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JobKeeper extension: ATO answers your questions

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
26 October 2020 5 minute readShare

Business owners viewing our most recent JobKeeper webcast had plenty of questions concerning the stimulus extension, particularly in regard to eligibility. Below we bring you the ATO’s answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by recipients of the government’s wage subsidy.

Last month, we were joined by ATO Deputy Commissioner James O’Halloran, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell and MYOB CEO Greg Ellis to discuss the JobKeeper extension and what the changes mean for your business.

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

Can JobKeeper be backdated, if you didn’t qualify in March, but doing EOFY you realise you qualified in May, but it’s now July, can you receive payments for May–June?

The JobKeeper scheme will remain open to new participants, provided they meet the eligibility requirements for the relevant period. You will need to contact us to declare for previous JobKeeper fortnights.

To be entitled to a JobKeeper payment for an eligible employee for a fortnight, an employer must pay amounts totalling at least the $1,500 for the fortnight to or in respect of the eligible employee (the “wage condition”).

Employers cannot claim the JobKeeper payment unless they have already paid the employee. Information about when payment must be made to satisfy the wage condition is available on the ATO’s website, at Paying your eligible employees – When to pay

How will we notify the ATO hours worked per employee or eligible business participant to ensure the correct tiered payment is received?

Between 1 and 14 November 2020, you will need to complete a monthly business declaration and tell us the payment tier being claimed for each eligible employee. 

You can complete this through ATO online services or your registered tax or BAS agent can do it for you. We have JobKeeper guides with step-by-step instructions available at ato.gov.au/jobkeeperguides.

If you don’t think you qualify for September quarter but will qualify for December quarter based on projections, how do you apply? 

If you are eligible, you can apply for JobKeeper at any time until the program closes. You will need to check and submit your business’s actual decline in turnover information for each JobKeeper extension period to demonstrate eligibility.

Check your business satisfied the actual decline in turnover test for:

  • September quarter 2020 decline in turnover – to be eligible for JobKeeper extension 1. This check will be available online from 1 October 2020.
  • December quarter 2020 decline in turnover – to be eligible for JobKeeper extension 2. This check will be available online from 1 January 2021.

We have JobKeeper guides with step-by-step instructions available at ato.gov.au/jobkeeperguides.

I may miss out on the JobKeeper turnover, we may be down by 28–29 per cent, as we run a business with small margins. Is there any scale down on JobKeeper to assist?

There is no scale down for this circumstance. There are a range of alternative tests that may assist. You may also like to seek the assistance of your tax professional to ensure you have calculated your decline in turnover correctly.

Can businesses that did not qualify in March apply for JobKeeper from 28th of September onwards as they qualify now due to Victorian lock-up?

Yes, you can enrol at any time until the program closes. For information about the eligibility criteria, refer to eligible employers.

Will there be an extended due date for the declaration due in January, to recognise the December/Christmas period?  Many firms close over this period.

You will need to make your business monthly declaration between the 1st and 14th of each month to claim JobKeeper payments for the previous month.

You have until 14 January to make your declarations for JobKeeper fortnights 19 (7 December–20 December) and 20 (21 December–3 January 2021).

There are currently no plans to make changes to these dates.

When calculating the GST turnover, do we have to include the cash boost and JobKeeper subsidy?

As outlined on our page on the basic test, current GST turnover is the amount of your sales, except for the following:

  • the GST you included in sales to your customers (if any)
  • sales that are input taxed sales (for example, bank interest, sale of shares, residential rental income)
  • sales not connected with an enterprise that you carry on (for example, sale of private car)
  • sales that are not made for payment (unless a taxable supply to an associate)
  • payments for no supply (for example, JobKeeper payments)
  • gifts and donations (except for deductible gift recipients and ACNC-registered charities as discussed above)
  • sales not connected with Australia  
  • sales of services made through a business you carry on outside Australia
  • sales of goods purchased and sold from a place outside Australia
  • sale of real property situated outside Australia

Cash boost is treated in the same way as JobKeeper so is not included.

If the company is possibly no longer eligible for phase 2 after September 2020, what do we have to do?

If you are not participating in the JobKeeper extension, there is no further action you need to take after your final declaration to be reimbursed for September payments.

When will changes to STP reporting requirements for JobKeeper be advised? Do STP finish codes need to be processed for all employees if the employer is ineligible?

Updated information about STP reporting requirements have been published on JobKeeper guide – employers reporting through STP to assist with the requirements of the JobKeeper extension.

If an employer is no longer eligible, they do not need to process finish codes, they simply do not claim for the extension payments.

How do you calculate the 20 hours if they work irregular hours? Would it be over the average of full year/defined period as they may have reduced hours now?

The tiers are determined as follows:

  • Tier 1 rate applies for: eligible employees who worked for 80 hours or more in the four weeks of pay periods before either 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020, and eligible business participants who were actively engaged in the business for 80 hours or more in February 2020.
  • Tier 2 rate applies for other eligible employees and business participants.

Employers and businesses will need to nominate the rate they are claiming for the eligible employees and/or eligible business participants.

Our payment rates page has further detail on how to calculate this. There may be circumstances where the pre-March or the pre-July reference periods are not suitable for some of your eligible employees. These are covered on our information on alternative reference periods.

What requirement is there to provide information to employee to state what tier they will be on?

To receive JobKeeper payments, you will need to tell us the payment tier being claimed for each eligible employee. You will need to have paid them the appropriate amount (currently either $1,200 per fortnight or $750 per fortnight before tax) before we can reimburse you.  

Do the weekly hourly eligibility requirements apply to active business participants?

Yes, they do apply to active business participants. We have tailored information to help you on our website. Visit https://www.ato.gov.au/General/JobKeeper-Payment/Sole-traders/.

New employee after 1 July, previously on JobKeeper with another employer who no longer qualifies. Are we able to transfer the new employee to our system?

As noted on our Your eligible employees page, you cannot claim for employees who:

  • were first employed by you after 1 July 2020
  • left your employment before 1 July 2020 (except in limited circumstances, see terminated employees)
  • have been, or have agreed to be, nominated by another employer (except in limited circumstances, see nominating employees)
  • are casual employees, unless they were employed by you on a regular and systematic basis during the 12-month period that ended 1 July 2020

If someone is on an accrual basis and their G1 figure is presented back to them, do they have the option to report eligibility on a cash basis instead?

No. Where the entity is provided with prefill data for the G1 figure based on an accrual basis, this suggests that they ordinarily report their BAS on an accrual basis. When applying the actual decline in turnover test for the JobKeeper extension periods, the entity is limited to the accounting method that they ordinarily use when reporting their BAS.

For more information, refer to the actual decline in turnover test content on the ATO website.

JobKeeper extension: ATO answers your 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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