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Various tax, superannuation and income support measures are in place to support individuals and business taxpayers to weather the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.
• Tax-free cash flow boost payments for employers with turnover of under $50m delivered as an automatic credit in the ATO’s activity statement system.
• JobKeeper payments for eligible employers to pay employees $1,500 per fortnight, before tax, for up to six months.
• Eligible small businesses can access a wage subsidy of 50% of an apprentice or trainee's wage from 1 January to 30 September 2020, capped at $21,000.
• Instant asset write-off threshold increased from $30,000 to $150,000 and access expanded to include businesses with an aggregated annual turnover below $500m, for new or second-hand assets first used, or installed to be ready for use between 12 March 2020 to 30 June 2020.
• accelerated depreciation deductions for businesses with an aggregated turnover below $500m can deduct 50% of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost, from 12 March 2020 to 30 June 2021 to new Div 40 assets. Small business entities, depreciation expenses currently claimed at 15% can be claimed at 57.5% for assets held and used or installed ready for use between 12 March 2020 and 30 June 2021.
• Two payments of $750 each for social security, veterans and other income support recipients. Jobseeker Payments, among others , will be supplemented with an additional fortnightly payment of $550.
• Individuals in financial distress can seek to release $10,000 from their super in 2019/20, and another $10,000 in 2020/21.
• super drawdowns: minimum payment amounts for account-based pensions will be reduced by half in 2019/20 and 2020/21
It has been a devastating bushfire season that seems to never end. In response to these events, both State and Federal governments and other organisations have a raft of tax relief measures for those people and communities affected. A summary of the bushfire tax relief measures to assist small businesses and individuals with much-needed cashflow support during this difficult time are listed below:
To build on the disaster recovery grants put in place by state governments, the Federal Government will provide top-up grants to eligible small businesses and non-profit organisations under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
This program is uncapped and means that businesses and organisations that have sustained damage as a result of the fires can access up to $50,000 in grant funding (tax free).
More information to come from the government, however you can visit https://www.bushfirerecovery.gov.au/recovery-assistance
As well as extra support announced already for families and communities to help keep spending in local stores, the Federal Government wants to ensure small businesses have cashflow to run their operations.
The Federal Government will boost the value and concessions for small business loans, also on offer to farmers, primary producers and non-profit organisations, under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
To provide maximum flexibility for eligible businesses, loans of up to $500,000 will be offered for businesses that have suffered significant asset loss or a significant loss of revenue. The loan would be for up to 10 years and used for the purposes of restoring or replacing damaged assets and for working capital.
The loans will be available with a repayment holiday of up to two years, with no interest accruing during this period. The subsequent interest rate would be set at 50 per cent of the ten-year Commonwealth government bond rate (currently around 0.6%).
The Government will be seeking the agreement of the states to provide these loans under harmonised, consistent terms and eligibility criteria.
More information to come from the government, however you can visit https://www.bushfirerecovery.gov.au/recovery-assistanceor call 13 28 46
Affected businesses, individuals, and self-managed superannuation funds in impacted local areas will now have until 28 May 2020 to lodge and pay business activity statements and income tax returns. This has been an automatic deferral set by the ATO.
Pending your own cashflow circumstances, eligible taxpayers can vary their 2020 PAYGI to nil and seek a refund from the September 2019 quarter’s PAYGI amount paid. It’s important to monitor your tax position and ensure you will have the funds required to pay your taxes at the end of the year, however this measure if designed to assist with your immediate cashflow needs.
Additionally, the ATO is fast-tracking any refunds that are due to taxpayers in the impacted regions.
The ATO will also be remitting any interest and penalties applied to tax debts since the commencement of the bushfires that have been applied to accounts of individuals and businesses located in impacted regions.
For people who have had documents destroyed by the bushfires, the ATO is able to assist by reissuing documents it has on hand.
For those taxpayers in affected areas with a tax debt or outstanding obligation, the ATO will not initiate debt recovery action until at least 28 May 2020.
Taxpayers can also request payment arrangements for outstanding debts.
The ATO will also consider releasing individuals and businesses from income tax and fringe benefits tax debts if they are experiencing serious hardship.
A summary of some of the funding available to affected individuals and communities:
Red Cross Emergency Grants
If you have lost your home in a bushfire since July 2019, you can apply for an emergency grant of $10,000.
Disaster Recovery Allowance – Call 180 22 66 to apply
Disaster Recovery Allowance is a short term payment to help you if a declared disaster directly affects your income. You can get it for a maximum of 13 weeks.
Disaster Recovery Allowance is a taxable payment.
Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment – Call 180 22 66 to apply
The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off payment to help you if a declared disaster significantly affects you. It’s not for minor damage or inconvenience.
You can choose to get this payment in 2 instalments if you prefer.
If you’re eligible you will get:
Disaster Assistance Recovery Grants
The Prime Minister announced on Tuesday 14 January that grants of up to $75,000 will be made available to farmers in bushfire-affected areas. The eligibility criteria is currently being developed by the Federal Government and more information will be posted here when available.
Australian Government Bushfire Support Package for Business - UPDATED
The Federal Government announced on 20th January 2020 that top-up grants of up to $50,000 will be available to businesses that have lost significant assets or had a major dip in revenue. The government will deliver $3.5 million to establish the Small Business Bushfire Financial Support Line as well as to fund 10 additional financial counsellors with the ability to provide advice to around 100 small businesses a day.
More information will be posted here as it comes to hand as stated above under Prime Ministers Office heading.
Call Gippsland Emergency Relief (GERF) for additional payments for emergency food, displacement, emergency fixes to your house etc. All you need is your bank details. They will be able to discuss your loss of stock, equipment etc. as well.
Call 5153 9500 and they will assist.
Emergency Relief Assistance Payments & Emergency Re-establishment Payments
Emergency financial assistance is available to eligible fire-affected community members in Ararat, Alpine, Ballarat, East Gippsland, Glenelg, Golden Plains, Indigo, Mansfield, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, South Gippsland, Southern Grampians, Towong, Wangaratta, Wellington and Wodonga council areas.
Call 1800 961 054
VicRoads - Bushfire Relief Assistance - NEW
If you’ve been affected by the bushfires in one of the declared State of Disaster areas, VicRoads will provide assistance to help with your registration and licensing services.
Micro Grants to support local community members owning and operating a micro business
In a time of bushfires, the income of small business owners can be immediately impacted. The micro grant can assist with day-to-day needs.
If you need a micro grant, please register your interest via this link: https://www.vic.gov.au/community-recovery-package#community-recovery-committees-6-million
Or contact Business Victoria Phone 13 22 15
If you would like to be part of the local community committee, you can also register your interest via
ANZ’s existing financial relief package includes measures such as the ability to suspend repayments on loans for up to three months as well as temporary interest rate relief for credit card and personal loan customers in extreme financial distress.
ANZ also extended special paid leave for employees who volunteer in emergency services to ensure they are financially supported while they serve the community.
CommBank's Emergency Assistance Package is for customers and businesses affected by bushfires, floods and storms. They have also extended their Emergency Assistance Package to all volunteer firefighters. The package includes loan restructuring and waiving of selected fees and charges.
As part of the Bank’s Emergency Assistance Package, they can discuss a range of options, including:
NAB - UPDATED
NAB customers who have lost homes this bushfire season can immediately access $2,000 grants to help cover costs such as temporary accommodation, food and clothing.
NAB employees who have had to evacuate their homes can also access a $1,000 grant.
NAB’s ongoing natural disaster financial relief measures include:
Additional support now available for NAB business and agribusiness customers directly impacted by bushfires includes:
Westpac's Disaster Relief Packages aim to offer immediate practical help to assist customers to manage the impact of natural disasters on their finances.
Grants of up to $2,000 can be accessed to help cover temporary accommodation, food and clothing.
Westpac’s Disaster Relief Packages generally offer the following:
Home loan and insurance customers
Credit cards, term deposits and personal loans
Contact your communications and utilities providers (e.g. Telstra, Optus, Energy Australia, Alinta Energy etc.) to see what assistance they are offering to bushfire affected customers.
Many providers are offering financial assistance packages, including bill credits or waivers to those immediately affected, as well as emergency services volunteers.
From tomorrow Monday 6 January until further notice, Telstra are making their payphone network around the country available to provide free local, national and standard mobile calls.
They will also be allowing free use of the Telstra Air Wi-Fi network at locations where payphones are equipped to provide this.
Vodafone - NEW
Vodafone are offering assistance in a number of ways to those affected by the bushfires, including:
This grant opens 17 February 2020 and helps to re-establish connectivity in affected areas and support affected small businesses.
2,000 grants will be available through the program and will include:
Contact your Insurance company to start a claims process.
o Check current policies for coverage.
o Collate details of losses (photographic evidence helps).
o Engage with your insurers.
o Seek a 2nd opinion on proposed payouts.
· Engage with your accountant the financial impact this will have on you over the next 12 – 24 months. We are here to help.
· For insurance, government assistance and tax deduction purposes, keep records of damaged, lost or destroyed trading stock (even if sold for reduced prices), equipment and business buildings.
· Replacement equipment costing less than $30,000 attracts a 100% tax write-off (note: this threshold will end on 30 June 2020).
· Review purchase agreements to determine rights and obligations of both parties.
· Speak to them. Will they accept delayed payment terms?
· Be realistic and conservative in your estimates.
· Specialist business turn-around advice may be a good investment.
If you have heard of other grants available for those affected by the bushfires, please email my office and I will be happy to update my website to share with others.
If you wish to seek further assistance with which services can support you, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
Attached PDF documents for further support also