Treasurer releases JobKeeper rules
The rules set out the eligibility and obligations concerning the $1,500 a fortnight JobKeeper payment for a 26-week period running from 30 March to 27 September.
Together with its explanatory memorandum, the rules detail how entities will need to satisfy the decline in turnover test through a basic test or the alternative test.
The basic test compares the GST turnover of any of the months from March 2020 to September 2020 or the quarters that starts on 1 April 2020 or 1 July 2020 with the corresponding period in 2019, with a business satisfying the test where there is a shortfall of 30 per cent or more.
As an example, a business can make the comparison by comparing the whole of the month of March 2020 with March 2019, or by comparing the quarter beginning on 1 April 2020 with the quarter beginning on 1 April 2019.
The alternative test will apply where there is not an appropriate relevant comparison period in 2019.
This alternative decline in turnover test will be determined by the Commissioner of Taxation.
Once an entity satisfies the decline in turnover test, it does not need to retest its turnover in later months.
However, entities will need to notify the ATO of its current GST turnover for the reporting month and its projected GST turnover for the following month on a monthly basis.
According to the rules, this information will not affect an entity’s eligibility, nor will it be used to verify whether the projection given as part of the decline in turnover test was accurate.
“Rather, it is intended to ensure that there is good information on which to assess the economic impact of the coronavirus on a monthly basis across Australia,” the explanatory memorandum stated.
One in, all in
The rules also note that once an employer decides to participate in the JobKeeper scheme, all eligible employees must be covered by the scheme.
“The employer cannot select which eligible employees will participate in the scheme. This ‘one in, all in’ rule is a key feature of the scheme,” said the explanatory memorandum.
While employers are required to actively seek to participate in the JobKeeper scheme through an approved form to the Commissioner of Taxation, the ATO has yet to update its website with the relevant information.
Speaking on an ATO webcast before the Easter break, ATO acting assistant commissioner Trent Jakubowski said the agency was working feverishly towards providing guidance and its administrative approach.
“At the moment, people don’t need to call us. In fact, if I’m being frank, we would probably prefer they don’t because there isn’t much currently that we can say,” Mr Jakubowski said.
“What we are encouraging practitioners to do, though, is to use the ato.gov.au/JobKeeper website to get regular updates and information, as our best and brightest develop the implementation as we speak.
“One thing I should note, because there has been confusion over this point, for the people who have already registered, they are not registering for JobKeeper. They are registering interest.”
The rules that give effect to the JobKeeper payment are available here.
The accompanying explanatory statement can be viewed here.