The Government has announced a $17.6 billion economic stimulus package to support the Australian economy and households while dealing with the significant challenges posed by the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.
The COVID-19 stimulus package has four parts:
- Delivering support for business investment
- Cash flow assistance for businesses
- Stimulus payments to households to support growth
- Assistance for severely-affected regions
Delivering support for business investment
- Increase the instant asset write off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expand access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020.
- Providing 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 an additional 50 per cent of the asset cost in the year of purchase. These measures start today and will support over 3.5 million businesses (over 99 per cent of businesses) employing more than 9.7 million employees or 3 in every 4 workers. The measures are designed to support business sticking with investment they had planned, and encouraging them to bring investment forward to support economic growth over the short term
Cash flow assistance for businesses
- Businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff, between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020 will be able to receive a payment from $2,000 up to $25,000. The payment will be tax free and businesses will receive payments of 50 per cent of their Business Activity Statements or Instalment Activity Statement from 28 April with refunds to then be paid within 14 days.
- Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 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.
Stimulus payments to households to support growth
- Provide a one-off $750 stimulus payment to pensioners, social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.
Assistance for severely-affected regions
- $1 billion to support those sectors, regions and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus, including those heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education.
To implement the stimulus plan, a package of Bills will be introduced into Parliament in the final Autumn sitting week in March 2020 for Parliament’s urgent consideration and passage.
ATO Supports COVID-19 Stimulus Package
The ATO has announced it will implement a series of administrative measures to assist Australians experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Options available to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19 include:
- Deferring by up to four months the payment date of amounts due through the business activity statement (including PAYG instalments), income tax assessments, fringe benefits tax assessments and excise
- Allow businesses on a quarterly reporting cycle to opt into monthly GST reporting in order to get quicker access to GST refunds they may be entitled to
- Allowing businesses to vary Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalment amounts to zero for the March 2020 quarter. Businesses that vary their PAYG instalment to zero can also claim a refund for any instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters
- Remitting any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities
- Working with affected businesses to help them pay their existing and ongoing tax liabilities by allowing them to enter into low interest payment plans.
People will need to contact the ATO for assistance. Anyone impacted by COVID-19 is advised to contact the ATO to request assistance on the Emergency Support Infoline 1800 806 218, when they are ready, to discuss their situation.