A message from the team at BOSS Lawyers

In light of the Covid-19 Pandemic, we wish to assure you that our offices in Brisbane remain open for business and our office hours are unchanged.

Our business continuity plan has  been activated to ensure that the health and well-being of our staff and our clients are safeguarded.

We’re following the advice of Australia’s Chief Medical Officer and have stepped up preventative hygiene measures at our offices.

There are no instances of Covid-19 amongst any of our staff.
The majority of them are working remotely. All data is securely stored in a national data centre.

To facilitate the progress of legal work and to minimise any disruption in the provision of our services to you, the following measures are also in place:

  • Use of phone and/or email as our first point of contact with you.
  • Client appointments will occur via a telephone conference or via digital conferencing such as Skype or Zoom to minimise physical ‘ in office’  meetings.
  • Any documents that you are required to sign will be scanned and emailed to you.

We will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation on a daily basis and let you know of any adjustments to our operations that we may need to make in response to further guidelines/restrictions that the Government may impose.

Should you have any questions or concerns or require advice about how your business can navigate Covid-19, please contact us. We look forward to continuing to assist you.

Resources to help your business

Queensland Government information for businesses

Enrol for the Job Keeper payment

From 20 April 2020, you can enrol for the JobKeeper payment using the ATO’s business portal and your MyGovID. You might need to show that COVID-19 caused a negative financial impact on your business compared to a past equivalent period. For more information on the eligibility criteria and deadline for enrollment, you can look at the ATO’s website.

To help you decide if you qualify for the JobKeeper payment, you can use Xero’s turnover calculator to compare your turnover for March 2020 to turnover for March 2019. The calculator is intended to be indicative of eligibility only. See the ATO’s guidance for applying the turnover test to ensure you meet the qualifying criteria.

Early access to superannuation

The Australian government is allowing individuals affected by COVID-19 who meet certain eligibility criteria to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019–20 and a further $10,000 in 2020–21. Individuals don’t need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw won’t affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments. Find out more on the ATO website.

Reduced superannuation minimum drawdown rates

To assist retirees affected financially by COVID-19, the Australian government has reduced the minimum annual payment required for account-based pensions and annuities, allocated pensions and annuities and market-linked pensions and annuities by 50 per cent in the 2019-20 and the 2020-21 financial years.

You may be eligible for this assistance if you are an individual Australian taxpayer drawing an income stream from your superannuation and are under the age of 60, or you are over the age of 60 and no longer working. Find out more on the ATO website.

Other references

Business Queensland – Coronavirus essential information
Business Queensland – Coronavirus payroll tax relief
Business Queensland – Pandemic risk management for business
Business Queensland – Responding to supply chain disruptions
Queensland Government – Industry recovery information

Australian Government information for businesses

The Coronavirus Small and Medium Enterprises Guarantee Scheme

The Australian Government has established the Coronavirus Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Guarantee Scheme (Australian Government website) to provide $40 billion in support for lending to SMEs. Sole traders and not-for-profits can also apply for this support.

Under the scheme, the Government will provide a guarantee of 50 percent to SME lenders for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital. The aim of the scheme is to help reduce the risk to the financial institution.

Loans backed by the scheme will be made available through participating bank and non-bank lenders. The Government isn’t participating directly in the lending process.

While participating lenders are open to receiving applications or expressions of interest now, launch dates and application closing times vary by lender.

Some eligibility criteria are similar and have been listed below but check with your relevant finance provider for full details.

Maximum loan size$250,000 per borrower
Qualifying turnoverActive Australian businesses (including sole traders and not-for-profits) must show a turnover of less than $50 million in the previous year. 
TermUp to three years
PricingInterest will be charged and repayments are required after the six month repayment holiday
SecurityLoans are unsecured so SMEs don’t have to provide an asset as security for the loan
CriteriaA credit assessment will be undertakenFor businesses impacted by COVID-19 only
ExclusionsThe loan can’t be used to refinance existing loans

We recommend you speak to your chosen financial institution for more details about their specific loan requirements and application process.

Banks include ANZCBANAB and WAC.

See the Australian Government website for the full list of participating lenders.

Tax payment deferral program

The ATO has created a program that allows for tax payment deferrals. In addition to offering low interest payment plans, the ATO program may enable affected businesses to:

  • Defer by up to 4 months the payment date of amounts due through the business activity statement (including PAYG instalments), income tax assessments, fringe benefits tax assessments and excise.
  • Opt into monthly, rather than quarterly, GST reporting to get faster access to GST refunds you may be entitled to.
  • Vary your Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalment amounts to zero for the March 2020 quarter. Businesses that vary their PAYG instalment to zero can also claim a refund for any instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters.
  • Remit any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities.

If you’re a tax agent or business owner, call the ATO’s Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 to discuss these relief options based on your needs and circumstances. Refer to the ATO website for more information.

Cash flow assistance for employers

The Australian government is making funds available via tax credits to assist Australian businesses affected by COVID-19. There are a number of criteria to be eligible, businesses must have: Held an ABN on 12 March 2020, with an aggregated annual turnover under $50 million. Employed staff and withheld PAYG on previous BAS. Lodged their 2019 income tax return prior to 12 March 2020, or made GST taxable, GST-free or input-taxed sales in a previous tax period (since 1 July 2018) and lodged the relevant activity statement on or before 12 March 2020.

To find out more detail about how the credits apply to each lodgment period, refer to the ATO website.

Increased threshold for instant asset write-offs

The Australian government is increasing the instant asset write-off threshold to assist businesses affected by COVID-19. From 12 March 2020 until 30 June 2020 the instant asset write-off threshold is $150,000 (up from $30,000) with the eligibility range covering businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million).

This includes new and second hand assets and means that businesses can immediately write off the cost of each asset that cost less than the threshold, as well as claiming a tax deduction (on their annual income tax return) for the business portion of the purchase cost in the year the asset is first used, or installed ready for use. Ask your tax advisor for more information.

Accelerated depreciation deductions

If you are a small business with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million, and you use the simplified depreciation rules, you may be eligible for the accelerated depreciation deductions created by the Australian government to assist businesses affected by COVID-19.

The change means you can deduct an amount equal to 57.5 percent (rather than 15 percent) of the business portion of a new depreciating asset in the year you add it to the pool. In later years the asset will be depreciated as part of the general small business pool rules. Talk to your tax advisor for more detail on eligibility.

Subsidy on apprentice wages

The Australian government is offering COVID-19 assistance to businesses employing apprentices. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 percent of apprentice or trainee wages for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020 (up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee). Find out more on the Australian government website for business.

Payroll Tax deferrals

Certain large employers who are required to report and pay state payroll tax may be eligible for tax relief or cash injection up to $50,000 to assist with the negative impacts of COVID-19. Criteria and application methods vary in each state. Refer to your local state government website for more information.

Other references:

Business Australia – Coronavirus information and support for business
Business Australia – Boosting cash flow for employers
Business Australia – JobKeeper Payment for employers and employees
The Treasury – Support for Businesses

COVID-19 Posts

Insolvent Trading Claims – Covid-19

Relief for Commercial Tenants – Covid-19