ATO Offers Tax Relief Options

19/03/2020 12:00am

In the wake of the Australian Government’s stimulus package aimed to help keep ‘Australians in jobs and businesses in business', the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has signaled a more flexible approach to handling tax commitments in coming months.

Businesses affected by COVID-19 are encouraged to contact the ATO to discuss relief options, including deferral of some payments, quicker access to GST refunds and options to enter low-interest payment plans for existing or future tax debts.

“We know that many businesses and communities are being heavily affected by the challenging economic conditions created by the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Chris Jordan, the ATO’s Commissioner of Taxation.

“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. Once you contact us, we’ll tailor a support plan for your needs and circumstances.”

Hood Sweeney Head of Accounting, Scott Young* added that Hood Sweeney can assist clients with questions around these administrative updates.

“We can help businesses and individuals navigate the options now available via the ATO to alleviate some of the financial pressures as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said.

Options available to businesses 

  • Deferring by up to four months the payment date of amounts due through the business activity statement (including PAYG instalments), income tax assessments, fringe benefits tax assessments and excise
  • Allow businesses on a quarterly reporting cycle to opt into monthly GST reporting in order to get quicker access to GST refunds they may be entitled to
  • Allowing businesses to vary pay-as-you-go (PAYG) instalment amounts to zero for the April 2020 quarter. Businesses that vary their PAYG instalment to zero can also claim a refund for any instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters
  • Remitting any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities
  • Working with affected businesses to help them pay their existing and ongoing tax liabilities by allowing them to enter into low-interest payment plans.

Employers are being advised that they will still need to meet their ongoing super guarantee obligations for their employees.

To make it easier for people to apply for relief, the ATO said it will increase its presence in the areas of highest impact. In addition, the ATO is considering additional temporary shopfronts and face-to-face options in other significantly affected regions, making it easier for people to apply for relief.

The ATO also has set up an Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 to respond to queries and requests from anyone affected by COVID-19.

Outside of business, the ATO said it will work with individuals experiencing financial hardship, and their tax agents, and will apply appropriate tax relief measures for serious and exceptional circumstances, such as where people cannot pay for food or accommodation.

The Tax Office explained that unlike the bushfire relief measures, which applied automatically to particular geographic areas, assistance measures for those impacted by the COVID-19 will not be automatically implemented.

“We understand this is a time of significant uncertainty and that we will need to be flexible in how we help businesses,” said Mr Jordan.

If you or your business has been affected by COVID-19, please contact Hood Sweeney Accounting & Business Advisory* on 1300 764 200.


*Hood Sweeney Accounting & Business Advisory AFSL No. 485569, ABN 30 007 696 595

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