The government is writing cheques to small business owners: This is how much you’ll get


SBO Financial director and head of growth Jason Andrew.

This article relates to the federal government’s first coronavirus stimulus package, announced on March 12, 2020. A second, extended package was announced on March 22. You can read the most up-to-date information here.

Governments around the world are quickly responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Italy has basically shut down its entire country. India has closed its borders and suspended all tourist visas.

Both demand and supply chains are being disrupted, with many economists fearing the virus could trigger the next economic recession.

In order to stave off a looming recession, the Australian government has announced its $17.6 billion economic stimulus package.

The package includes both cash and tax incentive measures, as follows.

Real, cash money for small business owners

1. 50% cashback on PAYGW, up to $25,000

Eligible small and medium-sized employers will be provided with a 50% tax-free ‘cashback’ of up to $25,000 (and a minimum of $2,000) on their PAYG Withholding on wages between January 1, 2020, and 30 June, 2020.

I should clarify, you do not get 50% of your total wages expenses as a credit. You are entitled 50% of the PAYGW associated with the wages.

So, breaking this down, if you have spent more than $50,000 in PAYGW for the six month period between January 1 and June 30, you should receive $25,000 in cash from the government. If you have spent $30,000 in PAYGW for the same period, you will get $15,000 (50% of $30,000), and so on.

The payment will be tax-free and delivered by the ATO as a credit in your Business Activity Statement (BAS) system effective from April 28, 2020.

So, if you lodge a quarterly BAS, you will get the credit in the June-20 quarter BAS. If you lodge a monthly IAS, the total amount will be credited by 50% from the March-20 IAS up to the June-20 IAS.

A couple of other points on this.

If you take your ‘salary’ as a dividend or directors drawing and want to maximise your ‘cashback’, you could explore changing the treatment of your remuneration from drawings to salary.

If you have an existing debt with the ATO, it’s unclear if this cash payment will simply offset your existing debt (hopefully not).

 2. 50% subsidy on apprentice wages, up to $21,000

Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of apprentice or trainee wages for up to nine months from January 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. (Up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee.)

If a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice.

 Tax incentives for small business owners

The immediate tax deduction threshold has been increased from $30,000 to $150,000.

Assets over $150,000 will attract an additional 50% depreciation rate of the asset cost in the year of purchase.

A couple of other points on this.

It’s important to note that these are tax incentives, not cashback incentives. In other words, you need to spend the money, and pay income tax in order to get the tax benefit.

The tax benefit will be applicable for your FY20 tax return, which means you won’t see any benefit until you’ve lodged your 2020 return.

My personal thoughts

Australia hasn’t experienced a legit economic recession in like 30 years. I was still in nappies when the last one happened in the early-1990s.

Our healthy trade relationship with China and Southeast Asia and fairly regulated credit system shielded us from the 2000 and 2007 global recessions.

I’m not an economist nor claim to be an expert in the matter, but this cycle seems a little bit different.

We’ve had close to three decades of sustained, economic growth.

Our key partner, China is currently in shutdown and is also showing signs of cracking.

Cheap debt has propped up global markets for several years now and I think the COVID-19 outbreak has been the ‘Black Swan’ that may (will probably) be the domino which triggers the next recession.

The government knows there is trouble in the water, hence these economic incentives.

Its policy has made the directive clear to business owners:

  • Keep employing staff; and
  • Invest in your business.

Small business owners, like you and me, are the engine room of the economy.

The government is doing something to help ease the pressure, but it’s largely up to us to keep things ticking along.

This article was first published on LinkedIn and has been republished with permission.

NOW READ: A $25,000 cash booster: The government’s $17.6 billion coronavirus stimulus package explained

NOW READ: Should startups panic about coronavirus? A letter from Square Peg Capital co-founder Paul Bassat


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