JobKeeper amendments to turnover test and employment start date

Ian Murray-Jones, Senior Tax Writer, Thomson Reuters

The Prime Minister announced further changes to JobKeeper on 7 August 2020. The changes will ensure that eligibility for the revised JobKeeper scheme to commence on 28 September 2020 will be based on a single quarter tax period, rather than multiple quarters as previously announced. Employees hired as at 1 July 2020 will now also be eligible to receive JobKeeper.

Treasury has updated its JobKeeper factsheets as at 7 August 2020 to incorporate the PM’s announcement.

Background

The JobKeeper rules implemented in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were due to finish on 27 September 2020. The Government then announced on 21 July 2020 that it would be extended for 6 months (ie until 28 March 2021) albeit in an amended form.

As a reminder, the key highlights of the JobKeeper Version 2 to start on 28 September are that:

  • the extended scheme will apply at a top rate of $1,200 (down from the current $1,500) per JobKeeper fortnight from 28 September 2020 until 3 January 2021, then dropping to $1,000 until 28 March 2021;
  • lower rates will apply for part-time and casual employees; and
  • businesses will be required to re-test their eligibility for the payment scheme to access the extension.

Changes to turnover test

The latest changes relate to the eligibility test announced in JobKeeper Version 2.

JobKeeper Version 2 required that, from 28 September 2020, businesses and not-for-profits seeking to claim JobKeeper payments would have to meet a further decline in turnover test for each of the 2 periods of extension, as well as meeting the other existing eligibility requirements. That is, at that time businesses would have been required to reassess their eligibility for the JobKeeper extension with reference to their actual turnover in the June and September quarters 2020.

The precise details of JobKeeper Version 2 were that:

  • In order to be eligible for the first JobKeeper Payment extension period of 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, businesses and not-for-profits would have needed to demonstrate that their actual GST turnover has significantly fallen in the both the June quarter 2020 (April, May and June) and the September quarter 2020 (July, August, September) relative to comparable periods (generally the corresponding quarters in 2019).
  • For the second JobKeeper Payment extension period of 4 January to 28 March 2021, businesses and not-for-profits would have needed to demonstrate that their actual GST turnover has significantly fallen in each of the June, September and December 2020 quarters relative to comparable periods (generally the corresponding quarters in 2019).

Amendments to turnover test and employment start date

The PM has eased the proposed changes to turnover tests discussed above for businesses Australia wide (ie not just for Victoria).

The changes mean that businesses will now only be required to show the requisite actual decline in turnover for the September quarter alone, rather than for both the June and September quarters (for the period to 3 January 2021, ie the December quarter).

Similarly, businesses will only need to demonstrate a decline in turnover for the December 2020 quarter, rather than each of the June, September and December quarters (for the period to 28 March 2021, ie for the March quarter).

The Treasurer also announced a change for the start date for employees, with those hired as of 1 July to be eligible for JobKeeper Version 2 from 3 August. Previously, employees had to be on the books as at 1 March 2020.

Ian has worked at Thomson Reuters for over 15 years as a senior tax analyst with expertise in income tax and GST. He has been involved in tax publishing for over 25 years.

Prior to his tax writing career, Ian worked as a manager for a Big 4 accountancy firm and then with a firm which provided specialist tax advice for the music and recording industry.

Ian holds a Bachelor of Economics degree, is a Chartered Accountant and a registered tax agent. Among other things, Ian is the author of the Australian GST Handbook, the GST Commentary Service, the Australian Financial Planning Handbook and the specialist income tax commentary services, as well as being a regular contributor to the news services.

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