We are keeping you in the loop as the Government and ATO roll out stimulus packages and other assistance in the wake of COVID-19.


Please note Melbourne is currently in Stage 4 Lockdown, and there are strict new regulations about leaving the house, including a curfew from 8pm-5am every day. Please see the Victorian Government website for full details. 

Stay tuned for future updates. 

Contents:

Victorian Lockdown Updates

Australian Government Stimulus Packages 

JobKeeper Allowance & Extension to 2021

Victorian Resilience Package

Victorian Worker Support Scheme - for those who test positive and cannot work

SME Guarantee Scheme 

Victorian Hospitality Grant 

ATO Assistance

Victorian Economic Survival Package

Tax Relief for Landlords

Victorian Business Support Fund

Superannuation Updates

Commercial Rent Relief Package

Business Helpline - 13 28 46

Financial Hardship Helplines

Mental Health Resources

The Jobs Hub

Click to skip to relevant section.


Victorian Lockdown Updates

A "roadmap" to easing restrictions in Metropolitan Melbourne and Regional Victoria was announced on Sunday 6 September. 

This step-by-step guide is subject to change based on case numbers and other factors. Make sure you get updates from trusted sources such as the Victorian Government website

From 28 September 2020:


Metropolitan Melbourne is now in "Step Two" out of lockdown.

Some of the key changes to lockdown include:

  • Curfew abolished.
  • Can leave home for school or permitted work (if these cannot be done from home), care or caregiving, to purchase essentials, exercise and recreation.
  • Increased workforce for some industries, including supermarkets and manufacturing (among others).
  • Groups of up to five from across a maximum of two households can meet outdoors for social interaction.
  • Personal training can resume outdoors with a maximum of two people and their trainer.
  • Childcare centres can reopen from today, with kinder to open from Term 4, and schools to have a staggered return to face-to-face learning.
  • Face to face medical services available for non-urgent care and some elective surgeries.
  • Fitted face mask must be worn. Bandannas, scarves and face shield alone are no longer deemed acceptable face coverings.
  • 5km rule still applies
  • Restaurants and cafes open for takeaway and delivery only

Click here for full Metropolitan Melbourne roadmap.

From 16 September 2020:


Regional Victoria
:

  • No restrictions on leaving home
  • Spend time with others outside where possible
  • Public gatherings: up to 10 people outdoors
  • Visitors allowed at home from 1 other household (up to 5 people)
  • Schools return to onsite learning from Term 4 with safety measures
  • Hospitality open for predominantly outdoor seated service only
  • All retail open, including tattoo parlours and beauty services

Click here for full Regional Victoria roadmap. 

Australian Government Stimulus Packages

The Government has announced numerous investment packages Australia-wide to support the economy.  A full list is available on the ATO website

For business

  • Business investment
  • Increase and extension of the instant asset write-off
  • Accelerated depreciation deductions
  • Cash flow assistance for small and medium sized business
  • Wage subsidy of up to 50% of an apprentice or trainee wage
  • Targeted support for severely affected sectors, regions and communities
  • Tax-free payments up to $100,000 for small business and not-for-profit employers. An increase in the previously announced initial tax-free payments for employers to a maximum of $50,000. In addition to this, a second round of payments will be made up to a maximum of $50,000, accessible from July 2020. 
  • Solvency safety net – temporary 6 month increase to the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company from $2,000 to $20,000, and an increase in the time companies have to respond from 21 days to 6 months. Directors also are provided with temporary relief from personal liability for trading while insolvent for 6 months.
  • Access to working capital – Introduction of a Coronavirus SME guarantee scheme protecting financial institutions by guaranteeing 50% of new loans to SMEs.
  • Sole traders and self-employed eligible for Jobseeker payment – the eligibility criteria to access income support relaxed for the self-employed and sole traders.
  • Temporary relief from some Corporations Act requirements

For individuals

  • Household stimulus payments to drive cash into the economy
  • Tax-free $750 payment to social welfare recipients
  • Early release of superannuation – individuals in financial distress 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.
  • Temporary reduction in minimum superannuation draw down rates – superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account based pensions and similar products reduced by 50% in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
  • Deeming rates reduced – from 1 May, superannuation deeming rates reduced further to a lower rate of 0.25% and upper rate of 2.25%.
  • Supplements increased, access extended and eased – for 6 months from 27 April 2020:
  • A temporary coronavirus supplement of $550 will be paid to existing income support recipients (people will receive their normal payment plus $550 each fortnight for 6 months).
  • A second one-off stimulus payment of $750 will be paid automatically from 13 June 2020 to certain income support recipients (in addition to the payment made from 31 March 2020).
  • Eligibility for access to income support eased to include sole traders and the self-employed, and to those caring for someone infected or in isolation.
  • Waiting periods and assets tests temporarily waived.  
  • Bankruptcy safety net – temporary 6 month increase to the threshold for the minimum amount of debt required for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against a debtor from $5,000 to $20,000.

This is just a summary of the changes being made. For full details please read here.


JobKeeper Allowance & Extension

JobKeeper Extension to 2021

Employer Eligibility
On 21 July, the Government announced it is extending the JobKeeper Payment until 28 March 2021 and is targeting support to those organisations which continue to be significantly impacted by the Coronavirus.

From 28 September 2020, businesses and not-for-profits seeking to claim JobKeeper Payment will be required to re-assess their eligibility for the JobKeeper extension with reference to their actual turnover in the September quarter 2020. Businesses and not-for-profits will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant decline in turnover test in this quarter to be eligible for JobKeeper from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021.


Employee Eligibility
The reference date for assessing which employees are eligible for the JobKeeper Payment is now 1 July 2020 with effect from 3 August 2020. The reference period for employees regarding their hours worked to determine their tier of payment will be the two fortnightly pay periods prior to 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020. The period with the higher number of hours is to be used for employees who were eligible at 1 March 2020.


Read more about changing eligibility criteria here

Download a copy of the JobKeeper Extension Fact Sheet here. 


Victorian Business Resilience Package

The Victorian Government has announced the "Business Resilience Package" (previously called the "Business Survival and Adaptation Package"). It will provide $3 billion in cash grants, tax relief and cash flow support to Victorian businesses, and includes a third phase of the Business Support Fund grant program.

The federal and Victorian governments have also agreed to make the grants to small and medium business under Victoria’s Business Resilience Package exempt from income tax. More details here

Here's how that $3 billion will be allocated...

Business Support:

  • Small and medium sized business ($822 million): including the third round of the Business Support Fund (details above). 
  • Licensed Hospitality Business ($251 million): Grants of up to $30,000 for licensed pubs, clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants and reception centres, based on their venue capacity and location. Click for more details.
  • Business Chambers and Trader Groups ($3 million): A competitive grants program to support metropolitan and regional business chambers and trader groups.
  • Alpine businesses ($4.3 million): Grants of up to $20,000 to help alpine businesses pay a service charge to Alpine Resort Management Boards.
  • Sole Trader Support Fund. Grants of up to $3,000 to over 30,000 eligible sole traders who operate from a commercial premises or location to which the sole operator is the tenant or licensee.

Business Adaptation:

  • $20 million voucher program to assist sole traders and small businesses in building their digital capability
  • $15.7 million package to help Victorian exporters get their products to market and establish new trade channels.
  • $8.5 million expansion to the ‘Click for Vic’ campaign to encourage more Victorians to support local businesses.
  • $87.5 million Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package to support hospitality businesses prepare for COVID Normal reopening across Victoria.
  • $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund between the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne to support Melbourne on the roadmap for reopening to COVID Normal in the lead up to Christmas and during summer.

Waivers & Deferrals:

  • $1.7 billion to defer payroll tax for businesses with payrolls up to $10 million for the full 2020-21 financial year
  • $41 million to bring forward the 50% stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial property for all of Regional Victoria
  • $33 million to defer the planned increase in the landfill levy for six months
  • $30 million to waive 25% of the Congestion Levy this year, with the outstanding balance deferred.
  • $27 million in liquor license fee waivers for 2021
  • $6 million to waive Vacant Residential Land Tax for vacancies in 2020.


See Business Victoria website for updates.


Worker Support Scheme & Extension

Under the current scheme, a one-off payment of $1,500 is available to workers who are unable to work during their isolation, have no income during this period, and are not entitled to any paid sick leave, special pandemic leave or other income support.

The Government will now extend the scheme to ensure that as soon as a person is tested, they will be eligible for a $300 support payment from the Victorian Government – as long as they meet the eligibility of the existing scheme.

This will ensure workers don’t have to pay the price for following health advice while they are waiting for their results – meaning they can afford to isolate immediately and avoid spreading the virus further through workplaces.

More information available on the DHHS website. 

Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme

Under the existing Scheme, the Government is providing support to SMEs in partnership with 44 approved lenders by guaranteeing 50% of new unsecured loans to SMEs. 

The next phase of the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme will help businesses move out of hibernation, successfully adapt to the new COVID-safe economy and invest for the future.

Key changes to the Scheme include:

  • Extending the purpose of loans able to be provided beyond working capital, such that a wider range of investment can be funded;
  • Permitting secured lending (excluding commercial or residential property);
  • Increasing the maximum loan size to $1 million (from $250,000) per borrower;
  • Increasing the maximum loan term to five years (from three years); and
  • Allowing lenders the discretion to offer a repayment holiday period.

The expanded Scheme will shift from providing access to working capital to helping businesses stay afloat during the crisis to now also enabling them to access more affordable and longer term credit so that they can invest for their future.

The initial phase of the Scheme remains available for new loans issued by eligible lenders until 30 September 2020. The second phase of the Scheme will start on 1 October 2020 and will be available until 30 June 2021.

Victorian Hospitality Grant

Food service businesses that are affected by Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions across Victoria may be eligible for a one-off, $25,000 grant under the Hospitality Business Grant Program.

If an eligible business operates more than one premises, the business may be eligible for an additional grant amount of $5,000 for each additional premise in Victoria, capped at a total of $20,000 (excluding GST).

An additional grant of $20,000 will also be available to eligible businesses operating in a CBD location with the postcodes 3000 (Melbourne), 3005 (World Trade Centre), 3006 (Southbank) and 3008 (Docklands).

To be eligible for a grant, your business must:

  • Operate a business with premises located in Victoria; and
  • Operate a restaurant, cafe, pub, bar, club, reception centre, coffee and dessert outlet or takeaway food venue that serves patrons and hold a Class 2 or 3 Service Sector – Certificate of Registration under the Food Act 1984 (Vic); and
  • Have an annual payroll of greater than $3 million and lower than $10 million in
    2019-20; and
  • Be registered for Goods and Services Tax (GST) on 30 June 2020; and
  • Hold an Australian Business Number (ABN) and have held that ABN at 30 June 2020; and
  • Be registered with the responsible Federal or State regulator.

Please note businesses that have received funding under the Victorian Live Music Venues Program and/or the Business Support Fund - Expansion program are not eligible for funding through this program.

Further details and applications available on the Business Victoria website

ATO Administrative Relief

In order to assist taxpayers during this uncertain time, the ATO is introducing administrative relief measures and pledging flexibility.

This includes:

  • Up to a four-month deferral of the payment date of amounts due through the business activity statement, including PAYG instalments, income tax assessments, fringe benefits tax assessments and excise.
  • The ATO will allow quarterly GST reporting businesses to opt into monthly GST reporting in order to get quicker access to GST refunds they may be entitled to.
  • Businesses will be allowed to vary pay-as-you-go (PAYG) instalment amounts to zero for the March 2020 quarter.
  • Businesses that vary their PAYG instalment to zero will also be allowed to claim a refund for any instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters.
  • The ATO will also look to remit any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities.
  • Businesses can pay tax liabilities by allowing them to enter low interest payment plans.


The ATO will establish a temporary shop front in Cairns within the next few weeks to support the region’s small businesses. Other initiatives to bring support to the communities are being considered.

Victorian Economic Survival Package 

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.

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.

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

If a Victorian employer makes any additional payments to bridge the gap between their employee’s normal wage and the $1500 fortnightly JobKeeper payment, that amount will be exempt from payroll tax. For employees who have been stood down, the full $1500 payment is exempt.

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.

Land tax relief

Landlords who provide tenants impacted by COVID-19 with rent relief may be eligible for a 50% reduction on the property’s 2020 land tax, as of 20 August 2020. 

This relief is also available to land owners who are unable to secure a tenant because of COVID-19.

Landlords can also defer the remainder of their 2020 land tax to 31 March 2021.


Click here for FAQs answered by the State Revenue Office.

Tax Relief for Victorian Landlords

If you are a commercial or residential landlord and you meet the eligibility criteria for tax relief, you can access the following:

  • Landlords who provide rent relief to tenants impacted by COVID-19 could be eligible for a 50% reduction on 2020 land tax.
  • Land tax reductions are also available to land owners who are unable to find a tenant for their property due to COVID-19 (commercial and residential).
  • Eligible residential tenants and landlords will be supported with up to $3,000 in rental payments as part of the Rental Relief Grant program, with new recipients able to apply for the full amount, and up to $1,000 extra available for previous recipients.
  • Eligible small businesses that own their own commercial premises will now benefit from land tax relief as of 20 August 2020.
  • Landlords can also defer the remainder of their 2020 land tax to 31 March 2021.

Click here for tax relief updates made in August 2020. 
Click here for eligibility requirements and FAQs.

Superannuation Updates

As part of the economic response to COVID-19, 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 (%)
< 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 + 14
7

Example from Government Fact Sheet:

Mike is a 66 year old retiree with a superannuation account-based pension.

The value of Mike’s account-based pension at 1 July 2019 was $200,000. Under current minimum drawdown requirements, Mike is required by legislation to drawdown 5 per cent of his account balance over the course of the 2019-20 and 2020-21 income years.

This means Mike has to drawdown $10,000 by 30 June 2020 to comply with the minimum drawdown requirements. Following the temporary reduction in minimum drawdown requirements, Mike will now only be required to drawdown 2.5 per cent of his account balance, that is, $5,000, by 30 June 2020.

If Mike has already withdrawn over $5,000 for 2019-20, he is not able to put the amount above $5,000 back into his superannuation account. 2 On 1 July 2020 the value of Mike’s account-based pension is $180,000 (after drawdowns and investment losses).

During 2020-21, Mike is required to drawdown 2.5 per cent of his account balance, which is $4,500, instead of $9,000. As a result of this change to minimum drawdown requirements, Mike is able to preserve his capital while still drawing an income from his superannuation. 


Click here to download the Fact Sheet.


Please contact our Superannuation Administrator, Anne Burridge, with any questions or concerns regarding your superannuation.

Commercial Rent Relief Package

Rental waivers and deferrals have been introduced for commercial tenants hit by the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

  • Commercial landlords are legally required to engage with tenants who meet the criteria about rental arrangements.
  • Commercial landlords cannot terminate leases or draw on a tenant's security, while tenants must honour leases.
  • Waivers of rent must account for at least 50% of the reduction in business.
  • Deferrals must be covered over the balance of the lease period and for no less than 12 months.
  • The code will apply to any tenancies where the landlord or tenant applies for JobKeeper and where they have a turnover of $50 million or less.
  • The arrangements will be overseen by binding mediation and a mandatory code will be rolled out in each state and territory.

Further updates and details still to come.

Helpline for Businesses

Call the business helpine: 13 28 46
The Morrison Government’s business hotline will give more support to SMEs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 13 28 46 Contact Centre opening hours will increase to seven days per week, answering calls from 7am to 11pm AEST. 

Financial Hardship Helplines

Click here for a detailed hardship guide broken down by lender.

Lender Name Financial Hardship Phone Number  
Adelaide Bank 1300 652 146
AMP 1300 130 191
ANZ 1800 252 845
Auswide Bank 1300 138 831
Bank of China 1800 095 566
Bank of Melbourne  1300 630 266
Bank of Sydney 13 95 00
Bankfirst 03 9834 8530
Bankwest 1300 787 144
Better Choice 1300 334 336
Beyond Bank 13 25 85
Bluestone 13 25 83
Choicelend 1300 144 554
Citibank 1800 722 879
Commonwealth Bank 1300 720 814
Firstmac 13 12 20
Heritage Bank 1800 222 030
ING 1300 349 166
LaTrobe Financial 1800 620 639
Liberty 13 11 33
Macquarie 1300 363 330
ME Bank 1300 500 520
MyState 13 80 01
NAB 1800 701 599
Pepper Money 1800 356 383
RedZed 1300 722 462
Resimac 1800 701 599
St George 1800 629 795
Suncorp 1800 225 223
Virgin Money 1800 701 997
Westpac 1800 067 497


Mental Health Resources 

These are some tips from Beyond Blue for managing your mental health during this time of uncertainty. Please click here for their more detailed advice page.

General advice:

  • Try to maintain perspective
  • Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage
  • Access good quality information
  • Try to maintain a practical and calm approach
  • Try not to make assumptions

Managing your mental health while in self-isolation or quarantine

There are a number of ways to support your mental health during periods of self-isolation or quarantine.

  • Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of the virus.
  • Remember that your effort is helping others in the community avoid contracting the virus.
  • Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone.
  • Connect with others via the Beyond Blue forums thread: Coping during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
  • Keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods.
  • Try to maintain physical activity.
  • Establish routines as best possible and try to view this period as a new experience that can bring health benefits.
  • For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and, if possible, establishing a dedicated work space.
  • Avoid news and social media if you find it distressing.

Seek support

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed by news of the outbreak. We encourage people who have experienced mental health issues in the past to:

  • activate your support network
  • acknowledge feelings of distress
  • seek professional support early if you’re having difficulties.

For those already managing mental health issues, continue with your treatment plan and monitor for any new symptoms. Acknowledge feelings of distress and seek further professional support if required.

The Beyond Blue Support Service offers short term counselling and referrals by phone and webchat on 1300 22 4636.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Click here to watch our mental wellness video with counsellor and life coach, Will Centurion. 

Jobs Hub

For those who have found themselves unexpectedly unemployeed due to the Coronavirus impact. 
There are some areas of the economy which have an increased demand for workers during this COVID-19 crisis, including health and care sectors, transport and logistics, some areas of retail, mining and mining services, manufacturing, agriculture and government sectors. 

The Jobs Hub is a Government website to help people find advertised vacancies.

Click here to find out more. 




We’ll bring you more details as soon as they become available. We recommend subscribing to our mailing list to stay in the loop.

You can also contact us at admin@aintreegroup.com.au.

We ask for your patience, as we are receiving a high volume of client correspondence at the moment, as well as adjusting our own business in accordance with COVID-19 life.

We are also offering specialist COVID-19 consultations that you can find out more about here.

Stay safe and well!



Click here to find out how we're handling COVID-19 at Aintree Group.