New alternative decline in turnover test
To claim JobKeeper, you must have suffered a significant decline in turnover.
Generally, this is measured by comparing a relevant quarter in 2020 (called the turnover test period) with the equivalent quarter in 2019. However, there are alternative decline in turnover tests that apply in certain situations, such as:
- the business did not commence until early in 2020;
- there was a significant increase in turnover before the turnover test period;
- the business was affected by drought or other natural disaster; or
- in the case of a sole trader or small partnership, turnover was affected by leave, injury or illness.
An additional alternative decline in turnover test has been added – this applies to businesses that temporarily ceased trading for some or all of the relevant comparative period.
The new decline in turnover test requires the entity to have suffered the necessary decline based on its actual GST turnover for the September 2020 and/or the December 2020 quarter and not its projected turnover.
The standard rate of JobKeeper of $1,500 per fortnight has been replaced with a two-tiered rate of JobKeeper from 28 September 2020. The higher rate of JobKeeper from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021 is $1,200 (per fortnight) and the lower rate is $750 (per fortnight).
On 4 January 2021, the higher rate of JobKeeper reduces from $1,200 to $1,000 (per fortnight) and the lower rate reduces from $750 to $650 (per fortnight).
Whether the higher rate of JobKeeper applies is based on whether the individual worked 80 hours or more in the ‘reference period’. The higher rate will apply to:
- eligible employees whose total hours of paid work, paid leave and paid absence on public holidays was 80 hours or more in the 28-day period ending at the end of the most recent pay cycle that ended before 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020 (the employer may choose which period applies);
- eligible business participants (including sole traders) who were actively engaged in the business carried on by the entity for 80 hours or more in February 2020. The individual must provide a notice to that effect to the entity (or to the Commissioner if the individual is a sole trader).
The lower rate will apply to all other eligible employees/business participants.
The JobKeeper scheme is scheduled to end on 28 March 2021.
FairWork Australia have also issued guidelines for employers who may be closing their business over the Christmas Period, and who have employees on JobKeeper payments.
Their web address as follows:
The ATO has published on its website a useful guide explaining what happens if you have incorrectly self-assessed yourself (or your employees) as eligible for a JobKeeper payment.
If the ATO considers it was an honest mistake, you may not have to repay the payment if:
- you relied in good faith on a statement made by an employee in their nomination notice;
- you fully passed on the benefit of the JobKeeper payment to the relevant employee;
- the mistake was made in the early days of JobKeeper when less public guidance was available.
If the ATO considers the mistake was not an honest one – which could include where the ATO has contacted you about a claim potentially being ineligible and you have not taken reasonable steps to check the eligibility before making future claims – the ATO will contact you and advise:
- why they think there has been an overpayment;
- how much you need to repay; and
- how to make the repayment.
There is a third scenario – the ATO decides that another entity that directly or indirectly benefited from the overpayment is also liable to repay the overpayment. The ATO can pursue you or the other entity for repayment (including for the whole amount).
Tip! If you think you have received a JobKeeper payment by mistake, talk to your tax adviser at Southern Business Solutions or the ATO as soon as you discover the error.
Ref: TaxWise Business November 2020