Victorian Premier declares State of Disaster

COVID-19 continues to disrupt the Australian economy but nowhere is feeling the hurt more than Victoria. Metropolitan Melbourne has moved from Stage 3 restrictions to a Stage 4 economic lockdown, whilst the remainder of regional Victoria moves into Stage 3 restrictions.

Stage 4 restrictions will significantly impact many businesses across Melbourne and the wider state, resulting in many closing their doors or forced to operate at a reduced capacity.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced further economic measures to support businesses during this difficult period.

The announcements made on 3 August 2020 include a number of new and updated measures.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) test isolation and worker support payments

The Victorian Government is providing one-off payments to financially support Victorian workers, including parents and guardians, who are required to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.

A one-off $300 payment to support Victorian workers, including parents and guardians, who are required to self-isolate while waiting for the results of a COVID-19 (Coronavirus) test.

A one-off $1,500 payment to support Victorian workers who:

  • Have been instructed by the Department of Health and Human Services to self-isolate or quarantine at home because they are either diagnosed with COVID-19 or are a close contact of a confirmed case.
  • Have been instructed by the Department of Health and Human Services that their child aged under 16 needs to self-isolate or quarantine at home because they are either diagnosed with COVID-19 or are a close contact of a confirmed case.

Business Support Fund – Expansion program

The Government will provide one-off grants to eligible businesses under the Business Support Fund – Expansion program, comprising:

  • $10,000 for employing businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire in recognition of spending longer under restrictions
  • $5,000 for employing businesses in regional local government areas (except Mitchell Shire).

Businesses which have already received a Business Support Fund – Expansion grant under the first round of applications (which closed 1 June 2020) will automatically receive this additional allocation of funds.

Applications for the program will be extended until 14 September 2020 for new applicants.

Payroll tax deferrals

Announced 10 July 2020, deferrals have been extended to businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million to defer their payroll tax liabilities for the first half of the 2020-21 financial year.

This deferral was previously announced as only available to employers with payroll up to $3 million and the deferral only applying for the first three months of the 2020/21 financial year.

More details on these measures are yet to be announced by the State Revenue Office.

Payroll tax exemption for JobKeeper payments

For employers participating in the JobKeeper program, “additional payments” made to employees will be exempt from payroll tax. For payments to employees that have been stood down, the full $1,500 per fortnight will be exempt, and for those receiving a top-up payment as a result of JobKeeper, the top-up component will be exempt.

The additional payments will also be excluded for the purposes of calculating WorkCover Premiums.

This exemption applies automatically with employers able to self-assess whether the JobKeeper amounts paid are exempt as part of their existing payroll tax arrangements.

Regional tourism accommodation support program

Current state-wide and interstate travel restrictions impacting Victorian tourism and accommodation providers will be able to apply for direct financial support through the $40 million Regional Tourism Accommodation Support Program to cover the revenue lost from eligible cancelled bookings refunded to customers.

Applications are open from 13 July 2020 until the end of the current Stay at Home restrictions or when funds are exhausted.

Other funding announcements

  • $30 million dedicated fund for Victoria’s night-time economy to support the hardest hit businesses in hospitality.
  • $26 million in mental health support to ensure Victorians dealing with the compounding challenges of running a small business can get the support they need as they navigate their way through the crisis.
  • $10 million business mentoring program, pairing small business owners with experienced professionals who can help them navigate their way through the crisis.
  • $20 million fund to support small businesses in Melbourne’s CBD that are faced with a large and sustained shock to their trading environments.

More details on the above announcements are yet to be revealed.

Further details on announcements

Permitted Worker Scheme imposes requirement on employers

From 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August in metropolitan Melbourne, employers that require their staff to attend a worksite must issue a worker permit to their employees under the permitted worker scheme.

The Department of Justice has released a template for issue of the permit, and breaches of the scheme may result in penalties of up to $19,826.40 for individuals and $99,132 for bodies corporate.

Please contact your local Bentleys advisor for further information. We are doing everything we can to help businesses come out of this challenging time in good shape.

Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and should not be relied on as advice. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs and seek professional advice before making any decisions based on this information.

COVID-19: A summary of Australia's tax measures

The governments of Australian states and territories have also released independent stimulus packages. For an overview of all Australian measures, click here.

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