Business Support


To save you time and confusion, we have summarised some key information and assistance available for both Sole Traders who do not employ anyone, as well as for Small/Medium Businesses who have staff.

Not sure where to start? View our interactive COVID-19 Business Checklist here. This checklist has been formulated to assist Business Owners, Employers and Sole Traders in working their way through the challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sole Traders / Self Employed

What is the Coronavirus supplement?

The Coronavirus Supplement is an ongoing $550 payment, delivered fortnightly.

Sole traders who receive any of the below payments will also receive the payment:

  • JobSeeker Payment, Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Sickness
  • Allowance and Wife Pension
  • Youth Allowance for job seekers
  • Youth Allowance for students and apprentices
  • Austudy for students and apprentices
  • ABSTUDY for students getting Living Allowance
  • Parenting Payment partnered and single
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Special Benefit

You should enquire with Centrelink about the relevant income tests that apply to your situation.

What is the JobSeeker Payment?

The JobSeeker Payment is available for any person, including sole traders, who satisfies the Government’s JobSeeker test. That means you must either:

  • Meet the definition of unemployed and you’re looking for work
  • Be sick or injured and are unable to do your usual work or study for a short time

How much you earn depends on how much you make. As a sole trader, you may still earn some income as a casual or part-time employee, but you’ll need to satisfy income tests.

IMPORTANT: You can’t claim the JobSeeker and JobKeeper Payments at the same time.

MORE INFORMATION

JobKeeper Payment for sole traders and other entities

Updated 26 April 2020

Sole traders and other entities may be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment if their turnover has reduced. Following registration by the eligible business, the Government will provide $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee until 27 September 2020. 

The JobKeeper Payment is a scheme to support businesses significantly affected by the coronavirus to help keep more Australians in jobs. The JobKeeper Payment is administered by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Sole traders and some other entities (such as partnerships, trusts or companies) may be entitled to the JobKeeper Payment scheme under the business participation entitlement. However, not-for-profit organisations are not included.

A limit applies of one $1,500 JobKeeper payment per fortnight for one eligible business participant. If your entity also has employees, you may also be able to claim additional JobKeeper payments of $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee.

The entity, not the eligible business participant, receives the JobKeeper payment. The exception is a sole trader, who is both the business entity and an eligible business participant, and so receives the JobKeeper payment themselves.

The Australian Commissioner of Taxation has extended the time to enrol for the initial JobKeeper periods, from 30 April 2020 until 31 May 2020.

IMPORTANT: You can’t claim the JobSeeker and JobKeeper Payments at the same time.

MORE INFORMATION

What is the Instant Asset Write-off Scheme?

Updated 02 April 2020

Any business assets you buy can be instantly written off against your tax. The instant asset write-off threshold has been increased 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). This applies from 12 March 2020 until 30 June 2020, for new or second‑hand assets first used or installed ready for use in this timeframe.

The higher Instant Asset Write-Off (IAWO) threshold provides cash flow benefits for businesses that will be able to immediately deduct purchases of eligible assets each costing less than $150,000. The threshold applies on a per asset basis, so eligible businesses can immediately write‑off multiple assets.

Am I eligible? 

Eligibility to use instant asset write-off depends on:

  • your aggregated turnover (the total ordinary income of your business and that of any associated businesses)
  • the date you purchased the asset and it was first used or installed ready for use
  • the cost of each asset being less than the threshold.

The criteria have changed over time so make sure you check whether your business is eligible. From 1 July 2020 the instant asset write-off will only be available for small businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million and the threshold will be $1,000.

Businesses with a turnover of $500 million or more are not eligible to use instant asset write-off.

How to access
It is advisable to get in contact with your accountant or financial consultant for advicon how/ if this will benefit your business. 

MORE INFORMATION

Can I access my superannuation early?

Updated 02 April 2020

Individuals affected by coronavirus can access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. Eligible individuals will be able to apply online to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020. They will also be able to access up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 until 24 September 2020.

Benefit 

Individuals affected by the coronavirus can access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 (to 30 June 2020) and a further $10,000 in 2020-21 (to 30 June 2021). 

Am I eligible?

To apply for early release, you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements: 

  1. you’re unemployed, 
  2. you’re eligible to receive welfare payments, 
  3. on or after 1 January 2020 you were made redundant, your working hours were reduced by 20% or more, or you are a sole trader whose business was suspended/ faced a 20% reduction in year-on-year turnover. 

How to access

You can apply directly to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) through the myGov website. 

MORE INFORMATION

FACT SHEET: Support for Sole Traders

The Federal Government is providing vital support to sole traders to withstand the economic impacts of the Coronavirus.

VIEW FACT SHEET

Small / Medium Businesses with Staff

What is the Instant Asset Write-off Scheme?

Updated 02 April 2020

Any business assets you buy can be instantly written off against your tax. The instant asset write-off threshold has been increased 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). This applies from 12 March 2020 until 30 June 2020, for new or second‑hand assets first used or installed ready for use in this timeframe.

The higher Instant Asset Write-Off (IAWO) threshold provides cash flow benefits for businesses that will be able to immediately deduct purchases of eligible assets each costing less than $150,000. The threshold applies on a per asset basis, so eligible businesses can immediately write‑off multiple assets.

Am I eligible? 

Eligibility to use instant asset write-off depends on:

  • your aggregated turnover (the total ordinary income of your business and that of any associated businesses)
  • the date you purchased the asset and it was first used or installed ready for use
  • the cost of each asset being less than the threshold.

The criteria have changed over time so make sure you check whether your business is eligible. From 1 July 2020 the instant asset write-off will only be available for small businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million and the threshold will be $1,000.

Businesses with a turnover of $500 million or more are not eligible to use instant asset write-off.

How to access
It is advisable to get in contact with your accountant or financial consultant for advicon how/ if this will benefit your business. 

MORE INFORMATION

What is the 'Backing Business Investment' incentive?

Updated 02 April 2020

Backing Business Investment (BBI) is a time limited 15 month investment incentive to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. This applies to eligible assets acquired from 12 March 2020 and first used or installed by 30 June 2021.

Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset cost.

You do not need to apply for the BBI.

MORE INFORMATION

JobKeeper: Assistance for keeping staff employed

If your turnover has been reduced by more than 30 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago, you can access the JobKeeper Payment of $1500 per fortnight per eligible employee for up to 6 months.

Eligible employees must have been on your books on 1 March. This includes full-time, part-time, and stood down employees, as well as casuals who have been working for you regularly for at least the past 12 months.

Businesses need to enrol through the ATO here. The ATO explains how to apply the turnover test here. 

Treasury fact sheet here (updated 14 April).

Fact sheet for employers here and for employees here (both updated 5 April).

MORE INFORMATIONVIEW FACT SHEET SEE OUR ADVOCACY ALERT (8 APRIL 2020)SEE OUR WEBINAR REPLAY FROM 7 APRIL

When can staff be stood down without pay?

The Fair Work Ombudsman page clarifies the rules, being:

  • if there was an enforceable government direction requiring the business to close (which means there is no work at all for the employees to do, even from another location)

  • if a large proportion of the workforce was required to self-quarantine with the result that the remaining employees/workforce cannot usefully be employed

  • if there was a stoppage of work due to lack of supply for which the employer could not be held responsible.

Other options may also be:

  • seeking employees’ agreement to take paid (or unpaid) leave for a period

  • in limited circumstances, directing employees to take paid annual leave

  • in limited circumstances, negotiating with employees to change regular rosters or hours of work

  • terminating the employment of the employees, in which case the employer may have to provide redundancy pay. 

MORE INFORMATIONSEE OUR WEBINAR REPLAY FROM 7 APRIL 2020

How do I access cash flow?

For businesses with less than $50m turnover the prior year, there is a tax free subsidy from $20,000 to $100,000 where you have employees. It applies for the period March to September 2020.

It works with your BAS when you lodge your normal PAYG statement (monthly/quarterly). The ATO will apply a credit against your account up to 100% of your PAYG payments. It appears that this means you make your payment less the credit.

Or you will receive a subsidy payment from the ATO if you have low income employees who pay no tax. The amount you receive will depend on the size of your business.

MORE INFORMATION

How can I support my apprentices/trainees?

Updated 02 April 2020

If you employ an apprentice or trainee you may be eligible for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of their wage paid from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.

The Government is supporting small business to retain their apprentices and trainees. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during the 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.

Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000, per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter).

Support will also be provided to the National Apprentice Employment Network, who are responsible for coordinating the re‑employment of displaced apprentices and trainees throughout their network of host employers across Australia.

More information 

What tax support is available?

There are a range of tax support measures available if you or your employees are affected by the coronavirus, including:

  • ATO administrative relief
  • Payment deferrals
  • Monthly GST credits
  • Pay as you go instalments
  • Remitting interest and penalties
  • Low interest payment plans

MORE INFORMATION

General Business Support

Townsville Enterprise Business Assist Hub

Townsville Enterprise has created a unique Business Assist Hub to help you manage your day to day operations with free professional support.

Use the Business Assist Hub to access checklists, downloadable templates, video resources and other valuable information to support your business.

Resources will be updated as necessary to provide you a relevant portal of useful tools. 

GO TO THE HUB HERE

Townsville City Council Support & Information

Townsville City Council has added additional measures to the multimillion-dollar support package targeted at providing extra support to small businesses feeling the effects of COVID-19. These measures could be worth up to $30 million.

MORE INFORMATION

Phone and internet provider relief

Your phone or internet provider may offer financial relief if your business has been affected by COVID-19. Find out what support Telstra and Optus are providing, or visit the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman for more advice.

MORE INFORMATION

Insurance assistance

Your insurance company may offer financial relief if your business has been affected by COVID-19. Visit the Insurance Council of Australia, or talk to your insurer, for more advice.

MORE INFORMATION

Energy and water provider relief

Your energy or water provider may offer financial relief if your business has been affected by COVID-19. Visit the Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland, or talk to your provider, for more advice.

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Banking and finance assistance

The Australian Banking Association has information on how your bank can provide support. You may be eligible for loan repayment deferrals, fee and charge waivers, interest free periods or debt consolidation.

MORE INFORMATION

Resources and fact sheets for industry

Essential cleaning and disinfection recommendations for industry.

MORE INFORMATION

Relief for commercial tenants

The Federal Government has announced a range of measures to help renters. This includes a temporary hold on evictions and a mandatory code of conduct for commercial tenancies to support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by coronavirus.

MORE INFORMATION

Support for tax obligations

Contact the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to discuss additional relief options to help you meet your tax obligations. Additional relief options are not applied automatically, so approach the ATO for assistance.

MORE INFORMATION

VISIT OUR BUSINESS ASSIST HUB

For further detail on all Federal Government business support measures, visit treasury.gov.au/coronavirus or call 13 28 46.

For further detail on all Queensland Government business support measures, visit www.business.qld.gov.au/covid-assistance or call 1300 654 687.

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