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Summary of State and Commonwealth Victorian Business Assistance Packages

Victorian Government assistance for businesses in response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

$3 billion economic survival and jobs package

Business Support Fund

The $500 million Business Support Fund supported Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) within the hardest hit sectors, including hospitality, tourism, accommodation, arts and entertainment, and retail. A one-off $10,000 grant was available to businesses. Applications are now closed.

Working for Victoria Fund

Under the $500 million Working for Victoria Fund, displaced workers will be eligible to apply for different types of work. This presents opportunities for paid work and a chance to contribute to Victoria’s ability to manage this event and support the community. Apply now.

Payroll Tax Refund

Businesses with annual taxable wages up to $3 million will have their payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year waived, giving $550 million back to businesses who need it. Eligible businesses must continue to lodge returns but do not need to make further payments for this financial year. These businesses can also defer paying payroll tax for the first quarter of the 2020-21 financial year. More information.

Payroll tax exemption for additional payments made under the JobKeeper program

For employers participating in the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper program, “additional payments” you make to employees are now exempt from payroll tax. For payments to employees that have been stood down, the full $1,500 per fortnight is exempt. The additional payments are also excluded for the purposes of calculating WorkCover Premiums. More information.

Commercial tenancies relief scheme

The Victorian Government will immediately introduce a commercial tenancy relief scheme to alleviate the financial hardship faced by tenants and landlords as a result of COVID-19. More information.

Rent relief for commercial tenants in government buildings

The Victorian Government will work directly with commercial 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.

Land tax relief

Landowners who have at least one non-residential property and total taxable landholdings below $1 million have the option of deferring their 2020 land tax payment until after 31 December 2020. Landlords who provide tenants impacted by COVID-19 with rent relief may be eligible for a 25 per cent reduction on the property’s 2020 land tax. More information.

Liquor licence fees waived

Renewable liquor licence fees for 2020 will be waived. Businesses who have already paid will be reimbursed. More information.

Experience Economy Survival Package

The Victorian Government is backing Victorian sport, tourism and creative industries, with $150 million to support sporting clubs and competitions across the state – from grassroots to elite – as well as major tourist attractions, galleries and museums, and the racing industry. More information.

Night-time Economy Business Support Initiative: support for pubs, clubs and restaurants

This Initiative recognises that these venues, unlike many other commercial tenants, have complex licencing and leasing arrangements. $40 million from the Business Support Fund will be made available to provide rent relief for licenced venues with an individual annual turnover of up to $50 million, but who are not covered by the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme. Register your interest.

Sustaining Creative Workers initiative

The initiative delivers quick-response funding to professional independent creative practitioners, sole traders, freelancers, collectives and micro-organisations/businesses whose work and livelihoods have been negatively impacted by coronavirus. Applications are now closed.

Victorian Business Growth Fund (VBGF)

The $250 million VBGF is now open to support long‑term growth opportunities for businesses and boost employment and economic development across the State. Established by the Victorian Government and First State Super, the Fund will operate for 10 years and will help to address barriers faced by successful small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are ready to grow their business but can’t access the funds or find the right partner they need to take the next step. Roc Partners has been engaged to manage the VBGF. Express your interest through Roc Partners’ website.

For further information about the Victorian Government assistance for businesses in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) call the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15 or visit the website.


Commonwealth Government assistance for businesses in response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

$320 billion economic response package

JobKeeper Payment

Under the JobKeeper program, businesses will be able to access a wages subsidy to continue paying their employees: a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum of six months. More information.

Boosting cash flow for employers

Up to $100,000 will be available for eligible small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and not-for-profits (NFPs) that employ people, with a minimum payme­­­nt of $20,000. More information.

Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

The Commonwealth Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will tailor solutions for owners or directors of business that are currently struggling due to coronavirus. More information.

Supporting the flow of credit – SME Guarantee Scheme

SMEs with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive a guarantee of 50 per cent to SME lenders to support new short-term unsecured loans to be used for working capital. The Scheme will guarantee up to $40 billion of new lending. More information.

Increasing the instant asset write-off

The instant asset write-off (IAWO)threshold has been increased from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanded access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020. More information.

Backing Business Investment (BBI)

BBI is a time limited 15-month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth over the short term by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million 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’s cost. More information.

Supporting apprentices and trainees

Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice.

More information.

Assistance for affected regions, communities and industries

The Commonwealth Government is providing $1 billion to support regions, communities and industries most significantly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. A major relief package of up to $715 million is also available to support the airline industry. More information.

For further information visit the Treasury website and business.gov.au.

Assistance for exporters in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Increase in Export Market Development Grants

The Commonwealth Government has increased funding for the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG). Funding for the scheme will increase by $49.8 million in the 2019-20 financial year, allowing exporters and tourism businesses to get additional reimbursements for costs incurred in marketing their products and services around the world.

This increase supplements the additional $60 million already committed by the Government and brings EMDG funding to its highest level in more than 20 years at $207.7 million for the 2019-20 financial year. More information.

International Freight Assistance Mechanism

The new $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism will assist Australia’s agricultural and fisheries sector by helping them export their high-quality produce into key overseas markets, with return flights bringing back vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment.

Exporters wishing to access the mechanism can register their interest or call the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment on (02) 6272 2444.

COVID-19 Export Capital Facility

The Commonwealth Government has established a $500 million COVID-19 Export Capital Facility to assist previously profitable Australian exporters whose businesses have been impacted by COVID-19.

Exporters will be able to access loans from $250,000 to $50 million under the Facility. The Facility will complement other measures announced by the Government which enable banks to support new and existing clients.  Exporters should contact their banks in the first instance to determine what assistance may be available to them.

For further information visit the Export Finance Australia website or call 1800 093 724.


Useful links and resources for businesses impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • Austrade: receive the latest insights for exporters by visiting the Austrade website.
  • Australian Industry Group: explore tools and other resources by visiting the AI Group website.
  • Australian Information Industry Association: Australian Business Continuity offers tools, information and free services for businesses to keep functioning with minimal disruptionthrough technology.
  • Australian Taxation Office: visit the ATO website for up-to-date information and advice to business.
  • Business Victoria: find tips on how to create a continuity planevaluate risk and prepare a risk management plan. Learn how to respond and recoverBook a low-cost appointment with a mentor  to help you work through or develop a recovery plan.
  • City of Melbourne: for information on grants for SMEs and NFPs, visit the City of Melbourne website.
  • Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA): explore the latest insights and webinars by visiting the CEDA website.
  • CPA Australia: receive high-level tips, including access to Disaster Recovery Toolkits by visiting the CPA Australia website.
  • Creative Victoria: information for the creative industries is available on the Creative Victoria website.
  • Export Council of Australia: for updates on supply chains and freight and a suite of tools and resources for exporters visit the ECA website.
  • Export Finance Australia: find support and resources for exporters during the coronavirus outbreak by visiting the Export Finance Australia website.
  • Sport and Recreation Victoria: information for the sport and recreation industries is available on the Sport and Recreation Victoria website.
  • Treasury: The Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit has been established to engage with business on a regular basis and provide updates to government on crucial issues. Visit the Treasury website to find out more.
  • Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry: register for free annual membership and access coronavirus business resources by visiting the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry website.
  • Visit Victoria: information for tourism and events industries is available on the Visit Victoria website.
  • Workers in Transition: this support provides information, tools and resources to help both business and workers through retrenchment and into new opportunities. For more information, visit the Business Victoria website.

6 May 2020 – More payroll tax relief for businesses

The Victorian Government has announced additional payroll tax relief to support businesses and jobs as we face coronavirus (COVID-19).

To qualify for the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper payments, employers must pay a minimum of $1500 a fortnight to eligible employees.

Any additional payments that an employer makes to bridge the gap between their employee’s normal wage and the $1500 a fortnight required to qualify for JobKeeper payments are now exempt from payroll tax. For employees who have been stood down, the full $1500 payment is exempt.

More information about this emergency tax relief measure is available at sro.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.

The additional payments are not included in rateable remuneration for the purposes of calculating WorkCover Premiums. For more information, visit worksafe.vic.gov.au.

Eligibility requirements for JobKeeper payments are available on the Australian Taxation Office website.

Other support available to businesses

The Victorian Government has a range of other tax relief measures as part of its Economic Survival Package in response to coronavirus. Please find all Information about all Victorian Government tax relief measures via this link.               

Businesses across the state can access information on dealing with the impact of coronavirus by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.

28 April 2020 – JobKeeper Scheme

ATO Announces Extension to Wage Payments

The ATO has just announced that it has extended the time in which employers need to pay employees for JobKeeper fortnights 1 and 2 until 8 May 2020.

One of the key requirements of the JobKeeper Scheme is that employers must first pay their employees before they can apply to receive JobKeeper Payments. Originally, a concession was available that allowed employers to make the payments for JobKeeper fortnights 1 and 2 by 26 April 2020 (being the end of fortnight 2). The ATO then extended this to 30 April 2020.

However, under this new announcement, a further extension has been granted until 8 May 2020 providing employers with additional time to ensure they have paid each eligible employee $3,000 for JobKeeper fortnights 1 and 2.

As a warning, employers must be aware that, despite the fact they can now pay their employees as late as 8 May 2020 and still be eligible for JobKeeper Payments for fortnights 1 and 2, they are still required to pay their employees a further $1,500 by 10 May 2020 in relation JobKeeper fortnight
3 (which ends on the same date).

At the current time, no extension to this date has been announced, and it would be unwise for employers to anticipate that there will be one.

Enrolments for the first two JobKeeper fortnights has also been extended to 31 May 2020.

Reference can also be made to the following:

ATO website
https://www.ato.gov.au/general/JobKeeper-Payment/

Assistant Treasurer’s media release
https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/michael-sukkar-2019/media-releases/jobkeeper-
payment-extension-help-business-cashflow-0

7 April 2020

ATO Announces Temporary Change to Home Office Deductions

Shortcut method

You can claim a deduction of 80 cents for each hour you work from home due to COVID-19 as long as you are:

  • working from home to fulfil your employment duties and not just carrying out minimal tasks such as occasionally checking emails or taking calls,
  • incurring additional deductible running expenses as a result of working from home.

You do not have to have a separate or dedicated area of your home set aside for working, such as a private study.

The shortcut method rate covers all deductible running expenses, including:

  • electricity for lighting, cooling or heating and running electronic items used for work (for example your computer), and gas heating expenses
  • the decline in value and repair of capital items, such as home office furniture and furnishings
  • cleaning expenses
  • your phone costs, including the decline in value of the handset
  • your internet costs
  • computer consumables, such as printer ink
  • stationery
  • the decline in value of a computer, laptop or similar device.

You do not have to incur all of these expenses, but you must have incurred additional expenses in some of those categories as a result of working from home due to COVID-19.

If you use the shortcut method to claim a deduction for your additional running expenses, you cannot claim a further deduction for any of the expenses listed above.

You must keep a record of the number of hours you have worked from home as a result of COVID-19. Examples are timesheets, diary notes or rosters.

If you use the shortcut method to claim a deduction and you lodge your 2019-20 tax return through myGov or a tax agent, you must include the note ‘COVID-hourly rate’ in your tax return.

Furthermore, according to the ATO’s announcement, under the 80 cents per hour method:

(a) there is no requirement to have a separate or dedicated area at home set aside for working (e.g., a private study);
(b) multiple people living in the same house could claim under this method (e.g., a couple living together could each individually claim running expenses they have incurred while genuinely working from home, based on the 80 cents per hour method); and
(c) an individual will only be required to keep a record of the number of hours worked from home as a result of the Coronavirus, during the above period. This record can include time sheets, diary entries/notes or even rosters.

Working from home running expenses that are incurred before 1 March 2020 (and/or incurred from this date where an individual does not use the 80 cents per hour method) must be claimed using existing
claim arrangements.

Broadly, these existing claim arrangements require:
• an analysis of specific running expenses incurred as a result of working from home; and
• more onerous record-keeping (e.g., the requirement to provide receipts and similar documents for
expenses being claimed, as well as the requirement to maintain a time usage diary or similar record
to show how often a home work area was used during the year for work purposes).

Records you must keep

If you use the shortcut method, you only need to keep a record of the hours you worked at home, for example timesheets or diary notes.

If you use the other methods, you must also keep a record of the number of hours you worked from home along with records of your expenses. For more information on what those records are see Home office expenses.

31 March 2020

JobKeeper Subsidy Package

Introduced by the Federal Government on 31st March 2020, known as the ”JobKeeper Payment”,  to assist eligible employers and self-employed individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort for them to continue to pay their workers.

What is it?

Eligible employers will be able to claim a subsidy of $1,500 per fortnight, per eligible employee, from 30 March 2020 (with payments commencing from the first week of May 2020), for a maximum period of six months.

This subsidy will be paid by the ATO monthly in arrears and will ensure that an eligible employee receives a gross payment (i.e., before tax) of at least $1,500 per fortnight.

Who is eligible for this?

Employers where:

  • for a business with a turnover of less than $1 billion – its turnover will be reduced by more than 30% relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); or
  • for a business with a turnover of $1 billion or more – its turnover will be reduced by more than 50% relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); and
  • the business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy.

Self-employed individuals (who employ or do not employ workers) and not-for-profit entities including charities that meet the above criteria.

When Can the JobKeeper Payment be Claimed in respect of an Employee

Before an eligible employer can claim the JobKeeper payment in respect of an employee (‘eligible employee’), the employee must satisfy the following requirements:

• The employee is currently employed by the employer (which includes an employee who has been stood down or re-hired after they had already lost their job).
• The employee was employed by the employer as at 1 March 2020.
• The employee is a full-time or part-time employee, or a long-term casual employee who has been employed by the employer on a regular basis for longer than 12 months at 1 March 2020.
• The employee is at least 16 years of age.
• The employee is an Australian citizen, or the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder.
• The employee is not in receipt of a JobKeeper Payment from another employer.

In summary, eligible employers will receive the JobKeeper Payment for each eligible employee who was on the employer’s books on 1 March 2020 and continues to be engaged by that employer (including full-time, part-time, long-term casuals and stood down employees).

Employees who have multiple employers will need to notify their primary employer to claim the JobKeeper Payment on their behalf, as only one employer will be eligible to receive the payment.

How does a business apply?

Employers must register their intent to claim the subsidy via ATO website link: https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/

Eligible employers that apply for the JobKeeper Payment will need to provide supporting information demonstrating a downturn in their business, and must report the number of eligible employees employed by the business on a monthly basis.

Businesses without employees (Includes self-employed individuals, Trusts & Companies) will need to provide an ABN for the business, nominate an individual to receive the JobKeeper payment and provide that individual’s Tax File Number, as well as provide a declaration on the recent business activity (to demonstrate the downturn in the business). These businesses will also need to provide a monthly update to the ATO in order to declare their continued eligibility for the JobKeeper Payment

How is the JobKeeper Payment Applied?

The purpose of the payment is to ensure that eligible employees/sole traders are paid a gross minimum amount of $1,500 per fortnight.

Examples:

  • If an employee receives at least $1,500 in gross salary per fortnight, they will continue to receive that amount and the JobKeeper payment effectively subsidises the employees wage in full.
  • If an employee receivers less than $1,500 in gross salary per fortnight then their employer must still pay them the full $1,500 subsidy amount received under the scheme
  • If an employee has been stood down, their employee must pay the employee a minimum gross fortnightly salary of $1,500
  • If an employee was employed on 1 March 2020, has subsequently ceased employment with their employer, and then has been re-engaged by the same employer, the employee will receive a minimum gross fortnightly salary of $1,500

EXAMPLE 1 – Employer affected by Covid-19 with multiple employees

Adam owns a business whose turnover has declined by more than 30% as a result of the downturn due to the Coronavirus. The business had the following three employees as at 1 March 2020:
• Anne, who is a permanent full-time employee and who continues to work in the business earning a gross salary of $3,000 per fortnight.
• Nick, who is a permanent part-time employee and who continues to work in the business earning a gross salary of $1,000 per fortnight.
• Fred, who was recently stood down from the business without pay.

Adam is eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment for each employee of $1,500 per fortnight (before tax), for a maximum period of six months (which would be paid monthly in arrears). The JobKeeper Payment would provide the following benefits for the business and its employees:

(a) The business continues to pay Anne her full-time gross salary of $3,000 per fortnight, as well as superannuation guarantee support on this income. In this case, the $1,500 per fortnight JobKeeper Payment effectively partly subsidises the cost of Anne’s salary.

(b) The business continues to pay Nick his $1,000 gross fortnightly salary and an additional $500 gross amount per fortnight, resulting in a total gross fortnightly salary of $1,500. In this case, the JobKeeper Payment fully subsidises the cost of Nick’s salary. The business must continue to provide Nick with superannuation guarantee support on the $1,000 fortnightly salary amount, but has the option of choosing to pay superannuation on the additional $500 gross amount paid to Nick under the JobKeeper Payment scheme.

(c) The business must start paying Fred a gross salary of $1,500 per fortnight, which is fully subsidised by the JobKeeper Payment. The business has the option of choosing to pay superannuation on this amount paid to Fred under the JobKeeper Payment scheme. If Fred commenced receiving any Centrelink support (e.g., JobSeeker Payment), he will need to advise Centrelink of his JobKeeper

EXAMPLE 2 – Self-employed affected by Covid-19 with no employees

Melissa is a sole trader running a florist without any employees.

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% compared to a typical month one year ago (i.e., in 2019).

On this basis, Melissa will be able to apply for the JobKeeper Payment and would receive $1,500 per fortnight (before tax), which will be paid to her on a monthly basis in arrears.

EXAMPLE 3 – Self-employed affected by Covid-19 with employees

Melissa is a sole trader running a florist with one employee.

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% compared to a typical month one year ago (i.e., in 2019).

On this basis, Melissa will be able to apply for the JobKeeper Payment for herself and her employee and would receive $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) for herself and her employee, which will be paid to her on a monthly basis in arrears.

Please call our office should you have any queries or require assistance.

Further information can also be found at: https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet_Info_for_Employers_3.pdf
and to a Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet for further clarification: https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-04/JobKeeper_frequently_asked_questions.pdf.