Employer tax obligations and relief options during COVID-19


employer tax obligations and relief from ATO for businesses during COVID-19

Featured | Finance

By Loren Webb

Unsure of your employer tax obligations and tax relief options during this uncertain time? The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is encouraging business impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to get in touch with them to discuss relief options. However, with so many businesses looking for answers right now, we thought we’d summarise some of the biggest points regarding tax obligations here. 

Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan, has said that many businesses and communities are being heavily affected by the difficult economic conditions that we are currently experiencing.

“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,” he said.

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

“Support measures could include deferral of some payments, quicker access to GST refunds, and options to enter low interest payment plans for existing or future tax debts.”

The ATO have flexible options available to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19, which include:

  • Deferring (by up to six 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 March 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.

During this time, employers will still need to meet their ongoing super obligations. If you are struggling to meet the full obligatory amount, you still need to pay as much as you can. You contact the ATO to arrange a personal payment plan for this if absolutely necessary.

Unlike the bushfire relief measures, which applied automatically to particular geographic areas, assistance measures for those impacted by COVID-19 will not be automatically implemented.

Anyone impacted by COVID-19 must therefore contact the ATO to request assistance.

Visit their website or call their Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218, to discuss your situation.

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