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ATO answers your JobKeeper questions

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
13 May 2020 3 minute readShare

Last week, Deputy Commissioner from the ATO Deborah Jenkins joined us on a MyBusiness Live webcast on all things JobKeeper. Below we bring you the ATO’s answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we received during that session.

Ms Jenkins, alongside the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ABSFEO), Kate Carnell, and Reckon CEO Sam Allert, talked about all things JobKeeper — from the eligibility criteria right through to processing payments in payroll software.

Below we bring you the ATO’s first set of answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. 

Tune into our free webcast for more invaluable insights into JobKeeper.

  1. Does eligibility for the JobKeeper payment take into consideration businesses that won’t be affected straight away but maybe three months down the track?
    • JobKeeper is a temporary scheme for fortnights starting from 30 March 2020 and ending on 27 September 2020.
    • Businesses may be eligible for the duration of the scheme, or may qualify and enrol part-way through the scheme.
  2. Please explain what leave entitlements accrue and on what amounts?
    • Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website at gov.au to find information about leave and the JobKeeper scheme.
  3. Can a sole trader who is expecting a baby in May elect to delay the commencement of paid parental leave so as to receive JobKeeper payments?
    • Employees and business participants will not qualify for the JobKeeper scheme for periods where they are receiving government parental leave or Dad and Partner Pay.
    • Information on the Australian Government Paid Parental Leave scheme (including details on when you are eligible to claim) is available on the Services Australia website at servicesaustralia.gov.au.
  4. If a sole trader has registered, is their payment for JobKeeper offset against any ATO tax liability they owe?
    • No. Their JobKeeper payment will not be offset against existing ATO debts.  
    • If the sole trader is aware they have an overdue debt, we understand it can sometimes be difficult to pay and we are here to help. If you can’t pay by the due date, you may be able to enter into a payment plan. If you need more information on payment options, visit Paying the ATO_Help-with-paying.
  5. Are companies with no turnover — e.g. mining exploration companies, start-ups etc. — entitled to register for JobKeeper as operations are restricted due to lockdown?
    • Eligible businesses need to meet one of the turnover tests outlined on ato.gov.au.
    • All of the turnover tests require a comparison of previous turnover. Therefore, entities that have no history of turnover cannot show a decline in turnover to be eligible for JobKeeper.
    • Businesses can find out what other support may be available to them by visiting gov.au/covid.
  6. I understand eligible employees must be paid $1,500 per fortnight for the April fortnights by 8 May. Do you also have to pay the eligible business participant?
    • Entitlement based on business participation does not require the entity (whether sole trader, partnership, trust of company) to pay their eligible business participant an amount each fortnight. That is, there is no wage condition for entitlement based on business participation.
  7. You mentioned turnover won’t be retested, but if turnover improves in a few months’ time and there’s no decrease, should companies then opt out of JobKeeper? 
    • You only need to satisfy the turnover test once — you don’t need to retest your turnover each month.
    • For example, if you satisfy the fall in turnover for March 2020 (compared in March 2019), you have satisfied this eligibility requirement for the duration of your participation in the JobKeeper scheme, even if your business recovers to previous levels after the test time.
    • There are ongoing reporting obligations for current and projected GST turnover, but even where these show a recovery of turnover, they don’t affect eligibility.
  8. Townsville in Feb/March 2019 suffered downturn from floods. Now on top of this, we need another 30 per cent reduction to qualify for JobKeeper?
    • There are a number of reasons why a business may not be able to show the 30 per cent drop in turnover required to demonstrate eligibility.
    • The commissioner has determined alternative tests for classes of entities where there is not an appropriate or relevant comparison period for 2019.
    • An alternative test is available for businesses affected by drought or other natural disaster during the relevant period.
    • Full details, including how to apply the alternative test, is available on ato.gov.au.

ATO answers your JobKeeper questions
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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