As small businesses all over the country start to feel the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, state governments are offering support for local small businesses, in addition to the government’s $17.6 billion stimulus package.
Queensland quietly released its own state stimulus package earlier this week, offering payroll tax relief for eligible businesses, low-interest loans to help businesses retain employees, and even grants for some affected sectors.
It later rolled out a more comprehensive $4 billion package, including funding for healthcare facilities and relief for households.
That package also pledged $2.5 billion for protecting jobs and businesses, on top of the low-interest loans that had already been announced.
Here’s a breakdown.
Payroll tax relief
Queensland businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak may be eligible for payroll tax relief or deferral.
Initially, the state government said relief would be available for affected businesses that pay $6.5 million or less in taxable wages.
Now, however, it applies to all businesses with payroll under that threshold, and to all businesses that have been directly or indirectly affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Employers that pay $6.5 million or less in taxable wages will be eligible for a refund for two months’ worth of payroll tax.
They will also be eligible for a three-month payroll holiday.
The government says these business owners will have received an email instructing them of what to do now. But, any that haven’t should apply through the application forms below.
These businesses will also be able to apply for a deferral of payroll tax for the 2020 calendar year.
The payroll tax refund and deferral will also be available for employers that pay more than $6.5 million in Australian taxable wages, and have been directly or indirectly affected by the coronavirus.
In this case, that means the business will have seen a negative effect on turnover, profit, customers, bookings, sales or supply contracts, compared to normal conditions.
“Combined with the payroll tax deferrals we’ve already announced, it means no Queensland business impacted by COVID-19 will need to make a payroll tax payment this year,” Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said.
Application forms for the refund, holiday and deferral are available here.
Low-interest loan facility
Queensland businesses will also have access to a new $500 million loan facility, offering low-interest loans of up to $250,000.
The funding is intended to allow small businesses to retain employees and maintain operations, and will be interest-free for the first 12 months.
The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority is currently accepting expressions of interest for the loans. Businesses that are interested should contact the authority here.
The state government is also launching a $500,000 grants package for small businesses in the agriculture, food and fish exporting industries, as well as supply chain partners, to help them diversify their business and access new markets.
Priority will be given to businesses that can demonstrate they have been affected by the spread of the virus, or that they are likely to be affected.
Grants between $2,500 and $50,000 will be issued to help businesses conduct market evaluation studies, to visit potential new markets, or to purchase new equipment required for diversification.
The grant program is expected to be open for applications in April, and additional guidelines and criteria will be available then.
The government is also waiving various fees relating to small business in the state, including for some variations of liquor licences, registration for inbound tour operators, commercial activity permits, marina charges and tourism rental payments.
It is also waiving liquor licensing fees for any venue that has had to close because of the virus.
Finally, rent relief is available to businesses renting from the state government, as well as rebates for commercial operators and tenants in marinas.
Energy bill rebate
SMEs may be eligible for a $500 rebate off of their energy bills.
The rebate is available to businesses that consume less that 100,000 kilowatt hours, and will be automatically applied.
Small business mentoring
Finally, the state government has announced a $1.1 million ‘market-ready’ initiative, offering tailored advice for small businesses on leveraging opportunities in the Chinese online market.
It’s also implementing a series of workshops and forums designed to help current and potential exporters to reach further afield, and to offer mentoring and support in things like financial management and business planning.
This article was updated at 4.30pm on March 24, 2020.