Federal Government Second $66.1bn Stimulus Package & Victorian Economic Survival Package: What You Need To Know

The Government yesterday released a second, far reaching $66.1 bn stimulus package that boosts income support payments, introduces targeted changes to the superannuation rules, provides cash flow support of up to $100,000 for small business employers, and relaxes corporate insolvency laws. 

 The stimulus measures are not yet legislated. Parliament will reconvene on Monday 23 March.

 The Prime Minister has warned that there are no “quick solutions” and that business should prepare for 6 months of disruption.

In Summary

Business

Individuals

 
The Government has flagged that additional stimulus packages will be required.

In detail

Support for business

Tax-free payments up to $100,000 for employers

The Government has increased the previously announced measures to provide cash flow support to business.

Now, eligible businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million will initially be able to access tax-free cash flow support, with the minimum amount being increased to $10,000 and the maximum amount increased to $50,000 (previously $2,000 to $25,000). However, additional support will be provided in the July – October 2020 period so that eligible entities will receive total minimum support of $20,000 and up to $100,000.

In order for a business to qualify for this support it must have been established prior to 12 March 2020. The rules are more flexible for charities because the Government recognises that new charities might be established in response to the pandemic.

The cash flow support measures will be provided in the form of a credit in the activity statement system. The support will be provided in two phases.

 The first phase ensures that eligible employers receive a credit equal to 100% of the PAYG amounts withheld from salary and wages paid to employees during the relevant period, up to the maximum amount of $50,000.

If a business pays salary and wages to employees but is not required to withhold any tax then a minimum payment of $10,000 will be made in the first phase and a further payment of $10,000 will be made in the second phase.

The credits are automatically calculated by the ATO and employers will need to lodge an activity statement to trigger the entitlement. If the credit puts the business in a refund position the excess amount will be refunded by the ATO within 14 days.

Businesses that lodge activity statements on a quarterly basis will be eligible to receive credits in the first phase for the quarters ending March 2020 and June 2020. Credits in the second phase will be available for the quarters ending June 2020 and September 2020. The minimum $10,000 payment will be applied to the first lodgement.

Business that lodge on a monthly basis will be eligible for the credits in the first phase for the March 2020, April 2020, May 2020 and June 2020 lodgements. Credits in the second phase will be available for the June 2020, July 2020, August 2020 and September lodgments. The minimum $10,000 payment will be applied to the first lodgement.

Eligibility for the measure will be based on prior year turnover. We will have to wait for the legislation for the finer details.

Not-for-profit employers, including charities, with an aggregated turnover under $50 million will also be able to access the cash flow support.

See: Cash flow assistance for businesses

Solvency safety net

A safety net has been put in place to protect businesses in temporary financial distress as a result of the pandemic by lessening the threat of actions that could unnecessarily push them into insolvency and force the winding up of the business. These include:

 A temporary 6 month increase to the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company from $2,000 to $20,000.

It will be more important than ever for business to stay on top of their debtors.

Debts incurred will still be payable by the business. Only those debts incurred in the ordinary course of the business will be subject to the safety net measures.

 See: Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

Access to working capital for SMEs – supporting lenders

The Government has announced a Coronavirus SME guarantee scheme that will guarantee 50% of new loans to SMEs up to $20 billion. These loans are new short-term unsecured loans to SMEs.

SMEs with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive these loans.

The Government will provide eligible lenders with a guarantee for loans with the following terms:

Loans will be subject to lenders’ credit assessment processes with the expectation that lenders will look through the cycle to sensibly take into account the uncertainty of the current economic conditions.

This latest measure builds on the previous initiatives to ensure small business can access capital, including:

Sole traders and self-employed eligible for Jobseeker payment

The eligibility criteria to access income support payments will be relaxed to enable the self-employed and sole traders whose income has been reduced, to access support.

More:

Temporary relief from Corporations Act requirements

The Treasurer has been given a temporary instrument-making power to amend the Corporations Act to provide relief or modifications to specific compliance obligations.

ASIC has announced measures for those companies with a 31 December financial year that need to hold their AGMs by 31 May 2020, providing a two month no action period and enabling hybrid virtual AGMs.

Individuals

Early release of superannuation

From mid-April, individuals in financial distress will be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20, and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. The withdrawals will be tax free and will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

To be eligible to access your superannuation you need to meet the following requirements:

For those eligible to access their superannuation, you can apply directly to the ATO through the myGov website from mid-April.


More: Early access to superannuation

Temporary reduction in minimum superannuation draw down rates

Superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products will be reduced by 50% in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Age
Default minimum drawdown rates (%)
Reduced rates by 50 per cent for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 income years (%)
Under 65
4
2
65-74
5
2.5
75-79
6
3
80-84
7
3.5
85-89
9
4.5
90-94
11
5.5
95 or more
14
7

 

The upper and lower social security deeming rates will be reduced further. As of 1 May 2020, the upper deeming rate will be 2.25% and the lower deeming rate 0.25%.

 More: Providing support for retirees

Time limited fortnightly $550 ‘coronavirus supplement’

For the next 6 months, the Government is introducing a new Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This supplement will be paid to both existing and new recipients in the eligible payment categories.

The payment will be made to those receiving:

In addition, eligibility to income support payments will be expanded to:

The Government notes that these criteria could include those required to care for someone affected by the Coronavirus.

Asset testing has also been reduced and will be waived for 6 months. Income testing will still apply.

The payment is not available if you have access to any employer entitlements such as annual or sick leave or income protection insurance.

 More: Income support for individuals

Second $750 payment to households

The Government is now providing two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders residing in Australia (see the full list here). The payment will be exempt from taxation and will not count as income for the purposes of Social Security, Farm Household Allowance and Veteran payments.

 Payment 1 from 31 March 2020 (previously announced on 12 March): Available to people who are eligible payment recipients and concession card holders at any time between 12 March 2020 to 13 April 2020;

 The payments will be made automatically to those that meet the criteria.

 
More: Payments to support households

Bankruptcy safety net

A temporary 6 month increase to the threshold for the minimum amount of debt required for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against a debtor will increase from $5,000 to $20,000. In addition, the time a debtor has to respond to a bankruptcy notice will be temporarily increased from 21 days to six months.

 Where someone declares their intention to enter voluntary bankruptcy, the period of protection from unsecured creditors will be extended from 21 days to 6 months.

More: Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

More information:

Victorian Government Announcements

In addition to the Ferderal Governments Second Stimulus Package announcement, the Victorian Government has announced tax measures to support businesses through Victoria’s State of Emergency, as part of a broader economic survival package in response to COVID-19.

This includes:

Payroll tax waived

Businesses with annual taxable wages up to $3 million will have their payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year waived.

Eligible businesses must continue to lodge returns but do not need to make further payments for this financial year.

The State Revenue Office will directly contact eligible businesses in relation to reimbursement for payroll tax already paid in the financial year.

These businesses can also defer paying payroll tax for the first quarter of the 2020-21 financial year.

More information about the administration of these relief measures will be sent directly to eligible businesses.

Liquor licence fees waived

Businesses that have paid for a renewable liquor licence for 2020 will be reimbursed their licence fee and those yet to pay will have the fee waived.

The State Revenue Office will administer the reimbursement, regardless of whether the licence fee was paid to it or the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation.

Land tax deferral

Land owners due to pay 2020 land tax that have at least one non-residential property and total taxable landholdings below $1 million have the option of deferring their 2020 land tax payment until after 31 December 2020.

The State Revenue Office will contact all taxpayers who are eligible for this deferral

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