The ATO is coming for overpaid JobKeeper cash, guidelines confirm


The Australian Tax Office has released guidelines on JobKeeper overpayments, confirming that businesses that were wrongly credited under the subsidy scheme may have to make repayments.

If the ATO identifies that a business has received an overpayment of JobKeeper, repayment will typically be required.

There will be no administrative penalties for overpayments that are a result of a mistake.

But, the ATO says penalties will apply “if there is evidence of deliberate actions to get JobKeeper payments that an entity would not have otherwise been entitled to”.

General interest on the payments will apply to outstanding amounts, as of September 28, 2020.

If the ATO identifies a business has been overpaid the wage subsidy, it will first write to the employer to explain why it thinks there has been an overpayment, how much there is to repay, and how that repayment can be made.

Business owners can ask the ATO to reconsider its decision, but it’s not clear at this time what this pathway looks like.

The ATO has also suggested it will be able to offer some support to businesses that have good intentions but cannot necessarily make the repayments straight away.

“If you can’t pay on time, we can help you,” it says.

“If you’re trying to do the right thing, we’re committed to understanding your situation and helping you if possible.”

In some cases, businesses will not face repayments. This will only be the case if the ATO deems the overpayment a result of ‘an honest mistake’.

“We consider a mistake to be honest if it is reasonable to have made the mistake in your circumstance,” the ATO guidelines say.

This will not, however, apply if either the business has been contacted by the ATO previously regarding eligibility concerns, and has not taken reasonable steps to check before making additional claims.

It will also not apply if the employer has deliberately not met the wage conditions under the subsidy scheme, or knowingly nominated employees that do not satisfy eligibility criteria.

You can find the repayment guidelines here.

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