Help for individuals

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 support
From 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.

Coronavirus supplement
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

Your questions answered
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.

If you have any questions or need further support please get in touch via email reception@primeadvisory.com.au or call 02 9415 1511.

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JobKeeper 2.0

JobKeeper 2.0

The second tranche of the JobKeeper scheme changes the eligibility test for employers and the method and amount paid to employees.

If your business currently receives JobKeeper, your arrangements will generally remain unchanged until 27 September 2020. From 28 September 2020, employers seeking to claim JobKeeper payments will need to reassess their eligibility and prove an actual decline in turnover.

Eligibility
To continue receiving JobKeeper payments, employers will need to reassess their eligibility with reference to actual GST turnover for the June and September 2020 quarters (for payments between 28 September to 3 January 2021), and again for the June, September and December 2020 quarters (for payments between 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021).

Eligible employers
The broad eligibility tests to access JobKeeper remain the same with an extended decline in turnover test.

  • On 1 March 2020, carried on a business in Australia OR was a non‑profit body pursuing its objectives principally in Australia; and
    • before the end of the JobKeeper fortnight, it met the decline in turnover test*:
      • >15% for an ACNC-registered charity (excluding universities, or schools within the meaning of the GST Act – these entities need to meet the basic turnover test)
      • > 50% for large businesses:
        • aggregated turnover for the test period is likely to be $1 billion or more, or aggregated turnover for the previous year to the test period was $1 billion or more (a small business that forms part of a group that is a large business must have a >50% decline in turnover to satisfy the test).
      • ­>30% for all other qualifying entities.
    • And, was not:
      • on 1 March 2020, subject to Major Bank Levy for any quarter ending before this date, a member of a consolidated group and another member of the group had been subject to the levy; or
      • a government body of a particular kind, or a wholly-owned entity of such a body; or
      • at any time in the fortnight, a provisional liquidator or liquidator has been appointed to the business or a trustee in bankruptcy had been appointed to the individual’s property.

1 March 2020 is an absolute date. An employer that had ceased trading, commenced after 1 March 2020, or was not pursuing its objectives in Australia at that date, is not eligible.

*Additional tests apply from 28 September 2020.

Additional decline in turnover tests
To receive JobKeeper payments from 28 September 2020, businesses will need to meet the basic eligibility tests and an extended decline in turnover test based on actual GST turnover.

  30 March to 27 September 2020 28 September to 3 January 2021 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021
Decline in turnover Projected GST turnover for a relevant month or quarter is expected to fall by at least 30% (15% for ACNC-registered charities, 50% for large businesses) compared to the same period in 2019.* Actual GST turnover in the June and September 2020 quarters fell by at least 30% (15% for ACNC-registered charities, 50% for large businesses) compared to the same periods in 2019.

The decline for both of the quarters needs to be met to continue receiving JobKeeper payments.

Actual GST turnover in the June, September and December 2020 quarters fell by at least 30% (15% for ACNC-registered charities, 50% for large businesses) compared to the same periods in 2019. The decline for all three of the quarters needs to be met to continue receiving JobKeeper payments.

* Alternative tests potentially apply where a business fails the basic test and does not have a relevant comparison period.

Most businesses will generally use their Business Activity Statement (BAS) reporting to assess eligibility. However, as the BAS deadlines are 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.

Alternative arrangements are expected to be put in place for businesses and not-for-profits that are not required to lodge a BAS (for example, if the entity is a member of a GST group).

Alternative tests
The Commissioner of Taxation will have discretion to set out alternative tests that would establish eligibility in specific circumstances where it is not appropriate to compare actual turnover in a quarter in 2020 with actual turnover in a quarter in 2019, in line with the Commissioner’s existing discretion.

Eligible employees
Employee eligibility will remain broadly the same but the value of the payment will change from 28 September based on average weekly hours in February 2020.

  • On 1 March 2020:
    • Was aged 16 years and over; and
    • If the individual was aged 16 or 17, was either financially independent or was not undertaking full-time study;
    • Was an employee other than a casual, or was a long-term casual*; and
    • Was an Australian resident (under the meaning of the Social Security Act 1991), or a resident for tax purposes and held a Subclass 444 (Special category) visa**.
  • And, at any point during the JobKeeper fortnight:
    • Was an employee of the employer; and
    • Was not an excluded employee:
      • An employee receiving parental leave pay or dad and partner pay; or
      • An employee receiving workers compensation payments in relation to total incapacity.
    • And, has provided the JobKeeper Payment Employee Nomination to the employer:
      • Agreeing to be nominated by the employer as an eligible employee under the JobKeeper scheme; and
      • Confirming that they have not agreed to be nominated by another employer; and
      • If they are a long-term casual, they do not have permanent employment with another employer.

*A ‘long term casual employee’ is a person who has been employed by the business on a regular and systematic basis during the period of 12 months that ended on 1 March 2020 (1 March 2019 to 1 March 2020). These are likely to be employees with a recurring work schedule or a reasonable expectation of ongoing work.

JobKeeper payments

JobKeeper 30 March to 27 September 2020 28 September to 3 January 2021 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021
Payment $1,500 per fortnight per employee ·     $1,200 per fortnight per employee or business participant who worked > 20 hours per week

·     $750 per fortnight per employee or business participant working < 20 hours per week

·     $1,000 per fortnight per employee or business participant who worked > 20 hours per week

·     $650 per fortnight per employee or business participant working < 20 hours per week

Assessing if an employee has worked 20 hours or more
JobKeeper payments from 28 September 2020 are paid at a lower rate for employees who worked less than 20 hours per week on average in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020.

The Commissioner of Taxation will have discretion to set out alternative tests for those situations where an employee’s or business participant’s hours were not usual during February 2020. Also, the ATO will provide guidance on how this will be dealt with when pay periods are not weekly.

Can I keep getting JobKeeper until September?
If your business and your employees passed the original eligibility tests to access JobKeeper, and you have fulfilled your wage requirements, you can continue to claim JobKeeper up until the last JobKeeper fortnight that ends on 27 September 2020.

ATO assistant commissioner Andrew Watson said in a recent interview, “Once you’re in, you’re in to the end of September. If you meet the eligibility test once, you’re in it for the whole time.” The original eligibility test was a once only test although there are ongoing conditions that need to be satisfied for each JobKeeper fortnight.

 

Finally, if you need assistance regarding any of the Governments stimulus packages please get in touch with our team by phone 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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JobSeeker and other support.

JobSeeker and other support.

Coronavirus supplement
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.

  • From 27 April to 24 September 2020 you will receive $550 per fortnight
  • From 25 September to 31 December 2020 you will receive $250 per fortnight

Eligibility remains the same. That is, those receiving:

  • JobSeeker Payment (and all payments transitioning as a result of JobSeeker Payment)
  • Youth Allowance
  • Parenting Payment (Partnered and Single)
  • Austudy
  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Eligible New Enterprise Incentive Scheme participants
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs Education Schemes

Note: eligibility criteria and some of the tests for access to income support is changing.

Eligibility and access
The expanded eligibility criteria for the Jobseeker Payment and the Youth Allowance Jobseeker will continue to apply until 31 December 2020:

  • Permanent employees who have been stood down or lost their jobs (and are not receiving payments from an employer or through insurance),
  • Sole traders, the self-employed, casuals or contractors who meet the income and assets tests.

In addition, if you receive JobSeeker or Youth Allowance payments, the amount you can earn before impacting income support has been increased to $300 per fortnight from 25 September 2020 until 31 December 2020. However, a number of restrictions have been reintroduced.

Reintroduction of assets and partner income tests
From 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, albeit with higher thresholds than those pre coronavirus. 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. The partner income test taper rate will increase from 25 cents for every dollar of partner income earned over $996 per fortnight to 27 cents for every dollar of partner income earned over $1,165 per fortnight.

Reintroduction of job seeking requirements
Job seeking requirements that were suspended from 24 March 2020 have been introduced from 9 June 2020. The mutual obligation requirements include:

  • Voluntary job searches
  • At least one phone or online appointment with a jobseeker’s employment services provider
  • Voluntary participation in activities, either online or in person, and
  • No payment suspensions or penalties for failure to comply.

Waiting periods continue to be waived
Some waiting periods for access to income support will continue to be waived until 31 December 2020:

  • The one-week ordinary waiting period is waived.
  • The newly arrived resident’s waiting period for new migrants (previously four years). Claimants will still need to meet residency requirements, that is they will need to hold a permanent visa. Affected claimants will need to serve the remainder of this waiting period at the end of the period the Coronavirus Supplement is paid for.
  • The Seasonal Work Preclusion Period for those who are eligible for the Coronavirus supplement -this applies to those who finished seasonal, contract or intermittent work in the six months prior to claiming income support.

Further, if you need assistance regarding any of the Governments stimulus packages please get in touch with our team by phone 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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Working from Home Shortcut Method Extended by the ATO.

Working from Home Shortcut Method Extended by the ATO.

The ATO introduced the shortcut method in April to help taxpayers track their working from home expenses as COVID-19 forced many to adopt remote working practices. The new temporary 80 cents per hour method will now be extended.

This scheme was originally intended to run from 1 March to 30 June 2020, but due to current work patterns not yet returning to normal and as Melbourne reimpose lockdown restrictions, the ATO has decided to extend this shortcut method to 30 September 2020.

The ATO has noted that it may extend the new method beyond 30 September 2020, depending on when work patterns begin to return to normal. Note records of the hours worked at home in the form of a timesheet or diary are needed to claim the shortcut method.

The temporary shortcut method will continue to be supplementary to the 52 cents fixed-rate method and the actual cost method of calculating running expenses.

For more download our working from home guide.

Further, if you need assistance deciding how best to claim your working from home tax expenses this year please get in touch with our team by phone 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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The ATO are watching.

The ATO are watching.

As written about in December 2019, the progression of technology is now assisting the ATO to ensure compliance among business and personal tax and superannuation obligations and to assist in detecting fraud. For the full article, please click here.

This month the ATO will begin to supply Services Australia with a list of all employees nominated for JobKeeper by an eligible employer to cross-check with Services Australia’s list of social security customers and claimants. The cross-reference of these two databases will allow identification of the population of people who may be registered for the JobKeeper program and social security payments.

Individuals receiving JobKeeper ($1,500 per fortnight) from their employers may be earning above the income cut-off and unable to also be entitled to a social security payment. Once these individuals are identified as not correctly declaring their JobKeeper income, they will be contacted and reminded of their reporting obligations.

Example correspondence from Services Australia will read, “The Australian Taxation Office has given us information that you may be receiving JobKeeper payment. The JobKeeper payment may change the amount of Centrelink support you are receiving. It is important that you report any income you and or your partner get from your employer(s); this includes the JobKeeper payment. If you don’t report all your income, we may pay you too much and you may have a debt to pay back.”

If the customer does not provide the required information within a reasonable timeframe the agency may suspend or cancel the customer’s social security payment.

This data-matching program is expected to run until October at a minimum however may be extended with the rollout of JobKeeper 2.0.

If you have any questions, please reach out to our team by phone 02 9415 1511 or by email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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