COVID-19 RESOURCE HUB

How your State’s assistance packages can help your small business

5 min read

As the pandemic continues to batter small businesses and sole traders across the country, government support is being rolled out at a rapid pace. We’ve already talked about the federal government grants here. Take a look to brush up. However, to bolster these economic remedies, Australia’s states and territories are also distributing their own financial assistance.

Let’s take a look at the additional business assistance being offered by states and territories.

New South Wales Government Assistance

The NSW Government has begun rolling out the following small business support measure to assist COVID-19 affected businesses. The reasons are clear, and the measures are being widely welcomed by struggling businesses.

$10,000 grants for small business

On the 3rd of April 2020, Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope announced a grant of up to $10,000 for businesses affected by COVID-19.

This is specifically being targeted at small businesses and will not be made available to larger entities.“Many local cafés, restaurants, corner shops, gyms and small accommodation providers will be eligible to apply,” Mr Perrottet said. This has been touted as the single largest support package for small businesses in the history of NSW.

The authorities involved have also said they’ll be doing everything they can to ensure this is rolled out as smoothly as possible, and with the least amount of barriers. Ensuring this money gets to small businesses like yours quickly and without friction is the primary aim here. Of course, you will still need to be eligible.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Have 1-19 employees
  • Have a turnover of more than $75,000
  • A payroll below the NSW Government payroll tax threshold of $900,000
  • Have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • Be based in NSW and employ staff as at March 1, 2020
  • Be highly impacted by the Public Health Order – ‘COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement’
  • Will use the funds for unavoidable business costs such as utilities, overheads, legal costs and financial advice

Apply here.

Payroll tax changes

There have also been Payroll tax relief packages announced by the NSW Government.

The details include:

  • Tax-free threshold increased from $900,000 to $1 million.
  • Deferral of payroll tax for business with payrolls over $10 million for six months.
  • An additional three-month deferral for businesses with payrolls of $10 million or less who received a three month waiver on payroll tax in the first package.

Further COVID-19 information for NSW businesses can be found here.

 

Victorian Government Assistance

The Victorian Government has also created a state-specific package to support businesses.

The support measures are grouped under the term ‘Economic Survival Package’ – let’s look at the major points that will affect you as a small business.

Business Support Fund

A $500 million Business Support Fund has been established to support the hardest hit business sectors, including hospitality, tourism, accommodation, arts and entertainment, and retail throughout Victoria.

This package, with details emerging, aims to help those businesses in these sectors which may not be eligible for payroll tax refunds due to their size.

For details visit www.business.vic.gov.au.

Payroll tax refund

Victorian businesses may also benefit from recently released payroll tax refund measures. The tax refunds will benefit 24,000 businesses and as many as 400,000 workers.

There’s no need to apply for this – your business will be contacted by the State Revenue Office. Talk with your accountant or financial advisor for personalised advice.

Some details:

  • Businesses with annual taxable wages up to $3 million will have their payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year waived.
  • You may be reimbursed for payroll tax already paid in the financial year.
  • Eligible businesses must continue to lodge returns but do not need to make further payments for this financial year.
  • These businesses can also defer paying payroll tax for the first quarter of the 2020-21 financial year.

Liquor license fees waived

In a nutshell – for all businesses in Victoria who own liquor licenses, your fees will be waived for 2020.

What if you’ve already paid? You’ll be contacted directly and reimbursed for your liquor license fee payments.

Who will be managing this? The State Revenue Office. Whether or not you received your license from the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation is irrelevant.

Invoice fast tracking

As a final measure (for now) the government will be fast tracking invoice payments.

This means, if your business supplies the government with goods or services of any kind, you’ll have invoices paid within five days. This will help keep available funds flowing quickly in these times of uncertainty and low cashflow.

Further COVID-19 information for VIC businesses can be found here.

Tasmania Government Assistance

The Tasmanian government has introduced a range of state specific assistance measures to help local Tasmanian businesses through the chaos.

Let’s take a look at them.

2020 Business Continuity Grant

The Tasmanian government will be handing out grants to small businesses to spend on a qualified person to advise on business continuity planning. The one-off grants worth $750 are designed to help your business recover after the pandemic eases. They can only be spent on business advice.

Eligibility:

  • You must have an Australian Business Number and be registered for GST.
  • You must not be subject to any legal impediment, including bankruptcy or liquidation.
  • Assistance must be provided by a suitably qualified consultant (for example, but not limited to, CPA, CA).
  • Not for profits and government entities are ineligible.

Apply here and see guidelines here.

Small Business Support Grant – round two

As with many states, Tasmania has also rolled out a one off $2,500 grant to small businesses severely affected by the pandemic. Round two of the Emergency Support Grants makes $2,500 available to those businesses under severe hardship and who have not yet received funding under the first round.

Eligibility:

  • Can be a small business, sole trader, owner operated business or non-employing business.
  • Must not have been given a grant from round one.
  • The definition of small business has been lifted to having less than 25 FTE employees.
  • Must have been in operation as of 31 January 2019.

Apply here

Business Support Loan Scheme

The Tasmanian government now offers low interest loans from $20 000 to $250 000 to COVID-19 affected businesses. The idea is to support business continuity, viability and sustainability.

Details:

  • The loans are unsecured
  • Interest free for the first three years
  • For a maximum of 5 years
  • For the last two years of the loan, they’ll revert to the Department of State Growth’s commercial loan interest rate.

Eligibility:

  • You must demonstrate you have been materially affected by the pandemic.
  • You must be majority Tasmanian-owned and operate in Tasmania as a sole trader, trust, partnership or private company.
  • Loans will be available to businesses with a turnover of $10 million or less as per the applicant’s most recent financial statements.
  • Businesses with turnover in excess of $10 million per year that operate in multiple locations will be considered on a case by case basis.

South Australia Government Assistance

Dubbed the ‘Economic Support Package’, South Australian businesses will also be getting some state specific help, worth over $1 billion in total, through the pandemic.

The primary additional mode of support will be the Job Rescue Package.

These are $10,000 one-off grants available to your small business under one scheme or the other – depending on your sector.

It breaks down into two categories.

The Business and Jobs Support Fund

This $300 million fund will be used to directly assist individual businesses and industries facing potential business failure and the loss of thousands of jobs due to the negative impacts of COVID-19.

This includes small businesses and non-profits.

Community and Jobs Support Fund

The $250 million Community and Jobs Support Fund is aimed at supporting community organisations, such as:

  • sports
  • arts
  • recreational bodies
  • non-profit organisations

Details on roll out forthcoming.

Additional Job Rescue Package measures

This package will also be employed to help boost professional training. There are allocations available to assist with training South Australians who are seeking new skills and new employment. If you’re a non-government Registered Training Organisation in South Australia, you may be eligible for the VET Market Continuity Package. The Jobs Rescue Package also includes several other provisions to support businesses including payroll relief and the waiving of liquor licensing fees. Apply here.

Further COVID-19 information for SA businesses can be found here.

Queensland Government Assistance

“Our society will go through the most difficult period most of us have ever experienced, but I am determined my government will support Queenslanders through it.” – Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

To this end, the Queensland government has introduced state specific business measures to assist those who need some buoyancy for their business.

Payroll tax relief

There’ll be additional relief for those small businesses paying payroll tax. There’ll be deferrals, refunds and relief.

  • All employers that pay less than $6.5 million in taxable wages will be eligible for:
    • a two-month refund of payroll tax
    • a three-month payroll tax holiday
    • a deferral of all payroll tax payments for the rest of 2020.
  • Those paying over $6.5 million in taxable wages must prove they’re COVID-19 affected and then will be eligible for:
    • a two-month refund of payroll tax
    • a deferral of all payroll tax payments for the rest of 2020.

Apply here

Diversification grants

Due to restrictions and industry downturns, there’s a need for many businesses to diversify and enter new markets. There’s assistance for this. Small businesses in the agriculture, food and fish exporting industries may be eligible for grants of between $2,500 and $50,000. These grants are designed to assist businesses diversifying their revenue and entering new markets.

Details forthcoming.

Power bill relief for sole traders and SMEs

Many people such as sole traders and certain small businesses will now be given help to cover their power bills. Sole traders and SMEs will receive a $500 rebate on their electricity bills, if they consume less than 100,000 kilowatt-hours. The rebate will be granted automatically on your behalf to all business electricity bills.

Certain fee relief

The Queensland government is also cancelling fees relating to certain small businesses. These include:

  • liquor licences
  • registration for inbound tour operators
  • commercial activity permits
  • marina charges
  • tourism rental payments

Talk to your bookkeeper or advisor for details.

Interest free job support loans available

Low interest business loans of up to $250,000 will be offered by the Queensland state government. The aim is to keep people employed and cashflow high.

Loans will be interest-free for the first 12 months.

Apply here

Further COVID-19 information for Queensland businesses can be found here.

Western Australia Government Assistance

If you do business in WA, take stock of the state-specific measures being rolled out to help your business stay afloat.

Payroll tax grant

An initial package announced in March offered small businesses with a payroll of $1 million to $4 million a one-off grant of $17,500. You don’t need to do anything to collect this. The WA Government will be sending your business a cheque, starting from July. What if your payroll is less than $1 million? If this is you, you’ll become exempt from payroll tax from July 1, 2020.

Payroll tax waiver – second round

A second stimulus package from the WA government has stated that payroll tax will be waived for four months from March 1, 2020. This applies for businesses with an annual wage bill of less than $7.5 million. Importantly, this will be in addition to the previously announced grants. Be aware, though, that this second measure replaces the payroll tax deferral measure from the previous initial package.

Apply here.

Certain fees waived

Announced in the second relief package, the WA government announced that they’ll waive certain fees for small and medium businesses that have been negatively affected by COVID-19.

These waivers include:

  • licences for building services plumbers and electricians
  • tourism businesses operating in national and marine parks
  • fishing licences
  • taxi authorisation fees
  • liquor licenses

Energy bill relief

The government is offering small businesses a one-off credit of $2,500 for Synergy and Horizon Power bills. Current customers who use less than 50 megawatt hours per year qualify and will see this distributed as of March 31.

Relief for on-demand transport sector

The WA Government has also announced a relief package to support and assist the taxi and on-demand transport industry during the pandemic.

Details include:

  • $2,500 cash payments to on-demand transport booking services.
  • Waiving booking services and passenger transport vehicle authorisation fees for one year.
  • Additional measures for regional taxi operators worth $4.7 million

Further COVID-19 information for WA businesses can be found here.

Northern Territory Government Assistance

In addition to federal support, NT registered businesses will also be supported by their territory government to give businesses and their employees the best chances of survival and recovery.

Let’s take a look at the primary business support measures being enacted by the NT government that may help you get through the pandemic.

Payroll tax relief

As with many states, one of the primary modes of business support will come in the form of payroll tax relief.

What is the NT government offering?

  • Payroll tax will be abolished for six months for all COVID-19 affected small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Your power, water and sewerage bills will be cut by 50% (all businesses) for six months.
  • To qualify you must have a turnover of less than $50 million and be able to demonstrate 30% revenue drops due to COVID-19 related hardship.

Businesses can apply from May 1, 2020.

Commercial tenant support and landlord responsibilities

On top of payroll tax relief, territory commercial tenants who are struggling to pay commercial leases will be eligible for extra support. Landlords will be expected to a part of the process.

Details:

  • NT commercial tenants can request rent relief if they can demonstrate economic hardship.
  • The landlord’s role will be to negotiate this relief on their behalf, in line with the code of conduct for commercial tenancies.
  • Landlords must negotiate in good faith, if they do not, they may become ineligible for all government support packages.
  • If your commercial property becomes vacant due to COVID-19, the property activation levy will be waived.

Business improvement grant

In a bid to assist small businesses with their physical presence ,as well as provide jobs to trade workers and other related industries, there’s a grant available to carry out business improvement works.

The grant is worth $10,000.

Eligible works include:

  • buying new equipment
  • new shop fit outs
  • physical changes to attract customers

Eligibility:

  • You serve your customers or clientele from a shopfront premises.
  • You offer goods and / or services to the public.
  • You were offering your services wholly or substantially in the NT for at least one month at the time of applying for a grant.
  • Your proposed work must contain a labour component.
  • The work must be completed by an eligible NT business with no relation to the business owner.

Apply here.

Bill assistance

If you’re a NT small business who has been affected negatively by COVID-19 (and can demonstrate this) the government will reduce your power and water bills by 50%, for six months.

Small business survival fund

A new $50 million fund has been created to help small business survivability and adaptability. The fund is designed to help businesses move online, pursue new business avenues and adjust to the negative impacts of COVID-19. Grants are case by case and you can apply here. Find more business COVID-19 information from the NT government here.

Australian Capital Territory Government Assistance

The ACT is following suit of course and there have been territory-specific measures introduced to support small business.

Let’s take a look at the important measures.

Payroll tax waivers

If your business has been affected by mandatory social isolation rules and ‘prohibited business activities’, you can apply for a six-month waiver. This is aimed at hospitality sectors and services such as restaurants, nail salons, gyms etc.

The waiver is for the six months from April to September 2020.

Apply for the waiver here.

Payroll tax deferral

The ACT government is also granting all small businesses like yourself, with payrolls of up to $10 million, to defer their 2020-2021 payroll tax payments until July 1, 2022.

Rideshare and taxi fees eased

Are you an uber or rideshare driver or similar? Good news, your Rideshare vehicle licence fee will be waived for 12 months. This came into effect on April 1.  What about taxis? Similarly, The ACT Government will waive all government leased taxi plate fees for 12 months. This will apply automatically.

Electricity rebates

If you’re an ACT small business owner and have an annual electricity use of below 100 megawatts, you will receive a rebate of $750. This will be automatically applied to your upcoming electricity bill around June or July 2020.

Fees waived for liquor and dining

Licensed venues and restaurants will be getting a boost from the ACT government.

  • Off licenced venues and licenced venues will receive a 12-month waiver of their food business registration and liquor licencing fees from April 1, 2020.
  • Outdoor dining fees for 2020-2021 will also be waived.

These fees will be waived automatically. You don’t have to do anything.

Investment in ACT projects

The ACT government has pledged an investment totaling $20 million in order to hasten infrastructure projects and maintenance. Funding will be available for currently available and ready jobs that will employ local suppliers and workers. Details forthcoming but the investment fund is expected to be implemented before the end of this financial year. Further COVID-19 information for ACT businesses can be found here.

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