Grant News – January 2021

Grant News – January 2021

Grant News – January 2021

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Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme Extended

The Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme has been extended until 28 March 2021. The Scheme was introduced to relieve financial hardship faced by tenants and landlords as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Small business tenants seeking rent relief from 1 January 2021 to 28 March 2021 will need to apply to their landlord in writing, with evidence of their eligibility as soon as possible, as a landlord is only required to provide rent relief from the date of application.

For further information about the scheme and for free mediation services for commercial tenants and landlords please refer to the official website.

Small Business Digital Adaption Vouchers

The Small Business Digital Adaptation Program gives businesses the opportunity to trial and subscribe to digital products, tools, and training that can use to build digital capability in their day-to-day operations.

Software available through this program includes websites, e-commerce, and financial tools as well as free digital adaptation training and workshops.

Rebates of $1,200 can be accessed to cover 12 months subscriptions and are available through Business Victoria.

Victorian Government QR Code Service

Victorian Government has released a free QR code service available to all Victorian businesses and venues.

The service provides an effective record keeping system for contact tracing in the event a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19) is identified. There are no ongoing costs for businesses, venues, or visitors who implement the software or check-in using this service.

To register your business for the QR service please visit the Victorian Government website

Regional Travel Vouchers Round 2

Round 2 of the Regional Travel Vouchers will be released on the 20th January 2021 to encourage Victorians to experience everything regional Victoria has to offer.

The Regional Travel Voucher Scheme provides Victorians with a $200 voucher to spend on accommodation, tourism attractions, or tours in regional Victoria, the Yarra Ranges, and the Mornington Peninsula, when they spend $400 or more on any of these activities.

Registrations for round 2 open at 10 am on 20 January 2021 and will be available until the 15th April 2021 or until funds are fully exhausted.

Visit the Victorian Government website for more information.

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Proposed changes to Casual Employment

Proposed changes to Casual Employment

What are the proposed changes to Casual Employment?

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The Federal Government has introduced an ‘omnibus’ Bill that will make significant changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), with effect next year.

The changes include the introduction of:
·         a statutory definition of casual employment;
·         the ability to set-off casual loading against claims for leave entitlements; and
·         universal right for casual employees to convert to permanent employment.

We will keep all clients updated on any changes if/when they are passed into legislation.

The below may assist in some workforce planning for 2021.

Casual employment definition

The Bill will introduce a statutory definition of casual employment based on the tests enunciated by the Full Federal Court in the WorkPac decisions. The legislation will define a person as a casual employee if employment is offered and accepted without any firm advance commitment that the work will continue indefinitely and follow an agreed pattern of work.

The meaning of “firm advance commitment” will be guided by specific factors, including whether:

·         the employee can elect to accept or reject work;
·         the employment is described as casual employment; and
·         the employee will be entitled to a casual loading or a specific rate of casual pay.

The new definition will apply to casuals from the date they commence their casual employment

Set-off casual loading against leave entitlement claims

Employers will be able to offset amounts already paid through casual loading against any claims for the employee to be paid for leave entitlements. If an employer is sued for payment of these entitlements, the Court must allow the employer to deduct from the amount claimed any identifiable casual loading paid to compensate the employee for the absence of those entitlements. This will apply to past and future employees.

An attempt to give this protection to employers through a Fair Work Regulation was shown to be defective in the WorkPac v Rossato (2020) decision.

Casual conversion

The legislation would give a universal right for regular casuals to convert to full-time or part-time employment based on the nature of their regular hours. This right is currently provided in modern awards, as well as many enterprise agreements.

An employer must make an offer to a casual employee to convert if the employee has worked for the employer for a period of 12 months and has worked a regular pattern of hours on an on-going basis for the past 6 months (previously 12 months).

The employer must also weigh whether the employee could continue to work full-time or part-time without significant adjustment to hours of work.

An employer may decide not to make an offer or accept an employee request if they have reasonable grounds not to do so.

If an employee declines an initial offer to convert, a further right to request will be available every 6 months, as long as they remain eligible.

Federal Wage Theft Laws

A new criminal offence of wage theft will apply where an employer dishonestly engages in a deliberate and systematic pattern of underpaying one or more of their employees. It will carry a maximum penalty of $1.11 million and imprisonment for up to 4 years (or both) for individuals, and fines of up to $5.55 million for a body corporate. Individuals convicted of the criminal offence would also be automatically disqualified from managing corporations for a period of 5 years under the Corporations Act 2001.

The maximum penalty for ordinary contraventions by employers will increase to $19,980, or $99,900 for body corporate employers.

In the case of underpayments by bigger businesses, maximum penalties will be based on the higher of either “two times the benefit obtained”, or a $99,900 a fine. In case of serious underpayments by bigger businesses, penalties will be based on the higher of either “three times the benefit obtained”, or a $666,600 fine. This linking of the fine to the benefit obtained will not apply to individual employers or small businesses.

Infringement notice fines and maximum penalties for sham contracting and for failing to comply with a FWO compliance notice will all also increase by 50%.

For more information visit the FairWork Ombudsman website on Casual employees.

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Available Grants December 2020

Available Grants December 2020

Available Grants December 2020

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Global Gateway Program

The Victorian Government’s $15.7 million Export recovery package is aimed to help Victorian exporters recover from challenges provided by COVID-19.

Eligible Victorian businesses can apply for a once-off $50,000 grant to engage professional services that will deliver project activities to support their export recovery.

Business must make a co-contribution of at least 20 percent of the project.

Who is eligible for the funding?

  • Located in Victoria.
  • Hold an ABN.
  • Demonstrate an annual export revenue of at least $2 million in either the 2018/19 or 2019/20 financial years.
  • Meet all industrial relations obligations as an employer.

When does the grant close?

Grant applications are now open and will close at 11.59 pm on Sunday 17 January 2021.

Business Recovery Energy Efficiency Fund (BREEF)

Capital Works

The Capital Works Grant program supports the installation of energy efficiency equipment and technologies by businesses to reduce their energy bills.

Specifically funding will be provided to projects that involve:

  • purchase and installation of energy efficiency equipment
  • replacement of emissions-intensive equipment with low-emissions alternatives
  • purchase of communications and monitoring technology

Energy Demand Management

The Energy Demand Management Grant program will support the installation of energy management systems, energy assessments, and demand management solutions for businesses looking to reduce their energy bills.

Funding will be provided to projects that involve:

  • capital investment in technology needed to enable demand response, including communications and control technology
  • professional advice to support the uptake of demand-side opportunities
  • feasibility studies
  • energy audits
  • cost-benefit analysis
  • implementing steps under/or formal accreditation to the ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems framework.

Who is eligible for the funding?

For both of the BREEF applications the requirements are as follows:

  • Use in excess of 40 Megawatts of electricity or 1 Terajoule of gas per year.
  • Operate in Victoria.
  • Hold an ABN.

When do the grants close?

Applications for both of the BREEF grant programs close on the following dates:

  • Phase 1: 2 pm, Thursday 31 December 2020
  • Phase 2: 2 pm, Sunday 31 January 2021.

Apply for a Grant or looking more information?

Click the link below to contact us at Plus 1.

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8:00am to 5:00pm

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If you need to get us documents quickly, access remote support, or the MYOB Portal click the button above.

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T: (03) 5833 3000
F: (03) 5831 2988
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Small Business Digital Adaption Program

Small Business Digital Adaption Program

Small Business Digital Adaption Program

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What is the program?

The Small Business Digital Adaption Program allows businesses to receive access to digital tools and training while also receiving a $1,200 rebate for purchasing one of the below selected business management tools to help build their digital capacity in day-today operations.

Registrations are now open and will remain open until 28th February 2022 or until funds are fully exhausted, whichever is earlier.

What’s involved in the program?

Through the program businesses can trial selected digital products, which are;

  • Mr Yum – food and beverage
  • MYOB – business management
  • Shopify – business management
  • Square – end-to-end retail
  • Squarespace – website creation
  • Xero – business management

To view more information on the products, visit the Victorian Government webpage.

You can either subscribe to these software or upgrade your existing software or websites such as transferring to an e-commerce site.

Who can apply?

The program is aimed at small businesses and sole traders. To be eligible to apply for the program you must:

  • Operate a business located in Victoria
  • Hold an ABN from 13th September 2019
  • Be registered for GST from 13th September 2020

How can you apply?

Complete the online registration form to confirm eligibility and participate in product trials and workshops.
Sign up for and purchase the suitable product from one of the available listed.
Apply for the purchase rebate of $1,200 to cover 12 months access.

What’s available in the workshops and training?

The workshops and training are delivered free and completely online, you may also complete an unlimited number of them.

The workshops available include:

  • Business planning essentials
  • Finance fundamentals
  • Marketing your business
  • Taking your business online
  • Cut through on a budget: Social media marketing
  • Developing a strategic plan
  • Enabling IT in your business
  • From bricks and mortar to online
  • Get a business online
  • Get strategic with eCommerce
  • Make sure customers find you online
  • Marketing your hospitality business in 2020
  • Mental wellbeing: Support yourself and small businesses
  • Start smart with online customer experience

For more information visit the Victorian Goverment webpage

Apply for a Grant or looking more information?

Click the link below to contact us at Plus 1.

Open Hours

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8:00am to 5:00pm

Closed Public Holidays

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If you need to get us documents quickly, access remote support, or the MYOB Portal click the button above.

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November Practice Update 2020

November Practice Update 2020

Practice Update – November 2020 Edition

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Tax Cuts Pass Parliament

The Government announced various tax measures in the 2020 Budget on 6 October 2020, and it was able to secure passage of legislation containing some of the important measures very shortly afterwards, as summarised below.

Tax relief for individuals

The Government brought forward ‘Stage two’ of their Personal Income Tax Plan by two years, so that, from 1 July 2020:

  • the low income tax offset increased from $445 to $700;
  • the top threshold of the 19% tax bracket increased from $37,000 to $45,000; and
  • the top threshold of the 32.5% tax bracket increased from $90,000 to $120,000.

In addition, in 2020/21, low and middle-income earners will receive a one-off additional benefit of up to $1,080 from the low and middle income tax offset.

Tax relief for business

Businesses with a turnover of up to $5 billion are now able to immediately deduct the full cost of eligible depreciable assets as long as they are first used or installed by 30 June 2022.

To complement this, the Government will also temporarily allow companies with a turnover of up to $5 billion to offset tax losses against previous profits on which tax has been paid.

Also, businesses with an aggregated annual turnover between $10 million and $50 million will, for the first time, be able to access up to ten small business tax concessions.

Under the changes passed by the Parliament, the Government will also enhance previously announced reforms to invest an additional $2 billion through the Research and Development Tax Incentive.


Employers Need To Apply Recent Tax Cuts As Soon As Possible

Employers need to apply recent tax cuts as soon as possible

The ATO has now updated the tax withholding schedules to reflect the 2020/21 income year personal tax cuts — the updated schedules are available at ato.gov.au/taxtables.

The ATO has said that employers now need to make adjustments in their payroll processes and systems in order for the tax cuts to be reflected in employees’ take-home pay.

Employers must make sure they are withholding the correct amount from salary or wages paid to employees for any pay runs processed in their system from no later than 16 November onwards.

Employees should be aware that any withholding on the old scales will be taken into account in their tax return.

Deferrals Of Interest Due To COVID-19

Many lenders have recently allowed borrowers with investment property loans to defer repayments for a period of time.

While repayments are being deferred, interest (and fees) will usually be added to the loan balance (i.e., the deferred interest will be ‘capitalised’).

However, it is important to recognise in such situations that, while repayments are not being made during the relevant period, borrowers continue to ‘incur’ the interest during that time. 

Further, interest will continue to be calculated and will accrue on both the unpaid principal sum of the loan and the unpaid (i.e., capitalised) interest.  The interest that accrues on the unpaid or capitalised interest is referred to as ‘compound interest’.

Importantly, the ATO has previously acknowledged that, if the underlying, or ordinary, interest is deductible, then the compound interest will also be deductible. 

Accordingly, interest expenses (including any compound interest) will generally be deductible to the extent the borrowed monies are used for income producing purposes (such as where the borrowed funds are used to purchase a rental property).

However, interest on a loan will not be deductible to the extent to which the borrowed funds are used for private purposes (e.g., to purchase a home, a private boat, or to pay for a holiday).

Editor: Note that, despite the name, “penalty interest” is not always “in the nature of interest” and, in some cases, may not be deductible (e.g., due to the expense being capital in nature).

Simplified Home Office Expense Deduction Claims Due To COVID-19

Given that many Australians continue to work from home due to COVID-19, the ATO has updated its Practical Compliance Guideline which allows taxpayers working from home to claim a rate of 80 cents per hour, by keeping a record of the number of hours they have worked from home, rather than needing to calculate specific running expenses.

The application of the Guideline has been extended so that it now applies from 1 March 2020 until 31 December 2020. 

Companies Holding Meetings And Signing Documents Electronically

The Government has made another determination extending the timeframe within which companies can hold meetings electronically and enabling electronic signatures to be used, to relieve companies from problems they face due to the Coronavirus situation.

This determination is intended to be in effect until (and will be repealed from) 22 March 2021, unless the Government determines otherwise.

Editor: Note that the Government has also released exposure draft legislation to make these reforms (in respect of virtual meetings and electronic document execution) permanent.

COVID-19 And Loss Utilisation

The ATO understands the way some businesses operate has been impacted as a result of COVID-19.

Some of these impacts may have resulted in changes that affect whether they are able to utilise their carried-forward losses in the current or a future income year.

For companies to utilise their carried-forward losses in a particular year, they need to satisfy the continuity of ownership test or, if they fail that test, they need to satisfy the business continuity test (‘BCT’).  

Whether a company can utilise carried-forward losses requires a consideration of its facts and circumstances.

Generally, a company that has completely closed its business with no intention to resume will fail the BCT.  However, a company that has temporarily closed its business may still be able to satisfy the BCT.

Importantly, the mere receipt of JobKeeper payments will not cause a company to fail the BCT.

Employees On JobKeeper Can Satisfy The ‘Work Test’

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (‘APRA’) has confirmed that, where an employer is receiving the JobKeeper wage subsidy for an individual, superannuation funds should consider the individual to be ‘gainfully employed’ for the purpose of the ‘work test’, even if that individual has been fully stood down and is not actually performing work.

As such, superannuation funds can assume that all members in receipt of the JobKeeper subsidy satisfy the ‘work test’ when determining whether they can make voluntary superannuation contributions.

Please Note: Many of the comments in this publication are general in nature and anyone intending to apply the information to practical circumstances should seek professional advice to independently verify their interpretation and the information’s applicability to their particular circumstances.

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Transport Award Updates 2020/21

Transport Award Updates 2020/21

Transport Award Updates 2020/21

Including Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) and Road Transport and Distribution Award 2020/21 

Please see the below table outlining the updated award rates for 2020/21, these come into effect from November 1st 2020.

Road Transport (Long Distance Operations)

Grade Minimum weekly pay rate Minimum hourly drive rate Minimum cents per kilometre
1  These Grades are not used to classify employees covered by this award
2   These Grades are not used to classify employees covered by this award
3 $828.40 $32.31 $0.4308
4 $843.70 $33.90 $0.4387
5 $854.30 $33.32 $0.4442
6 $864.10 $34.70 $0.4493
7 $876.70 $34.19 $0.4559
8 $902.10 $35.18 $0.4691
9 $917.30 $35.77 $0.4770
10 $940.00 $36.66 $0.4888

Major rest break allowance payable when a driver sleeps overnight in the truck remains $40.44 for 2020/21.

Road Transport and Distribution Award

Grade Minimum weekly pay rate Minimum hourly drive rate
1  $798.30 $21.01
2 $818.40 21.54
3 $828.40 $21.80
4 $843.70 $22.20
5 $854.30 $22.48
6 $864.10 $22.74
7 $876.70 $23.07
8 $902.10 $23.74
9 $917.30 $24.14
10 $940.00 $24.74

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