COVID-19 Stimulus and Business Updates
Roberts & Morrow hold ourselves to a high standard of transparent communication with our clients and like you, have been closely monitoring the developing impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Therefore, we would like to update you on the measures we have implemented, as your health and well-being – along with that of our employees – is our #1 priority.
This Live Blog will be updated as frequently as possible to communicate:
- All relevant and up-to-date Government, Business and Tax updates as they relate to COVID-19.
- Roberts & Morrow’s current response to COVID-19, including all internal policies and procedures in place to protect our greater community.
ABOUT THIS BLOG
Roberts & Morrow will be providing live updates on our policies as situations can change rapidly. We remain committed to you and to doing our part as an organisation to continually support your needs alongside the health and well-being of all our clients and our staff. We will continue to review our operations are in line with current recommendations and government regulations to ensure we are in the best position to remain at full capacity during this time of uncertainty.
If you have any questions please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling our offices directly:
CURRENT OFFICE STATUS: OFFICES DOORS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC (all locations)
In response to current state and federal government recommendations, we have decided to shut our front doors to the public and will continue to serve our clients remotely. We are fortunate to be in the position to continue our operations by providing our clients with options to meet and serve you via electronic means.
RESOURCES FOR CLIENTS
Roberts & Morrow are committed to taking a proactive & reactive approach to our COVID-19 response. We are in the position to continue to serve our clients and consider this a test of our capabilities to change the way we do business.
We will continue to offer our services by:
- Offering remote meetings for clients via phone or virtual options
- Offering document sharing via Email, MYOB Portal and OneDrive links
- Offering digital services through our mobile app including document uploading and signing capabilities.
We understand that all of our clients do not have the ability to send documents electronically and would like to offer the following options for submitting documents:
- Send to us directly via Australia Post (visit our website for our postal address listings)
- Deposit documents via a physical ‘drop box’ at all of our locations
- Please call your local office during regular hours for more details on how to notify us of a deposit
You can also Follow Us on our social channels as we will be sharing relevant news and updates from credible sources:
SUMMARY OF THE ECONOMIC RESPONSE
Updated: 24/03/2020 10:18
The Government’s economic response will support households and business through the period ahead. It is designed to support businesses in managing short-term cash flow challenges, provide support to individuals, severely affected communities and regions, and to ensure the continued flow of credit in the Australian economy.
1. Support for individuals and households
(i) Income support for individuals – Over the next six months, the Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This will be paid to both existing and new recipients of Jobseeker Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.
(ii) Payments to support households – The Government is providing two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. The first payment will be made from 31 March 2020 and the second payment will be made from 13 July 2020. Note – The second payment will not be made to those eligible for the Coronavirus supplement mentioned above.
(iii) Temporary early release of superannuation – The Government is allowing individuals affected by the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
(iv) Temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown rates – The Government is temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products by 50 per cent for 2019-20 and 2020-21. This measure will benefit retirees with account-based pensions and similar products by reducing the need to sell investment assets to fund minimum drawdown requirements.
(v) Reducing social security deeming rates – On 12 March, the Government announced a 0.5 percentage point reduction in both the upper and lower social security deeming rates. The Government will now reduce these rates by another 0.25 percentage points. As of 1 May 2020, the upper deeming rate will be 2.25 per cent and the lower deeming rate will be 0.25 per cent. Around 565,000 Age Pensioners will, on average receive around $105 more of the Age Pension in the first full year the reduced rates apply.
2. Support for businesses
(i) Boosting Cash Flow for Employers – The Government is enhancing the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure it announced on 12 March 2020. The Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses, and not-for-profits (NFPs) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses and NFPs with their cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff. Small and medium-sized business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible. NFPs, including charities, with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers will now also be eligible. Under the enhanced scheme, employers will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of their PAYG Withholding from their salary and wages (up from 50 per cent), with the maximum payment being increased from $25,000 to $50,000. In addition, the minimum payment is being increased from $2,000 to $10,000. An additional payment is also being introduced in the July — October 2020 period. Eligible entities will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all of the ‘Boosting Cash Flow for Employers’ payments they have received. This means that eligible entities will receive at least $20,000 up to a total of $100,000 under both payments.
(ii) Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses – The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and to initiate bankrupt proceedings against an individual as well as temporarily increasing the time companies and individuals have to respond to statutory demands they receive. The package also includes 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 from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus health crisis. The ATO will tailor solutions for owners or directors of business that are currently struggling due to the Coronavirus, including temporary reduction of payments or deferrals, or withholding enforcement actions including Director Penalty Notices and wind-ups.
(iii) Increasing the instant asset write-off – The Government is increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanding access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020.
(iv) Backing business investment – The Government is introducing 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.
(v) Supporting apprentices and trainees – The Government is supporting small business to retain their 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. Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter).
3. Supporting the flow of credit
(i) Support for immediate cash flow needs for SMEs – Under the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme, the Government will provide a guarantee of 50 per cent to SME lenders to support new short-term unsecured loans to SMEs. The maximum total size of loans are $250,000 per borrower.
(ii) Quick and efficient access to credit for small business – The Government is cutting red tape by providing a temporary exemption from responsible lending obligations for lenders providing credit to existing small business customers. This reform will help small businesses get access to credit quickly and efficiently.
For clarification on all eligibility requirements, easy access to all components of the package and detailed worked examples please refer to the attachment Economic Response To The Coronavirus As At 23 March 2020 outlining the Australian Government’s Economic Response to the Coronavirus. The bill containing the measures was passed in the parliament on 23 March 2020 with the only amendment being the $550 coronavirus supplement will also be paid to students receiving Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy payments.
NSW $2.3 BILLION COVID-19 STIMULUS PACKAGE
Updated: 20/03/2020 09:30
The NSW Government announced a $2.3 million health boost and economic stimulus package aimed at protecting the community and jobs in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.
Two key areas of the support package are:
1. Health boost
NSW Health will receive $700 million of extra funding to assist in doubling ICU capacity, COVID-19 testing, purchasing additional ventilators and medical equipment establishing acute respiratory clinics and bringing forward elective surgeries to private hospitals.
This aims to back the work of healthcare workers and support staff to prevent the spread of and prepare for COVID-19
2. Business support and jobs
- $450 million has been allocated to waive payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months (the remainder of the 2020 income year). Businesses will save a quarter of their annual payroll tax bill in the 2020 income year.
- The next round of payroll tax cuts will be brought forward to raise the threshold limit to $1 million for the 2021 income year.
- $80 million for fees and charges to be waived for small business including, cafes, bars, restaurants and tradies.
- $250 million for the employment of additional cleaners of public transport and buildings such as buses, trains, schools and other state-owned buildings.
- More than $250 million to bring forward maintenance on public assets including social housing and crown land fencing.
- $500 million to bring forward ready-to-go capital works and maintenance projects.
The NSW Government’s package will provide support to businesses that employ tens of thousands of people across the State and help secure jobs in the face of the outbreak over the next six months.
DETAILS ON THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT STIMULUS PACKAGE (COVID-19)
Updated: 17/03/2020 09:31
On 12 March 2020, the Australian Government announced a $17.6bn economic stimulus package in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The package is directed at providing support for individuals, businesses and households by addressing 4 key areas:
1. Business investment
The following measures commenced Thursday 12 March 2020 and will support over 3.5m businesses (over 99% of businesses) employing more than 9.7m employees (or 3 in every 4 workers):
• Instant asset write-off extended and increased: The instant asset write-off threshold is increased from $30,000 to $150,000 and access is expanded to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover below $500m (up from $50m) until 30 June 2020. Examples of assets that may be able to be immediately written off include a bobcat or digger for a builder, a tractor for a farming business, and a truck for a delivery business.
• Time-limited 15-month investment incentive: Businesses with turnover of less than $500m will be able to deduct 50% of a new depreciable asset’s cost in the year of purchase (through to 30 June 2021), with existing deprecation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost.
2. Cash flow assistance for businesses
• Boost cash flow for employers: Eligible small and medium-sized businesses will receive a tax-free payment of up to $25,000 (with a minimum payment of $2,000). This will provide cash flow assistance to businesses with turnover of less than $50m that employ less than 20 full time staff, between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020. Businesses will receive payments of 50% of their PAYG-withholding components of their BAS or IAS from 28 April 2020 with refunds paid within 14 days.
• Apprentice and trainee wage subsidy: Eligible employers can apply for a tax-free wage subsidy of 50% of an apprentice or trainee wage for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020 (capped at $21,000). Where a small business is cannot retain an apprentice, the subsidy is available to a new employer who employs the apprentice.
3. Household stimulus payment
Pensioners, social security, veteran and other income support recipients, and eligible concession card holders, will receive a one-off $750 stimulus payment. The payment will be tax free and not count as income for Social Security, Farm Household Allowance or Veteran payments. Each eligible recipient will receive one payment only. Payments will be made from 31 March 2020 on a progressive basis, with over 90% of payments expected to be made by mid-April 2020.
4. Support for impacted regions
Support of $1bn will be provided for regions or sectors (such as tourism, agriculture and education) that are disproportionately impacted by the economic impacts of the virus. It will also include additional assistance to help businesses identify alternative export markets or supply chains and to further promote domestic tourism.
The ATO will provide administrative relief for certain tax obligations for people affected by coronavirus, on a case-by-case basis.
Measures to assist impacted businesses include:
• deferring the payment due dates of tax amounts by up to 4 months for BAS’ (including PAYG instalments), income tax assessments, FBT assessments and excise;
• allowing businesses on a quarterly reporting cycle to opt into monthly GST reporting to get quicker access to GST refunds;
• allowing businesses to vary PAYG instalment amounts to zero for the April 2020 quarter and claim a refund for any instalments paid in the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters;
• remitting any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020; and
• allowing affected businesses to enter into low-interest payment plans to help them pay existing and ongoing tax liabilities.
Importantly, assistance measures for taxpayers impacted by COVID-19 will not be implemented by the ATO automatically (unlike the relief measures for the 2019-20 bushfires). Anyone impacted by coronavirus should contact the ATO to request assistance on its Emergency Support Infoline at 1800 806 218.
For more information visit: The Australian government’s Economic Response to the Coronavirus, the treasury’s fact sheet containing detailed worked examples, The Prime Minister and Treasurer’s joint media release on 12 March 2020, and the ATO’s website.
Updated: 23/03/2020 11:30
What is Roberts & Morrow currently implementing to limit the spread of COVID-19 within our offices and our community?
- Increased employee sanitation and cleaning measures to ensure a clean and safe working environment in our offices.
- All employees returning from any overseas travel are self-isolating for 14 days (in accordance with Federal Government guidelines).
- All employees are asked to STAY HOME if they are:
- Feeling unwell
- Have a family member or reside with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19
- Have been in contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19
- Are considered to be, or who live with an individual, in a high risk category
- Promoting social distancing protocols such as:
- Maintaining a distance of four square meters between individuals
- Limiting face-to-face contact between individuals by encouraging the use of virtual and phone call for all meetings between staff and clients.
- Limiting or cancelling all travel or movement of employees between offices (not including essential travel between offices for Partners where necessary).
- Asking that staff currently capable to work from home to do so immediately.
- Further initiatives are currently being put in place in the coming days to substantially increase the number of employees who can work from home.
Our COVID-19 “task force” has developed a four stage approach towards an internal Mitigation Plan in response to current regulations and recommendations from credible authorities. Our current focus is on Stage 3: Being Proactive.