Australian businesses struggling to meet the JobKeeper requirements will now have more leeway, under an adjustment announced by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) this week.
The Tax Commissioner has extended the time for businesses to enrol for the initial JobKeeper periods from 30 April to 31 May, the ATO said on its website.
That means that businesses that have enrolled by 31 May will still be able to claim payments for the fortnights in April and May – provided they met all the other eligibility requirements over that period. That includes having paid workers by the appropriate deadline.
Additionally, for the first two fortnights of JobKeeper payments (30 March to 12 April, and 13 April to 26 April), the deadline for payments has been extended to 8 May.
That means that as long as businesses have paid eligible workers $3,000 over the four week period, they will be eligible for the payments.
“You can enrol and claim for JobKeeper earlier if you choose. For example, you can enrol by the end of April to claim JobKeeper payments for the two fortnights in April,” the ATO added.
Crucially, this extension means that businesses whose wages bills may have inadvertently risen due to the JobKeeper payments, will now have extra time to make the initial payments.
And as business commentator Peter Switzer noted, 8 May falls after the period when the ATO will begin sending out JobKeeper payments, further alleviating pressures.
“One mistake that has been addressed overnight covers the big problem that, in some cases, JobKeeper payments were bigger than the usual wages paid by many bosses to their employees,” Switzer said.
“What has been a real worry is that these employers looked like having to pay the extra wages for four weeks before the ATO gave them the promised money from the government.”
He described the extension as a “sensible and swift backdown on a policy process that was flawed when applied to the real world”.
Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said the extension allows businesses to address cashflow pressures and keep more Australians connected to their workplaces.
He said around 900,000 businesses have expressed interest in the JobKeeper program, while 500,000 businesses have so far enrolled, covering around 3 million employees.
“Businesses have until 31 May 2020 to formally enrol to claim JobKeeper payments. However, the sooner an employer pays their staff for April and enrols, the sooner the ATO can reimburse them the JobKeeper payments.”
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