnover has reduced (or is expected to reduce) by 30% compared with a similar period (of at least a month) last year.

    Self-employed individuals need to:

    • apply to us
    • provide supporting information demonstrating a downturn in their business.

    Employees

    Eligible employees include:

    • full-time, part-time or long-term casuals (with their employer on a regular basis for at least 12 months) at 1 March 2020
    • stood-down employees of eligible employers on 1 March 2020
    • stood down employees re-engaged by a business that was their employer on 1 March 2020

    Where employees have multiple employers:

    • only one employer will be eligible to receive the JobKeeper payment.
    • the employee will need to notify their primary employer to claim the JobKeeper payment on their behalf
    • an employee claiming the tax-free threshold will, in most cases, be sufficient evidence the employer is their primary employer. To be eligible, employees must be one of the following:
      • an Australian citizen
      • the holder of a permanent visa
      • a Protected Special Category Visa Holder
      • a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more
      • a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder.
       

    If an employee has applied for support though Services Australia and the employer will be eligible for the JobKeeper payment, the employee needs to advise Services Australia of their new income.

    Payment process

    The JobKeeper payment will help employers to continue operating by subsidising all or part of their employees' income. We'll make the payments to the employer monthly, in arrears.

    Eligible employers will be paid $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee.

    Eligible employees will receive, a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight, before tax. Employers can top up the payment.

    • Employees will receive $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) if they were
      • employed on 1 March 2020
      • ceased employment with their employer due to the effects of COVID-19
      • re-engaged by the same eligible employer.
       

    Where employers participate in the scheme, their employees will receive the payment as follows:

    • if an employee's income is normally $1,500 or more per fortnight (before tax) they'll continue to receive their regular income according to their usual workplace arrangements
    • if an employee's income is less than $1,500 per fortnight (before tax), their employer must pay their employee $1,500 per fortnight (before tax).
    • if an employee has been stood down, their employer must pay their employee $1,500 per fortnight (before tax).

    It will be up to the employer to decide whether to pay superannuation on any additional wage paid resulting from the JobKeeper Payment.

    Timing

    The subsidy will apply from 30 March 2020.

    Businesses have been able to register their interest in participating in the scheme from 30 March 2020.

    The first payments were received by employers in the first week of May.

    Enhancing the instant asset write-off

    The government is increasing the instant asset write-off (IAWO) threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanding access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million).

    Timing

    This proposal applies from 12 March to 30 June 2020 (inclusive), for new or second-hand assets first used, or installed ready for use, in this period.

    Backing business incentive

    The government is introducing a time limited 15-month investment incentive to support business investment and economic growth over the short-term, by accelerating depreciation deductions.

    A deduction of 50% of the cost of an eligible asset on installation will apply, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost.

    Eligibility

    Eligible businesses are businesses with aggregated turnover below $500 million.

    Eligible assets are new assets that can be depreciated under Division 40 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (that is, plant, equipment and specified intangible assets, such as patents). This doesn't apply to second-hand Division 40 assets, or buildings and other capital works depreciable under Division 43.

    Timing

    This applies to assets acquired after announcement and first used or installed by 30 June 2021.

    Boosting cash flow for employers

    As announced on 22 March, the government will provide up to $100,000 (with a minimum payment of $20,000) to eligible small and medium sized businesses and not-for-profits (including charities) that employ people. These payments are intended to help cash flow for businesses and not-for-profits so they can keep operating, pay their bills and retain staff.

    Small and medium sized business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible. Not-for-profit entities (NFPs), including charities, with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are now also eligible. This will support employment activities at a time when NFPs face increasing demand for services.

    Under the enhanced scheme, employers will receive a payment equal to 100% of their salary and wages withheld (up from 50%), with a:

    • minimum payment of $10,000
    • maximum payment of $50,000.

    An additional payment will also be introduced in July – October 2020. Eligible entities will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments they've received. This means eligible entities will receive at least $20,000, to a total of $100,000 under both payments. This additional payment, which continues cash flow support over a longer period, is intended to:

    • increase confidence
    • help employers retain staff
    • help entities keep operating.

    The cash flow boost provides a tax-free payment to employers. We will automatically calculate it.

    Eligibility for Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments

    Small and medium sized business entities and NFPs with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers will be eligible. Eligibility will generally be based on prior year turnover.

    We'll deliver the payment as an automatic credit in the activity statement system from 28 April 2020 when employers lodge eligible upcoming activity statements.

    Eligible employers that withhold tax to the ATO on their employees’ salary and wages will receive a payment equal to 100% of the amount withheld, up to a maximum payment of $50,000.

    Eligible employers that pay salary and wages will receive a minimum payment of $10,000, even if they're not required to withhold tax.

    The payments will only be available to active eligible employers established before 12 March 2020. However, charities that are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission will be eligible regardless of when they were registered, subject to meeting other eligibility requirements. This recognises that new charities may be established in response to COVID-19.

    Eligibility for additional payment

    To qualify for the additional payment, the entity must continue to be active.

    Monthly activity statement lodgers

    For monthly activity statement lodgers, the additional payments will be delivered as an automatic credit in the activity statement system. This will be equal to a quarter of their total initial Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payment following lodgment of their June, July, August and September 2020 activity statements (to a total of $50,000).

    Quarterly activity statement lodgers

    For quarterly activity statement lodgers, the additional payments will be delivered as an automatic credit in the activity statement system. This will be equal to half their total initial Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payment following lodgment of their June and September 2020 activity statements (to a total of $50,000).

    Timing of Boosting cash flow for employers' payments

    The Boosting cash flow for employer's payment will be applied to a limited number of activity statement lodgments. We'll deliver the payment as a credit to the entity upon lodgment of their activity statements. If this places the entity in a refund position, we'll deliver the refund within 14 days.

    Quarterly lodgers

    Eligible period

    Lodgment due date

    Quarter 3 (January, February and March 2020)

    28 April 2020

    Quarter 4 (April, May and June 2020)

    28 July 2020

    March 2020

    21 April 2020

    April 2020

    21 May 2020

    May 2020

    22 June 2020

    June 2020

    21 July 2020

    Monthly lodgers

    Eligible period

    Lodgment due date

    March 2020

    21 April 2020

    April 2020

    21 May 2020

    May 2020

    22 June 2020

    June 2020

    21 July 2020

    Quarterly lodgers will be eligible to receive the first payments for the quarters ending March 2020 and June 2020.

    Monthly lodgers will be eligible to receive the first payments for their March, April, May and June 2020 lodgments. To provide a similar treatment to quarterly lodgers, the payment for monthly lodgers will be calculated at three times the rate (300%) in the March 2020 activity statement.

    The minimum payment will be applied to the entities’ first lodgment.

    Timing of additional payment

    The additional payment will be applied to a limited number of activity statement lodgments. We'll deliver the payment as a credit to the entity upon lodgment of their activity statements. If this places the entity in a refund position, we'll deliver the refund within 14 days.

    Quarterly lodgers – additional payment

    Eligible period

    Lodgment due date

    Quarter 4 (April, May and June 2020)

    28 July 2020

    Quarter 1 July, August and September 2020)

    28 October 2020

    Monthly lodgers – additional payment

    Eligible period

    Lodgment due date

    June 2020

    21 July 2020

    July 2020

    21 August 2020

    August 2020

    21 September 2020

    September 2020

    21 October 2020

    Quarterly lodgers will be eligible to receive the additional payment for the quarters ending June 2020 and September 2020. Each additional payment will be equal to half their total initial Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payment (up to a total of $50,000).

    Monthly lodgers will be eligible to receive the additional payment for the June, July, August and September 2020 lodgments. Each additional payment will be equal to a quarter of their total initial Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payment (to a total of $50,000).

    Temporary early release of superannuation

    Individuals financially affected by COVID-19 may be able to access some of their superannuation early. They will not need to:

    • pay tax on amounts released
    • include it in their tax return.

    Eligible Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents can apply online through myGov to access up to $10,000 of their super before 30 June 2020. They can also access up to a further $10,000 between 1 July and 24 September 2020.

    Accessing your super early:

    • will affect your super balance
    • may affect your future retirement income.

    You should consider seeking financial advice before applying for early release of super. Services Australia's Financial Information ServiceExternal Link can provide free, confidential financial information.

    Eligibility

    Citizens and permanent residents of Australia and New Zealand

    To be eligible for early release, citizens and permanent residents of Australia and New Zealand must be in one of the following circumstances:

    • unemployed
    • eligible to receive a JobSeeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance
    • On or after 1 January 2020, either
      • made redundant
      • had your working hours reduced by 20% or more
      • a sole trader and your business was suspended or your turnover was reduced by 20% or more.
       

    Temporary residents

    To be eligible for early release of super, temporary residents must be in one of the following circumstances:

    • have held a student visa for 12 months or more and you' re unable to meet immediate living expenses
    • be a temporary skilled work visa holder whose working hours have been reduced to zero, however you are still engaged by your employer
    • a temporary resident visa holder (excluding student or skilled worker visas) and unable to meet immediate living expenses.

    How to apply

    If you're eligible for this new round of early release, you can apply through ATO online services in myGovExternal Link. You'll need to certify you meet the eligibility criteria.

    If you're a member of an APRA fund, we'll process your application and issue you with a determination. We'll also provide a copy of this determination to your super fund advising them to release your super payment. Your fund will make the payment to you; you don't need to apply to them directly.

    If you're a member of a self-managed super fund (SMSF), you can apply through myGov from mid-April. We'll issue you with a determination advising your eligibility to release an amount. When your SMSF receives the determination from you, they'll be authorised to make the payment.

    See also:

    Timing

    You can apply for early release of your super between 20 April and 24 September 2020.

    Temporarily reducing super minimum drawdown rates

    The government is temporarily reducing super minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products by 50% for 2019–20 and 2020–21. This measure will benefit retirees holding these products by reducing the need to sell investment assets to fund minimum drawdown requirements.

    The government is also reducing both the upper and lower social security deeming rates by a further 0.25 percentage points in addition to the 0.5 percentage point reduction to both rates announced on 12 March 2020.

    Superannuation changes

    Age

    Default minimum drawdown rates (%)

    Reduced rates by 50% for the 2019–20 and 2020–21 income years (%)

    Under 65

    4

    2

    65 to 74

    5

    2.5

    75 to 79

    6

    3

    80 to 84

    7

    3.5

    85 to 89

    9

    4.5

    90 to 94

    11

    5.5

    95 or more

    14

    7

    More information

    For more information on the Australian Government’s economic response to COVID-19, visit treasury.gov.au/coronavirusExternal Link.

    Businesses can visit business.gov.auExternal Link to find out more about how the economic response complements the range of support available for small and medium businesses.

    Last modified: 05 Jun 2020QC 61758