The coronavirus pandemic has left Australian businesses reeling but help is on the way.
Government has unveiled a slew of new measures to help businesses endure the coming months and keep paying wages.
Not all businesses will be entitled to assistance, though, and the type of help on offer depends on the size of the business.
For business owners trying to keep their heads above water, here’s what’s on offer and how to access it.
How can I support staff during the coronavirus crisis?
Keeping workers in jobs is a core part of the government’s coronavirus response, and that means plenty of support for employers to help their staff through this difficult period.
Eligible businesses will receive wage subsidies in the form of a tax refund paid through the ATO from April 28.
This is part of the government’s ‘Boosting Cash Flow for Employers’ program.
For businesses that withhold tax on their staff’s salaries and wages, the payment will be equal to the amount of tax withheld – from a minimum payment of $10,000 up to a maximum of $50,000.
Businesses that aren’t required to withhold tax on their staff’s wages and salaries will still receive $10,000 if they meet the eligibility requirements.
An additional payment will also be introduced “in the July – October 2020 period”, according to the ATO.
The second payment will be the same as the first – meaning eligible businesses will receive a cumulative sum of between $20,000 and $100,000, depending on the amount of PAYG tax withheld.
More money for apprentices and trainees
Businesses which retain apprentices or trainees are entitled to further wage subsidies, in addition to the cash flow support.
From April, these businesses can apply to receive up to 50 per cent of the wage paid to trainees and apprentices between January 1 and September 30, 2020.
Employers will be reimbursed that money up to a limit of $21,000 – roughly $7000 per quarter.
However, this subsidy will only be available to businesses which employ less than 20 staff.
Employers hoping to apply for the subsidy need to speak with an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.
Is my business eligible for coronavirus cash flow support?
Employer support is targeted at small and medium-sized businesses, and not-for-profit organisations, that employ staff and have an annual turnover below $50 million.
The payments will only be made to businesses which remain active throughout the coronavirus pandemic (based on their business activity statement lodgings with the ATO).
Further, government is only providing support to businesses which were established before March 12, 2020 – although not-for-profits set up after this date will still qualify, in recognition of the fact that some charities have been set up to handle the impact of the pandemic.
I don’t employ anyone, will I receive support?
Not every business employs staff, meaning they won’t qualify for the cash flow or apprentice support payments.
For sole traders, the main form of assistance is the fortnightly coronavirus supplement for individuals who lose their job or significant amounts of income.
Sole traders can apply for increased Centrelink payments by applying either online or over the phone.
Sole traders and workers who lose at least 20 per cent of their hours or revenue will also be able to access $20,000 from their superannuation, however this controversial strategy can cause more problems at retirement.
Companies which do not hire staff have access to other measures.
These include a temporary increase in the threshold for creditors to start bankruptcy proceedings, and increases to the instant asset write-off.
This latter change means businesses can now purchase items they need for their business up to a value of $150,000 each (formerly $30,000), and instantly write that expense off against their profits.
To allow more businesses to use this write-off, government is also increasing the eligibility criteria.
Previously only businesses with a turnover under $50 million a year could use this strategy, but that cap has been lifted to $500 million.
The write-off will only apply however to items first used or installed and ready by June 30, 2020.