No.61 COVID-19 Update – Response from the State Governments

Victoria’s Economic Survival Package

The Victorian Government announced a $1.7 billion economic survival and jobs package.  As part of the package, the Victorian Government will provide the following support.

  • Full payroll tax refunds for the 2019-20 financial year to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with payroll of less than $3 million. Payments will start flowing next week. This assistance is a refund, not a loan. It is likely the refund will be taxable income.
  • Importantly, the SRO have advised that the eligibility threshold applies to each employer, so any member of a group that pays taxable wages of less than $3 million per annum will be eligible for the relief.
  • Eligible businesses will need to continue to lodge future returns but will not need to make payments for the financial year.
  • SMEs will also be able to defer any payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020/21 financial year until 1 January 2021.
  • Commercial tenants in government buildings can apply for rent relief.
  • 2020 land tax payments will be deferred for eligible small businesses.
  • The Government will pay all outstanding supplier invoices within five business days.
  • Liquor licensing fees for 2020 will be waived for affected venues and small businesses.
  • Provide $500 million to establish a Business Support Fund. The fund will support the hardest hit sectors, including hospitality, tourism, accommodation, arts and entertainment, and retail.
  • Establish a $500 million Working for Victoria Fundin consultation with the Victorian Council of Social Services and Victorian Trades Hall Council. The fund will help workers who have lost their jobs find new opportunities, including work cleaning public infrastructure or delivering food.
  • The Government will facilitate job matching to help Victorians find short-term or casual roles.

NSW Stimulus Package

The NSW Government announced $1.6 billion in tax cuts to support jobs, including:

  • Waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months (the rest of 2019-20).
  • Raising the payroll tax threshold limit to $1 million in 2020-21.
  • Waive a range of fees and charges for small businesses including bars, cafes, restaurants and tradies.
  • $250 million to employ additional cleaners of public infrastructure such as transport assets, schools and other public buildings.
  • More than $250 million to bring forward maintenance on public assets including social housing and crown land fencing.
  • $500 million to bring forward capital works and maintenance.

QLD’s Immediate Industry Recovery Package

The $27.25 million package will assist local government, business and industry with resilience and recovery strategies to deal with and mitigate impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Queensland COVID-19 Jobs Support Loans

The Government has announced a $500 million loan facility which will comprise low interest loans of up to $250,000 for carry on finance with an initial 12-month interest free period for business to retain staff.

Payroll tax support

If your business has been affected by COVID-19, you may be able to apply for a relief package to defer lodging and paying payroll tax returns until 31 July 2020. You may be eligible for the relief package if:

  • you are an employer (or part of a group of employers) who pays $6.5 million or less in Australian taxable wagers; and
  • your current turnover, profit, customers, bookings, retail sales, supply contracts or other factors—compared with normal operating conditions—have been directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19.

Support for tourism operators and hospitality providers

Fees and charges relief for tourism operators and hospitality providers include:

  • waiving application fees for some variations to liquor licences
  • waiving registration renewal fees for Inbound Tour Operators
  • waiving of daily fees for commercial activity agreements and permits
  • rebate on Marina Charges and Passenger Levies
  • deferral of Tourism Lease Rent Payments

Support for agriculture and fisheries

A $3.66 million commercial fishing industry assistance package, including:

  • waiving tropical rock lobster and coral trout quota fees for the first 6 months of 2020, and fishing boat licence fee waivers for these and other fisheries affected by coronavirus, such as mud crab.
  • expanding the tropical rock lobster fishery area for 3 months. This will reduce operating costs for quota holders and allow fishers to sell product into other markets while maintaining crew and jobs in the short term.
  • a local seafood promotion campaign to encourage Queenslanders to support our local fishers by buying local.
  • rural financial counselling services will be provided to commercial fishers, fishery supply chain and tourism businesses impacted by coronavirus.
  • market diversification and resilience grants to help develop alternative markets.

Support for exporters

The $1.1 million ‘Market Ready’ initiative will provide tailored export advice to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) on leveraging opportunities in the Chinese online market, support brand development by providing market intelligence and expert advice for exporters entering new markets and host China market development forums to provide practical export advice. A “SME” has not been defined for the purpose of this initiative but for other initiatives in Queensland it is any business employing less than 200 employees.

WA Stimulus Package

The WA Government announced a $607 million stimulus package to support WA households, pensions and small business in the wake of COVID-19. The package includes:

  • A freeze (until at least 1 July 2021) will be placed on household fees and charges, including electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, the emergency services levy and public transport fares.
  • Energy Assistance Package (EAP) doubled in 2020-21 to provide additional support to vulnerable Western Australians. The payment will increase from $300 to $600 for eligible concession card-holders.
  • Payroll tax paying businesses with a payroll between $1 million and $4 million will receive a one-off grant of $17,500.
  • $1 million payroll tax threshold brought forward by six months to 1 July 2020. The payroll threshold increased to $950,000 from 1 January 2020 and was due to increase again to $1 million from 1 January 2021.
  • Small and medium sized businesses affected by COVID-19 can now apply to defer payment of their 2019-20 payroll tax until 21 July 2020. The deferral is available to employers who pay $7.5 million or less in Australian Taxable Wages and have been directly or indirectly impacted by COVID-19, compared to normal operating conditions.

Tasmania Stimulus Package

The Tasmanian Government has prepared a $420 million stimulus package to support Tasmania as we tackle the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which includes:

Interest Free Business Loans for Small Business

$20 million in interest free loans to small businesses in the hospitality, tourism, seafood production, and exports sectors. The loans will be available to businesses with a turnover of less than $5 million to purchase equipment or restructuring business operations and will be interest free, for three years.

Payroll Tax Waivers

Payroll tax liabilities will be waived for hospitality, tourism and seafood industry businesses for the last four months of 2019-20.

Other businesses with payrolls of up to $5 million will be able to apply, based on the impact of virus, to have their payroll tax waived for April to June 2020.

Government Maintenance Program

$50 million allocated to fast track maintenance on public buildings over the next 12 months. This will provide an injection into local trades around the state and continue to support confidence in local communities.

Improving Small Business Cash Flows

To assist with small business cash flow, the Tasmanian Government will Pay bills sooner unless otherwise required by contractual arrangements, payment terms by Government agencies will be reduced from 30 days to 14 days.

Targeted Small Business Grants Program for Apprenticeships and Traineeships

The targeted Small Business Grants Program provides a $5,000 grant for businesses that hire an apprentice or trainee in the tourism, hospitality, building and construction, and manufacturing industries. Funding for this measure has been brought forward.

Youth Employment Scheme

The Scheme provides a payroll tax rebate for one year, to businesses that employ a young person aged 24 and under, between April and December 2020. Human Resource and Industrial Relations Assist.

Supporting our Tourism Industry

For April, May and June 2020, the Government will waive a number of lease, license and parks’ entry fees for tourism operators. This initiative will support around 300 of our hard-working tourism businesses, right around Tasmania.

Liquor license fees reductions and waivers

A 50% discount on liquor licencing fees and a waiver of all application fees for the calendar year 2020, back dated to 1 January 2020.

Fisheries Fee Waiver

Annual fees and levies for the rock lobster, giant crab, fin fishers and for abalone divers, will be waived for 12 months.

The Tourism and Hospitality Training Fund

$100,000 will be provided to the Tourism Institute Council Tasmanian (TICT) and the Tasmanian Hospitality Association (THA) for training in the tourism and hospitality sectors over the winter months, to improve productivity and to be ready to bounce back when tourism returns to normal levels across.

South Australia Stimulus Package

The South Australian Government’s $350 million stimulus package will inject $350 million into the state, via new infrastructure and tourism projects.

There are no specific benefits for businesses.

ACT Stimulus Package

The ACT Government $137 million package will offer rate rebates to all Canberra homeowners and tax relief for small businesses these include:’

All ACT businesses with Group Australia-wide wages of up to $10 million can defer their 2020-21 payroll tax, interest free until 1 July 2022.

Eligible businesses will need to lodge their payroll tax returns as normal but will not be required to make the associated payment at the usual time. If the deferred amount is paid before 1 July 2022, no interest will be charged. Interest will be applied to any outstanding deferred amounts from 1 July 2022.

For those who lodge their payroll tax assessment monthly, deferral can commence for their July 2020 payroll tax liability, which is usually payable by 7 August.

For those who lodge their payroll tax assessment annually, they can defer payment of their full 2020-21 payroll tax liability, which is usually payable in July 2021.

Hospitality (cafes, pubs, hotels, clubs and restaurants), creative arts and entertainment industries will receive a one-off, six-month waiver of payroll tax from April to September 2020.

The ACT government will reduce pressure on household budgets by:

  • applying a $150 rebate to the fixed charge component of all residential rates bills in 2020‑21;
  • freezing the Fire and Emergency Services Levy in 2020-21 at the current 2019-20 level;
  • freezing all 2020-21 vehicle registration, parking and public transport fee increases at the current 2019-20 level; and
  • households receiving the Utilities Concession will receive an additional $200 rebate through their electricity bill.

At this stage we are waiting for more details as to how the various support mechanisms across each State will be implemented.

If you have any questions about your eligibility for the Government’s Expanded Stimulus Package or need assistance accessing any of the support measures announced, please contact your Blaze Acumen advisor.

For more detailed information regarding the expanded economic stimulus package, please click here to read Client Alert No.60