This guide provides information on how the Australian Government is offering support to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and how our users can access that aid.
Please note, the following information is meant to serve as a guide. Please check with official government sources (listed below) to obtain the most up to date and accurate information on Australian Government support programs.
As with most of the world, business owners in Australia are faced with significant challenges caused by the spread of COVID-19.
The Australian Government continues to announce measures of support for SMEs and SMBs through new lending opportunities, employee wage assistance and temporary cash flow support.
We’ve created this guide for our Australia-based business owners, outlining various government initiatives and assistance for those struggling with business continuity and employee retention.
We will continue to actively update this guide to share new announcements and developments that may help our Stripe users during and after the crisis.
The Coronavirus Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Guarantee Scheme will support small and medium-sized businesses with up to $40 billion in lending. The loans are intended to offer additional funding for current and upcoming cash flow needs, including rent and staff expenses.
Under the scheme, the government will support loans of up to $250,000 per borrower. Loans will be up to three years, with an initial six-month repayment holiday.
The Australian Treasury will guarantee 50 per cent of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SMEs. The loan will be unsecured, which means borrowers won’t have to provide an asset as security for the loan.
Your business must:
Have a turnover of less than $50 million in the previous financial year, or expected turnover of less than $50 million in the current financial year
Be an SME, nonprofit business or be run by a self-employed individual
Be directly affected by COVID-19
How to apply
Contact your financial institution directly. The government is not directly participating in the lending process; loans are accessed through participating commercial lenders.
The Australian Government is providing temporary cash flow relief to small and medium businesses, as well as not-for-profit organisations that employ staff.
Eligible businesses will receive credits in their Australian Taxation Office activity statements of between $20,000 and $100,000. There is no need to apply with a separate form. Eligible businesses simply lodge their routine activity statement, following which the amount will automatically be credited to the business’ account. This will start no earlier than 28 April 2020.
Your business must:
Be a small or medium business entity, which includes not-for-profit organisations, sole traders, partnership, company or trust
Hold an ABN as at 12 March 2020 and be currently active
Have an aggregated annual turnover under $50 million
Make eligible payments which you are required to withhold from (even if the amount you need to withhold is zero)
Eligible payments include:
Salary and wages
Eligible retirement or termination payments
Voluntary withholding from payments to contractors
Additionally, one of the below considerations must apply to your business:
You derived business income in the 2018–19 income year and lodged your 2019 tax return on or before 12 March 2020
You made GST taxable, GST-free or input-taxed sales in a previous tax period (since 1 July 2018) and lodged the relevant activity statement on or before 12 March 2020
How to apply
There is no application for this program. The cash flow boost is a tax-free payment to employers and is automatically calculated by the ATO.
If your business lodges:
Quarterly, you will be eligible to receive the credit for:
Quarter 3, March 2020 (lodgment due date 28 April 2020)
Quarter 4, June 2020 (lodgment due date 28 July 2020)
Monthly, you will be eligible to receive the credit for the lodgment periods of:
March 2020 (lodgment due date 21 April 2020)
April 2020 (lodgment due date 21 May 2020)
May 2020 (lodgment due date 21 June 2020)
June 2020 (lodgment due date 21 July 2020)
Note: If you receive the initial cash flow boosts, you will also receive additional cash flow boosts between June and September 2020. The additional funds will equal the total amount of your initial cash flow boosts and will be delivered in either two or four instalments, depending on your reporting period.
The JobKeeper Payment is a wage subsidy program for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic that helps to cover the cost of employees’ wages. It includes those who are self-employed.
Businesses will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum of six months. You will receive the payment for each eligible employee that was on your books as at 1 March 2020 and continues to be engaged by your business—including full-time, part-time, long-term casuals and stood down employees. The first payments will be sent in the first week of May.
Your business must:
Have a turnover of less than $1 billion and your turnover has fallen by more than 30 per cent; or, have a turnover of $1 billion or more and your turnover has fallen by more than 50 per cent
Not be subject to the Major Bank Levy
Self-employed individuals will be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment where they meet the relevant turnover test outlined above.
Your employees must:
Be currently employed (including those stood down or re-hired) as at 1 March 2020
Be full-time, part-time, or long-term casuals (a casual employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020)
Be at least 16 years old
Be an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder
Not receive a JobKeeper Payment from another employer
For charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profit Commission (ACNC), you will be eligible for the subsidy if you estimate your turnover has or will likely fall by 15 per cent or more.
How to apply: Businesses with employees
from 30 March 2020. Then you can submit an online application. You’ll need to identify your employees who are eligible for JobKeeper Payments and then provide monthly updates to the ATO.
How to apply: Businesses without employees
If you don’t have employees, you can register your interest in applying for JobKeeper Payment here from 30 March 2020. You’ll need to provide an ABN for your business, nominate an individual to receive the payment and provide that individual’s Tax File Number, and share recent business activity.
If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to provide a monthly update to the ATO to declare that you’re still eligible for the payments. Payments will be made monthly to your bank account.
To establish that a business or not-for-profit has faced or is likely to face the relevant fall in turnover, most would be expected to establish that their turnover has or will likely fall in the relevant month or quarter (depending on their Business Activity Statement reporting period) relative to their turnover in a corresponding period a year earlier. Turnover is calculated as it is for GST purposes, and is reported on Business Activity Statements.
Where a business or not-for-profit was not in operation a year earlier, or where their turnover a year earlier was not representative of their usual or average turnover, (for example, because there was a large interim acquisition, they were newly established, were scaling up, or their turnover is typically highly variable), the Tax Commissioner will have discretion to consider additional information that the business or not-for-profit can provide to establish that they have been adversely affected by the impacts of the Coronavirus. Businesses that are in liquidation are not eligible for this payment.
If your business employs apprentices or trainees, you can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of their wage paid from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. You’ll be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000, per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter).
Your business must:
Employ fewer than 20 employees
Employ an apprentice or trainee as at 1 March 2020
Complete an eligibility assessment by an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider
How to apply
Contact an AASN provider for more information and how to apply.
The ACCC has set up a COVID-19 Taskforce which is already communicating directly with businesses to educate them about their obligations in relation to cancellations, refunds and suspension of services as a result of COVID-19.
They are working on authorising certain groups to work together to manage matters during COVID-19. Examples are oil and petroleum companies to secure supply of fuel; and medicine manufacturers to secure supply.
They are also working to help businesses and consumers understand their rights and obligations with regards to changes necessitated by COVID-19. Information for small businesses is here and covers things like cancellation of events and supply/pricing issues. Information for consumers is here and covers things like rights to refunds and rights where services have materially changed.
The ACCC is focussed on scams that are taking advantage of the current crisis. Information about the current known scams is here.
There are a number of resources to help your business adapt to the challenges of COVID-19, including:
Australia’s economic response to the coronavirus from the Australia Government
Business/employer support and resources from the Australian Taxation Office
Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses from the Australia Treasury
COVID-19 Employer Guide from the Australian Chamber of Commerce
Relief for commercial tenants from the Australia Government
For more information on the Australia Treasury’s schemes and announcements, visit https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus.
For more information on financial assistance, eligibility and timing for the new government support for Australian businesses, visit Business.gov.au.
We’ve seen optimistic results from businesses that have quickly added e-commerce capabilities. Learn how to accept your first online payment with Stripe and how to send one-time or recurring invoices.
You can also visit Stripe’s COVID-19 resources page for products, programs, and resources to help your business adapt.