The government recently confirmed JobKeeper 2.0 will kick off on 28 September as a two-tiered, scaled-down scheme with a six-month lifespan.
In a recent hearing by the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19, senator Jacqui Lambie asked ATO second commissioner Jeremy Hirschhorn about how the agency will be helping businesses reapply for the extended JobKeeper payment.
In response, Mr Hirschhorn said the ATO is currently designing the new application form that businesses will have to reapply, but also revealed it will be an online process that businesses will have to access using their myGovID credential, similar to the first stage of JobKeeper.
“There will be no paper; it will be a digital experience through an authenticated channel,” Mr Hirschhorn said.
“We are looking to prefill as much as possible. We expect that most businesses eligible in JobKeeper phase 2 will have been claiming under JobKeeper phase 1.
“So, for most applicants, we’ll be able to use data they provided us in phase 1 to make that application process as easy as possible.”
Mr Hirschhorn also revealed the ATO will be working with payroll software companies in order to better determine and disclose which businesses are eligible and which tier of eligibility they are on through their ordinary payroll system and not have to fill in a new thing in a tax form.
He estimated around 900,000 businesses applied for the first stage of JobKeeper and expects that number will go down because of the tighter or new tests.
Process will be entirely digital
Senator Lambie also questioned Mr Hirschhorn around how the ATO systems will cope with receiving all those applications.
“If all the applications came in on the first day — that is unlikely — our experience is that people apply throughout the month — that sort of volume is easy for our systems to cope with,” Mr Hirschhorn said.
“As with JobKeeper phase 1, the application process will be entirely digital. In phase 1, about 2 per cent of applications are diverted and a human looks at those because they’ve triggered some red flags in our system.
“That sort of process will continue. There’ll be some diverted off [due] to red flags. But we are hoping to design away some of those things so that… more and more of those requirements are embedded in the digital process.”
As for the oversight of the process, Mr Hirschhorn said the fair work elements are attended to by other agencies, but the “pure payment” side of the scheme rests with the ATO.
He said around 3,000 people are working on the stimulus measures of JobKeeper, cash-flow boost and early release of super.
“One of our deputy commissioners, James O’Halloran, has been taken away from his ordinary duties to head up our JobKeeper response,” Mr Hirschhorn said.
“We currently have about 3,000 people who are looking across the three stimulus measures of JobKeeper, cash-flow boost and early release of super, as well as some other stimulus-type measures. Of those, close to half are looking at JobKeeper.”