How the Government can help during COVID-19

19 March, 2020 by Brydie Allen

Last week the Federal Government announced a $17.6bn economic stimulus package, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The package included one-off payments to welfare recipients and concession card holders, which is intended to be spent and stimulate the economy.

Advertisement

As reported in The Shout recently, other measures are focused on small and medium business, and include direct cash payments based on business activity statements, an increase in instant asset write off, and investment incentives. 

Payments to assist with cash flow are expected to automatically apply to 690,000 businesses, and are due in the coming months, based on activity statements that are due. It’s important to know what this might mean for your business, and to help, the Government has developed this fact sheet.

This will all be handled by the Australian Tax Office (ATO), which has also introduced a series of administrative support measures and urged impacted business owners to get in touch when they need help. 

Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan, said: “We know that many businesses and communities are being heavily affected by the challenging economic conditions created by the outbreak of COVID-19.

“The ATO will work shoulder-to-shoulder with businesses to assist them through this difficult period and do what we can to ease the pressure. Once you contact us, we’ll tailor a support plan for your needs and circumstances.”

Some options include:

  • Deferring payment dates
  • Allowing businesses on a quarterly reporting cycle to opt into monthly reporting to get quicker access to GST refunds they may be entitled to
  • Allowing businesses to vary PAYG instalment amounts to zero for the March 2020 quarter. 
  • Remitting any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities
  • Working with affected businesses to help them pay their existing and ongoing tax liabilities by allowing them to enter into low interest payment plans.

There are lots of resources out there to help understand what is actually on offer and how it applies to your specific business needs, as well as how this may change in the coming months as well. 

For example, business.gov.au has explainers for different business backgrounds and locations. Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, recommends using all resources available and contacting relevant support as soon as you need it. 

“There’s a range of options out there, but it’s really important for your business to focus on what you can get,” Carnell says in an explanation video. 

Most states and territories have already unveiled some localised measures on how they will be supporting the economy, which may apply to your business. To find out what’s being done in your area, go to your local government website, listed below.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to make an announcement about further rate cuts today as well, and more news about further Government assistance is likely to come.