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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The $2.5bn JobTrainer Package.

The $2.5bn JobTrainer Package.

This month the Government announced the $2.5bn JobTrainer package to retrain, upskill and open new job opportunities.

JobTrainer for job seekers and school leavers

An additional 340,700 training places will be created to provide no or low cost courses into sectors with job opportunities. The Government is working with the States and Territories to develop a list of qualifications and skill sets to be covered by the program.

JobTrainer for employers

The JobTrainer package has expanded the number of businesses that can access the 50% apprentice wage subsidy and extends the subsidy until 31 March 2021 (from 30 September 2020).

Originally, only businesses with less than 20 employees or larger employers employing apprentices/trainees let go by a small business were able to access the subsidy (for wages paid to apprentices employed by them as at 1 March 2020).

Now, businesses with under 200 employees can access the subsidy for apprentices employed from 1 July 2020. Employers will be reimbursed 50% of an eligible apprentice’s wage up to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter per apprentice.

Employers will be able to access the subsidy after an assessment by the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network.

Eligibility

Small business – claims open now
· Employ fewer than 20 people, or
· A small business with fewer than 20 people, using a Group Training Organisation, and
· the apprentice or trainee was undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship with you on 1 July 2020 for claims after this date. Claims prior to 1 July 2020, will continue to be based on the 1 March 2020 eligibility date.

Medium Business – claims open on 1 October 2020
· Employ 199 people or fewer, or
· A medium sized business with 199 people or fewer, using a Group Training Organisation, and
· the apprentice or trainee was undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship with you on 1 July 2020.

You will need to provide evidence of wages paid to the apprentice. If the business subsequently is unable to retain the apprentice, another business can access the incentive if they then employ and pay wages to the apprentice.

Final claims for payment must be lodged by 30 June 2021.

How does the apprenticeship subsidy and JobKeeper work together?

They don’t. It is one or the other.

An employer will not be eligible to claim the apprentice wage subsidy for any period where they choose to claim the JobKeeper payment for the same apprentice.

An employer or Group Training Organisation will not be eligible for the JobKeeper payment where the employer is in receipt of an Australian Government wage subsidy for the same Australian Apprentice (for example Supporting Apprentices and Trainees and the Australian Apprentice Wage Subsidy).

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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Are you eligible for the $25,000 HomeBuilder grant?

Are you eligible for the $25,000 HomeBuilder grant?

The Government has announced grants of $25,000 to encourage people to build a new home or substantially renovate their existing home.

The HomeBuilder scheme targets the residential construction market by providing tax-free grants of $25,000 to eligible owner-occupiers, including first home buyers, to build a new home or substantially renovate their existing home.

The grants will be distributed by the revenue office of the State or Territory where you live or plan to live.

There are a few complexities to this grant that both home builders/renovators and the building industry need to be across before jumping in and signing a new contract on the expectation that the grant will apply.

Eligibility
Eligibility criteria apply to the individuals applying for the grant and the building project:

Individual eligibility
The HomeBuilder scheme is available to owner occupiers including first home buyers. It is not accessible to owner builders, developers or investors.

To be eligible you need to be:

  • An individual (not a company or trust); and
  • 18 years of age or older; and
  • An Australian citizen.

And, you need to meet the income test. To be eligible, you cannot earn more than:

  • Individuals – $125,000 based on your 2018-19 or later tax return
  • Couples – $200,000 based on both of your 2018-19 or later tax returns

The building project eligibility
The building contract must be signed between 4 June 2020 and 31 December 2020. And, the construction or renovation must commence within three months of the contract date.

The grants are available if you build a new home or renovate a home to live in (your principal place of residence) where:

New home* The property value (house and land) does not exceed $750,000
Renovation** Substantially renovate your existing home, where:

·  The renovation contract is between $150,000 and $750,000, and

·  The value of your existing property (house and land) does not exceed $1.5 million

* house, apartment, house and land package, off-the-plan, etc.** renovation works must be to improve the accessibility, safety and liveability of the dwelling. It cannot be for additions to the property (such as swimming pools, tennis courts, outdoor spas and saunas, sheds or garages (unconnected to the property)).

If you own or have purchased land but have not signed a contract to build your home, you may meet the eligibility criteria if you:

  • Own a property (house and land), and knock down the house to rebuild – this will be counted as a substantial renovation, and therefore subject to the renovation price range of $150,000 to $750,000 provided the total value (house and land) of the property does not exceed $1.5 million pre-renovation;
  • Own vacant land before 4 June 2020, and then build, the total value of the land and new build cannot exceed $750,000; or
  • Buy the land after 4 June 2020, and then build, the total value of the land and build cannot exceed $750,000.

Integrity measures and pricing
Building contracts must be at arms-length, that is, the parties cannot be related or connected. Renovations or building work must be undertaken by a registered or licenced building service ‘contractor’ (depending on the state or territory you live in) and named as a builder on the building licence or permit.

When it comes to price, the terms should be commercially reasonable, and the contract price should not be inflated compared to the fair market price. The rules enable the purchaser to request that the builder demonstrate that the contract price for the new build or substantial renovation is no more than a comparable product (measured by quality, location and size) as at 1 July 2019.

Interaction with first home owner grant schemes
The HomeBuilder grant does not exclude first home buyers from accessing other grants and concessions such as the First Home Owner Grant, stamp duty concessions, the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, and First Home Super Saver Scheme.

Problem areas
As the building contract is entered into before the grant is approved, it will be important that the grant is not essential to finance the building project, just in case the grant is not approved.

In addition, as the builder needs to commence work within three months of the contract date, it will be important to ensure that the contract recognises the commencement dates.

As always, we are here to help so please reach out if you have any questions 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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