Financial assistance available due to Covid-19 outbreak

14 Apr 2020

Financial assistance available due to COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 has created economic instability and uncertainty that has affected the whole community. The AMA has put together a summary of some of the financial support packages available.*

This page will be updated regularly as the situation develops and more information becomes available.

Below are key initiatives from Federal and State/Territory Governments, and other relevant entities:

Last updated: 16 April 2020


Federal Government Support Measures

The following are key initiatives introduced by the Federal Government to assist individuals, and small and medium businesses that are impacted by COVID-19.  Eligibility for different packages and other initiatives may be found by using the links.

Cash flow boost:

The Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payment is available to small and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profits (including charities) that employ staff and have an aggregated turnover of under $50 million.

Businesses can receive between $20,000 to $100,000 to cover the cost of rent, bills, and employee wages and salaries. Payments will be automatically delivered as credits in the activity statements system from 28 April 2020. Learn more.

JobKeeper: 

Under the JobKeeper Payment, businesses (including self-employed doctors, partners in partnerships, and beneficiaries of trusts) and not-for-profits significantly impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak will be able to access a wage subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees.

The Government will provide $1,500 per fortnight per employee from 30 March 2020 to 27 September 2020. Employers must elect to participate in the scheme. They will need to make an application to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and provide supporting information demonstrating a downturn in their business. Learn more.

Apprentices and trainees:

Support is available for small businesses to retain their apprentices and trainees. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice's or trainee's wage for nine months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Learn more.

Backing business investment:

The Government has provided incentives to encourage businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million to spend by:

  • increasing the instant asset write-off by lifting the threshold to $150,000 (from $30,000) until June 2020, and
  • introducing a time-limited 15-month incentive to invest by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses will be able to deduct 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset cost.

Learn more.

Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses:

The package includes:

  • a temporary increase in the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company, and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive;
  • a temporary increase in the threshold for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings, an increase in the time period for debtors to respond to a bankruptcy notice, and extending the period of protection a debtor receives after making a declaration of intention to present a debtor’s petition;
  • temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent; and
  • providing temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 to provide targeted relief for companies from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus health crisis.

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

Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme:

Under the Scheme, the Government will provide a guarantee of 50 per cent to small and medium enterprise (SME) lenders for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital. This will enhance these lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit, which will result in SMEs being able to access additional funding to help support them through the upcoming months.

The Government will provide eligible lenders with a guarantee for loans with the following terms:

  • the maximum total size of loans of $250,000 per borrower;
  • the loans will be up to 3 years, with an initial 6-month repayment holiday, and
  • the loans will be in the form of unsecured finance, meaning that borrowers will not have to provide an asset as security for the loan.

The Scheme will commence by early April 2020, and be available for new loans made by participating lenders until 30 September 2020. Learn more.

Early release of superannuation:

From mid-April, eligible individuals will be able to apply online through myGov to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020. They will also be able to access up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 until 24 September 2020.

Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released, and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments. Learn more.

Minimum pension reduction:

To assist retirees, individuals who are drawing an income stream from superannuation will have their minimum requirement reduced by 50% for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 financial years. Learn more.

Claiming a deduction for WFH:

Should you be required to work from home, this information outlines the expenses you may incur as a result of working from home, including what you can and cannot claim at tax time. In general, to claim a deduction for working from home:

  • you must have spent the money yourself and were not reimbursed;
  • it must be directly related to earning your income; and
  • you must have a record to prove it.

Learn more.

Early childhood education and care relief package:

The Australian Government will provide free childcare to support families during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The funding will cover outside school hours care and vacation care. To find out more, contact your childcare provider.

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State/Territory Government Support Measures

The following are key initiatives introduced by the State/Territory Governments to assist individuals and small and medium businesses that are impacted by COVID-19.  Eligibility for different packages and other initiatives may be found by using the links to third party sites provided.

New South Wales

New South Wales has introduced the following initiatives.

6-month moratorium on residential tenancy evictions:

The NSW Government is introducing measures to help landlords and tenants work together. The support package includes a six-month moratorium on landlords making applications for evictions due to rental arrears due to impacts of COVID-19.

Changes to long service leave:

The amendments to the Long Services Leave Act 1955 will allow employees to take leave in shorter blocks, such as one day a week, and without the traditional one-month notice period, by agreement with their employer.  

Payroll tax threshold increase:

The tax-free threshold will increase from $900,000 to $1 million for the financial year commencing on 1 July 2020.

Payroll tax deferral:

Payroll tax customers whose total grouped Australian wages for the 2019/20 financial year are over $10 million, will have the option of deferring the payment of payroll tax for up to six months. These businesses will not need to make their payment for the March period, normally due on 7 April 2020.

Payroll tax relief:

Payroll tax customers whose total grouped Australian wages for the 2019/20 financial year are no more than $10 million will have their annual tax liability reduced by 25% when they lodge their annual reconciliation, which is due on 28 July. For those customers who lodge and pay monthly, and whose total Australian wages will be no more than $10 million for the current financial year, no payment for March, April or May 2020 will be required.

Small Business Support Grant:

The NSW COVID-19 Small Business Support Grant of $10,000 will be available to eligible NSW small business owners. Approximately $80 million in fees and charges will be waived for small businesses such as cafes, restaurants, and those in trades.

Learn more.

Western Australia

Western Australia has introduced the following initiatives.

Pandemic leave:

Unpaid pandemic leave for private-sector employees. Flexible provisions for annual leave are also included. Employees can double their annual leave at half pay or take annual leave in advance if agreed by their employer.

Support for residential tenancies:

Legislation to support both tenants and landlords during the crisis period.

Rent relief for small businesses and NFPs:

The WA Government will waive rental payments for small businesses, and not-for-profit groups in Government-owned buildings for six months to help these leaseholders respond to the impacts of COVID-19 coronavirus.

On-demand transport industry:

$9 million relief package to support the taxi and on-demand transport industry.

Payroll tax threshold increase:

The threshold will be increased to $1 million on 1 July 2020.  

Payroll tax waiver:

Payroll tax-paying businesses with group Australian taxable wages of less than $7.5 million will have their payroll tax waived for March to June 2020. Payroll tax for March to June will automatically be waived. Do not apply for the waiver. Payroll tax-paying businesses with group Australian taxable wages of more than $7.5 million can apply for an interest-free payment arrangement.

Grant payment:

Businesses with group Australian taxable wages between $1 million and $4 million will receive a one-off grant of $17,500. Grants will automatically be paid by cheque from July.

Households:

Household fees and charges including water, electricity, motor vehicle charges, emergency services levy and public transport fees will be frozen until at least 1 July 2021. 

An increase in the Energy Assistance Payment (EAP) from $300 to $600.The EAP is limited to holders of means-tested Commonwealth concession cards.

Learn more.

Victoria

Victoria has introduced the following initiatives.

Payroll tax refund/deferral:

Businesses with Victorian taxable wages of $3 million or less, a full refund of any payroll tax paid or payable for the 2019-20 financial year. The same businesses will be able to defer any payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020-21 financial year, freeing up cash flow. 

Business Support Fund:

Funding of $10,000 per small business is available and will be allocated through a grant process. 

Grants for small business:

Small businesses that have been highly impacted by shutdown restrictions can now apply for a one-off $10,000 grant from the Victorian Government's Business Support Fund. Applications are open until 1 June 2020.

Land tax deferral:

Landowners who have at least one taxable non-residential property and total taxable landholdings below $1 million are eligible for a deferral of their land tax payment.  The Victorian State Revenue Office will directly contact eligible landowners.  The payment can be deferred until after 1 January 2021 but will need to be paid in full by 31 March 2021. 

Liquor license fees waived:

Renewable liquor licence fees for 2020 will be waived. Businesses that have already paid will be reimbursed.

Working for Victoria fund:

Displaced workers will be eligible to apply for different types of work. Working for Victoria has partnered with Sidekicker to create an online platform to connect employers with workers who have lost their jobs. Workers can use the platform to provide information about their job preferences, skills and experience, and receive matching available employment opportunities.

Fast-tracking outstanding supplier invoices:

The Government will pay all outstanding supplier invoices within 10 business days – ensuring funds reach businesses and the economy faster. The private sector is urged to do the same where possible.

Rent relief for tenants in government buildings:

The Government will work directly with tenants in government buildings who can apply for rent relief. Private landlords are also being encouraged to provide rent relief or holidays to help businesses.

Learn more.

Queensland

Queensland has introduced the following initiatives.

Payroll tax relief:

Businesses who pay $6.5 million or less in group Australian taxable wages will be eligible for a refund of their Queensland payroll tax for two months, a waiver of payroll tax for the next three months, and a deferral of the payment of the payroll tax for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year until 14 January 2021.

Businesses with group Australian taxable wages in excess of $6.5 million who are “directly or indirectly affected” by COVID-19 can apply for a refund of their Queensland payroll tax for two months, and a deferral of the payment of the payroll tax for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year until 14 January 2021.

Jobs support loans:

This scheme is for Queensland businesses and not-for-profit organisations financially affected by COVID-19 to retain employees, and maintain their operations.

Loan features:

  • Maximum loan up to $250,000
  • No repayments or interest charged for the first year
  • Plus two years interest only
  • 5% fixed interest rate
  • 10-year loan term
  • Open until 25 September 2020 or until funding is fully committed.

Worker retraining and assistance:

To assist workers who lose their job or income with retraining, job-matching, and other help to transition into jobs in the industries that are vital to get Queensland through this crisis – such as health care, agriculture, food production, transport, cleaning, and mining.

Industry support package:

Assist large businesses through this period to ensure they will be able to scale up, and service the community when economic activity improves.

Electricity bill relief for small and medium businesses:

Sole traders, small and medium businesses will get a $500 rebate on their power bill. Any business consuming less than 100,000-kilowatt hours will receive the rebate, which will be automatically applied on business electricity bills.

Commercial tenancies:

Support available include:

  • a land tax rebate reducing land tax liabilities by 25% for eligible properties for the 2019-20 assessment year;
  • a waiver of the 2% land tax foreign surcharge for foreign entities for the 2019-20 assessment year; and
  • a 3-month deferral of land tax liabilities for the 2020-21 assessment year. 

Unpaid pandemic leave:

The Fair Work Commission has varied 99 awards to provide employees with two weeks unpaid pandemic leave, and the ability to apply to take annual leave at half pay.

Learn more.

Tasmania

Tasmania has introduced the following initiatives.

Business continuity grant:

Businesses can receive up to $750 toward the cost of engaging the services of a suitably qualified person to advise on business continuity planning.

Business support loan scheme:

Loans from $20,000 up to $250,000 are available to assist eligible businesses to support business continuity, viability, and sustainability during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Primary healthcare grant program:

To assist general practices, and community pharmacies to support continued delivery of primary health services during the COVID-19 pandemic, grants of up to $10,000 are available as one-off support payments.

Payroll tax waivers and rebates:

Waive the requirement for employers in the hospitality, tourism, and seafood industries to lodge payroll tax returns for March, April, and May 2020.

The Tasmanian State Revenue Office will still require the 2019-20 annual return to be lodged by 21 July 2020, but the State Government will waive payroll tax for relevant wages for March, April, May, and June 2020.

For employers outside of the above industries with group Australian taxable wages of up to $5 million, apply a rebate of their payroll tax for March, April, and May 2020.

From 1 April 2020, provide a one-year rebate for employers who pay payroll tax, and employ new youth employees under the age of 25.  Further details of this rebate scheme are pending.

General financial support:

Various levels of financial support for health workers, individuals, and families that are placed on home quarantine, are ill or required to self- isolate. Provide $50 million in interest-free loans over three years for local councils to upgrade, and renovate tourism assets while increasing employment. Provide $20 million in interest-free loans to businesses in the hospitality, tourism, seafood, and exports sectors.

Rapid Response Skills Initiative:

Up to $3,000 will be available for individuals to gain skills or licences to help them into a new role.

Learn More.

South Australia

South Australia has introduced the following initiatives.

Payroll tax relief:

Provide businesses with group Australian taxable wages of up to $4 million to a six-month waiver of payroll tax (for the months between April and September 2020 inclusive).  Businesses with group Australian taxable wages of over $4 million will be entitled to a six-month deferral of payroll tax if they can demonstrate a significant impact on their cash flow caused by COVID-19.

Land tax relief:

From 1 July 2020, allow individuals and businesses with outstanding land tax quarterly bills for 2019-20 to defer payments for up to six months.

For the 2020-21 financial year, increase the existing Land Tax Transition Fund relief from 50% to 100% based on existing relief criteria guidelines.

Job accelerator grants:

The Government is relaxing the existing Job Accelerator Grant (JAG) criteria requiring an employer to have maintained their overall employment levels for a full year to be eligible for their second anniversary JAG payment.

The Government understands that due to the impact of COVID-19, some employers may not be able to meet these criteria.

Claims for the second JAG payment from 1 February to 30 June 2020 will be assessed on staffing levels as at 31 January 2020 rather than the relevant two-year anniversary date.

Learn more

Australian Capital Territory

The Australian Capital Territory has introduced the following initiatives.

Business fee waivers:

Fee waivers for businesses directly impacted by COVID-19.

Vocational education and training:

Increasing subsidies for apprenticeships and traineeships and other VET students to access nationally recognised training in areas linked to skills needs across a range of industries.

Community clubs and Casino Canberra:

An additional payment of $1.5 million will be made, as well as the existing $1.8 million in the Diversification and Sustainability Support Fund, freed up to keep staff employed. A total of $3.3 million is available for distribution to clubs.

The Government will provide further support to community clubs and Casino Canberra, to enable them to keep staff employed as they adjust to the physical distancing measures.

Payroll tax waivers and deferrals:

Defer the payment date for payroll tax for up to 12 months for businesses with taxable wages of up to $10 million.

All businesses whose operations are directly affected by the ‘prohibited activities list’ such as gyms and indoor sporting venues, cinemas, beauty therapists and nail salons will be eligible to receive a six-month waiver of the payroll tax from April to September 2020.

Electricity rebates:

Provide a $750 rebate to small businesses through their next electricity bill.

Other:

Provide a $2,622 credit to commercial rates notices, and a $150 rebate for every household.  Households receiving the utilities concession will also receive an additional $200 rebate.

Establish a $20 million fund for simple infrastructure works on public buildings, and redeploy public sector staff in events or entertainment to maintenance works.

Bring forward $500,000 in arts grant funding also bring forward funding for clubs to retain staff.

Provide a $7 million package for non-government organisations to meet the increased demand for social services

Learn more

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory has introduced the following initiatives.

Reducing payroll tax:

Payroll tax abolished for six months - if you are a small or medium-sized business.

Payroll tax-deferred for six months - if you are a large business.

Power, water, and sewerage bills cut by 50% (all businesses) for six months.

Commercial tenancies:

Territory businesses who need relief on the cost of their lease will receive extra support.

Worker and Wellbeing Fund:

The Worker and Wellbeing Fund can help you if you have lost your job or your income has been reduced because of COVID-19.  You can only apply for this fund if you are not already receiving financial and / or wellbeing support, including Centrelink benefits.

Business improvement grants:

For all Territory businesses, provide access to a $10,000 grant, followed by an additional $10,000 grant, if the business contributes $10,000 of their own funds towards the purchase of goods and services to make permanent physical improvements to a business (land and/or building) that help improve its efficiency and customer experience.  Each business is only eligible to receive one grant, and it can be used to complete one or two different jobs on their premises.

Small business survival fund:

It is targeted at businesses that have a significant reduction in trade due to the shutdown and physical distancing provisions.

Immediate survival payment:

The immediate survival payment amounts include:

  • $2,000 for sole traders;
  • $5,000 for businesses with 2 to 4 employees (FTEs);
  • $20,000 for businesses with 5 to 19 employees (FTEs); and
  • $50,000 for businesses with more than 20 employees (FTEs).

Rapid adaption payment:

The rapid adaption payment provides:

  • up to $2,000 for businesses with one employee (FTE); and
  • up to $5,000 for other eligible businesses to offset costs incurred in adapting their current business model to suit restrictions.

This payment is application-based and paid direct to the business. It will be paid on the provision of an appropriate invoice. The expenditure must occur after the announcement and applications close on 1 May 2020.

Other:

Put on hold any increases to government fees and charges, including electricity costs.
Fast track around 5,000 “screwdriver-ready” projects in Territory homes through a voucher-based scheme.

Provide grants of up to $100,000 to not-for-profit and community organisations to engage local businesses to do repairs, renovations and upgrades to their property, and facilities.  The first $50,000 will be paid as a grant, and the Government will also match any renovation costs that exceed $50,000 on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a maximum of $100,000 total.

Learn more

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Initiatives by other entities

Support packages from Australian banks:

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has announced a small business relief package to support small business during COVID-19. All ABA member banks can participate. Broadly, the package includes a deferral of principal and interest repayment for all term loans and retail loans for six months, for small businesses with less than $3 million in total debt owed to credit providers. At the end of the deferral period, businesses will not be required to pay the deferred interest in a lump sum. Either the term of the loan will be extended, or the level of loan repayments will be increased.

All small businesses have been encouraged to contact their banks about the small business relief package. Fast-track approval processes are in place to ensure support is available as soon as possible. Learn more.

Fair Work Ombudsman:

On 9 April 2020, the Fair Work Commission made determinations varying 99 awards to provide unpaid pandemic leave, and greater flexibility for annual leave for employees in many awards. Learn more.

Quick reference of Government business assistance measures (provided by RSM Australia):

A summary of key measures in one place, with detail of eligibility criteria, how each stimulus package works, and action needed to be taken to access these packages. Learn more.

*This website contains links to sites that are not under the control of the AMA. The existence of these links does not imply any endorsement by the AMA of third party sites, nor does the AMA make any warranties. The AMA accepts no liability concerning material contained on third party sites.

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