ATO announces support for ECEC businesses after Morrison address

by Freya Lucas

March 13, 2020

Following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement of a stimulus package, designed to shore up the Australian economy from the impact of flood, fire and COVID-19, the Australian Taxation Office  (ATO) has announced a series of administrative measures to assist Australians experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan, has encouraged businesses who are impacted by COVID-19 to get in touch with the ATO to discuss relief options, saying the ATO stands ready to “work shoulder-to-shoulder with businesses to assist them through this difficult period.”

 

A range of options are available to businesses and communities that are being heavily affected by the challenging economic conditions created by the outbreak of COVID-19, including: 

 

  • Deferring by up to four months the payment date of amounts due through the business activity statement (including PAYG instalments), income tax assessments, fringe benefits tax assessments and excise

 

  • Allowing businesses on a quarterly reporting cycle to opt into monthly GST reporting in order to get quicker access to GST refunds they may be entitled to

 

  • Allowing businesses to vary Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalment amounts to zero for the April 2020 quarter. Businesses that vary their PAYG instalment to zero can also claim a refund for any instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters

 

  • Remitting any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities

 

  • Working with affected businesses to help them pay their existing and ongoing tax liabilities by allowing them to enter into low interest payment plans.

 

“Once you contact us, we’ll tailor a support plan for your needs and circumstances. We understand this is a time of significant uncertainty and that we will need to be flexible in how we help businesses” Mr Jordan added. 

 

One area where there is no room for flexibility, he added, was superannuation payments, making it clear that employers will still need to meet their ongoing super guarantee obligations for their employees.

 

Outside of business, the ATO will also work with individuals experiencing financial hardship, and their tax agents, and will apply appropriate tax relief measures for “serious and exceptional circumstances”, such as where people cannot pay for food or accommodation.

 

Unlike relief measures targeted to support Australians impacted by the 2019/2020 bushfires, there are no geographic boundaries in relation to the assistance measures. 

 

Anyone impacted by COVID-19 is advised to contact the ATO to request assistance. An emergency support infoline has been established, accessed by dialing 1800 806 218. 

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