Business guide to Coronavirus

Applying the turnover test: alternative eligibility explained

Last updated 5:04pm 24 April 2020

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has registered alternative tests for fall in turnover for businesses that do not meet the existing ‘basic’ test. The alternative will allow businesses not previously eligible for JobKeeper to apply.

According to the ATO, the basic turnover test is satisfied when your businesses projected GST turnover for the turnover test period falls short of your current GST turnover for the relevant comparison period (by at least 30%). 

In the event your business doesn’t satisfy this test, you are now able to apply for an alternative under the Federal Government’s Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Act 2020. 

The alternative test covers sole traders who may have taken leave, new businesses, high-growth business and more. 

When does an alternative test apply? 

There are seven circumstances where an alternative test would apply includes: 

1. You commenced business after the relevant comparison period – i.e. your business did not exist in that period.

  • For example: start-ups who may be less than a year old and would not have revenue figures from a year ago to compare to. 

2. You acquired or disposed of part of your business after the relevant comparison period – i.e. the business is not the same business in that period as it is now.

3. You undertook a restructure after the relevant comparison period – i.e. the business is not the same business in that period as it is now.

4. Your turnover substantially increased by: 

  • 50% or more in the 12 months immediately before the applicable turnover test period.
  • 25% or more in the 6 months immediately before the applicable turnover test period.
  • 12.5% or more in the 3 months immediately before the applicable turnover test period. 

5. Your business was affected by drought or other declared natural disasters during the relevant comparison period.

  • For example: if your agriculture business has been heavily impacted by the ongoing drought in Australia, your revenue figures may be skewed when compared. 

6. Your business has a large irregular variance in its turnover for the quarters ending in the 12 months before the applicable turnover test period (this excludes businesses that have cyclical or seasonal variance in their turnover).

7. If you’re a sole trader or part of a small partnership where sickness, injury or leave has impacted your ability to work which has, in turn, affected turnover.

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What are the implications for your JobKeeper eligibility?

To access JobKeeper payments, your small to medium business must pass the turnover test – showing you’ve seen a decline in revenue of at least 30% to a comparable period. 

The alternative test grants businesses different ways of proving this downturn, potentially opening the wage subsidy up to a new group of businesses who were not previously eligible.  

Further information

For more detail, you can read the full determination from the Australian Government here. You can also visit the ATOs website for more information on both the basic and alternative tests. 


Stay up to date with the most recent COVID-19 announcements relating to your business here. You can also explore our free Business Guide to Coronavirus for dedicated advice, support and solutions to help your business through these uncertain times. 

Disclaimer: This does not constitute financial advice and individuals should seek information from the ATO. For more information visit the ATO's website or speak to your financial advisor.