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JobKeeper: The next steps
Note: The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only. It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone. If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.
The first tranche of JobKeeper ended on 27 September 2020. We look at the issues for those seeking to qualify for the second tranche of JobKeeper and for those no longer eligible.
Wrapping up JobKeeperIf your business is no longer eligible for JobKeeper payments, there are a few things you need to do:
Make sure you keep all of your records relating to JobKeeper including your calculations and rationale for the decline in turnover test, your employee JobKeeper nomination forms, and any other records for at least five years.
What’s the 10% decline in turnover test?
The 10% decline in turnover test is a test that enables employers previously participating in JobKeeper to continue to use the JobKeeper provisions (with some modifications) under the Fair Work Act. These employers are ‘legacy employers’. Continued over…
This test does not impact on your business’s eligibility to receive JobKeeper payments, it only impacts on an employer’s use of the JobKeeper provisions under the Fair Work Act.
If an employer qualifies under the 10% test, they can:
Employers can continue to utilise the JobKeeper provisions if they:
To meet the turnover test, a legacy employer needs to demonstrate at least a 10% decline in actual GST turnover for the quarter in 2020, when compared to the same quarter in 2019. See Legacy employers on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website.
Is my business eligible for JobKeeper payments from 28 September?Existing JobKeeper participants need to pass the extended decline in turnover test to continue to receive JobKeeper payments on behalf of employees. This extended test looks at your actual GST turnover for the September 2020 quarter (for JobKeeper payments between 28 September to 3 January 2021), and again for the December 2020 quarter (for payments between 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021).
To pass the extended decline in turnover test, your business will need to show an actual decline in turnover between the September 2020 quarter (July, August, September 2020), and the same period in 2019 by 30% (15% for ACNC registered charities and 50% for large businesses).
My business has not received JobKeeper previously. Can we get it now?If your business passes the eligibility criteria, you can access JobKeeper when you need it for your eligible employees. For JobKeeper, your business needs to pass the eligibility tests for the period you are seeking to claim JobKeeper payments.
My business can’t pass the decline in turnover test because we were impacted by a natural disaster/drought in 2019Special rules exist to ensure that businesses trading (or partially trading) in a region impacted by natural disasters or drought in 2019 are not detrimentally impacted when calculating the decline in turnover tests. Assuming the drought or disaster impacted your GST turnover, the alternative test enables you to use a period in the year immediately preceding the year in which the drought or natural disaster was declared for the decline in turnover test comparison. This is, if your business was impacted by drought/disaster in the September quarter of 2019, you can use the September quarter of 2018 for your comparison period. If 2018 was also a drought/disaster zone, you can keep going back until the first year preceding the declaration of drought/disaster.
To use this test, your region must be subject to a formal declaration of drought or disaster (for example from Government) or have been publicly identified by an agency such as the Bureau of Meteorology.
My business fails the test because its turnover is ‘lumpy’If your business has ‘lumpy’ or irregular turnover, there is an alternative decline in turnover test that you might be able to apply. This test only applies if your GST turnover is irregular, like what often occurs in the building and construction industry, and not simply a seasonal variation. To understand if your turnover is irregular, look at the 12 months before the test period and divide the 12 months into 3 month periods. If the lowest GST turnover for any of these 3 month periods is no more than 50% of the highest of the 3 month periods, then the test can be applied as long as your business’s turnover is not cyclical. Alternatively, you can look at the 12 months before 1 March 2020 instead of the 12 months immediately before the test period.
If your GST turnover is irregular you can compare your current GST turnover for the test period with the average current GST turnover for the 12 months immediately before the applicable test period or 1 March 2020, multiplied by 3.
My business is a new business without a 2019 comparison period. Can it receive JobKeeper payments?If the business is a new business that started trading after 1 March 2020, the business will not be eligible for JobKeeper payments (although there are special rules for not-for-profit or registered charities in some circumstances).
If your business started trading before 1 March 2020 but after 1 July 2020, there are alternative tests you can use to determine whether your business is eligible for JobKeeper payments from 28 September 2020:
What happens if a business restructure (or sale or acquisition) impacts on your numbers?An alternative decline in turnover test is available where there has been a disposal or acquisition of part of the business, or restructure in the business, or combinations of those, and this changed the entity’s current GST turnover.
The alternative test compares the GST turnover for the test period with the current GST turnover for the relevant month immediately after the disposal, acquisition or restructure, multiplied by 3. If there is not a whole month after the last acquisition, disposal or restructure, and before the turnover test period, then the month immediately before the turnover test period is used.
Where there have been multiple disposals, acquisitions or restructures, you can use the whole month immediately after any of the disposals, acquisitions or restructures, multiplied by 3 for the alternative test.
What happens if fast pre COVID-19 growth makes the comparison period unrealistic?If your business was experiencing strong growth before the pandemic hit, your comparison period numbers can be skewed. This alternative test is for entities with substantial pre COVID-19 growth. First you need to test if your growth is considered substantial. That is, GST turnover increased by:
If there is substantial growth and you used the period immediately before the turnover test period to determine whether there is a substantial increase in turnover, then the alternative test compares GST turnover for the test period (for example, the September 2020 quarter) with turnover for the 3 months immediately before the test period.
If you are using the period immediately before 1 March 2020 to determine whether there is a substantial increase in turnover, then the alternative test compares GST turnover for the test period (for example, the September 2020 quarter) with turnover for the 3 months immediately before 1 March 2020.
I am a sole trader (or partnership) impacted by illness, injury or leaveFor sole traders and small partnerships (4 partners or fewer) with no staff, your income is often impacted by your ability to work. If your comparison period is impacted by illness, injury or leave, you can use the month immediately before the month with sickness, injury or leave is used, then multiplied by 3.
Does the business need to re-enrol?Your business does not need to re-enrol if it is already receiving JobKeeper payments. Employers continuing to receive JobKeeper payments will need to:
Make sure you keep records of your calculations for the decline in turnover test, and the JobKeeper payment tiers for employees.
Identifying the JobKeeper payment ratesIf your business is eligible for JobKeeper from 28 September 2020, you will need to identify all of your eligible employees and the JobKeeper payment rate applicable to them.
From 28 September 2020, the JobKeeper payment rate will reduce and split into a higher and lower rate based on the number of hours the employee worked in a specific 28 day period prior to 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020.
For eligible employees who have been employed since 1 March 2020, employers need to choose the reference period that provides the best outcome for the employees. For many employers, this will be the pre COVID-19, 1 March 2020 reference date. For eligible employees employed after 1 March 2020, use the pay periods prior to 1 July 2020.
If the pay cycle is longer than 28 days, a pro-rata calculation needs to be completed to determine the average hours worked and on paid leave across an equivalent 28 day period. For example, if the relevant monthly pay cycle has 31 days, you take the total hours for the month and multiply this by 28/31.
Speaking to a MyBusiness podcast, ATO Deputy Commissioner James O’Halloran said the ATO is, “…looking for what is a natural record or support that does demonstrate that effort of active participation in a business on behalf of businesses and in terms of employees on what basis the hours have been done.”
What happens if the employee’s hours were different to normal in the reference period?Alternative tests are available where:
What about directors and partners in a partnership?Business participants (sole traders, the self-employed with an ABN, or one partner in a partnership, beneficiary of a trust, or director/shareholder), must use the month of February 2020 (the whole 29 days) as their test period. The test looks at the number of hours you were actively engaged in the business - actively operating the business or undertaking specific tasks in business development and planning, regulatory compliance or similar activities.
Other than sole traders, a business participant must provide a declaration to the business entity confirming their hours worked over the reference period. Sole traders need confirm details with the ATO.
Where February 2020 was not typical, you can use the next typical 29 day period, or if you commenced during February, March 2020.
My employer is no longer eligible for JobKeeper. Can I receive JobKeeper from another employer?Employees and business participants can normally only have one nominated employer for the JobKeeper scheme (ever). If your nominated employer is no longer eligible for JobKeeper payments, you cannot be a nominated employee of another employer. The main exception to this is where the individual ceased to be employed or actively engaged in the business (as a business participant) of the original entity after 1 March 2020 but before 1 July 2020. They must also have met the conditions to be treated as an eligible employee of the new employer at 1 July 2020.
Quote of the month
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
US Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Temporary insolvency and bankruptcy protections are in place until 31 December 2020 to enable businesses to trade through the pandemic. The measures provide:
Between March and July 2020, there was a 46% decrease in the number of companies that have gone into external administration compared to the same period in 2019.
Anticipating a wave of insolvencies in early 2021, the Government has moved to streamline insolvency laws to enable small business to either restructure or efficiently wind up. There are three key elements to the reforms:
The measures will be available to businesses with liabilities of less than $1 million. You can find further information on the proposed insolvency reforms here.
In Australia, the insolvency laws currently do not differentiate between large and small businesses. Everyone goes through a similar process. For small business, the complexity and the cost of adhering to the current insolvency system often leaves little for creditors, makes it difficult to restructure, and places control of the business in the hands of an administrator. These reforms should help simplify the process.
A note on debtor management
With 46% less insolvencies between March and July this year compared to last year, it’s clear the COVID-19 protections have not only protected business against COVID-19 trading conditions but also protected against natural attrition in the market.
It’s essential in the lead up to Christmas and into the New Year you keep tight control of your debtors!
Review your account management and debtor policies and keep tight controls.
During lock down I have had to work from home. I’ve set up a full home office with paintings, plants, a desk, computer equipment, a water tower and a sculpture. I presume I can claim everything I have purchased for this office and claim part of my mortgage and running costs?
In general, home office expenses are designed for those who run their business out of home. If you are merely working from home and not running a business at home, then it’s unlikely you will be able to claim occupancy expenses such as mortgage interest or rent. Keep in mind that if you claim occupancy costs, this will impact on your access to the CGT main residence exemption.
The water cooler is unlikely to be deductible as food and drink is considered to be private in nature. The items that beautify your office will generally only be deductible if they are displayed in open viewing areas in premises used for income producing purposes including reception areas, waiting rooms and foyers.
If you are working from home and have set up a home office for this purpose, you can claim a deduction for your expenses based on the 80 cents per hour short cut method, the 52 cents per hour method (which excludes phone, internet, or the decline in value of equipment which are all claimed separately), or the actual method.
Quote of the month
“When you're finished changing, you're finished.”
COVID-19 has had an impact on many SMSFs. We look at the key issues.
Early release of superannuation
When a member of your fund wants to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation early under the COVID-19 measures, there are some additional steps that trustees need to take. Trustees will need to ensure their deed allows for early release, the member has met the eligibility criteria for release, and ensure that no funds have been released until the release authority from the ATO has been received. This will be a 2019-20 audit area of focus.
Tenant Rent Relief
Setting rent for a tenant that is less than market value in an SMSF is usually a breach of superannuation laws. If the rental relief is provided to a related party, then the situation can become trickier as the difference between the rent charged and the market value can amount to a loan and potentially put the fund in breach of the in-house asset rules.
However, to manage COVID-19 rent reductions for SMSF landlords, the ATO has stated that for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years it will not take action where the rental relief is provided on arms-length terms. That is, the relief is in line with the National Cabinet Mandatory Code of Conduct for commercial leasing principles, has a set timeframe to it, and the reason for the relief and the relief provided is documented.
Relief for related party loans
If your SMSF has a limited recourse borrowing arrangement in place with a related party, and that related party provides repayment relief, this would ordinarily be a breach of the superannuation rules. The ATO however will accept the relief if it is provided on reasonable terms similar to commercial banks (see the Australian Banking Association's website for comparison), the relief and the reasons for it is documented, and is for a set period of time.
A fall in asset values
If the assets of your SMSF have fallen in value, you should consider whether the current asset allocation is consistent with the fund’s investment strategy, and if the long-term goals of the fund continue to be met.
If you need to sell assets and make a capital loss, such as a loss on residential real estate, this loss can be offset against any capital gains. If the capital loss exceeds any gains, this loss can be carried forward and applied against future capital gains.
No deductions are available for unrealised gains (a fall in value for assets the fund continues to own).
Minimum pension payments
For funds drawing a pension, minimum draw down rates for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 years has been halved.
Help for individuals
Services Australia has an online payment guide that guides you through the payments available if you are impacted by COVID-19 and what you might be able to access.
Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment for Victoria
If you have to self-isolate or quarantine at home because of COVID-19 or are caring for someone who is, and cannot earn an income as a result, you might be eligible for a $1,500 payment.
Tightening of access to income supportFrom 25 September 2020, the assets test and the Liquid Assets Waiting Period (applies to those with assets such as cash savings worth over $5,500 for singles or $11,000 for singles with children and partnered people) will be reintroduced for access to income support payments.
In addition, partner income testing will resume from 25 September 2020, albeit with higher thresholds than those pre COVID-19. That is, you will not be eligible for income support if you are not earning an income but your partner earns $3,086.11 per fortnight or $80,238.89 per annum.
Job seeking requirements that were suspended from 24 March 2020 have been introduced from 9 June 2020. Some leniency has been provided for Victorians if you maintain contact with your employment service provider.
The Coronavirus supplement will continue, albeit on a reduced rate of $250 per fortnight (from $550), from 25 September until 31 December 2020 for eligible individuals.
27 April to 24 Sept. 2020
$550 per fortnight
25 Sept. to 31 Dec. 2020
$250 per fortnight
Early access to superannuation
Figures from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority show that over $30 billion has been taken from superannuation to date under hardship provisions. If you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident and New Zealand citizen, you can apply to release up to $10,000 of your superannuation between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2020 if you were made redundant, your working hours have been reduced by more than 20%, and you have been adversely financially impacted by COVID-19.
If you are not in financial hardship you should not access your superannuation. The application process through myGov is a self-assessment process that you are responsible for. Penalties of up to $12,000 may apply for providing false or misleading information.
Some financial institutions are reporting that early access to superannuation will be a factor taken into account for those seeking to apply for loans – lenders may interpret early access as meaning that you are unable to meet your commitments and or are insolvent, and this is likely to impact on your credit worthiness.
Please contact us on 02 4959 5322 if you have any further questions relating to this.
The Government has announced further changes to the JobKeeper scheme. The good news is that employees that missed out on JobKeeper because they were not employed on 1 March 2020 might now be eligible. The proposed changes would enable employees employed on 1 July 2020 to receive JobKeeper payments from 3 August if they meet the other eligibility criteria. If you have employees impacted by this change, you will still need to work through the eligibility requirements including providing JobKeeper Payment Employee Nomination, but just remember that these changes are not yet law.
JobKeeper will also be extended beyond 27 September 2020. To receive JobKeeper from 28 September 2020, employers will need to reassess their eligibility with reference to actual GST turnover for the September 2020 quarter (for JobKeeper payments between 28 September to 3 January 2021), and again for the December 2020 quarter (for payments between 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021).
Most businesses will generally use their Business Activity Statement (BAS) reporting to assess eligibility. However, as the BAS is generally not due until the month after the end of the quarter, eligibility for JobKeeper will need to be assessed in advance of the BAS reporting deadlines to meet the wage condition for eligible employees.
However, the ATO will have discretion to extend the time an entity has to pay employees in order to meet the wage condition.
From 28 September 2020 the payment rates for JobKeeper will reduce and split into a higher and lower rate. Whether an eligible employee can access the higher or lower rate will depend on the number of hours they worked during a 4-week test period. The higher rate will apply to employees who worked at least 20 hours a week on average in the four weeks of pay periods prior to either 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020. Between 28 September 2020 and 3 January 2021, the higher rate is $1,200 per fortnight, and $750 for the lower rate. Between 4 January and 28 March 2021, the higher rate is $1,000 per fortnight and $650 for the lower rate.
Cashflow Boost Payments
If your business received the first cashflow boost tranche, you will receive a further cashflow boost for the June to September quarters of the same amount. If you report quarterly, the cashflow boost will be paid in two equal payments for June and September. If you report monthly, the cashflow boost is provided in four equal payments.
The cashflow boost is applied to reduce any liabilities in the same reporting period with any excess amount being paid as a cash refund from the ATO.
Support for business employing Apprentices and Trainees
JobTrainer provides a 50% reimbursement to eligible employers for the cost of apprentice or trainee wages up to $7,000 per quarter. Originally only for small businesses employing less than 20 employees, the subsidy recently expanded to include businesses with under 200 employees.
For small businesses (under 20 employees), the apprentice had to be employed on 1 March 2020 or on 1 July 2020 for claims after this date (claims are open now). For medium sized businesses (under 200 employees), the apprentice had to be employed on 1 July 2020 (claims open 1 October 2020). To access the subsidy, you will need to provide evidence of wages paid to the apprentice.
The subsidy is also accessible to larger employers employing apprentices let go by a small/medium business where that apprentice was eligible for the wage subsidy.
The subsidy is scheduled to end on 31 March 2021.
State & Territory based support
In addition to general waivers, reductions or rebates on some Government licensing and fees, each State and Territory has some form of support accessible to certain businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Contact us on 02 4959 5322 and we will be happy to discuss this with you.