As the federal government prepares to give small businesses a financial boost to help them weather the effects of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, the Australian Tax Office has said it will provide tax relief to affected businesses in the form of payment deferrals and faster access to goods and services tax refunds.
On Thursday, commissioner of taxation Chris Jordan called for businesses that are being affected by the coronavirus to contact the ATO to get access to a tailored support plan.
A number of options will be available to affected businesses, including four-month deferrals for the payments of amounts due through business activity statements (including Pay-As-You-Go instalments), income tax assessments, fringe benefits tax assessments and excise.
The ATO may also allow businesses that are on a quarterly reporting cycle to switch to monthly GST reporting so they can gain quicker access to any available GST refunds.
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Businesses may also be permitted to vary PAYG instalment amounts to zero for the April 2020 quarter, said the ATO. Businesses that opt to do so may then be able to claim refunds for instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters.
Further, the ATO said it may also be able to remit any interest and penalties incurred since January 23, which have been applied to tax liabilities, and will allow businesses to enter into low-interest payment plans for existing and ongoing tax liabilities.
These arrangements will be flexible, said Jordan, given the level of uncertainty in the community.
“We know that many businesses and communities are being heavily affected by the challenging economic conditions created by the outbreak of COVID-19,” he said in a statement.
“The ATO will work shoulder-to-shoulder with businesses to assist them through this difficult period and do what we can to ease the pressure.”
The ATO said employers must still meet ongoing super guarantee obligations for employees during this time, and unlike relief measures offered to businesses affected by the bushfires, which were applied automatically in designated geographic areas, these measures to support those affected by coronavirus will not be automatically rolled out.
The tax office will also establish a temporary shopfront in Cairns to help affected small businesses in the area, as part of a broader plan to increase face-to-face assistance in high-priority areas.
Businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak can contact the ATO to discuss relief options by calling the Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218.