The commercial disruption caused by the Omicron variant has been deemed sufficient by the NSW Government to warrant a 2022 Business Support Package. It has been noted that the rapid transmission of the coronavirus variant has triggered a “shadow” lockdown whereby significant numbers of ordinary customers are shunning public places including retail, hospitality & entertainment venues, among others. From mid-February, the small businesses hardest hit by the shadow lockdowns will be entitled to claim targeted relief for a limited period.
Four different measures have been announced and are highlighted below:
Small Business Support Program
This is, in effect, an extension of JobSaver and is available for eligible businesses that had an aggregated annual turnover of between $75,000 and $50 million (inclusive) for the year ended 30 June 2021. To qualify, they must have experienced, for two separate periods, the following:
- A decline in turnover of 40% or more due to Public Health Orders or the impacts of the Omicron COVID-19 strain during the month of January 2022, compared to January 2021 or January 2020; and
- A decline in turnover of 40% or more due to the impacts of the Omicron COVID-19 strain from 1-14 February 2022, compared to the same fortnight in February in the comparison year used for the above criterion.
It appears that eligible employing businesses must maintain their employee headcount as at 30 January 2022 until 28 February 2022.
Eligible businesses will receive 20% of weekly payroll as a lump sum for the month of February only, with a minimum payment of $750 per week and a maximum payment of $5,000 per week. Non-employing businesses will receive $500 per week (paid as a lump sum of $2,000).
Small Business Fees, Charges and RAT Rebate
The Rebate, which commenced in the first half of 2021, was originally applied to offset Government fees and charges such as food authority licences, liquor licences, tradesperson licences, event fees, outdoor seating fees, council rates and road user tolls for business use. Eligible employing small businesses will now also be able to use the rebate to cover half the cost of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs).
The rebate has been increased from $2,000 to $3,000. Already registered businesses will receive an automatic top up of $1,000 and newly registering businesses will receive a rebate of $3,000.
Commercial Landlord Hardship Grant
The protections, since July 2021, under the Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2021 (the Regulation) for small retail and commercial tenants will be extended for an additional two months, until 13 March 2022. The Regulation prohibits certain actions by landlords (such as lock out or eviction) unless they have first renegotiated rent with eligible tenants and attempted mediation.
Grants of up to $3,000 per month (GST inclusive), per property, are available for eligible landlords who have provided rental relief waivers to affected tenants. The rent relief fully waived (as opposed to mere deferrals of rent) must comprise at least half of any rental reduction provided.
This Grant first appeared in the second half of 2021. The qualification rules for the 2022 version of the Grant remain to be announced including whether it is available for landlords who claimed 2021 land tax relief.
Performing Arts Package
This package provides financial support to relaunch the performing arts sector in line with the NSW Government roadmap to recovery, which has been extended to April 2022.
To be eligible for funding, the applicant MUST be one of the following:
- An eligible venue (list published by Create NSW)
- A producer of an eligible performance scheduled to perform at one of the eligible venues
- A promoter of an eligible performance scheduled to perform at one of the eligible venues.
The NSW Government has given only limited information on the identification of eligible venues and the evidencing of eligible performances.
Funding is to be provided for eligible performances staged between 19 September 2021 and 30 April 2022. The funding amount per performance (capped at a maximum of $12.5m) will be calculated using a formula of average ticket price multiplied by the number of tickets available for sale (capped at 10,000).
Mazars will provide more detail on the programs, their qualification rules and the calculation of the support available to an individual business when those details are announced.
Please contact your usual Mazars advisor for more information or how these may affect you or your business, or alternatively contact our NSW indirect tax specialist, Stephen Baxter on +61 2 9922 1166.
Author: Stephen Baxter
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