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What the changes to government COVID-19 support mean for you

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On 21 July 2020, the Prime Minister announced major changes and extensions to the key government COVID-19 supports – JobKeeper and JobSeeker. Here’s what the changes could mean for you.

JobKeeper

The JobKeeper Payment, which was originally due to run until 27 September 2020, will now continue to be available until 28 March 2021. 

The payment rate will be reduced and a lower payment rate will be introduced for those who work fewer hours. Other eligibility rules remain unchanged.

What will recipients get?

From 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, the JobKeeper payment rates will be:

  • $1,200 per fortnight for all eligible employees who, in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020, were working in the business for 20 hours or more a week on average, and for eligible business participants (such as sole traders) who were actively engaged in the business for 20 hours or more per week on average in the month of February 2020; and

  • $750 per fortnight for other eligible employees and business participants, such as part-time workers who worked in the business for less than 20 hours a week.

From 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021, the JobKeeper payment rates will be:

  • $1,000 per fortnight for all eligible employees who, in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020, were working in the business for 20 hours or more a week on average and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business for 20 hours or more per week on average in the month of February 2020; and

  • $650 per fortnight for other eligible employees and business participants.

Which businesses are eligible?

In order to be eligible for the JobKeeper payment after 27 September 2020, businesses and not-for-profits will have to meet a further decline in turnover test for each of the two periods of extension, as well as meeting the other existing eligibility requirements for the JobKeeper Payment.  

In order to be eligible for the first JobKeeper payment extension period of 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, businesses and not-for-profits will need to demonstrate that their actual GST turnover has significantly fallen in the both the June quarter 2020 (April, May and June) and the September quarter 2020 (July, August, September) relative to comparable periods (generally the corresponding quarters in 2019).

In order to be eligible for the second JobKeeper payment extension period of 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021, businesses and not-for-profits will again need to demonstrate that their actual GST turnover has significantly fallen in each of the June, September and December 2020 quarters relative to comparable periods (generally the corresponding quarters in 2019). 

A significant fall in turnover is as quantified as follows:

  • 50 per cent for businesses with an aggregated turnover of more than $1 billion;

  • 30 per cent for businesses with an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less; or

  • 15 per cent for Australian Charities and Not for profits Commission-registered charities (excluding schools and universities).

The Commissioner of Taxation will have discretion to set out alternative tests that establish eligibility in specific circumstances where it is not appropriate to compare actual turnover in a quarter in 2020 with actual turnover in a quarter in 2019, for instance where turnover in the relevant 2019 quarter was depressed due to the impact of a natural disaster or where the business made a significant acquisition or disposal rendering the 2019 comparison meaningless.

Which employees are eligible?

The eligibility rules for employees are unchanged. If you are eligible for JobKeeper now, you will remain eligible during the extension period, provided you remain employed by your employer.

The self‐employed will continue to be eligible to receive the JobKeeper payment where they meet the relevant turnover test, and are not a permanent employee of another employer. 

JobSeeker

The Government will continue to pay the Coronavirus Supplement to eligible income support recipients until 31 December 2020, however the amount that recipients get will fall.

The Coronavirus Supplement will continue to be $550 per fortnight for payments up to and including the reporting period ending 24 September 2020.

From 25 September 2020 to 31 December 2020, the Supplement amount will be $250 per fortnight.

 

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