Some states have followed in the Federal Government’s footsteps to provide their own stimulus and concessions for mostly small to medium businesses and in some cases to individuals and families. Most of the measures are payroll-tax-related, aimed at giving small to medium businesses a cash flow boost during this difficult time, while other measures including fee waivers, grants, relief payments and concessional loans.
New South Wales
Businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million will have their payroll tax waived for three months (essentially the rest of the 2019–2020 financial year), which means they will save a quarter of their annual payroll tax bill. In addition, the NSW Government will seek to bring forward the next round of payroll tax cuts by raising the threshold limit to $1 million starting from the 2020–2021 financial year. For small businesses including bars, cafes, restaurants and tradies, the government will waive a range of fees and charges.
In order to help workers in businesses affected by COVID-19, the Queensland government will create a new $500 million concessional loan facility. It will comprise loans of up to $250,000 with an initial interest-free period for businesses to retain stuff. In addition, it is also extending the six-month payroll tax deferral, which was originally only aimed at small businesses, to all affected businesses across the state. The Office of State Revenue will be working with affected businesses to create repayment plans for the deferred tax liabilities.
The WA Government is intending to freeze household fees and charges until at least 1 July 2021. This includes the entire “household basket”, including electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, emergency services levy and public transport fares. (The household fees and charges were originally set to increase by a rate of 2% in line with estimated inflation rate for the 2020-2021 financial year.) Additionally, the energy assistance payment will be increased from $300 to $600 for eligible concession cardholders, including pensioners.
Small to medium businesses with payrolls between $1 million and $4 million will receive a one-off grant of $17,500 to assist them with managing the impacts of COVID-19. The payroll tax threshold increase to $1 million will also be brought forward by six months to 1 July 2020. In addition, affected employers that pay $7.5 million or less in Australian taxable wages can apply to defer payment of their 2019–2020 payroll tax until 21 July 2020.
Small businesses in the hospitality, tourism, seafood and exports sectors with a turnover of less than $5 million will have access to loans for the purpose of purchasing equipment or restructuring business operations. The loans will be interest-free for a period of up to three years.
Payroll tax will be waived for this financial year for hospitality, tourism and seafood industry businesses. Other affected small to medium businesses with an annual payroll of up to $5 million in Australian wages can also apply to have their payroll tax payment waived for the period 31 March to June 2020.
In addition to waiving payroll tax, the Tasmanian Government will introduce a youth employment payroll tax rebate scheme for young people from 1 April 2020 and provide a one-off $5,000 grant to businesses that hire an apprentice or a trainee.
For individuals and families, one-off emergency relief payments of $250 and $1,000, respectively, will be available for those required to self-isolate by public health. There will also be various other grants and measures to help the tourism sector, communities, front-line workers and metal health organisations.
ATO’s FAQ helps to clarify coronavirus impacts
The ATO’s COVID-19 frequently asked questions (FAQ) is a resource tool for people and businesses in the community who need clarifications in relation to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAQ is broken into common questions for individuals, employers, businesses (including internationals) and self managed superannuation funds (SMSFs).
Common questions centre around issues relating to the nationwide shutdown – late or deferring payment obligations; deductibles from working from home; residence status due to travel restrictions; GST and FBT impacts from cancellations; and SMSF losses and strategies.