COVID-19 Business Update – 31 March 2021

COVID-19 Business Update – 31 March 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

Brisbane Looking at Easter Lockdown Extension

While the decision on the lockdown extension will not be made until Wednesday night, the spread of the UK variant of the coronavirus has increased the possibility of an extended shutdown in Greater Brisbane over the Easter weekend.

State border closures and disruptions to flights could continue with fears Brisbane’s lockdown could spread to the Gold Coast, a popular holiday destination around this time. This comes after eight new local cases of COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday and two on Wednesday.

Over 500,000 Australians Vaccinated Against COVID-19

More than 507,000 vaccines have been administered at the close of business last Friday as part of the Phase 1 rollout.

The roll out for the next week and further expansion is now well underway. The first of the 50 million Australian-made CSL doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine have already been distributed and will now be distributed on an ongoing basis.

Australian Government Extends Energy Bill Support to June

The Federal Government and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) have extended the COVID-19 energy support measures for consumers and small businesses until the end of June.

This means energy suppliers must work out and rearrange payment plans with customers who are experiencing financial hardship. This may include payment plans that mean no payments will be required for some period of time.

Energy companies will also not be allowed to cut the power to customers for unpaid bills as long as the customer is working with the supplier to find a suitable payment solution.

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment Available After NSW Floods

People adversely affected by the floods in New South Wales can claim a lump sum payment of $1,000 per adult and $400 for each child younger than 16 through the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment.

The complete list of local government areas that can claim this financial support until 20 September 2021 can be found here. You can read more about how to claim it here.

If you lost income as a direct result of the floods, you can also take advantage of the Disaster Recovery Allowance.

Stimulus Package for Tourism Industry: Cheap Flights, Loans and Financial Aid

The Australian government unveiled a $1.2 billion tourism support package to help boost local travel, while international borders remain closed.

Airline ticket subsidies for travellers, cheap loans to small tour companies and financial aid for the country’s two largest airlines are designed to keep this critical sector afloat until our international borders reopen.

Wage Subsidy Scheme for Apprentices to Be Expanded

The government will spend $1.2 billion to expand its wage subsidy scheme for apprentices, as JobKeeper is set to end this month.

Under the apprentice scheme, the government will pay half the wages of apprentices up to a maximum of $7,000 each quarter for 12 months. It will run until September 2022. Ask us if you have any questions.

Claiming the JobMaker Hiring Credit

The JobMaker Hiring Credit is available for eligible employers who create new positions for eligible young people between 7 October 2020 and 6 October 2021.

To receive JobMaker Hiring Credit payments, you don’t need to satisfy a fall in turnover test. All you need to do is complete three steps:

  • Register – via ATO online services, Online services for business or the Business portal, or through your registered tax or BAS agent.
  • Nominate your eligible additional employees – by running payroll events through your Single Touch Payroll (STP) enabled software by 27 April 2021.
  • Claim payments – using ATO online services, Online services for business or the Business portal, or through your registered tax or BAS agent.

You can register at any time until the scheme ends. Ask us if you have any questions.

Beware of Scammers Impersonating the ATO

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning about a new batch of scammers impersonating the ATO who are claiming they’ve suspended their target’s tax file number (TFN) following suspected fraudulent activity.

While the number of people falling victim to this scam is low, the large amounts being lost per person is alarming, according to Assistant Commissioner Trent Jakubowski.

So remember, the ATO does call taxpayers but will never:

  • send unsolicited pre-recorded phone messages
  • use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with immediate arrest, jail or deportation
  • suspend your TFN
  • request direct transfers of money to a personal bank account
  • project their number onto your caller ID

If you receive a suspicious call, email, or SMS, report it to ato.gov.au/reportascam or call the ATO’s dedicated scam line 1800 008 540 to check if it was legitimate.

Upcoming Key Dates

Upcoming key lodgment and payment dates for businesses:

21 April

  • Lodge and pay quarter 3, 2020–21 PAYG instalment activity statement for head companies of consolidated groups.
  • Lodge and pay March 2021 monthly business activity statement.

28 April

  • Lodge and pay quarter 3, 2020–21 activity statement if electing to receive and lodge by paper and not an active STP reporter.
  • Pay quarter 3, 2020–21 instalment notice (form R, S or T). Lodge the notice only if you are varying the instalment amount.
  • Make super guarantee contributions for quarter 3, 2020–21 to the funds by this date.

30 April

  • Lodge TFN report for closely held trusts if any beneficiary quoted their TFN to a trustee in quarter 3, 2020–21.
  • Lodge lost members report for the period 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020.

Contact us if you have any questions.

Government-backed COVID-19 Loans Extended

The government is extending its small business COVID-19 loans scheme until June 2021. If you need help to access these loans or you want to find out if you are eligible, don’t hesitate to drop us a message.

4 Tips to Get Out of Debt

Getting out of debt can be difficult, but there are some strategies that can help you pay it down more easily:

  • Pay more than the minimum payment required– Go through your finances and decide how much extra you can shell out to pay your debt. Paying more than the minimum amount will help you save on interest and pay it completely much faster.
  • Use the debt snowball method– This approach involves paying the minimum amount on all your debts except for the smallest one, which you should pay as much as you can toward. Once you eliminate the smallest one quickly, you’ll move on to the second smallest debt while paying the minimum on the others.
  • Debt refinancing– You’ll save in interest if you refinance your debt to a lower interest rate. Consider refinancing your mortgage, auto loan, or student loan.
  • Commit windfalls to debt– For example, when you get a tax refund or a stimulus check, you can use the money to pay your debt or at least split it 50-50 between debt payment and having fun or saving in your bank account.

Do you want a more personalised debt paydown strategy? Get in touch with us today and let us help you enjoy a debt-free life.

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Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.

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