JobKeeper Stimulus Package - What, Why, Who and When

We've summarised the latest information on the JobKeeper Stimulus package to help businesses and not for profit organisations. Here is an overview of what you need to know including the what, why, who and when.

WHAT

JobKeeper is an Australian Federal Government stimulus package which will pay eligible businesses and not for profit organisations $1,500 per fortnight, per employee from the time of qualification to the end of September.  While this is a stimulus payment to businesses, it will be administered by the Australian Taxation office (ATO).

WHY

The Government recognises that the 2020 COVID-19 health pandemic is also a significant financial crisis that has caused many businesses to shut and others to slow down and cut staff.  The Government recognises that by helping businesses now to keep employing individuals, those businesses should be able to recover faster and help stimulate economic growth as Australia emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO

JobKeeper is a stimulus payment to a business.  To be eligible, businesses must satisfy a number of criteria:

  • Business Test;
  • Reduction in Turnover Test;
  • Eligible Employee Test;
  • Wage Test; and, if applicable
  • Business Participant Test; and
  • Application and ongoing reporting.

Business Test

A business entity must be able to prove it was in business  the prior year (by lodging 2019 income tax return showing business income), or have lodged activity statements between 1 July 2019 and 12 March 2020, demonstrating business income) and have had an Australian Business Number (ABN) at 1 March 2020.

Reduction in Turnover Test

A business must show that its Projected Turnover for a test period has fallen by a relevant percentage over a comparison period.

“Projected Turnover” is a GST term and is the value of all supplies an entity has made, or is likely to make in that period.  When projecting turnover for the relevant period, there must be a reasonable expectation based on all of the facts and circumstances available at the time.  If businesses are forecasting a reduction in turnover, they should keep evidence of why there is an expectation of a reduction in turnover to that extent. 

Example:

A Café business that normally earns 70% of its business income from eat in trade, could reasonably expect a fall in turnover of more than 30% if Government rules now prevent dine-in customers.   It may be more difficult for other types of businesses to forecast the level of any reduction.     

A business that can demonstrate a reasonable expectation on the balance of probabilities that its turnover will fall by more than the relevant threshold for its selected test period will satisfy this test, even if the actual turnover does not fall by that amount.

If a business is unable to demonstrate a fall in turnover with the same period in 2019 due to various circumstances eg not in business in that month in 2019, or extenuating circumstances where that period in 2019 was low, then the Commissioner has discretion to set out alternate tests. 

A “test period” is any calendar month from March 2020 – September 2020, or any of the June 2020 or September 2020 quarters.  In most cases, the relevant “comparison period” is the equivalent month in 2019.  Eg if a business can demonstrate its turnover in the month of April 2020 is at least 30% lower than the month of April 2019, they should satisfy the test.

Even if a business predicts its turnover will not fall initially, it may apply at a later date if it can demonstrate its business will apply in a later month.  

Relevant Turnover Percentage Reduction

  • 15% - applies to an ACNC registered charity (other than universities and schools);
  • 30% - applies to businesses with aggregated turnover of < $1 Billion;
  • 50% - applies to businesses with aggregated turnover of $1 Billion or more.

Aggregated turnover is the turnover for a year of the relevant entity, any entity that it controls and any entity that controls it (> 40% control test).

Anti-Avoidance rules and audits

The rules include anti-avoidance provisions to prevent access to the JobKeeper stimulus if a business artificially creates a situation to gain access to the JobKeeper stimulus.  If a business is found to have participated in a scheme to access the stimulus, when it may not otherwise have been entitled, it will be required to repay the stimulus.  In addition, significant penalties may apply.

As the administration of the stimulus payments is being managed by the ATO, we expect audit resources will be devoted to reviewing eligibility.  All businesses should keep appropriate records to substantiate the ‘reasonable expectation’ that the projected turnover will fall by more than 30%.  Examples of relevant records will include cancelled orders, industry statistics, cash flow forecasts with background supporting evidence. 

We recommend you contact your Mazars advisor to assist with the relevant supporting evidence.

Eligible Employee Test

For every fortnight a business requires a JobKeeper subsidy, they must have an Eligible Employee. The relevant individual must:

  • Have been employed by the business on 1 March 2020 (other than a casual employee of < 1-year service);
  • Be over 16 years old;
  • On 1 March 2020 was an Australian resident, or a New Zealand citizen that was an Australian tax resident holding a Subclass 444 visa ;
  • During the relevant fortnight be an employee;
  • Not in receipt of paid parental leave or workers compensation; and
  • Have agreed to be nominated as an eligible employee and confirm they are not an eligible employee of another employer

If a person was terminated after 1 March and subsequently rehired, they can be an eligible employee.

Wage Test

The employer must pay each eligible employee at least $1,500 per fortnight.  The $1,500 can include:

  • Normal salary and wages subject to Pay As You Go (PAYG) withholding;
  • Salary sacrificed superannuation contributions; and
  • Other amounts dealt with on behalf of the employee (eg for salary sacrificing arrangements).

For wages paid less frequently than fortnightly (eg monthly), then the wages will pass the test if the extrapolated wage would exceed the $1,500 per fortnight.

For employees that normally earn less than $1,500 per fortnight, the employer will need to top up the employee to $1,500 in order to qualify.  For example, a Café worker earns $1,250 per fortnight. The Café owner makes a decision to pay a ‘top up’ payment of $250 per fortnight.  This means the employee would be an eligible employee for JobKeeper.  The employee is better off through extra pay.  The business is better off as it received $1,500 per fortnight stimulus from the Government. The owner will not need to pay superannuation on the additional $250 payment.

Business Participant Test

Certain closely held businesses might have individuals actively involved that do not draw a wage.  These businesses can also nominate one ‘business participant’ to receive a JobKeeper payment in relation to that individual.  Business Participants are limited depending on the business structure:

Type of Business                  Participant

Sole trader                            Business Owner

Partnership                            A partner

Discretionary Trust                 An adult beneficiary of the trust

Company                               A director or shareholder of the company

The eligibility rules for employees also apply to the business participant (apart from employment).

For example, a business is operated out of a discretionary trust.  A husband and wife are the main individuals who operate the business and do not draw a wage for themselves, but receive a discretionary distribution at the end of the year.  The trustee is able to nominate only one of the key individuals in relation to the JobKeeper payment.

Ineligible Businesses

Certain organisations are ineligible for the JobKeeper stimulus

  • Any Government employer (Federal, State, Territory, or Local Government) and companies wholly owned by such Government;
  • A business subject to the Major Bank Levy;
  • A company in liquidation; and
  • An individual that has a trustee in bankruptcy appointed.

Superannuation Obligations

If your employee normally received more than $1,500 per fortnight, then normal 9.5% superannuation obligations must be adhered to for the entire payment.

If your employee normally only received less than $1,500 per fortnight and the employer makes a top-up payment, to bring the total payment to $1,500, then the top-up payment will not be subject to  superannuation guarantee, but the normal wage will be.

In the instance where you are unable to provide your employee with any useful employment and they are stood down however they are still paid, the $1,500 JobKeeper payment would be passed on and no superannuation guarantee should apply where there are no 'ordinary time earnings'.

WHEN

JobKeeper applies from the fortnight commencing on 30 March 2020, until fortnight ending on 27 September 2020 for eligible businesses.   Businesses will be required to apply to the Commissioner of Taxation in the approved form before the end of the JobKeeper fortnight that it wishes to be entitled to payment for that fortnight.

For early adopters, businesses that can demonstrate their turnover fell by the relevant percentage in March, or project their turnover will fall by the relevant percentage in April, and wish to apply for JobKeeper payments from 30 March, the business will need to apply by 26 April 2020.

The ATO will pay the first payment in early May.  Thereafter, it will make payments monthly within 14 days of the end of the month in which the JobKeeper fortnights occurred.

Application

The application process will be managed by the ATO.  The ATO will release an online enrolment form on 20 April 2020.  We expect the application form will require reporting of:

  • Projected Turnover of the business for the relevant test period and comparison period;
  • Numbers of eligible employees; and
  • Details of the bank account for the ATO to make payment

From 4 May, a business can identify their actual eligible employees through a pre-filled Single Touch Payroll report, or a manual form. 

For every eligible employee, the employer should inform them that the business intends to claim JobKeeper and get a statement from the employee that they are eligible and have not been nominated by another employer.  It also needs to notify the employee within 7 days of application. 

The ATO has released limited details of the application process on its website.

Once eligible, each business will continue to be required to notify turnover for actual and comparison periods within seven days of the end of each month or quarter. It will also need to continue to notify of all eligible employees each month.

The JobKeeper rules provide significant powers to the ATO to administer the stimulus and we expect further guidance to be released over the coming weeks.

WHAT DO I DO NOW?

The ATO have released the JobKeeper Employee Nomination Notice which you will need to get each of your eligible employees to complete prior to enrolling for the JobKeeper Payment. This notice serves two purposes, to notify your eligible employees that you intend to participate in the scheme and to ask your employees if they agree to be nominated and receive payments from you as part of the scheme. Businesses need to be reviewing their March turnover and assessing their Projected Turnover for each month from April through to September and comparing it with the same period in 2019.  New businesses should be reviewing recent turnover as a potential ‘comparison period’.  If there is a real expectation of a significant drop in turnover, evidence needs to be gathered to substantiate the drop.

An assessment needs to be made of all eligible employees and businesses need to be prepared to make an application.

Mazars can help businesses with projections of turnover and applications for the JobKeeper stimulus. We also have a team of human resources and employer relations specialists who assist with managing your workplace during these unprecedented times. Please contact your usual Mazars advisor or one of our tax specialists below for more information:

Brisbane – Jamie Towers

Melbourne – Evan Beissel

Sydney – Gaibrielle Cleary

+61 7 3218 3900

+61 3 9252 0800

+61 2 9922 1166

 

Published: 15/4/2020

Please note that this publication is intended to provide a general summary and should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal advice.

All rights reserved. This publication in whole or in part may not be reproduced, distributed or used in any manner whatsoever without the express prior and written consent of the Mazars, except for the use of brief quotations in the press, in social media or in another communication tool, as long as Mazars and the source of the publication are duly mentioned. In all cases, Mazars’ intellectual property rights are protected and the Mazars Group shall not be liable for any use of this publication by third parties, either with or without Mazars’ prior authorisation. Also please note that this publication is intended to provide a general summary and should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal advice. Content is accurate as at the date published.

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