COVID-19 Relief Payments Ending Soon

Exciting news this week: Sophie and Graham were interviewed for Accountants Daily about how Book Us Bookkeeping is managing in Covid times, as well as their future plans. Have a read here and tell us what you think!

JobSaver payments will also change form when NSW reaches the 80% double vaccination rate. Payments will be reduced from 30% to 15% of weekly payroll. These payments will end on 30 November 2022, coinciding with the further relaxation of restrictions.

Now to what we know about relief payments and their end dates. The COVID-19 Disaster Payment will be transitioning to a new form as states reach 70% full vaccination. The automatic renewal of the payment will end, and individuals will have to reapply each week that a Commonwealth hotspot remains in place.

Under the payment, eligible recipients have received $750 per week if they lost over 20 hours of work, $450 per week if they lost between eight and 20 hours, and $200 per week for those on income support payments who lost over eight hours of work. When a state or territory reaches 80% full vaccination, the payment will step down over a period of two weeks before ending.

The government will leave in place the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment (for those who cannot work because they must self-isolate or quarantine) until 30 June 2022.

Single Touch Payroll Phase 2 Deferral

The ATO has just announced a deferral for the commencement of Single Touch Payroll Phase 2.

Employers who were previously required to begin Phase 2 by 1 January 2022, now have until 1 March 2022 to meet their updated reporting obligations.

The rollout of STP Phase 2 will be largely driven by the payroll and accounting software you use. Please check in with your software provider to ensure you will be meeting your new obligations by the required date.

Benefits of STP Phase 2 for employers include:

  • You will no longer have to send employees’ TFN declarations to the ATO (though you will have to keep them with employee records)
  • If you’re using a concessional reporting option, such as for closely held payees or for inbound assignees, you’ll be able to tell us through reporting income types
  • You won’t need to provide Lump Sum E letters to your employees
  • If you change software or an employee’s payroll ID, you can tell the ATO in your STP report which will help fix issues with duplicate income statements
  • You may no longer need to provide separation certificates when your employees leave as the date and reason will be in your STP report

Benefits of STP Phase 2 for employees include:

  • It will be easier for employees at tax time, as the ATO will have better visibility of the types of income they’ve received and where it should be pre-filled on their individual income tax return
  • Over time, the new information reported will allow the ATO to tell employees if they’ve provided an employer with incorrect information that may lead to them getting a tax bill (e.g. where an employee hasn’t notified you that they have a Study and Training Support Loan)
  • The ATO will also share data with Services Australia to streamline their interactions with customers and ensure they are being paid correctly

Please note that there won’t be penalties for genuine mistakes for the first year of Phase 2 reporting until 31 December 2022.

Please get in touch if we can help explain this, or help you get set up for STP Phase 2.

Changes to Casual Employment

By 27 September 2021, employers (other than small business employers with fewer than 15 employees) need to assess whether any existing casual employees (employed before 27 March 2021), should be offered the opportunity to convert to permanent employment.

Employers need to:

  • make a written offer to convert their casual employees to permanent employment (this must be done within 21 days after making the assessment), or
  • write to employees explaining why they won’t be made an offer (this needs to be done within 21 days of making the assessment but by no later than 27 September 2021).

To accept an offer to convert, employees need to respond in writing within 21 days after getting the offer. If they don’t respond, employers can assume that they’ve declined the offer.

Small business employers (defined as a business with fewer than 15 employees) do not have to offer casual conversion to casual employees.

However, casuals may make a request to their small business employer if they meet the below requirements:

  • they have been employed for at least twelve months,
  • they have worked a regular pattern of hours in the last six months on an ongoing basis,
  • their regular hours could continue as a permanent employee without significant changes,
  • they haven’t refused an offer to become a permanent employee in the last six months,
  • the employer has not informed the employee that they won’t be offering casual conversion on reasonable grounds, and
  • the employer has not already refused a request based on reasonable grounds in the last six months.

Click here to download and read the full Casual Employment Information Statement. This document must also now be given to all new casual employees.

You can find further information about these changes at the Fair Work website, especially this page about becoming a permanent employee.

JobSaver Reporting Changes

You might have received a slightly panic-inducing email on Friday from Services NSW, informing you that you would have to prove your decline in turnover fortnightly to continue receiving JobSaver payments. We are here to tell you to not add this particular stress to your plate!

This change was made without consultation, resulting in backlash from accountants and other business professionals. Services NSW have therefore announced a grace period, meaning that this is not required for the fortnight beginning 13 September 2021. In the next few weeks, professional accounting bodies will be meeting with the NSW government to discuss workarounds or alternatives to this new fortnightly retesting.

We will keep you updated as we learn more about the changes . Be assured that the professional accounting bodies have our backs (and yours too)!

Also, if you have not yet applied, but think you might be eligible for the NSW 2021 COVID-19 Business Grant (check eligibility here), please note that the application deadline has now been extended to 1 October 2021.

COVID-19 Grants Due Date Reminder

Thank you so much for your enthusiastic (and entertaining) replies to last week’s trivia questions. We hope you enjoyed them even half as much as we did!

You might not know about the Small Business Fees and Charges Rebate. Eligible businesses or not-for-profits only need to apply for the rebate once, but can submit multiple claims until the full value of $1,500 is reached. 

Funds from this rebate can be used to offset the costs of eligible NSW and local government fees and charges due and paid from 1 March 2021. These include, but are not limited to:

  • vehicle registration (business use fee)
  • council rates
  • issue or renewal of a driver licence
  • food authority licences
  • liquor licences
  • tradesperson licences
  • event fees
  • outdoor seating fees

You might be eligible for this rebate if you:

  • have total Australian wages below the NSW Government 2020-21 payroll tax threshold of $1.2 million
  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN) registered in NSW and/or have business premises physically located and operating in NSW.

This rebate will be available until 30 June 2022Check the full eligibility criteria here.

If you are eligible for the NSW 2021 COVID-19 Business Grant (check eligibility here), please note that you must lodge your application before 13 September 2021.

JobSaver Payment grants have an application deadline of 18 October 2021Check your eligibility and application requirements here

Please get in touch if you need help with your evidence requirements.

Book Us Bookkeeping Trivia!

We won a prize this week! The competition entry required us to explain in 250 words how we have supported our small business clients during the COVID-19 lockdowns over the past eighteen months. We won this because of you, our lovely clients, so we want to have a bit of fun with this newsletter!

First up, we have two annual subscriptions to mindfulness app Headspace to give away. These are on a first come, first served basis. Please get in touch with Sophie if you think this would be helpful to you!

Secondly, we’re giving away a hamper worth $100 to a randomly selected person who answers the following five questions correctly:

  1. What is Sophie’s other job?
  2. Who writes these newsletters (hint: there is a fourth family member)?
  3. What are our TWO busiest months of the year?
  4. What is the age difference between Graham and Melissa?
  5. Name one accounting software that we work with.

(And definitely feel free to ask us the answers when you’re talking to us!)

Winners will be drawn on Friday, so get in quick!

What are TPARs?

A top of the email reminder that your BAS payments are due today, Wednesday 25 August. Maybe go and do that before jumping into the next bit of the email – see you in a minute!

If your business makes payments to contractors or subcontractors you may need to lodge a Taxable payments annual report (TPAR) by 30 August.

The information collected by the ATO in the TPAR allows them to identify contractors who are not meeting their tax obligations. This prevents dishonest operators from gaining an unfair business advantage.

You need to know about TPAR if your business provides any of the following services, even if it’s just part of the services you provide each year:

  • building and construction services
  • cleaning services
  • courier or road freight services
  • information technology services
  • security, investigation or surveillance services
  • government entities

These categories are broad and some of your business activities might fall under the categories. We highly recommend asking us, or reading this page on the ATO website for more information.

The TPAR details payments made to contractors for providing services. Some government entities also need to report the grants they have paid. Contractors can include subcontractors, consultants and independent contractors. They can be operating as sole traders (individuals), companies, partnerships or trusts.

The details you need to report about each contractor are generally found on the invoice you should have received from them. This includes:

  • their Australian business number (ABN), if known
  • their name and address
  • gross amount you paid to them for the financial year (including any GST)

Please be in touch if we can help you understand anything about TPARs.

COVID Payments

Now that all of NSW is in lockdown, we thought we’d do a quick recap about the different emergency payments you and your employees might be eligible for.

You might be eligible for a $320 Test and Isolate support payment if:

  • you need to test and isolate due to COVID symptoms
  • you live in one of the LGAs of concern, such as Campbelltown
  • you are unable to work because of your self-isolation

You can confirm your eligibility and apply on this page at Services NSW.

You might be eligible for a Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment if: 

  • you have coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • you’ve been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19
  • you care for a child, 16 years or under, who has COVID-19 or who’s been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19
  • you’re unable to go to work and earn an income
  • you have no appropriate leave entitlements, including pandemic sick leave, personal leave or leave to care for another person

If you’re a member of a couple, you can both claim this payment. You and your partner will need to complete separate claims. You can confirm your eligibility and apply on this page at Services Australia.

You might be eligible for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment if:

  • you live or work in any area of New South Wales
  • you were unable to earn your usual income of 8 hours or more or a full day’s work because of the restricted movement order
  • you meet any other eligibility rules

There is no liquid assets limit for this payment. There are, however, different eligibility requirements depending on whether you are in Greater Sydney or elsewhere in NSW, or whether you claim any payments from Services Australia. Please confirm your eligibility and apply on this page at Services Australia.Please also speak to your doctor about getting vaccinated. Sophie has been fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca since June, and Melissa and Graham both recently had their second dose of Pfizer. It doesn’t look like we will get this under control until we have more vaccinated people in the population!

Mental Health Check

We’re incredibly passionate about mental health at Book Us. Sophie and Graham have both struggled with depression, and have both reached out to their psychologists for support in the last eighteen months.

We wanted to use this week’s newsletter to emphasise just how important it is to look after your mental health, especially in these very difficult times.

Remember that it is completely normal to be struggling with productivity at the moment.

Remember that it is completely normal for your emotions to be heightened.

Remember that it is completely normal to be coping with this completely abnormal situation in whatever way works for you. (Though we hope for your sake that these are healthy ways!)

If you are feeling hopeless, please reach out to somebody. Go to your GP and ask for a Mental Health Care Plan and some recommendations for psychologists near you. The government now subsidise more sessions with a psychologist than ever before. Our daughter Emily recommends – you can speak with a psychologist from your living room!

If you have private health insurance, you likely have some psychology sessions available. Check what you are covered for with your insurer.

We also highly recommend Matt Haig’s new book The Comfort Book for a little reminder that we are living in incredibly strange times and that all of us are in it together (excuse the cliche).

And please feel free to reach out to us. We know how hard it is to concentrate on work when the world is throwing so many stressors at you. We are here to help. And if we can’t help with a particular problem, we will do our best to direct you to someone who can.

Beware of Scams!

A more serious tone for this week’s post. We want to implore you to be on the lookout for scams.

Roughly 2.8 million Australians have been impacted by cyber crime in the past year and it’s only getting worse now that COVID has pushed everyone further online.

Every tax time, there are people who try to take advantage of you. This is often through emails which look like they come from MyGov or the ATO, linking you to a website just similar enough that you don’t notice. If you receive any emails from these government organisations, one way to ensure you are staying safe is to avoid clicking links and log in using a brand new web page.

Victims are rarely able to recover financial losses from cyber crime, so please be careful.

Scammers might also call your phone and create a sense of urgency by saying that your device has been compromised and that you must download certain software. If this happens to you, please do not be taken in. Report the attempted scam to the ACCC.

If you think the call is legitimate, tell them you will ring back. Independently source the organisation’s details and contact them. Do not click on any links.

Last year, the ATO was the most commonly impersonated government agency, with 96,220 scams reported to the Tax Office. Nearly 500 people lost a collective $2.4 million to such scams. If you are in doubt about any communication from the ATO, please do reach out to us.

If you’re waiting to hear from us about COVID-19 grants, please be assured that we are working on them. There are huge delays as Service NSW work through the many requests. We will let you know as soon as we know.