New measures applying from 1 January 2021
The Government has provided an update of a number of new measures which came into effect from 1 January 2021, including (among others):
The most significant changes to Australia’s insolvency framework in 30 years, which are intended to reduce costs, cut red tape and help more small businesses recover from the pandemic. The reforms introduce a new, simplified debt restructuring process. These measures apply to incorporated businesses with liabilities of less than $1 million — covering around 76% of businesses subject to insolvencies today, 98% of which have less than 20 employees.
Australians will have more power to choose their own superannuation fund: ‘Your Superannuation, Your Choice’ allows around 800,000 Australians to decide where their retirement savings are invested, representing around 40% of all employees covered by a current enterprise agreement.
The Government’s HomeBuilder program has been extended to 31 March 2021. The scheme is expected to support the construction or major rebuild of an additional 15,000 homes.
Major reforms to Australia’s foreign investment framework take effect, with new requirements for foreign investors.
JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme: Claims open from 1 February 2021
The JobMaker Hiring Credit is being administered by the ATO and provides a wage subsidy payment directly to employers as an incentive to employ additional job seekers aged 16 to 35 years.
Registrations for the JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme opened on 7 December 2020, and claims for the first JobMaker period can be made from 1 February 2021, provided employers are registered and meet all eligibility requirements.
Employer eligibility requirements include that applicants:
are up to date with their tax and GST lodgment obligations for the last 2 years;
have not claimed JobKeeper payments for a fortnight that started during the JobMaker period; and
are reporting through Single Touch Payroll.
The ATO will be writing to employers who have registered for the JobMaker Hiring Credit from 15 January 2021, encouraging them to check that they meet all JobMaker Hiring Credit eligibility criteria before they claim, to ensure that registrants can make a claim from 1 February 2021 and there are no delays in them receiving their payments.
Paper PAYG and GST quarterly instalment notices
The ATO has previously advised that it will no longer issue paper activity statements after electronic lodgment. Instead, electronic activity statements will be available for access online, three to four days after the activity statement is generated.
As part of its digital improvement program, the ATO stopped issuing paper quarterly PAYG and GST instalment notices (forms R, S & T), where taxpayers had a digital preference on ATO systems. The September 2020 notice was the last one issued to these taxpayers.
However, the ATO has received feedback from tax professionals that issues have arisen for some of their clients as a result of this change. For example, some taxpayers who are self-lodgers rely on the receipt of the paper statements as a reminder that their instalments are due.
As an interim solution, the ATO said it will issue paper PAYG and GST quarterly instalment notices starting with the March 2021 quarterly notices.
For taxpayers impacted by this change, the ATO will work with their registered agents to take their circumstances into account. The ATO has a range of practical support options available, including lodgment deferrals and payment plans that agents can access online, on behalf of their clients.
For self-lodgers, the ATO has issued an email notification reminding them that their December 2020 PAYG and GST instalment notices are due for payment soon (by 2 March 2021).
The ATO said it will continue to work with the tax profession to develop a digital solution for the PAYG and GST instalment notices that is workable for registered agents and their clients.
Please Note: Many of the comments in this publication are general in nature and anyone intending to apply the information to practical circumstances should seek professional advice to independently verify their interpretation and the information’s applicability to their particular circumstances.