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ATO pulls cash-flow boost lodgement advice

Jotham Lian and Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
23 April 2020 1 minute readShare

While earlier this week the ATO emphasised the importance of timing the lodgement of activity statements to access the government’s cash-flow boost measure, it has since withdrawn that guidance.

The Tax Office explained earlier this week that businesses that opt to lodge before the due date of their March 2020 activity statement would see the cash-flow boost amount used to offset outstanding debts from previous periods, while those who lodged on 28 April would not see those credits used to pay outstanding liabilities.

However, the ATO has now withdrawn that guidance. Instead, it will no longer discriminate based on when the BAS is lodged.

According to its updated guidance, the cash-flow boosts will be applied to reduce liabilities arising from the same activity statement, but any excess credits will not be used to offset outstanding liabilities from previous months.

While the cash-flow boost credits were due to flow from 28 April, it is understood that the ATO has now begun issuing the payments, hence a change in its stance.

The ATO’s new example shows that instead of being used to pay outstanding liabilities, the cash-flow boost is paid as a refund. 

When Sarah lodges her activity statement for the month of March 2020, she owes:

  • PAYG withholding of $15,008
  • GST of $9,704

She also owes $4,500 from her February 2020 activity statement.

Sarah’s initial cash-flow boost for the March activity statement is $45,024. This is used to pay the March activity statement liabilities of $24,712 ($15,008 + $9,704). She will be left with a remaining cash-flow boost of $20,312.

To support Sarah’s business during this period, the cash-flow boost of $20,312 will not be used to pay her outstanding liability of $4,500 from the February activity statement. Instead it will be paid to Sarah as a refund.

No impact on cash-flow boost

Speaking to My Business sister title Accountants Daily, Tax & Super Australia senior tax counsel John Jeffreys said the ATO’s clarification meant that the timing of a BAS lodgement would now not have any impact on the cash-flow boost.

“It’s good that the Tax Office has now clarified the point,” Mr Jeffreys said.

“We appreciate that the ATO is working hard with very complex matters and we can now proceed on the basis to lodge the activity statements as soon as we’d like.

“Although not specifically said, we take this to mean that if a person had a pre-existing debt with the ATO before lodging their March activity statement, the credit of the cash-flow boost will not be set off against that pre-existing debt. In practice, we understand that this is what is occurring.”

The updated guidance is available here.

ATO pulls cash-flow boost lodgement advice
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Jotham Lian and Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

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