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COVID-19 stimulus measures for small businesses

by OnDeck Australia,   Apr 09, 2020

 

Small and medium businesses (SMEs) can harness a range of government support to weather the storm of COVID-19. We look at what’s available nationally – and in your state/territory.

 

Federal Government support[1]

 

JobKeeper payment

On 8 April 2020 the Government passed the first phase of legislative instruments and rules relating to the JobKeeper Program. This was followed by further legislation passed on 27 August 2020 extending the JobKeeper Program to its second phase. High level details of each phase are summarised below, but for full details on the initiative read our JobKeeper Payment scheme guide.

 

JobKeeper 1.0 (Phase 1):

The Federal Government will pay eligible employers a wage subsidy of $1,500 per fortnight for up to six months from 30 March until 27 September 2020. The payment is worth around $400 more each fortnight than the $1,100 JobSeeker payment (with the Coronavirus Supplement) for those out of work. Employers are expected to pass the payments on to staff, allowing them to continue to earn an income even if their work hours are cut back.

Both employers and employees must meet eligibility criteria. Eligible employers include businesses in private enterprise (including sole traders) as well as not-for-profits and charities, with:

  • Turnover below $1 billion that estimate their turnover has fallen or will likely fall by 30% or more when compared to the same period last year, or
  • Turnover of $1 billion or more that estimate their turnover has fallen or will likely fall by 50% or more when compared to the same period last year.

Key considerations for employee eligibility are:

  • Full-time, part-time or casual (the latter employed on a regular and systematic basis for longer than 12 months) as at 1 March 2020, noting:
  • Fixed-term contractors are eligible if they are employed at 1 March 2020
  • Employee must be an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, or a Special Category (subclass 444 – New Zealand citizen) Visa Holder as at 1 March 2020
  • Eligible employees who have been stood down by their employers before the commencement of the scheme will be eligible, and employees that are re-engaged by a business that was their employer on 1 March 2020 will be eligible.
  • Employees on paid parental leave will not be eligible

 

JobKeeper 2.0 (Phase 2):
Note that the following reflects the latest Government legislation passed on 27 August 2020.

The Federal Government will pay eligible employers a wage subsidy of $1,200 per fortnight (for full time employees) or $750 per fortnight (for part time and casual employees) from 28 September 2020 until 3 January 2021, and $1,000 per fortnight (for full time employees) or $650 per fortnight (or part time and casual employees) from 4 January to 28 March 2021.

Employee eligibility is largely the same as it was in Phase 1, except for the date of employment which has been extended. So, key considerations for employee eligibility under Phase 2 are:

  • Full-time, part-time or casual (the latter employed on a regular and systematic basis for longer than 12 months) as at 1 July 2020, noting:
  • Fixed-term contractors are eligible if they are employed at 1 July 2020
  • Employee must be an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, or a Special Category (subclass 444 – New Zealand citizen) Visa Holder as at 1 July 2020
  • Eligible employees who have been stood down by their employers before the commencement of the scheme will be eligible, and employees that are re-engaged by a business that was their employer on 1 July 2020 will be eligible.
  • Employees on paid parental leave remain not eligible

The same turnover thresholds (i.e. 30% turnover decline for businesses with <$1B annual turnover, or 50% turnover decline for businesses with >$1B annual turnover) apply for JobKeeper 2.0. However, the change during this extension period is that businesses need to be re-tested in the September 2020 quarter and/or December 2020 quarter, and show that their actual GST turnover has declined vs the same quarter in 2019, in order to remain eligible for payments.

Read our JobKeeper Payment scheme guide for full details.

 

 

Cash Flow Boost payment for employers

A payment of $20,000 rising to $100,000 is available for eligible SMEs that employ staff. The payment is designed to help businesses with their cash flow, so they can keep operating and retain staff. To be eligible, SMEs need to have with aggregated annual turnover below $50 million.

Under the scheme, employers will receive a payment equal to 100% of their salary and wages withheld, with the maximum payment being $50,000. The minimum payment is $20,000.

An additional payment will be introduced in the July-October 2020 period. Eligible SMEs will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all of Cash Flow Boost 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.

 

Increased instant asset write-off

The Government has increased the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanded access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 31 December 2020. Check out our infographic to see how you can benefit.

 

Accelerated depreciation

The Government has introduced a time-limited 15-month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) that accelerates depreciation deductions. Businesses with turnover below $500 million will be able to deduct 50% of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost.

 

Support for SMEs with apprentices and trainees

Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of an apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for nine 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 takes on the apprentice. Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter).

 

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 the time companies have to respond. Directors will have relief from any personal liability for trading while insolvent for six months, to provide temporary relief to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus health crisis.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) will tailor solutions for owners/directors of business that are currently struggling due to the Coronavirus, including temporary reduction of payments or deferrals, or withholding enforcement actions.

For more details: Jump onto Business.gov.au.

 

Rent relief package for commercial tenants

A mandatory commercial tenancies code was released on 7 April 2020 by the Federal Government. It will be legislated and regulated in each State and Territory. Here’s what you need to know about the Federal code:

  • The Scheme applies to tenants with a turnover of $50 million or less and those who are eligible for assistance through the JobKeeper program.
  • Landlords will have to reduce leases in proportion to the reduction in the tenant’s business.
  • The waivers will have to account for at least 50 per cent of the reduction in business.
  • Rent deferrals must be spread over the remaining time on a lease and the tenant will have at least 12 months to make deferred rent payments.
  • There will be prohibitions on:
    • Terminations of leases for non-payment
    • Rent increases (i.e. a freeze – except for turnover leases)
    • Penalties for tenants who stop trading or reduce opening hours
    • Landlords passing land tax on to tenants
    • Charging interest on unpaid rent
    • Landlords making a claim to a bank guarantee for non-payment of rent
  • For landlords and tenants that sign up to the code of conduct, States and Territories have agreed to look at providing the equivalent of at least a three-month land tax waiver and three-month land tax deferral on the application for eligible landowners, with jurisdictions to continue to monitor the situation.
  • Appendix 1 of the Code gives examples of proportionate solutions that may be agreed under the Code e.g. a 60% loss in turnover would result in a guaranteed 60% cash flow relief.

For more details: Visit Business.gov.au.

 

NSW was the first State or Territory to make legislation giving effect to the Mandatory Code of Conduct, with the Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2020 taking effect on Friday 24 April 2020. Originally the legislation applied for six months until 24 October 2020, but it has since been extended to 31 December 2020. Visit here to get the latest info on the extension, and understand what the rent relief measures mean for NSW landlords and tenants.

 

VIC also introduced a rental eviction moratorium, which was extended to 31 December 2020 following its return to lockdown in August 2020. See Victoria section below for further details.

 

Claiming running expenses while working from home 

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has introduced a new method whereby employees who are working from home as a result of COVID-19 can claim for running expenses. Here are the key points:

  • Employees can now use the “shortcut method” to claim 80 cents per hour for all their running expenses, rather than needing to calculate costs for specific running expenses.
  • Employees who choose to use the “shortcut method” just need to keep a record of the hours they worked from home as evidence of their claim.
  • The change will apply from march 1 to June 30, after which the ATO will review the arrangement for the next financial year as the COVID-19 situation progresses.
  • Multiple people living in the same house will be able to claim the same 80 cent rate per person.
  • The usual conditions apply to claiming deductions:
    • Taxpayers must have spent the money themselves and not have been reimbursed
    • The claim must be directly related to earning income
    • There must be a record to substantiate the claim.
  • The new arrangement does not prohibit people from making a working-from-home claim under existing arrangements, where you calculate all of your running expenses. Under the old method, claims can be made under the 52 cents per hour rate, but the taxpayer would need to work out the decline in value of any office equipment or furniture purchased, additional gas, electricity, phone and internet costs, etc.

For more details: Visit ato.gov.au.

Also read our blog post: Tips to maximise tax breaks while working from home

 

JobMaker

On 25 March 2020 Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled a new government scheme coined JobMaker, that aims to help the Australian economy reset for growth. Read more here.

 

Arts grant

Scott Morrison announced on 25 June 2020 that Australia’s arts sector will get access to $250 million worth of grants and loans under a COVID-19 recovery package. Guidelines about how the loan and grants will be released in the coming weeks. Interested businesses should keep an eye on the arts.gov.au website.

 

The package includes:

  • $75 million for a competitive grants program to provide capital for new festivals, concerts, tours and events as social distancing restrictions ease. Grants will range from $75,000 to $2 million
  • $90 million in concessional loans to help fund new productions. Loans will be delivered through commercial banks with a Commonwealth guarantee
  • $50 million to help film and television producers who have been unable to access insurance due to COVID-19 to secure finance and restart production
  • $35 million in direct financial assistance for Commonwealth-funded organisations which are struggling to stay viable, including theatre, dance, music and circus

 

Small business tax cuts

From 1 July 2020, the start of the 2021-2021 financial year, small and family businesses will pay less tax as a result of legislated tax cuts passed by the Morrison Government:

  • Incorporated small and family businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million will see their company tax rate reduced from 27.5% to 26%
  • Unincorporated businesses will also benefit as the rate of the small business income tax offset increases from 8% to 13%

View the media release announcement here.

 

JobTrainer

In mid-July the Federal Government unveiled its latest skills investment program, JobTrainer, which includes:

  • A $2 billion investment in short training courses related to a number of industries, that will either be free or low-cost. These aim to create around 340,700 places nation-wide to train school leavers, or re-skill people who are currently looking for a job, and
  • A further $1.5 billion to expand and extend the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy, now covering half the wages of eligible apprentices by up to $530/week until March 2021. Eligibility for the subsidy, which was previously only available to small businesses, has also been expanded to include medium-sized businesses with 199 employees or fewer who had an apprentice in place on 1 July 2021.

Read more about the JobTrainer skills package and how your SME could benefit from the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy here.

 

2020-21 Federal Budget

In October 2020, the federal government announced one of the most anticipated budgets in history outlining its plans to help the country rebuild post-COVID. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included for Aussie SMEs.

 

 

 

State by state stimulus

 

Queensland[2]

  • SMEs with payroll up to $6.5million will be eligible for a 2-month refund of payroll tax, plus a 3-month payroll tax holiday, saving an average of $13,360. SMEs will be eligible to defer all payroll tax payments for the rest of 2020.
  • Relief for businesses renting government premises. This relief is available until 31 December 2020.
  • $500 rebate on electricity bills for all Queensland SMEs that consume less than 100,000 kilowatt hours. This will be automatically applied to electricity bills.
  • Liquor licensing fees waived for business impacted by enforced shutdowns.
  • From 1 July 2020, the QLD Government will open Round 2 of its Small Business COVID-19 Adaption Grant Program to promote jobs for regional small businesses located outside of South-Eastern Queensland. Eligible businesses must have been subject to closure or otherwise highly impacted by shutdown restrictions announced by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer on 23 March 2020, experienced a minimum 30% decline in revenue since 23 March 2020 over a minimum 1-month period, employ fewer than 20 staff at the time of applying for the grant (employees must be on your payroll and does not include the business owner(s)), have a valid ABN as at 23 March 2020 and be registered for GST, be headquartered in Queensland, have an annual turnover over $75,000 for the 2018-19 or 2019-20 financial year and have a payroll of less than $1.3m. Visit here for more information on eligibility and how to apply for the grant.
  • On 7 September 2020, the QLD Government announced that it will provide businesses with further COVID-19 payroll tax relief:
    • Payroll tax liabilities for July and August 2020 will be waived/refunded for employers with annual grouped Australian taxable wages up to AUD 6.5 million. Applications for refunds must be made by 30 October 2020; and
    • Deferred payroll tax payments for 2020 will be payable over the course of 2021 and into January 2022, instead of all being due by 14 January 2021 as previously required. No interest will apply if businesses pay a deferred liability by the relevant deferred payment due date (i.e., 14 January 2021, 7 April 2021, 7 October 2021, and 14 January 2022, depending on an employer’s return frequency). Details of deferred payment due dates can be found here. Employers can apply for approval to defer payment until 31 December 2020. Employers who previously obtained approval to defer paying their payroll liabilities until 14 January 2021 do not need to apply for approval to defer under the new timeframe. If approved to defer, employers are required to continue lodging payroll tax returns (without payment) by the normal due date.
    • They also confirmed that JobKeeper wage subsidy payments will continue to be exempt from payroll tax.

 

For more details: Contact the Small Business Hotline on 1300 654 687.

 

 

 

New South Wales[3]

  • Waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for the final three months of FY 2019-20, meaning eligible businesses will save a quarter of their annual payroll tax bill in 2019-20.
  • NSW was the first state to make legislation giving effect to the Mandatory Code of Conduct to support commercial tenants and landlords with rent relief procedures. The Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2020 took effect on Friday 24 April 2020. Initially it applied for six months until 24 October 2020, but has since been extended to 31 December 2020. Visit here for the latest extension details and to understand what the rent relief measures mean for NSW landlords and tenants.
  • Until 30 June 2020, a Small Business Support Grant of $10,000 is available for small businesses and non-profit organisations who have experienced a 75% decline in revenue as a result of COVID-19. Funds may only be used for unavoidable business expenses that are not supported by other government funding including, for example, utilities, council rates, telecommunication charges, insurance payments, professional advice, wages for employees not eligible for JobKeeper payments and franchise fees. Visit here for more information on eligibility and how to apply for the grant.
  • From 1 July 2020, a Small Business Recovery Grant of up to $3,000 is available to help small businesses (fewer than 20 employees) recover from COVID-19. Eligible businesses and not-for-profits must meet a range of criteria as at 1 March 2020 including having an ABN registered in NSW, total Australian wages below the NSW Government 2019-20 payroll tax threshold of $900,000, fewer than 20 full time equivalent staff, an annual turnover of more than $75,000 and are in a highly impacted industry. Businesses must also have experienced a decline in turnover of at least 30% from March to July 2020 compared to the equivalent period last year, and have costs from 1 July 2020 associated with safely re-opening or scaling up their business. Visit here for more information on eligibility and to apply for the grant (applications will be open on the Service NSW website from 1 July 2020 until 16 August 2020).
  • A $12.8m bailout package has been announced to help exporters recover from the coronavirus-caused downturn. Up to 1,000 Export Assistance Grants of $10,000 will be given to NSW businesses which need help to access new markets or re-enter old ones where trade has ceased. The grants total $10m and the other $2.8m is being spent on installing more trade exports overseas and marketing help for NSW businesses. The package is expected to boost regional companies such as farms and wineries. Call 13 77 88 for more information.
  • The NSW Government has committed $48.2 million in funding to facilitate 250,000 square metres of office space referred to as ‘Tech Central’ in the precinct which stretches several kilometres from Central Station to Camperdown, including South Eveleigh. Tech Central will be home to start-ups, scale-ups and innovation ecosystem partners – putting NSW at the forefront of tech development. Local technology giant Atlassian has committed to become an anchor tenant of the precinct, basing its Australian headquarters at the new site. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on 25 June 2020 that Tech Central will rival Silicon Valley as the place to be, establishing NSW as a global leader in innovation and technology. Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the long-term goal of Tech Central was to create 25,000 innovation jobs and encourage 25,000 new students to focus on Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) and life sciences studies. Tech Central is predicted to bring up to 25,000 new jobs to NSW, further strengthening the state’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
  • From 8 September 2020 until 18 October 2020 businesses in the following 13 Local Government Areas along the NSW and Victorian border can apply for a Southern Border Small Business Support Grant of either $5,000 or $10,000: Albury, Balranald, Berrigan, Bega Valley, Edward River, Federation, Greater Hume Shire , Hay, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys and Wentworth. The grant program, totalling $45 million, is designed to cushion the financial impact for businesses affected by the southern border closure. The first tier of $5,000 is for employing and non-employing small businesses, such as non-employing sole traders, that have suffered at least a 30% decline in turnover as a result of the border closure. The second tier of $10,000 is for employing small businesses that have suffered at least a 75% decline as a result of the closure. Applications can be lodged via Service NSW. For more info on eligibility refer to the grant announcement release here.
  • The NSW government has deferred payment of parking space levy (PSL) liabilities for six months until 30 September 2020. This deferral applies to outstanding liabilities for FY 2019-20 and the upcoming PSL for FY 2020-21. The due date for the annual 2020-21 PSL return has been extended until 30 September 2020 (previously due on 1 September 2020).
  • To support new home construction and create jobs as part of the NSW government’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan, transfer duty changes have been made:
    • The threshold below which transfer duty will not be charged to first home buyers of new homes will increase for 12 months from 1 August 2020 to $800,000 (up from $650,000 prior to 1 August 2020). Concessional duty treatment will apply to new home purchases valued between $800,000 and $1 million during the same period.
    • The threshold below which transfer duty will not be charged to first home buyers of vacant land will increase for 12 months from 1 August 2020 to $400,000 (up from $350,000 prior to 1 August 2020). Concessional duty treatment will apply to vacant land purchases valued between $400,000 and $500,000 during the same period.
  • Free personalised business support: You don’t need to manage COVID-19 alone. Call the Service NSW business concierge team for free support and information on what’s available. They can even help you fill in application forms for the different financial support options available. Call 13 77 88 or click here for more details.

 

For more details on all options and services available: Call 13 28 46.

 

You can also sign up to free small business advisory webinars being run by Business Connect, in partnership with the NSW Government here.

 

For details on the NSW 2020-21 Budget announced on 17 November 2020: Visit our blog post here.

 

 

Australian Capital Territory[4]

  • Hospitality (cafes, pubs, hotels, clubs and restaurants), creative arts and entertainment industries will receive a six-month waiver of payroll tax from March to August 2020.
  • Businesses with payroll of up to $10 million can defer their 2020-2021 payroll tax payments, interest free, until 1 July 2022.
  • 12-month waiver of all food business registration and on-licence liquor licensing fees, from 1 April 2020.
  • Electricity rebates of $750 for businesses with electricity usage below 100 megawatts annually.
  • Extended relief has been announced in relation to commercial rates as follows:
    • Commercial property owners that are significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can continue to defer their rates, interest-free, for an extra six months (i.e., until 1 April 2021).
    • Commercial landlords and owner-operated businesses can apply for rates rebates for an extra three months to December 2020 if they or their tenants are significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

For more details: Head to revenue.act.gov.au

 

 

Victoria[5]

  • Full payroll tax refunds for the 2019-20 financial year for SMEs with payroll below $3 million. This will save eligible business up to $113,975 a year, with the average business saving $23,000.
  • Businesses will also be able to defer any payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020/21 financial year until 1 January 2021.
  • Commercial tenants can apply for rent relief and may be protected by the state’s rental eviction moratorium until 31 December 2020 (the moratorium was announced initially in March 2020, and was due to expire in September 2020 but was extended following the return to Stage 4 lockdowns). Visit here for more information and to see if you’re eligible, plus refer to the VIC Government’s guide to the rent relief process for commercial tenants here.
  • The Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund also offers grants of up to $3,000 per tenancy to eligible small private individual landlords (with total taxable landholdings below $1 million) that are experiencing financial hardship as a result of providing tenants with rent reductions under the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme. Applications opened on 21 August 2020 and can be made until 16 October 2020 unless the fund is expended sooner.
  • $500 million rental relief package including a six-month ban on evictions and rent increases and tax relief for landlords. As part of this, small businesses with an annual turnover of under $50 million that have been hit with 30% or more in revenue reduction because of coronavirus can also be granted rental waivers or deferrals.
  • Payroll tax relief is available on JobKeeper payments. Business with annual Victorian taxable wages up to $3 million will have their payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year waived. Eligible businesses can claim an emergency tax relief refund of payroll tax already paid in the 2019-20 financial year via PTX Express. Visit here for more information.

 

Support packages are available for SMEs as a result of the return to Stage 3 lockdowns from 8 July 2020. These include the following announced by the VIC Government:

  • Businesses that are operating within a postcode affected by the return to Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions are eligible for a one-off $5,000 grant to help them get through to the other side of the local lockdown. Businesses must be currently registered to pay GST, have an annual payroll of less than $3 million and hold an ABN. Applications for the program are available until 31 July 2020. Visit here for more information on eligibility and how to apply.
  • $20 million CBD Business Support Fund for small businesses in Melbourne’s Central Business District
  • $26 million investment by the VIC Government in mental health support aimed at business owners
  • $10 million business mentoring program, pairing small-business owners with experienced professionals who can help them navigate their way through the crisis
  • $40 million capped fund for regional tourism operators to cover the costs of refunds as well as marketing campaigns to boost region-to-region visitation while Melbourne is in lockdown. Eligible operators will also be able to claim up to $225 per night for up to five nights for each and every room cancelled due to the restrictions, provided they refund the booking in full
  • a dedicated fund of $30 million for the worst-hit businesses in hospitality and the state’s night-time economy
  • affected businesses with payrolls up to $10 million can defer their tax liabilities for the first half of the 2020–21 financial year.

 

The VIC Business Support Fund was expanded as a result of the Stage 4 restrictions effective from 5 August 2020:

  • Businesses in regional Victoria can now apply for a one-off $5,000 grant
  • In recognition of spending longer under restrictions, businesses in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire can apply for up to $10,000 (when combined with the $5,000 grant available to these businesses during Stage 3 lockdowns in July). Businesses which have already received a BSFe grant, or have applied for one, will not need to re-apply. Successful applicants will automatically receive this additional allocation.
  • Applications for the program have been extended until 14 September 2020.
  • This program is in addition to the first round of the Business Support Fund, which closed on 1 June 2020.

For information on eligibility and how to apply visit the official ‘Business Support Fund – Extension’ webpage here.

 

In certain Local Government Areas, businesses affected by the NSW-Victoria border closure may be eligible for a Southern Border Small Business Support Grant. The grant program, totalling $45 million, is designed to cushion the financial impact for businesses affected by the southern border closure:

  • From 8 September 2020 until 18 October 2020 businesses in the following 13 Local Government Areas along the NSW and Victorian border can apply for a Southern Border Small Business Support Grant of either $5,000 or $10,000: Albury, Balranald, Berrigan, Bega Valley, Edward River, Federation, Greater Hume Shire , Hay, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys and Wentworth.
  • The first tier of $5,000 is for employing and non-employing small businesses, such as non-employing sole traders, that have suffered at least a 30% decline in turnover as a result of the border closure.
  • The second tier of $10,000 is for employing small businesses that have suffered at least a 75% decline as a result of the closure.
  • Applications can be lodged via Service NSW.
  • For more info on eligibility refer to the grant announcement release here.

 

A further $3 billion support package was announced on 13 September 2020:

  • $1.1 billion in cash grants will be made available to SMEs that are most affected by coronavirus restrictions.
  • Around 75,000 eligible businesses with payrolls up to $10 million will receive grants of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 depending on their size.
  • A $251 million Licensed Venue Fund targeted at the hospitality sector will be offering individual grants of up to $30,000 for licensed venues. Liquor license fees will also be waived for 2021.
  • Grants of up to $20,000 will be made available to businesses in alpine resorts.
  • Grants of up to $20,000 will be made available via chambers of commerce and local business groups to small businesses.
  • The 50% stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial property across all of regional Victoria will be brought forward to 1 January 2021 and the Vacant Residential Land Tax will be waived for properties that are vacant in 2020.
  • A $15.7 million export recovery package has been launched to address logistics and supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, and to establish new export channels.
  • For more info refer to the VIC government website here.

 

For more details on all stimulus measures available to Victorian businesses: Call the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.

 

For details on the Victorian 2020-21 Budget announced on 24 November 2020: Visit our blog post here.

 

 

Tasmania[6]

  • $20 million in interest-free loans to small businesses in the hospitality, tourism, seafood production, and exports sectors. The loans are available to businesses with turnover below $5 million to purchase equipment or restructure business operations and will be interest-free for three years.
  • Payroll tax liabilities will be waived for hospitality, tourism and seafood industry businesses for the last four months of 2019-20. Other businesses with payrolls of up to $5 million will be able to apply, based on the impact of virus, to have their payroll tax waived for April to June 2020.
  • Small Business Grants Program provides a $5,000 grant for businesses that hire an apprentice or trainee in the tourism, hospitality, building and construction, and manufacturing industries.
  • A 50% discount on liquor licencing fees and a waiver of all application fees for the calendar year 2020, back-dated to 1 January 2020.
  • Annual fees and levies for the rock lobster, giant crab, fin fishers and for abalone divers, will be waived for 12 months.
  • Construction jobs across Tasmania will be supported by an additional $46 million to deliver shovel-ready infrastructure projects and urgent road safety upgrades, as announced on 25 June 2020.
  • The Tasmanian government has announced that it will introduce a COVID-19 Landlord Support Fund to assist residential landlords experiencing financial hardship. The Fund will offer financial relief of up to four weeks rent, to a maximum of $2,000, to landlords who are able to demonstrate that they have tenants owing rent in arrears. This measure is in conjunction with extensions until 1 December 2020 of Tasmania’s emergency period for residential tenancies, the financial hardship period for commercial tenancies, and the Rent Relief Fund for tenants, and allowing tenants who have already accessed the Rent Relief Fund and who are still in arrears to apply for an additional payment of up to four weeks rent (maximum of $2,000).
  • Increased funding for the Accelerating Trade Grant Program in 2020-21, to assist COVID-19 affected businesses with their export market development plans. Funding is available, on a co-contribution basis, up to $10,000 for a range of market development activities in domestic and international markets (e.g., new e-commerce opportunities, promotional activities and materials, supply chain efficiency improvements, etc). Applications can be made until 31 May 2021.
  • A $15 million Small Business Sustainability and Recovery Grant program offering grants of $5,000 to small businesses across several sectors continuing to be heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is a competitive, merit-based one, with applications assessed by an independent panel. Applications closed on 24 August 2020.
  • second round of the Small Business Continuity Grant program, offering grants of $750 to eligible small businesses to engage services of a qualified specialist or consultant to provide continuity planning or financial advice to assist with business recovery. Applications can be made until noon on 7 September 2020, unless the $2 million project funds are fully allocated sooner. Businesses that received a grant under the first round of this program are not eligible.
  • $1,000 grants for eligible small business electricity users in “embedded networks” (e.g., retail premises inside a larger complex such as a shopping center).

 

For more details:

  • $20 million Small Business Loans – contact Business Tasmania on 1800 440 026
  • Payroll tax waiver – contact the State Revenue Office on (03) 6166 4400
  • Targeted Small Business Grants Scheme – contact Skills Tasmania on 1800 655 846

 

 

South Australia[7]

  • The State-based $12 million skills package will see small businesses receive up to $5,000 for every new apprentice or trainee hired on a paid training contract as part of the Skills for Business scheme. For more details: Visit skills.sa.gov.au/support.
  • On 8 September 2020, the South Australian government announced that it will expand its existing land tax relief scheme for landlords and extend it by six months until 30 April 2021. The changes will mean that:
    • Eligible landlords with residential or commercial small-to-medium enterprise (SME) tenants will now have the opportunity to access a reduction of up to 50% (previously 25%) on their 2019-20 land tax liability for affected properties, conditional on the full benefit of the land tax reduction being passed on to the affected tenants (or the landlord has been unable to secure a tenant due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Access to the initial 25% land tax reduction requires landlords with tenants to have passed on at least the same amount by way of rent relief during the six months from 30 March to 30 October 2020; access to the other 25% reduction will require passing on at least the same amount by way of rent relief during the six months from 31 October 2020 to 30 April 2021; and
    • Land tax relief will be available to eligible commercial owner-occupiers, being a 25% reduction on their 2019-20 land tax liabilities for affected properties. Eligibility will depend on commercial owner-occupiers being eligible to receive JobKeeper payments from 31 October 2020 onwards, and having an annual turnover not exceeding AUD 50 million.
  • Tenancy protections for commercial SME enterprise tenants adversely affected by COVID-19 related restrictions have been extended by three months, now expiring on 3 January 2021.
  • Eligibility under the state’s residential tenancy support measures has also been expanded. Rent relief grants of $1,000 are available to landlords of eligible tenants, provided revised rental terms have been agreed that provide rent relief of at least $1,000. The changes mean that tenant eligibility will no longer depend on the tenant receiving JobKeeper or JobSeeker payments. Instead, tenants will be eligible if they have less than $5,000 in savings, pay more than 30% of their current income on rent, and can demonstrate that since 30 March 2020 they lost employment, had their work hours reduced by at least 20%, or had their wages reduced by at least 20%. In the case of tenants operating a sole trader business, a suspension of operations or a reduction in turnover of at least 20% will need to be demonstrated.
  • The South Australian Active Club Program grants allow not for profit active recreation or sport club/community organisations to apply for funding of up to $3,000 to assist with impacts of additional expenditure due to COVID-19. Applications close 23 September 2020. Further information can be found here.

 

 

Western Australia[8]

  • One-off grant of $17,000 for small businesses with payroll between $1-4 million.
  • Businesses with payroll below $1 million will be exempt from payroll tax from 1 July 2020.
  • Businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak may also be eligible to defer their payroll tax payments until 21 July 2020. This option is available to employers that pay up to $7.5 million in taxable wages, which have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • One-off grant of up to $15,000 to local governments and community organisations to support projects and initiatives that reconnect senior citizens who have experienced isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications for the Age-friendly Communities Social Connectivity Grants Program can be made until 8 October 2020.

For more details: Head to wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-finance

 

 

Northern Territory

  • $50 million Small Business Survival Fund, offering grants to small businesses to adapt to changed trading conditions. Details yet to be announced.
  • The payroll tax exemption for hiring Territory employees has been extended to 30 June 2021.
  • A $20 million Business Rebound and Adaptation Grant program has been introduced to offer grants of up to $10,000 (on a co-contribution basis) to eligible NT small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is intended to assist small NT businesses undertake projects to improve customer experience and business performance (e.g., structural works, upskilling employees, new technology, etc). Successful grant applicants will be issued with vouchers. Approved works must be finished within six calendar months of the date of issue of the voucher, but by no later than 30 September 2021. Vouchers are to be submitted for payment no later than 30 November 2021. Eligibility requirements include having:
    • An Australian Business Number (ABN) as at 29 July 2020;
    • Less than 200 employees or officers;
    • A minimum turnover of AUD 75,000 for FY 2018-19, and having had an anticipated turnover of at least AUD 75,000 for 2019-20; and
    • A demonstrated decline in turnover due to COVID-19 of at least 30%.
  • All Territory businesses will be able to access a $10,000 Business Improvement grant, followed by an additional $10,000 grant if they contribute $10,000 of their own.

 

For more details:

 

 

 

______________________________________

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[1] https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/businesses

[2] https://www.treasury.qld.gov.au/programs-and-policies/covid19-package/

[3] https://preview.nsw.gov.au/news/health-boost-and-economic-stimulus

[4] https://apps.treasury.act.gov.au/budget/covid-19-economic-survival-package

[5] https://www.business.vic.gov.au/news/2020/march/victorian-government-announces-business-support-fund

[6] http://www.premier.tas.gov.au/documents/FACT_SHEETS_-_STIMULUS_PACKAGES_Final-V2.0.pdf

[7] https://www.premier.sa.gov.au/news/media-releases/news/funding-boost-for-businesses-to-continue-skills-training-in-challenging-times

[8] https://www.smallbusiness.wa.gov.au/blog/wa-coronavirus-relief-package

 

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