The federal government has gone to extensive lengths to fight the COVID-induced economic turbulence. Being in ‘uncharted waters’, many people struggle to keep up with the changes in the requirements and initiatives.
Quick check – what are they?
A temporary subsidy for businesses with significant losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses with less than $1 billion in turnover and 30% or more in turnover losses and businesses with over $1 billion in turnover and 50% or more in turnover losses are eligible. Until 27 September 2020, $1500 per fortnight per eligible employee is payable. This income is taxable and equates to around $654 per week.
To receive the incentive, employees must have been employed full time, part-time or fixed term by 1 March 2020. Casual employees must have been employed for over one year with one employer by 1 March 2020.
A $2 billion initiative aimed at training/retraining and upskilling Australians and keeping apprentices and trainees employed. Unlike JobKeeper, JobTrainer is in partnership with states and territories.
JobTrainer is split into two parts.
One: Aimed at keeping those in apprenticeships and traineeships employed. It covers half the standard wage employers pay apprentices and employees.
Two: Aimed at school leavers and those looking for work. It provides funding for vocational education and training.
SME Guarantee Scheme
Aimed at supporting and boosting the flow of credit to SMEs, including sole traders and not-for-profits. The federal government is guaranteeing 50% of new loans issued by eligible lenders.
Available for businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million. Max loan total: $250,000 per borrower, increasing to $1 million after 1 October 2020. Loans can be secured or unsecured and, depending on conditions, have a loan term of up to 5 years. The Treasury may request further information from lenders if they deem necessary.
On 21 July, The government announced it’s extending JobKeeper until 28 March 2021. The focus will be moving towards businesses which continue to be affected by COVID-19. At the time of writing, the government has said they will revise eligibility requirements due to the recent Victorian second wave.
On 7 August, adjustments to the reference date for determining employee eligibility were announced making it easier for organisations to qualify for the JobKeeper payment extension.
From 28 September 2020, businesses will be assessed on their turnover in the September quarter, 2020. Previously, businesses were going to be required to show declines in turnover in June and September quarters. They will have to reassess again in January 2021 to continue JobKeeper.
New changes mean that employees will be assessed from 1 July 2020 with effect from 3 August 2020. To determine employees’ payment, the two fortnightly pay periods prior to 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020 will be used. The period with the higher number of hours is to be used for employees who were eligible on 1 March 2020.
JobKeeper Payment Amounts
Until 27 September, 2020 – $1,500 per fortnight.
28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021 – $1,200 per fortnight for employees working 20 hours a week or more. $750 per fortnight for employees working less than 20 hours per week, including casual employees that have been employed since at least 1 March 2020.
4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021 – $1,000 per fortnight for employees working 20 hours a week or more. $650 per fortnight for employees working less than 20 hours per week.
Eligibility has been expanded and now includes medium-sized businesses with fewer than 200 employees who had an apprentice on 1 July 2020. The wage subsidy will also be extended to 31 March 2021.
From 1 October 2020 to 30 June 2021, the second phase of the scheme will take place. This will allow loans to be used for a wider range of business purposes. The maximum loan amount increases from $250,000 to $1 million.
Loans will continue to be subject to lender credit assessment processes and the decision on whether to extend credit will remain with the lenders.
All over Australia, experts have been providing predictions and commentary on the proposed government initiatives.
Coming off JobKeeper will be tough. The government is watching closely to see exactly who needs the payments and for how long. Additionally, as observers are constantly reminded; JobKeeper is for maintaining employment, not improving profitability.
Mortgage Brokers and JobKeeper
For mortgage broker services, calculating income should include upfront commission and reasonably expected trail commission for brokerage services in relation to loans settled in tested periods.
This requires brokers to disregard trail commission received for services provided in earlier months. The value of new activity during the test period in 2020 is compared to new activity during the comparison period in 2019.
As per the ATO: A broker’s projected GST turnover needs to be a reasonable assessment of what was likely at the point in time you calculated the test. If it turns out that your actual turnover for your test period is greater than the prediction of your projected turnover, you do not lose access to the JobKeeper scheme.
For regular updates, to go:
The Treasury to find out about JobKeeper and the SME Guarantee Scheme
The Department of Education to find out about JobTrainer