Businesses that met the JobKeeper eligibility criteria upon their enrolment will continue to receive the $1,500 wage subsidy per fortnight even if they experience a boost in revenue in subsequent months, Deborah Jenkins, deputy commissioner from the ATO, confirmed in a webcast hosted by our sister title, My Business, on Tuesday (5 May).
Ms Jenkins stressed that businesses only have to prove their eligibility once, at the very start of the process. The monthly reporting obligations have a different purpose, she added.
“Once you are eligible, you remain eligible for the period until September,” Ms Jenkins said.
She reiterated that while businesses do have to report to the ATO on a monthly basis and predict their turnover each month, this no longer affects their eligibility.
“People can’t predict the future. They don’t have a crystal ball. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if businesses are doing well in that period and didn’t have a drop of 30 per cent, but they continue to be eligible even though, later on, they might find their business has kicked in, and people are shopping again, buying again, out in the restaurants and cafés,” Ms Jenkins said.
Clarifying the monthly reporting obligation, Ms Jenkins noted that besides making the correct payments, businesses do need to stay on top of their monthly declarations.
Ms Jenkins explained: “Each month, they do need to make sure that they are paying them the relevant $1,500 per fortnight and through that period, but things change over time.
“You may find that some employees depart the country (if they’re able to) or they may not wish to remain on your books.
“That’s the purpose of the monthly declaration each month. It’s to make sure your business still exists and to check who your employees are that are employed for that period of time.”
Sole traders can fill out their monthly declarations via the ATO’s online services, while businesses are encouraged to use the ATO’s business portal or their registered tax or BAS agent.
“That needs to happen. But I can’t say often enough, we do need information for the current and projected turnover, but that is not to retest their eligibility,” she said.
“It is statistical information; we need to understand how this JobKeeper scheme is playing out and whether it is meeting what it was set out to do.”
She reminded businesses that they have until 31 May to enrol for April and May payments and encouraged them to do so as soon as possible in order to receive their payments on time.
“The sooner they check out their eligibility, make sure they are enrolled and make sure they have paid their employees before 8 May, if they want to apply for the April payments, the sooner they get on to step two, the sooner we’ll be able to get those payments out the door,” Ms Jenkins concluded.
For more insights into all things JobKeeper, tune in to the webcast with Ms Jenkins; Kate Carnell, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman; and Sam Allert, CEO of Reckon.