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Updates to the Government Stimulus Packages

While the full economic effects from the virus remain uncertain, the outlook has deteriorated since the Government’s initial Economic Response announced on 12 March 2020.

The spread of the virus worldwide has broadened, and is expected to be more prolonged. Governments, both international and domestic, have announced stricter mitigation measures to slow the spread of the virus, which are having significant economic impacts.

On 22 March the Government announced a second set of economic responses which, combined with our previous actions, total $189 billion across the forward estimates, representing 9.7 per cent of annual GDP.

What this means for you!

Support for individuals and households

The Government will provide payments to assist lower-income Australians, including pensioners, other social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.

Income support for individuals

Over the next six months, the Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This will be paid to both existing and new recipients of Jobseeker Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.

Payments to support households

The Government is providing two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. The first payment will be made from 31 March 2020 and the second payment will be made from 13 July 2020. Around half of those that benefit are pensioners. These payments will help to support confidence and domestic demand in the economy. The second payment will not be made to those eligible for the Coronavirus supplement.

Temporary early release of superannuation

The Government is allowing individuals affected by the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

Temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown rates

The Government is temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products by 50 per cent for 2019-20 and 2020-21. This measure will benefit retirees with account-based pensions and similar products by reducing the need to sell investment assets to fund minimum drawdown requirements. 

Support for businesses

Boosting Cash Flow for Employers

The Government is enhancing the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure it announced on 12 March 2020. The Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses, and not-for-profits (NFPs) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses and NFPs with their cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.

Small and medium-sized business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible. NFPs, including charities, with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers will now also be eligible.

Under the enhanced scheme, employers will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of their salary and wages withheld (up from 50 per cent), with the maximum payment being increased from $25,000 to $50,000. In addition, the minimum payment is being increased from $2,000 to $10,000.

An additional payment is also being introduced in the July — October 2020 period. Eligible entities will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all of the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments they have received. This means that eligible entities will receive at least $20,000 up to a total of $100,000 under both payments.

Confused yet??? Below are examples to help explain.

Sarah’s Construction Business

Sarah owns and runs a building business in South Australia and employs 8 construction workers on average full-time weekly earnings, who each earn $89,730 per year. Sarah reports withholding of $15,008 for her employees on each of her monthly Business Activity Statements (BAS). Under the Government’s changes, Sarah will be eligible to receive the payment on lodgment of her BAS.

Sarah’s business receives:

  • A credit of $45,024 for the March period, equal to 300 per cent of her total withholding.
  • A credit of $4,976 for the April period, before she reaches the $50,000 cap.
  • No payment for the May period, as she has now reached the $50,000 cap.
  • An additional payment of $12,500 for the June period, equal to 25 per cent of her total Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments.
  • An additional payment of $12,500 for the July period, equal to 25 per cent of her total Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments.
  • An additional payment of $12,500 for the August period, equal to 25 per cent of her total Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments.
  • An additional payment of $12,500 for the September period, equal to 25 per cent of her total Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments.

Under the previously announced Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure, Sarah’s business would have received a maximum payment of $25,000. 

Under the Government’s enhanced Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure, Sarah’s business will receive $100,000. This is an additional $75,000 to support her business and help her retain her staff.

Tim’s Courier Business

Tim owns and runs a small paper delivery business in Melbourne, and employs two casual employees who each earn $10,000 per year.  In his quarterly BAS, Tim reports withholding of $0 for his employees as they are under the tax-free threshold.

Under the Government’s changes, Tim will be eligible to receive the payment on lodgment of his BAS. Tim’s business will receive:

  • A credit of $10,000 for the March quarter, as he pays salary and wages but is not required to withhold tax.
  • An additional payment of $5,000 for the June quarter, equal to 50 per cent of his total Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments.
  • An additional payment of $5,000 for the September quarter, equal to 50 per cent of his total Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments.
  • If Tim begins with holding tax for the June quarter, he would need to withhold more than $10,000 before he receives any additional payment.

Under the previously announced Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure, Tim’s business would have received a total payment of $2,000.

Under the Government’s enhanced Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure, Tim’s business will receive $20,000. This is an additional $18,000 to support his business.

Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and to initiate bankrupt proceedings against an individual as well as temporarily increasing the time companies and individuals have to respond to statutory demands they receive. The package also includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent, and providing temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 to provide targeted relief from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus health crisis. 

The ATO will tailor solutions for owners or directors of business that are currently struggling due to the Coronavirus, including temporary reduction of payments or deferrals, or withholding enforcement actions including Director Penalty Notices and wind-ups.

Increasing the instant asset write-off 

The Government is increasing the instant asset write-off 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) until 30 June 2020.

Supporting apprentices and trainees

The Government is supporting small business to retain their apprentices and trainees. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice. Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter).

Support for immediate cash flow needs for SMEs

Under the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme, the Government will provide a guarantee of 50 per cent to SME lenders to support new short-term unsecured loans to SMEs. The Scheme will guarantee up to $40 billion of new lending. This will provide businesses with funding to meet cash flow needs, by further enhancing lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit. This will assist otherwise viable businesses across the economy who are facing significant challenges due to disrupted cash flow to meet existing obligations. 

When can these benefits be expected?

The Government is moving quickly to implement this package. The Bills are being introduced into Parliament on 23 March 2020 for urgent consideration.

Once again, things are changing quickly and we expect more stimulus measures to be announced so we will keep you up to day with new information as it comes to hand.

In the meantime, we are here to help with any information we can.

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