JobKeeper declarations: Businesses have 14 days to declare for May or risk missing payments


The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is preparing its online systems ahead of the window for JobKeeper declarations opening next week, with hundreds of thousands of businesses expected to rush in to be reimbursed for May wages.

Some online systems will be shut down over the weekend ahead of the May declarations opening next Monday morning, the ATO has confirmed.

More than 900,000 employers currently signed up for the $70 billion scheme will be keen to have their declarations — requiring them to re-confirm eligible employees and turnover projections — completed as soon as possible to bolster cashflow heading into June.

Businesses will have until June 14 to make their declarations or risk missing out on payments for May JobKeeper fortnights, including April 26 to May 10 and May 11 to May 24.

The ATO has been processing most JobKeeper forms within three to five days, so essentially the faster declarations are made, the faster businesses receive wage reimbursements for JobKeeper recipients.

Under JobKeeper rules, businesses must make declarations for payments in the first 14 days of the month after those payments are claimed for. So, May JobKeeper payments are tied to declarations made in the first half of June.

But the timing of the declaration window against the JobKeeper fortnights creates some potential cashflow pitfalls if firms aren’t fast enough to process their requests. For instance, if a business declares for May on June 14, they might not receive payments until the end of the second JobKeeper fortnight in June.

This means the business would likely need to pay minimum wage entitlements for these fortnights without having been reimbursed for May wages yet.

This will be the first test of the monthly declaration process for firms that are already receiving payments, following the enrollment period that started on April 20 and will run to 31 May for payments in those months.

Businesses which have not yet enrolled or declared for payments in April or May, covering the first eight weeks of the scheme, will have until the end of next Sunday to do so, or lose the ability to claim for this period altogether.

Last Friday the ATO revealed about 150,000 firms are stuck in limbo between the enrolment and declaration process for April and May payments, raising concern many firms will miss out ahead of the deadline.

The tax office has been investing in outbound communications to these firms, encouraging them to complete the process if they’re still interested in receiving wage subsidy payments.

Businesses stuck in JobKeeper limbo covered about 600,000 workers, or 17% of the total 3.5 million enrolled in the scheme, as at last Friday.

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