In a letter addressed to the Treasury, the joint accounting bodies have argued that scattergun approaches to JobKeeper changes could endanger the “heightened level of confidence” the program has engendered.
“That confidence in government and its decisions will become even more important as employees and employers come to grips with the true impacts of COVID-19 over the coming months,” the Institute of Public Accountants, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, the Corporate Tax Association, CPA Australia, the Law Council of Australia and The Tax Institute said.
In order to preserve this confidence, the joint bodies cautioned the Treasury against enacting any further changes to the current program prior to the scheduled September end date.
“On this basis, with the exception of announced changes impacting the childcare industry, the joint bodies would strongly caution against making any changes to the current program prior to the scheduled September end date,” the joint bodies said.
“We would also respectfully suggest that any proposed extensions or tapering of the program which extend beyond 30 September 2020 be announced as part of a broader package of changes/enhancements of the program on 23 July 2020.”
The bodies also reminded the government that tax professionals have been at the frontline of the government’s COVID-19 response for months.
“In a relatively short period of time, the tax profession has had the responsibility of firstly establishing a clear understanding of the program and then disseminating this information to their clients in order to navigate access to the program,” they said.
“Most of the heavy lifting regarding implementation was undertaken by tax professionals through the investment of a significant amount of time and effort.”
As such, they urged the government to consult the tax professionals when enacting changes.
“It would be greatly appreciated that this group has some involvement and input in any proposed changes to the program,” the bodies argued.
Earlier this month, the Treasurer confirmed the review of the government’s $70 billion JobKeeper program has commenced and is expected to be concluded at the end of June.
He explained at the time that the government will also assess whether JobKeeper should be wound up or extended in certain sectors.
“In the context of an economy, where the restrictions are being eased, and people are getting back into work, we need to assess, and particularly paying a focus to certain sectors as well, we need to assess the continuation of that JobKeeper program in that context,” Josh Frydenberg said.
Underlining that he does not want to pre-empt the outcomes of the review, the Treasurer noted that “any government decisions” about the review will be incorporated into the statement due to be delivered on 23 July.