JobKeeper Applications Are Now Open: ATO Issues Guidelines

The Federal Government is now officially taking applications for its $130 billion JobKeeper scheme, and the ATO has issued a set of updated guidelines for organisations looking to access the stimulus package.

The scheme is aimed at supporting an expected 6.7 Australians that have been impacted by the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as their employers to keep them on the books.

The $130 billion JobKeeper package is the single largest government spending policy ever, and in light of the anticipated 850,000 Australian businesses that the government estimates will apply for the JobKeeper package, the Australian Taxation Office has released a number of guidelines for sole traders, and companies that do and do not report through single-touch payment.

Eligible businesses will be able to receive a cash subsidy for each employee’s salary, in the worth of at least $1,500 per fortnight, before tax. All companies applying for the JobKeeper are obliged to inform their staff members that they will be making a claim on their behalf, and anyone with multiple employers will have to choose which employer nominates them, as they’re unable to receive a payment through more than a single employer.

Payments are scheduled to commence in the first week of May, so long as the applicant meets a number of criteria. What criteria do you need to meet to get a payment under the JobKeeper?

-Employers that turnover less than $1 billion that have suffered a loss of 30% of more of their revenue since March 1st are eligible

-Companies with a turnover of more than a billion dollars but have had a 50% fall in their annual turnover are also eligible.

-Sole Traders will be able to register, but they’ll have to keep in mind that this will count as income and will impact any other payments they might be receiving.

According to the government, you’re eligible for the JobKeeper program and should get in contact with the relevant individual in your organisation if:

  • You are currently employed (including those stood down or re-hired) by an eligible employer;

  • You were employed by the employer at March 1, 2020

  • You are full-time, part-time, or long-term casuals (a casual employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at March 1, 2020)

  • You are at least 16 years of age

  • You are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa holder

  • You are not in receipt of a JobKeeper Payment from another employer.

If you've been stood down after the 1st of March, you’re still eligible for the JobKeeper payments, however, you’ll have to get your company to sign up for the subsidy scheme and nominate you.

According to the ATO’s guidelines for employers using STP, to prepare you should:

  • Check your business or not-for-profit organisation meets the eligibility requirements, including the turnover test. The turnover calculation is based on GST turnover. This applies even if an entity is not registered for GST.

  • Check your employees meet the eligibility requirements and for which JobKeeper fortnights. You must pay your eligible employees in each JobKeeper pay period to claim the JobKeeper payment for that period.

  • If you are a director or a shareholder of a company, a partner in a partnership, or an adult beneficiary of a trust, consider whether you will nominate as an eligible business participant and check you meet the eligibility requirements.

  • Re-hire or re-engage employees you let go or stood down as well as pay them if you want to claim the JobKeeper payment for them.

  • Send the JobKeeper employee nomination notice to all your eligible employees to complete and return to you by the end of April if you plan to claim JobKeeper payments for April 2020. Keep it on file and you may also provide a copy to your registered tax or BAS agent if you are using one.

  • You can create your own employee nomination notice if it is not practical to have each employee complete and return the ATO version to you. This will allow you to use your own portal or communication channel to obtain this information.

  • You need to pay each eligible employee at least $1,500 (before tax) per JobKeeper fortnight or a combined payment of $3,000 by the end of April. JobKeeper fortnights start from 30 March.

  • To use the Business Portal you will need a myGovID linked to your ABN in relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM). You can find out how to set this up at

  • Your registered tax or BAS agent can enrol, identify and declare for JobKeeper on your behalf using Online service for agents.

  • If you find it difficult to interact with us online and don't use a registered tax or BAS agent, you can call us for assistance.

From here, you can identify your eligible employees directly through your payroll software - if it has been updated with JobKeeper functionality - or through the ATO’s Business portal; this should be done before April 30th.

The third and final stage of the process requires you to make a monthly business declaration, where you reconfirm the eligibility of your business and your nominated employees. You’ll be required to provide your current and projected GST turnover, as well as proof that you’ve handed over at least $1,500 to employees once payments have commenced.

Scott Morrison, along with the Treasury Department have made it clear that the government will take a zero tolerance approach to employers looking to abuse the system, and has encouraged employees to expose their employer if they hold even a small part of a worker’s pay from them.

“An entity that does not comply with its obligations in relation to the JobKeeper payment is also potentially liable for a wider range of significant administrative and criminal sanctions under the tax law and general criminal law,” the Treasury Department’s fact sheet states.

“These penalties will not affect entities that act honestly and with reasonable care.”

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