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August 2020

COVID-19 resources – Jobkeeper, Victoria Stage 4 Update

 

Several new links have been added to the many already in this article, links that date back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.  If you have any questions, or require further assistance, please send us an email or phone.

 

   

Please click on the following links to access a wide range of Covid-19 related guidelines and resources for both Federal and State Government initiatives.  Once done, click on the X (top right) to close the article and you'll return to this list.   NB: Internet links are often altered by the source which means some of the following might not link properly.  Ongoing testing is done to try and ensure this problem is minimised.
 

Latest Updates: 

  • Jobkeeper Update – Extension to March 2021.  Read more ….

  • Victorian Government Stage 4 Restrictions.  Read more ….

  • Victoria – Health and Human Services – Stage 4 restrictions.  Read more ….

  • Victoria – State Revenue Office – Land Tax.  Read more ….

     

  • Federal Government COVID-19 Updates.  Read more ….

  • NSW – New round of small business grants.  Read more ….

  • Qld – Round 2 of Small Business COVID-19 Adaption Grant Program opens.  Read more …. 

  • Vic – Range of videos explaining topics effected by COVID-19 such as Land tax and Payroll Tax.  Read more ….

  • Tas – An update on all COVID-19 matters in Tasmania.  Read more ….

  • ACT – Updated 30-6-2020.  Read more ….

  • SA – Updates for Land tax deferrals and Job Accelerator Grants.  Read more ….

  • NT – COVID-19 Update.  Read more ….

 

Previous Updates

 

 

 

  • Click here for the latest coronavirus news, updates and advice from government agencies across Australia.

 

High alert issued over myGov tax time scam

 

The Australian Cyber Security Centre has now issued a high alert over myGov-related scams as tax time scams increase.

 

       

The high alert comes after the ATO reported increasing instances of myGov-related SMS and email scams.

The scams look like they have come from a myGov or ATO email address, and request that individuals click on a link to verify their details.

If clicked on, the hyperlink connects to a fake website that requests for details and other personal information for “verification purposes”. 

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has warned that these emails or text messages mimic official tax time notifications from myGov or the ATO.

“To make them seem more legitimate, cyber criminals use technology that causes these messages to appear in the same conversation thread as genuine messages from the ATO or myGov,” the ACSC said.

“As always, our advice is don’t click any links and don’t provide the information requested.”

 

 

Technology  Reporter 
20 July 2020 
accountantsdaily.com.au

 

Extended director penalty regime to catch out ‘zombie companies’

 

Directors of companies struggling through COVID-19 conditions could be at particular risk of the recently expanded director penalty notice regime, warns one tax lawyer.

 

       

Rigby Cooke Lawyers tax counsel Tamara Cardan has now warned directors of their heightened risk of personal exposure under the recent extension of the director penalty notice (DPN) regime, which kicked in at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since 1 April, the DPN regime has been extended to GST, luxury car tax (LCT) and wine equalisation tax (WET) liabilities.

“The expansion of the regime to GST may catch out many more companies, in particular SMEs, which are right now simply trying to keep afloat and stay in business in these unprecedented times,” Ms Cardan told Accountants Daily.

“Directors are managing significant financial pressures, employee retention issues and a myriad of other urgent matters. In this context, it is logical that compliance with the director penalty regime is not at the forefront of people’s minds.”

With BAS lodgements for the first quarter under the extended DPN regime due soon, and the ATO eyeing a restart of its debt and lodgement intervention activities over the next couple of months, Ms Cardan believes directors need to begin being actively involved in the compliance and reporting activities of their business.

“Directors of ‘zombie companies’ will be at particular risk of exposure under the DPN regime, especially when the government’s support measures cease, and the company is not generating enough income to pay its tax debts. It is anticipated that many ‘zombie companies’ may go into administration, potentially leaving directors exposed under the DPN regime,” Ms Cardan said.

“Where a director has been issued with a DPN, placing the company into administration may actually be a way to satisfy his or her personal liability to the unpaid tax debts.

“However, this option will only be available where BAS lodgements have been made within three months of the relevant due date. If this time frame is not met and a DPN is issued, even if a company goes into administration, the director must still pay the tax debts to satisfy their personal liability.”

Ms Cardan also noted that director resignations would be ineffective in avoiding personal liability, with clients urged to engage with the ATO early to avoid tougher action down the line.

“If a director resigns from their company before a DPN is issued, the ATO may still subsequently issue a DPN to this individual. The key to mitigating personal exposure under the DPN regime is to have good internal reporting systems and timely lodgements,” she said.

“If your client’s business is experiencing financial difficulties and cannot satisfy its tax debts, I would recommend early engagement with the ATO to manage these liabilities. An open and co-operative relationship in most instances would prevent the ATO from taking stronger compliance action.”

 

 

Jotham Lian 
27 July 2020
accountantsdaily.com.au

 

SG amnesty deadline – 7 September

 

Small businesses have been urged to disclose historical superannuation guarantee shortfalls ahead of the fast-approaching SG amnesty deadline.

 

       

With just over a month to go before the SG amnesty deadline of 7 September, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has urged businesses to self-correct historical SG non-compliance dating from 1 July 1992 to 31 March 2018.

“Payment plans are available to small businesses unable to pay the lump sum amount owed, so long as they get on the front foot and make contact with the ATO, before the September 7 deadline,” said ASBFEO Kate Carnell.

“However, only payments made before September 7 will be eligible for the tax deduction benefit.

“To qualify for the amnesty, employers have to come forward voluntarily, without direct prompting from the ATO and agree to pay all employee entitlements plus interest.”

Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, the government has remained silent on whether it would extend the SG amnesty deadline.

The accounting profession had previously called for the amnesty period to be extended, arguing that it has now encountered its “worst-case scenario” in coinciding with the coronavirus-induced downturn.

A joint submission from professional bodies has since called on the ATO to extend the SG amnesty deadline by a further six months to 7 March 2021.

Ms Carnell reiterated the amnesty will give small businesses a chance to ensure they are compliant “because all Australian workers deserve to be paid the entitlements they are owed”.

“If you don’t disclose unpaid super under the amnesty and you are found to have been non-compliant, you will face a minimum penalty of 100 per cent of the superannuation owed, have to pay $20 administration fee per employee per quarter and you cannot deduct any payments made,” she said.

 

 

Tony Zhang 
28 July 2020
accountantsdaily.com.au

 

‘Hundreds’ to be contacted in ATO early super compliance blitz

 

Hundreds of Australians who applied for the COVID-19 early release of superannuation are set to be queried on their eligibility as the ATO kicks off a pilot compliance program.

 

       

The ATO will now contact “hundreds” of people who appear to have been ineligible for the early release of super but have gone ahead to raid their retirement savings.

The pilot examination will see 130 ATO officers personally contacting people to confirm and prove they have met the eligibility requirements, including by having been made redundant or seeing their working hours reduced by 20 per cent or more.

The initial examination will help the ATO decide if it will need to design a broader compliance program.

“For example, just to make it real, if we write out to 500 people and it turns out that 490 of them were eligible and only 10 were ineligible, we might say, ‘Well, look, the level of ineligibility is so low it’s not worth doing a big compliance program’,” ATO second commissioner Jeremy Hirschhorn told a Senate committee.

“Conversely, we might write out to 500 people and find out that 200 were ineligible, but we’ve worked out a signal to clearly identify those people, and then we’ll do a broader program.”

Mr Hirschhorn said data matching from external sources, including Services Australia, would help it identify those who were ineligible, but admitted that there would be holes in its information.

“We have information from systems in relation to things like how much people have been paid under Single Touch Payroll or whether they are in continued employment and whatnot,” he said.

“That information is informative but not determinative in relation to eligibility.

“For example, one of the tests is based on hours, it’s not based on remuneration. There are various tests on why you can be eligible. We have information which gives us hints that somebody may not be eligible, but it doesn’t tell us that they’re not eligible.”

ATO defends application process

The Treasury now expects $41.9 billion to be removed from the super system following the extension of the scheme to December, with $31.9 billion withdrawn as of 28 July.

Mr Hirschhorn said the scheme was designed on a self-assessment system, and a compliance program could not be enforced at the time of application because the ATO would not have live information of a person’s circumstances.

“It’s based on self-assessment. We work on the assumption that Australians are honest,” Mr Hirschhorn said.

“This is about getting emergency money to people. So, we will never have enough information to reject quickly. We will give people their money on the basis of their say-so.

“We don’t know yet whether, for example, they’ve been terminated, they’ve lost their job. We don’t know at the time they apply. We might have reasonable information a month later, when the next Single Touch Payroll comes in. So, that’s why it’s based on self-assessment.”

Mr Hirschhorn also noted that the ATO has yet to issue any fines or revoke the determination on a person’s eligibility and require the withdrawn super amount to be included as assessable income.

“There are a range of consequences. Again, where we think somebody has made an honest mistake as to their eligibility, and particularly where they voluntarily disclose that to us, we are unlikely to impose significant consequences,” he said.

“The next phase is if we withdraw our declaration, so they will have to pay tax on their superannuation at their marginal tax rate, and that is a reasonably significant consequence for many.

“In the worst cases, we can impose penalties for misleading statements, and that is up to $12,600, which is a very significant penalty when you have withdrawn $10,000 of your own money from super. So, there are a range of consequences, but again, we moderate those consequences depending on the deliberateness of the action.”

 

 

Jotham Lian 
02 August 2020 
accountantsdaily.com.au

 

90,000 SMEs to benefit from new JobTrainer program

 

The government has announced a $2.5 billion JobTrainer program, giving 340,000 Australians the opportunity to retrain or upskill into sectors with job opportunities, including an additional $1.5 billion to expand the apprentice and trainee wage subsidy.

 

 

       

Speaking on 2GB Breakfast radio on Thursday morning, the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Michaelia Cash, explained that the new JobTrainer initiative will offer Aussies access to short courses and full qualifications to prepare for a post-pandemic workplace.

“That will be up to the states and territories as to how they would like to deliver them. But certainly, it’s vocational education and training, short courses, full qualifications. It’s all about upskilling, reskilling, retraining into areas that we know are in demand and have a job,” Ms Cash said.

Under the program, the National Skills Commission will work directly with the states and territories to ensure that we are targeting the areas of demand in their particular state or territory.

But according to Ms Cash, priority areas will be mining and resources; construction; ICT; health, aged and disability care.

“They’re the obvious ones where we know there is that growth,” Ms Cash said.

As for the additional cash being focused towards apprentice wage incentives, the minister explained that around 90,000 small and medium businesses will be covered.

“All those businesses out there, 200 employees or less, you now qualify,” she said.

“We’re extending it to those with 21 or more, and less than 200. We’re also extending the wage subsidy by a further six months to March 2021.

“So, for all of those small businesses out there who have already qualified, you will now get an extra six months of support. We want to see apprentices and trainees kept on the job, and that’s what this $1.5 billion will do.”

 

 

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic 
16 July 2020 
accountantsdaily.com.au