COVID-19: what the Australian economic rescue packages mean for your real estate business

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March 25, 2020
9
min read

Things are moving fast in this new COVID-19 world. We want to do our bit and help you stay informed, so please bookmark this page where we will be bringing together information relevant to the property industry as it happens. The information in this blog post is current as at 10:30am on 20 April 2020. However, it is intended as a guide only. Please make sure you stay informed as this event continues to unfold.Rolling updates[20 April] The NSW government has announced it will inject more than $14 million into the Business Connect program, to assist small and medium enterprises become sustainable and increase business confidence. Finance, digital and innovation specialists and more are available to help you devise a new marketing strategy or consider new technology to increase your team's efficiency, for example. Find out more here.[3 April] The NSW government has announced a third wave of support measures, the most significant of which is the Small Business Support Fund. Through this fund, eligible small businesses will receive grants of up to $10,000. Eligibility criteria includes a 75% decline in turnover. Applications are open until 1 June.[30 March] Today, the Federal Government announced the $130 billion JobKeeper Payment—a huge move to shore up economic certainty across the country. In a nutshell, it's a fortnightly wage subsidy for those business who have been most impacted. Hopefully, it will save many from having to make the difficult decision to lay staff off, or significantly reduce their wages.Details around eligibility and other specifics are contained in the government's fact sheet and information for employers, but here's what you should know:

  • Employers with a turnover of less than $1 billion will be eligible if their turnover has been reduced by more than 30%
  • Employers with a turnover of $1 billion or more will be eligible if their turnover will be reduced by more than 50%
  • the Federal Government will provide $1,500 per fortnight, per employee for up to 6 months

If you believe your business will be eligible, you need to make an application to the ATO. Business will be able to register from 30 March 2020, and those eligible business will receive the first payments in the first week of May. You can register for updates on the ATO's website.[26 March] The NSW government has announced a second round of economic stimulus measures to help businesses. It includes the creation of a $1 Working for NSW fund to sustain business, among other things. This new package extends the payroll deferral to those business with payrolls of $10 million or less for an additional three months (so, six months in total). Those with payrolls of over $10 million dollars are also able to defer payroll tax for six months.

What the Australian stimulus packages mean for businesses:

The Federal Government has released two stimulus packages. The first on March 12, and the second on March 22.To sum up:

  • Massive instant asset write-offs have been introduced, effective immediately, which effectively allow you to write off assets up to $150,000 with an immediate tax deduction (rather than depreciating over time). If you need new cars, computers and tech equipment, fit-out, office furniture, or TVs, now could be the best time to act. The assets need to be purchased and in use by June 30 2020.
  • The Government is also introducing a time limited 15 month investment incentive, which will give businesses a 50 per cent deduction on the cost of eligible assets.
  • Eligible small and medium businesses with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million, that have employees, can access grants of up to $50,000. Businesses will now also receive the grants twice, meaning businesses could be eligible to receive up to $100,000. (This is an increase to the $25,000 grant announced in the government’s first stimulus package).
  • If you’re a sole trader or your turnover has been reduced by at least 20%, you could consider withdrawing $10,000 of your superannuation this financial year and another $10,000 next financial year to use as an emergency cash injection. Of course, this option is subject to hardship criteria and specific fund terms and conditions (and when making decisions on Super, you should seek financial advice to explore the best possible option for you.)
  • Additionally, employees who have lost income may access supplementary payments for the next six months of $550 to $1100 a fortnight upwards with no waiting period. Importantly, you will not be asset tested. The demand in the first few hours has been so big that the MyGov website crashed.

For more information about the different types of support available, visit the government’s Coronavirus information and support for business website.In addition, on 19 March the Reserve Bank of Australia announced a $90 billion three-year funding facility to help banks continue to lend to businesses—who in turn will spend and invest, and keep workers in jobs.Each state government has also put new measures into place.

Queensland

The Queensland Government announced an Immediate Industry Recovery Package on 24 March. To sum up:

  • This package overhauls the original payroll tax relief measure, announced on 2 March. Instead, two months' worth of payroll tax will be immediately refunded to small and medium businesses and the next three months' worth of payroll tax will be waived. Larger businesses (those with a payroll over $6.5 million) affected by COVID-19 will also be eligible for the two-month payroll tax refund and have their deferral extended for all of 2020.
  • This means no Queensland business impacted by COVID-19 will have to make a payroll tax payment this year. Hundreds of businesses have already taken up this initial offer, and we encourage you to apply as soon as possible (noting that the refund application must be lodged before 31 May 2020).
  • Small and medium businesses that consume less than 100,000 kilowatt hours will receive $500 an automatic rebate on electricity bills.
  • A $500 million loan facility will be created to support businesses. Loans will be capped at $250,000, with an initial 12-month interest free period for businesses to retain staff. You can register your interest here.
  • There will be some assistance for large businesses to “ensure they will be able to scale up and service the community when economic activity improves.” However, limited information is currently available and those interested are encouraged to email COVID19ISP@treasury.qld.gov.au for more details.

Western Australia

On 16 March, the Western Australia Government announced its own economic stimulus package, which includes an automatic one-off $17,500 grant to payroll tax-paying businesses with a payroll between $1 to 4 million as well as payroll deferment.

New South Wales

It’s a similar story in New South Wales, where $450 million of the $2.3 billion coronavirus stimulus package announced on 17 March has been allocated to waive payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months. This package also brings forward the next round of payroll tax cuts by raising the threshold limit to $1 million for the 2020-21 financial year.

Victoria

On 21 March, The Victorian Government announced an economic survival and jobs package providing full payroll tax refunds for the current financial year to small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million. Payroll tax will also be deferred for the first three months of next financial year, for eligible small businesses. The City of Melbourne has also announced its own economic stimulus package, however agencies are unlikely to be eligible for any relief under those measures.

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, the state government announced on 18 March that eligible businesses will also receive a $10,000 grant for upgrades, and another $10,000 if they contribute $10,000 of their own money. The Territory Labor Government also announced a $50 million Small Business Survival Fund on 23 March, however application processes and criteria are not yet available.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, small businesses (with turnovers less than $10 million) can access up to $40 million via the Small Business Interest Free Loan Scheme. Small businesses will also have their electricity bills waived for the quarter, from April.

South Australia

The South Australian Government has injected an extra $650 million into its stimulus measures, taking the total package to take $1 billion. The package includes the establishment of the Business and Jobs Support Fund, which will be support affected individual businesses and industry sectors. Details of the package are not yet available so please continue to check the government’s webpage for updates.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT Government announced a stimulus package on 20 March, which includes payroll tax deferral for eligible businesses. More information is available at the ACT’s Economic Survival Package website. Business could be eligible to receive:

  • $2,622 credit for commercial rates bills.
  • A one-off $750 rebate to small businesses (reflected in the next electricity bill).
  • payroll deferral. Businesses that pay up to $10 million in wages will be able to defer payroll tax for 12 months. Other affected industries will receive a one-off six-month waiver on payroll tax.

Please note that the above only outlines the current relief available for businesses. You, your family and friends may also be entitled to personal and/or household assistance, and we encourage you to check your local state government website. Australian business impacted by COVID-19 can call the Government helpline: 13 28 46.

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