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ATO extends initial JobKeeper payment deadline

Employers looking to enrol for the first two JobKeeper fortnights have now been granted a further extension of time to enrol and pay employees.

         

The ATO has now announced an extension of time for employers who wish to enrol for the first two JobKeeper fortnights to 31 May, an extension from 30 April.

Crucially, for the first two fortnights that run from 30 March to 12 April, and 13 April to 26 April, the ATO will now accept the late payments of the minimum $1,500 per fortnight as long as they are paid by 8 May.

“This means that you can make two fortnightly payments of at least $1,500 per fortnight by 8 May, or a combined payment of at least $3,000,” said the ATO in an update on Monday.

Speaking to Accountants Daily, the Institute of Public Accountants general manager of technical policy Tony Greco said the payment extension was particularly welcome, considering how the previous deadline of 30 April was hard for employers to meet.

“The onus was on the employer to make the payment and then hope the employee is eligible, so they are taking a leap of faith and if they didn’t make the payment, they wouldn’t get the reimbursement,” Mr Greco said.

“If this date is not met, then the employer will lose the JobKeeper reimbursement and, more importantly, their employees may also be denied the benefit of the first two fortnight payments which will be an unnecessary loss assuming both the employer and employee are eligible.”

The extension in time to meet the wage condition comes after the ATO registered the alternative tests late last week and the Treasurer revealing that further changes would be made to the JobKeeper rules.

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said the extension would help the 500,000 businesses that have now enrolled for the JobKeeper scheme pay more than 3 million employees in time.

“This extension allows businesses further time to consider their circumstances and remove any cash-flow pressures arising from financing arrangements that have not been finalised,” Mr Sukkar said.

“Importantly, this extension does not negate the obligation on businesses to ensure they continue to pay eligible employees $1,500 in each JobKeeper fortnight.

“Businesses have until 31 May 2020 to formally enrol to claim JobKeeper payments. However, the sooner an employer pays their staff for April and enrols, the sooner the ATO can reimburse them the JobKeeper payments.”

With the major banks now stepping up with dedicated JobKeeper hotlines to provide bridging finance to businesses ahead of the ATO’s reimbursement, Mr Greco said it was pleasing to see the Tax Office adopt a flexible approach to give employers more time to meet the first payment date.

“There are a lot of dates flying around and this could be lost in translation,” he said.

“It is a very simple message, but I think everyone is working at a rate of knots that simple messages have just been lost.”

The ATO’s updated guidance on enrolment date and payment date can be viewed here.

 

 

Jotham Lian
28 April 2020
smsfadviser.com

 

 

AFP teams up with ATO, Treasury in COVID-19 tax fraud taskforce

The Treasury has confirmed that it will be working with the ATO and an Australian Federal Police taskforce in investigating any cases of fraud related to the government’s COVID-19 stimulus measures.

         

Fronting a Senate inquiry into the government’s response to COVID-19, Treasury Deputy Secretary Jenny Wilkinson confirmed that her department has been involved in discussions with a fraud taskforce established by the Department of Home Affairs.

“I am aware there is a fraud taskforce which is sitting within the Department of Home Affairs and I know the Australian Federal Police are involved in that taskforce and it is also the case that the ATO and Services Australia are involved in those discussions,” Ms Wilkinson said.

The Treasury’s confirmation comes after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had warned businesses that any attempt to fraudulently access stimulus measures, including the JobKeeper payment, would be dealt with swiftly by the new AFP taskforce.

“Those people need to hear a very clear message: now more than ever, you are likely to be caught,” Mr Dutton told 2GB radio.

“If people do the wrong thing, they can expect a search warrant to be executed by the AFP and they can expect their assets to be frozen.

“With those people who claim with good intent but have done the wrong thing, they will have to repay that money, but the criminals who exploit the system, the technology that we’ve got now to look at algorithms, look at transfers, to look at money diverted to different shelf companies — those people will be under a lot of scrutiny. They should think twice about what they’re doing.”

The ATO has been unequivocal about fraudulent schemes, warning that it will pursue action against business and agents that engage in such arrangements.

This image highlights some of the targeted schemes listed by the Australian Tax Office, schemes that may be used to artificially create or inflate an entitlement to the cash-flow boost, and will also begin applying scrutiny to arrangements that help an entity satisfy the turnover test to qualify for the JobKeeper payment.

“Integrity rules are in place to deny or reduce an entitlement to JobKeeper payments if schemes are contrived to ensure payment conditions are satisfied, such as temporarily reducing or deferring turnover. Exceeding your turnover predictions by itself does not trigger these integrity rules,” the ATO said.

“Our compliance focus will be particularly directed towards schemes where there has not been a genuine fall in turnover in substance, but arrangements are contrived to ensure the turnover test is satisfied.”

 

 

Jotham Lian
29 April 2020
smsfadvier.com

 

 

How early super withdrawals add up

The coronavirus pandemic is having profound effects on Australian families, communities, businesses, the financial markets and the global economy.

       
Many people have lost their jobs and there is much uncertainty around the depth and duration of the current crisis. Governments and policymakers across the globe have announced unprecedented fiscal and monetary packages to provide some offset to the downturn.
 
The Australian Federal Parliament has approved the JobKeeper payments ($1500 per fortnight), boosted JobSeeker payments up to $1100 per fortnight, and allowed the unemployed and people whose hours have been cut by 20 per cent to dip into their retirement savings to help them weather the coronavirus crisis.
 
People will be able to apply online through the myGov web site to access up to $10,000 of their super, tax free, before 1 July 2020, and then another $10,000 after the new financial year begins, also tax free.
 
While some will have to access these funds to make ends meet, others may have a choice. Should they or should they not use the early access to superannuation?
 
How early withdrawals add up
 
Withdrawing superannuation funds now means an investor selling part of their portfolio in a depressed market, crystallising current losses and giving up the benefits of eventual recovery in investment markets. It will also erode the investor's retirement wealth by forgoing future compound interest.
 
Consider the impact that an early withdrawal could have on an investor's superannuation balance. The calculations below are for a balanced multi-asset managed fund containing a mix of equities and fixed income, with an average net return of 6 per cent per annum.
 
For an investor who has 20 years until retirement, the value of a $10,000 withdrawal is estimated to be worth $32,100 at retirement. Over the course of 40 years, the impact of the $10,000 withdrawal on the retirement savings climbs to $102,900, while a $20,000 withdrawal means an investor would have $205,700 less at their disposal. For this investor who chose to withdraw funds right now, it could mean delaying retirement for a number of years.
 
Comparing potential withdrawal impacts at different ages
 
Investor's current age Years to retirement Value of $10,000 at retirement Value of $20,000 at retirement
67 0 $10,000 $20,000
57 10 $17,908 $35,817
47 20 $32,071 $64,143
37 30 $57,435 $114,870
27 40 $102,857 $205,714
 
Source: Vanguard calculations
Notes: This is a hypothetical scenario for illustrative purposes only. All values are nominal.
 
A disciplined approach
 
Global evidence supports the importance of disciplined saving for retirement outcomes.
 
In 2018, the World Economic Forum named low levels of savings by individuals amongst the six key challenges facing the retirement system worldwide. Many people delay retirement savings until they are in their 40s or 50s. This is not unusual as at each life stage, more immediate financial priorities come first – for instance, saving a deposit to buy a home, paying down a mortgage or investing in kids' education. In addition, more often than not, savings intended for retirement do not last until retirement; sometimes they are drawn for medical emergencies or critical housing repairs, or during periods of unemployment.
 
As Australians live longer and spend more time in retirement, we require higher levels of savings to sustain our longer lifetimes and adequate lifestyles. The World Economic Forum estimates that combining auto-enrolment to superannuation, increasing savings over time and avoiding dipping into the superannuation savings prior to retirement is expected to increase wealth at retirement by 70 per cent.
 
Many people are currently doing it tough and will need to rely on the early access to superannuation as they do not have other means to support their families. For investors who have a choice, taking a long term perspective may prove to be beneficial. We recommend investors seek financial advice and explore other ways of obtaining financial assistance first.
 
Stay the course
 
Vanguard founder Jack Bogle famously said: “The courage to press on – regardless of whether we face calm seas or rough seas, and especially when the market storms howl around us – is the quintessential attribute of the successful investor.”
 
Historically bull markets last substantially longer than bear markets, and this downturn will eventually be over.
 
The best thing investors can do is to stick to their investment principles and philosophy, and “stay the course” to have the best chance for investment success.
 
 
Inna Zorina
Senior Investment Strategist 
Investment Strategy Group
15 April 2020
vanguardinvestments.com.au
 

GENERAL ADVICE WARNING

Vanguard Investments Australia Ltd (ABN 72 072 881 086 / AFS Licence 227263) is the product issuer. We have not taken yours and your clients' circumstances into account when preparing our website content so it may not be applicable to the particular situation you are considering. You should consider yours and your clients' circumstances and our Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or Prospectus before making any investment decision. You can access our PDS or Prospectus online or by calling us. This website was prepared in good faith and we accept no liability for any errors or omissions. Past performance is not an indication of future performance.
 

COVID-19: Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package

From Monday 6 April additional support for Early Childhood Education and Child Care Services and their families.

           

On 2 April 2020, the Australian Government announced the new Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package. From Monday 6 April 2020 weekly payments will be made directly to early childhood education and care services in lieu of the Child Care Subsidy and the Additional Child Care Subsidy, to help them keep their doors open and employees in their jobs.

Payments will be made until the end of the 2019-20 financial year and families will not be charged fees during this time. These payments will complement the JobKeeper Payment announced by the Prime Minister on 30 March 2020.

Early childhood education and child care services do not need to apply for the payments, they will be paid automatically. 

In addition, up to and including 5 April 2020, services can now waive gap fees for families due to the impact of COVID-19. This can go back as far as 23 March 2020 and is in addition to changes already announced..

For more information:

 

 

Source:   education.gov.au

ATO clarifies COVID-19 rent relief concerns

The Australian Taxation Office has responded to widespread concerns on whether SMSF landlords providing rent relief to tenants due to the financial impacts of the novel coronavirus is a contravention of the SIS Act.

         

In anticipation of the third stimulus package expected to be announced this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a press briefing on Sunday that the national cabinet has considered issues relating to commercial tenancies as well as residential tenancies.

“The most significant of those is that state and territories will be moving to put a moratorium on evictions of persons as a result of financial distress if they are unable to meet their commitments,” Mr Morrison said.

“And so there will be a moratorium on evictions for the next six months under those rental arrangements.”

The industry has been seeking clarity from the ATO around whether SMSF landlords can legally provide rent relief to tenants as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.

In response, the ATO has sought to allay concerns from SMSF trustees around whether charging a tenant rent that is less than market value contravenes the SIS Act, and whether it would take action given the impacts of COVID-19.
 

The ATO’s response is as follows:

  • “Some landlords are giving their tenants a reduction in or waiver of rent because of the financial impacts of COVID-19 and we understand that you may wish to do so as well.
     
  • “Our compliance approach for the 2019–20 and 2020–21 financial years is that we will not take action where an SMSF gives a tenant — who is also a related party — a temporary rent reduction during this period.”

SMSF administrator SuperConcepts backed the ATO announcement, saying it has been inundated with calls and emails from concerned clients who have an SMSF which owns a business premise that is being leased to a related party.

“SuperConcepts fully supports this relief measure which provides certainty and much-needed relief for a growing number of SMSFs that own a business premise, and have been caught in the economic turmoil caused by COVID-19,” said SuperConcepts general manager of technical education services Peter Burgess.

Interpreting the ATO concession

SMSF law firms have also come out with their interpretations of the ATO’s concession for landlords.

According to CGW Lawyers partner Clint Jackson, the only requirement of the ATO’s concession is that the rent reduction must be temporary.

“Given the current business challenges, the ATO’s position is that there is no need for the rent reduction provided to be justified by market evidence (the SMSF can determine the reduction in its absolute discretion),” Mr Jackson said.

“The ATO’s concession does not apply to any other lease incentives or relief — just a ‘temporary rent reduction’.”

Mr Jackson said that while the ATO concession is “extremely broad”, it is also important that landlords not abuse the concession.

“This rent reduction should be reasonable and measured to the COVID-19 impact suffered by the tenant. Best practice is that it is consistent with the approach taken by arm’s-length landlords,” he said.

“The rent reduction agreed to by the SMSF should be properly documented, as this is an amendment to the lease terms.

“It is likely that SMSF auditors will be required to report any rent reductions, although the exact parameters of what will be reported in relation any rent reductions are still being determined.”

However, Daniel Butler and Bryce Figot of DBA Lawyers said that while the ATO will not actively seek out cases where an SMSF gives a related-party tenant a temporary rent reduction during the remainder of FY2020 or FY2021, the usual position for such practical approaches previously issued by the ATO is that if it does come across contraventions from other sources through its usual data detections, reviews or auditor contravention reports (ACR), it will usually apply the legislation in the normal manner.

“In short, SMSF trustees should not rely on the ATO’s non-binding practical guidance above, given the substantial downside consequences and given these situations may be legitimately resolved with appropriate action as outlined below,” said Mr Butler and Mr Figot.

“We do understand, however, that some SMSF trustees or businesses may not have the time or the funding to obtain proper advice and work through the appropriate steps to soundly position themselves to minimise future risk that will simply rely on the ATO practical approach at their own risk.”

Further, Mr Butler and Mr Figot said the ATO website does not provide any express relief for an SMSF that owns property via an interposed unit trust, such as a non-geared unit trust (NGUT).

“Once a contravention of one of the criteria relating to a NGUT is triggered under reg 13.22D of SISR, the trust is ‘forever’ tainted and the SMSF must dispose of its units in that unit trust to comply with the SISR,” they said.

“In particular, if the lease is not legally enforceable or if rent owing by a related-party tenant accrues and constitutes a loan under the lease, the unit trust will cease to comply with the criteria in division 13.3A of SISR.”

 

 

Adrian Flores
30 March 2020
smsfadviser.com

 

 

SMSFs in the ATO firing line

Is your self-managed super fund fully compliant with the regulations governing the operation of private funds?

         

It's a question that all SMSF trustees should be asking, because the Australian Tax Office is not only watching but taking harsh action in the form of issuing penalties for non-compliance.

ATO Assistant Commissioner Dana Fleming told the SMSF Association's annual conference in February that the SMSF regulator has its sights on almost 90,000 private funds that are managing over $20 billion in assets.

These include around 24,000 SMSFs managing $1 billion in assets, which have never lodged a tax return, and another 63,000 managing $19.5 billion that have stopped lodging mandatory documents with the ATO.

The ATO definitely means business. It issued more than $3 million fines to SMSF trustees in the six months to the end of December, more than double the amount of fines levied over the full 2018-19 financial year.

Trustee ignorance is not a defence

While the ATO is most concerned with deliberate compliance breaches by SMSF trustees, the regulator has consistently made it clear that trustees need to be fully aware of their legal obligations under the Superannuation Industry Supervision Act.

Trustees also need to strictly abide by their SMSF trust deed, which can contain stipulations on the types of assets their fund is allowed to invest in. Unless read carefully, a trustee could inadvertently breach the conditions of their own fund.

Non-compliance is certainly not a new theme across Australia's SMSF population, which now totals almost 600,000 funds, 1.12 million members and $750 billion in assets.

But the difference now is that the ATO has become much more sophisticated in its capacity to track the activities of SMSF trustees, both at the individual and corporate level. The ATO's computer systems are now at a level where they can easily detect digital payment transactions at multiple points.

In December last year, the ATO warned it had identified multiple breaches of the sole purpose test applying to SMSF members involving the purchase of lifestyle assets being used for personal enjoyment by fund trustees and their beneficiaries.

These included assets such as cars, boats, holiday homes, art and other collectables, which the ATO has been able to track in a number of ways.

Do you really need an SMSF?

Most SMSFs were set up for one specific reason: to have full investment control.

Rolled into that is the ability to buy direct property assets, which is not possible within a professionally managed super fund.

Business owners with an SMSF have the ability to own a commercial property within their fund and use it for their business purposes, without breaching the sole purpose test. This can't be done with residential property.

But ATO quarterly data shows only about 9 per cent of total SMSF assets were invested in commercial property at the end of December 2019, and less than 5 per cent were invested in residential property. A further 12 per cent of assets were invested in unlisted trusts, of which some will involve having shareholdings in direct property developments.

The bulk of SMSF assets (75 per cent) are actually held in the same asset classes that members of professionally managed super funds are exposed to, such as Australian and international shares, fixed income, listed trusts and cash.

And, unless SMSF trustees are consistently outperforming the returns of the professional fund managers, one would have to question why having a SMSF is really needed.

The Productivity Commission's 2019 report Superannuation: Assessing efficiency and competitiveness found that SMSFs with balances below $500,000 produce lower returns on average, after expenses and tax, when compared to industry and retail super funds.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission also warned in October that the decision to establish an SMSF should not be taken lightly.

“SMSFs may be an attractive option for investors wanting more control over their superannuation investment strategy, but it requires real skill, care and diligence to manage your own superannuation,” ASIC said.

“SMSFs are not for everyone simply because not everyone can meet the significant time, costs, risks and obligations associated with establishing and running one.”

Time and money

Operating an SMSF comes with two unavoidable components: the time involved in ongoing management and compliance, and the costs involved in accounting, auditing and other professional services.

Another often overlooked aspect is the cost of insurance. Where large super funds are able to use their size to negotiate competitive pricing for insurance, such as life and total and permanent disablement coverage for members, SMSF trustees sourcing cover will invariably pay a higher cost.

ASIC calculates that, on average, SMSF trustees spend more than 100 hours a year managing their SMSF. This includes the time taken when investing and managing investments, and in preparing documentation.

The bottom line on SMSFs

SMSFs remain an important component of the Australian superannuation landscape, and by total assets under management represent the biggest segment of the industry.

However, it's clear on a range of compliance levels that some trustees operating a SMSF are failing to invest within the parameters of the law and are not meeting their management obligations.

In addition, many SMSF trustees – while having more investment flexibility than professionally managed super funds –are largely investing their retirement savings in the same asset classes as the professional fund managers.

ATO data on SMSF asset allocations shows many private funds are not well diversified, with very high allocations to cash.

ASIC notes that SMSFs are not an appropriate investment option for people who want a simple superannuation solution, particularly if they have a low level of financial literacy or limited time to manage their own financial affairs.

“Where people have limited investment decision-making experience or prefer to delegate decision-making to someone else, they should carefully consider if an SMSF is right for them,” the regulator says.

“As the trustees of their own fund, SMSF investors must remember that they are responsible for their fund's compliance with the law, even if they pay a professional to help.”

 

 

Tony Kaye
Personal Finance Writer
16-3-2020
vanguardinvestments.com.au

 

 

Avoid SISR traps in early access to super scheme

A law firm has warned trustees to consider several factors to ensure they’re complying with the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 (SISR) before deciding to access the government’s early access to super scheme.

NB:  Beware also scams surrounding the early release of super funds, they are on the increase.

         

The temporary early access to super (TEAS) scheme was one of several major changes to superannuation in the government’s second stimulus package in response to the economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The maximum amount that a member can access is $20,000 in the following increments, noting that a separate application is to be made on each occasion:

  • Up to $10,000 in the financial year ending 30 June 2020
  • Up to $10,000 in the financial year ending 30 June 2021

But according to Daniel Butler and Allison Murphy of DBA Lawyers, trustees should consider a range of other factors before accessing the scheme, including:

  • Whether the SMSF deed requires updating to enable a TEAS withdrawal, given this is a new condition of release that many SMSF deeds may not authorise.
  • The financial impact that any TEAS withdrawal will have on the member’s overall superannuation retirement nest egg over the long term.
  • Ensuring the fund has sufficient cash flow to fund any TEAS withdrawal together with its ongoing operations in view of any financial stress on the fund resulting from the coronavirus.
  • Preparing relevant trustee resolutions and updating the fund’s records.

As for members currently being paid an account-based pension or a transition to retirement income (TRIS) in retirement phase, Mr Butler and Ms Murphy said the amount required to fund the TEAS payment should first be commuted to accumulation before being paid to the member as a TEAS amount.

However, if a member is being paid a TRIS that is not in retirement phase, they said the amount should also first be commuted to accumulation before being paid as a TEAS amount, noting that a TRIS amount generally cannot be commuted, but new reg 6.19B of SISR authorises a payment of preserved money (after a TRIS is commuted).

“If the payment is not appropriately managed, a contravention of [SISR] could occur, resulting in potential penalties and the amount forming part of the member’s assessable income rather than being tax-free,” Mr Butler and Ms Murphy said.

“You should ensure the SMSF deed authorises this payment and prepare appropriate trustee resolutions.”

 

 

Adrian Flores
02 April 2020
smsfadviser.com

 

 

 

Data so large it’s hard to comprehend.

The following website gives the running totals for many everyday categories and the numbers are almost, if not, overwhelming when seen on a global scale.

         

Click on the image below to go to a website that collects data from sources all over the globe and simply counts the numbers.  Global births and deaths, for example.  How much is spent on health and public education.  Be prepared though for how much is spent on illegal drugs or how many cigarettes are smoked every day.  Included is a link to the latest Coronavirus statistics as well. 

Mind blowing stuff.

 

 

Ride the market to recovery

Severe market downturns feel anything but fair. In many ways the biggest risk facing investors now is the impulse to take action and to make hasty, short-term decisions based on emotional factors rather than accepting where we are today and riding things out.

       

The loss of market value that seemingly evaporates overnight is deeply unsettling and challenging even for committed, well-diversified long-term investors.

But market downturns are not unexpected – most of us will experience several during our lifetimes – particularly after such a long bull market run where market surprises were generally on the upside.

Australia we also should remember has not felt a recession in 29 years. That may feel like cold comfort at this time particularly because we are first and foremost dealing with a global health crisis that unravelled extremely quickly, and then the economic impacts that flows from the measures required to contain and combat it.

Uncertainty and the sense of loss of control are powerful emotions to grapple with. But what we know from past market events is that patience will be rewarded and recoveries can be just as sudden and strong.

The positive news is that the general consensus among economists is that while the recession will likely be sharp it is also likely to be relatively short and the upswing quite rapid. It has also been encouraging to see governments around the world prescribing measures to help hasten the recovery.

But the question about what to do – now – remains. At Vanguard we feel there are probably five things investors should think about:

  1. Tune out the noise. We all want to be informed but with dedicated television channels, websites and newsletters all on top of our normal media consumption habits this type of news event can be overwhelming. Consider checking in with one or two trusted sources and tune out the rest. It's ok not to be checking account balances when markets are falling.
     
  2. Revisit your asset allocation. These type of market events impact investors differently. But it is not all doom and gloom. Younger investors have that incredibly valuable asset – time – while those approaching retirement have just been given a sharp example of how much risk is in their portfolio. If it has surprised you then going forward as markets recover it may mean you should re-evaluate your risk tolerance and rebalance your portfolio to take a more conservative approach.
     
  3. We know we cannot control markets but there are some things we can control – like costs. Costs are particularly painful during downturns so take the time to review high cost investments in your portfolio. For those already in retirement it may mean temporarily trimming back on discretionary lifestyle spending to lighten the amount you need to draw down.
     
  4. Stay diversified. Different asset classes and sector exposures can help insulate your portfolio by spreading the risk.
     
  5. Set realistic expectations. Have a long-term plan and be realistic about returns you expect in the decades ahead.

Staying the course can pay off, abandoning course can be costly.

 

Written by Robin Bowerman
Head of Corporate Affairs at Vanguard.
31 March 2020
vanguardinvestments.com.au

 

 

Historic $130bn wage subsidy to cover 6 million workers

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has now unveiled an extraordinary $130 billion wage subsidy which will see businesses receive $1,500 a fortnight per employee for the next six months.

       

In the third and largest economic stimulus package announced by the government in response to the coronavirus pandemic, up to 6 million workers are set to be eligible for the $130 billion wage subsidy, known as the JobKeeper payment.

The flat $1,500 payment, which will be delivered by the ATO, will be paid to businesses, including businesses structured through companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders.

Employers will be required to pass on the full $1,500 a fortnight, before tax, to eligible employees.

To qualify, businesses with a turnover of less than $1 billion will need to self-assess a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent or more, relative to a comparable period a year ago.

Businesses with a turnover of more than $1 billion will need to demonstrate a loss of 50 per cent of revenue.

Eligible employees will include those employed by the employer at 1 March 2020, including those who have been stood down. Retrenched workers can be re-hired to qualify for the payment.

How to apply

 

Eligible businesses, including not-for-profits, charities, and self-employed individuals, will need to register an intention to apply on the ATO’s website.

Information on the number of eligible employees engaged as at 1 March 2020 and those currently employed by the business, including those stood down or rehired, will need to be provided to the ATO, although the Tax Office will look to use Single Touch Payroll data to pre-populate the employee details for the business.

The ATO will make payments to the employers monthly in arrears but the first payment will be sent in the first week of May and will be backdated to 30 March 2020 to allow employers to start paying their workers now.

Employers will be required to report the number of eligible employees employed by the business to the ATO on a monthly basis.

‘A lifeline’

According to Mr Morrison, the wage subsidy is meant to prop up businesses by paying for their employees even as the economy comes to a standstill.

“We will pay employers to pay their employees and make sure they do,” said Mr Morrison.

“This plan is about keeping those businesses together, by keeping these employees in these businesses.

“We want to keep the engine of our economy running through this crisis. It may run on idle for a time, but it must continue to run.”

What employees will get

Businesses must pay their employees a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.

According to Treasury’s fact sheet, if an employee ordinarily receives $1,500 or more in income per fortnight before tax, they will continue to receive their regular income according to their prevailing workplace arrangements, with the JobKeeker payment to subside all or part of their income.

If an employee ordinarily receives less than $1,500 in income per fortnight before tax, their employer must pay their employee, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax, meaning employers will not be able to pocket the difference.

If an employee has been stood down, their employer must pay their employee, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.

The $1,500 will be taxed as ordinary income but employers can choose to pay superannuation on the amount.

Employees who receive the JobKeeker payment will not be allowed to double dip with the recently expanded JobSeeker payment, which is paid through Services Australia.

The latest package by the government brings the total amount thrown at the coronavirus crisis to $214 billion, including the $66.1 billion second tranche support package and the initial $17.6 billion.

Mr Morrison said the government is currently in discussions with Labor to reach agreement over the latest announcement and will be looking to recall Parliament shortly to speed through legislation as it did with the first two packages.

Treasury example:

 

Employer with employees on different wages

Adam owns a real estate business with two employees. The business is still operating at this stage but Adam expects that turnover will decline by more than 30 per cent in the coming months. The employees are:

Anne, who is a permanent full-time employee on a salary of $3,000 per fortnight before tax and who continues working for the business; and
Nick, who is a permanent part-time employee on a salary of $1,000 per fortnight before tax and who continues working for the business.
Adam is eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment for each employee, which would have the following benefits for the business and its employees:

The business continues to pay Anne her full-time salary of $3,000 per fortnight before tax, and the business will receive $1,500 per fortnight from the JobKeeper Payment to subsidise the cost of Anne’s salary and will continue paying the superannuation guarantee on Anne’s income;
The business continues to pay Nick his $1,000 per fortnight before tax salary and an additional $500 per fortnight before tax, totalling $1,500 per fortnight before tax. The business receives $1,500 per fortnight before tax from the JobKeeper Payment which will subsidise the cost of Nick’s salary. The business must continue to pay the superannuation guarantee on the $1,000 per fortnight of wages that Nick is earning. The business has the option of choosing to pay superannuation on the additional $500 (before tax) paid to Nick under the JobKeeper Payment.
Adam can register his initial interest in the scheme from 30 March 2020, followed subsequently by an application to ATO with details about his eligible employees. In addition, Adam is required to advise his employees that he has nominated them as eligible employees to receive the payment. Adam will provide information to the ATO on a monthly basis and receive the payment monthly in arrears.

Self-employed
Melissa is a sole trader running a florist. She does not have employees. Melissa’s business has been in operation for several years. The economic downturn due to the Coronavirus has adversely affected Melissa’s business, and she expects that her business turnover will fall by more than 30 per cent compared to a typical month in 2019.

Melissa will be able to apply for the JobKeeper Payment and would receive $1,500 per fortnight before tax, paid on a monthly basis.

 

 

Jotham Lian 
31 March 2020
accountantsdaily.com.au

 

 

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