The first round of payments under the Morrison government’s $130 billion JobKeeker scheme is set to start flowing this week, a little over a month after the program was first announced.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg issued a legislative instrument last Friday giving effect to several changes to wage subsidy rules announced late last month, while the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has continued to publish guidance for firms enrolling.
A timeline of so-called ‘JobKeeper fortnights’ is now available on the ATO’s website, including a list of key dates for employers over the life of the program.
Meanwhile, the ATO has also published new guidance on how firms accepted into JobKeeper can make their mandatory monthly declarations.
Here’s what you need to know.
How will I find out if I’m accepted into JobKeeper?
Businesses waiting to find out if they’ve been accepted to receive JobKeeper payments should keep an eye out for a digital receipt from the ATO.
ATO deputy commissioner James O’Halloran, the ATO’s program lead for JobKeeper, said on an ATO podcast last Friday there was an automated process to confirm with businesses they’ve been accepted as enrolled.
But keep in mind, JobKeeper is a self-assessment program, which means enrollment is really just the first stage based on the information a business has provided in their application.
If the ATO identifies a business’ application as lacking in some way, they’ll be in touch to rectify this, and have the power to claw back payments made to firms they identify as ineligible.
I’ve enrolled, now what?
Businesses accepted into the JobKeeper program are required to make monthly declarations to the ATO, updating their current and projected turnover calculations and reconfirming their eligible employees.
The ability to make these declarations through the ATO’s business portal opened Monday (May 4), and this is an important step, because O’Halloran said businesses will need to make this declaration before receiving their first payments.
The three steps are “enrol, verify your employees, and confirm that with us through the online arrangements”, O’Halloran said, “and then once we get a declaration from you that’s accurate, we’ll then forward that payment to you”.
These declarations will need to be reaffirmed every month for the duration of the scheme.
Why are businesses being asked to provide their current and projected turnover again?
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The ATO said on its website the reconfirmations aren’t a “retest” of eligibility. But last Friday O’Halloran said: “That monthly report … is really a reaffirmation you are still eligible for the scheme and that will trigger the payments again in the subsequent months.”
“Once you’re in, you’re in, once you’ve done the work then it’s automatic and obviously subject to you still being eligible and no change in your employees.”
Key dates for JobKeeper
The JobKeeper scheme works in dedicated “fortnights”, although businesses aren’t required to change their individual payroll cycles to bi-weekly ones, so long as they comply with the dates listed below.
- JobKeeper fortnight 1: March 30 – April 12; employees must be paid by May 8.
- Fortnight 2: April 13 – April 26; employees must be paid by May 8.
- Fortnight 3: April 27 – May 10; employees must be paid by May 10.
- Fortnight 4: May 11 – May 24; employees must be paid by May 24.
- Fortnight 5: May 25 – June 7; employees must be paid by June 7.
- Fortnight 6: June 8 – June 21; employees must be paid by June 21.
- Fortnight 7: June 22 – July 5; employees must be paid by July 5.
- Fortnight 8: July 6 – July 19; employees must be paid by July 19.
- Fortnight 9: July 20 – August 2; employees must be paid by August 2.
- Fortnight 10: August 3 – August 16; employees must be paid by August 16.
- Fortnight 11: August 17 – August 30; employees must be paid by August 30.
- Fortnight 12: August 31 – September 13; employees must be paid by September 13.
- Fortnight 13: September 14 – September 27; employees must be paid by September 27.