In this Sky Update, we bring you all the latest tax news along with some other items that may pique your interest.
COVID-19 FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
With the Delta variant causing chaos around the country, households and businesses are continuing to experience financial effects of lockdowns.
With much of the financial support being administered by state governments, it has become a highly complex landscape that could best be described as a patchwork quilt.
The following is a brief summary of some of the most notable programs being run around the country to assist readers to identify what they may be eligible for.
The COVID-19 Disaster Payment is a scheme administered by Services Australia for workers who are unable to earn income due to a COVID-19 state public health order.
Residents of the ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, SA & VIC may be eligible to apply. Please see the Services Australia website for further details on eligibility and applications.
New South Wales Assistance
Service NSW is currently administering a number of programs to assist businesses affected by the extended lockdowns. The most notable programs are:
These grants have undergone a number of changes in recent weeks that have expanded the eligibility criteria and available funding. Businesses that are not already receiving these grants are encouraged to look into what they may be able to access.
Recipients of the last round of the Business Costs Assistance Program Round Two will receive the 19 and 22 August 2021 top-up. There will be similar top-up payments under the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021.
These payments will be processed automatically with no need to apply.
Additionally, the Small Business COVID Hardship Fund has opened for applications. This fund will provide grants to small businesses that have experienced a drop in turnover of 70% + as a result of COVID-19 related disruptions.
A COVID-19 Business Support Grant – July 2021 has been announced with applications closing on the 30th of September.
Queensland have announced a program of Business Support Grants for lockdown-impacted businesses in Queensland.
Further detail of these grants can be found here.
A number of states are reintroducing commercial tenancy rent relief schemes for impacted businesses. In particular NSW and VIC, who have both been heavily impacted by lockdowns currently have measures in place to assist landlords and tenants.
Lastly, we note that Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has declared that the COVID-19 Disaster Payment and the NSW and VIC grants will be treated a Non-Assessable, Non-Exempt (NANE) income for tax purposes. This means that they will be non-taxable and will not erode carry forward tax losses.
The above are just a number of the most notable schemes that are currently running. Most states have multiple other schemes that can provide support to businesses and households.
We encourage readers to get online and look at what schemes are currently running in their area. And of course to get in touch with us to assist them to understand what they may be eligible for.
COMPANY LOSS CARRY-BACK RULES
In the 2020-21 Federal Budget, the Government announced a loss carry-back scheme that allows companies to “carry-back” losses incurred in the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 years.
Where the loss carry-back is chosen, the company will be entitled to a refundable tax offset representing the tax the company would have saved if it had been deducted in the earlier year.
The loss carry-back rules are complex and the ATO has noted a number of common errors being made. In response, they have published some guidance to assist companies in claiming the loss carry-back.
If your company has incurred losses in the 2019-20 or 2020-21 years, please get in touch to see if you may be entitled to claim the loss carry-back.
COVID-19 VACCINATION – WORKPLACE RIGHTS & OBLIGATIONS
The “National Plan” formulated by the National Cabinet relies heavily on achieving a vaccination rate of 70% +.
We are currently hearing a lot about the need to achieve this vaccination rate as a means of moving away from the suppression strategy that is behind the lockdowns currently occurring throughout the country.
With vaccination being such a hot topic, employers need to be across the issues associated with employees being vaccinated. Eg whether employers can compel employees to be vaccinated and providing leave to employees to get vaccinated.
In light of this, the Fair Work Ombudsman has yet again updated their guidance for employers.
We encourage both employers and employees to familiarise themselves with their rights and obligations in respect to vaccination. It is sure to be an issue that we will all need to deal with in some shape or form in the coming weeks and months.
INQUIRY INTO HOUSING AFFORDABILITY AND SUPPLY
Anyone who has been watching property prices in recent times will be aware that they are booming in many places throughout the country and once again stimulating the debate around housing affordability.
Following a referral from the Federal Treasurer (Josh Frydenberg), the Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue will inquire into the contribution of tax and regulation on housing affordability and supply.
Interested parties can make a submission by the 13th of September.
It will be interesting to see the findings of the inquiry and how those may feed into future Government policy.
TAX TIME 2021 UPDATE
With ongoing lockdowns causing disruption to our usual operations, and the need to support our clients in accessing COVID-19 financial support, this tax time has been particularly challenging.
We are working very hard to process 2021 income tax returns as quickly as possible and thank all of our clients for their patience.
Rest assured that we are doing our very best to stay on-top of things and to support our clients and team in these uncertain and stressful times.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
The lockdowns happening around the country have been extremely difficult. Particularly for residents of Melbourne and Sydney where the lockdowns have been very strict and protracted.
With many of people experiencing financial hardship and also experiencing both mental and physical health issues, there are strongly held views in our communities around whether these lockdowns should continue.
Tensions around decisions to maintain lockdowns have spilled over in violence at prohibited protests by people asserting their right to freedom.
We can’t help but be a little worried that this freedom being protested for is the type sang about by Janice Joplin in her song Me & Bobby McGee.
Janice famously sang “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”.
We respect the different views about the efficacy of lockdowns in controlling the health imperative associated COVID-19.
However, it is clear that defying Public Health Orders will only result in extensions of these lockdowns further exacerbating the difficulties faced by all. We also condemn the use of violence in all its forms and in all circumstances.
We encourage people to express their views and to exercise their right to free speech within the constraints of the current COVID-19 settings.
We also call on all Australians to show empathy and caring, and to do whatever they can to support those doing it tough.
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