Covid-19 Financial Update #9 ATO Support Available

ATO Support during Covid-19

The government has enacted legislation to support its economic response to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to help the economy withstand and recover from the economic impact of coronavirus.

Payment Plans & Deferrals

If you’re having difficulty paying your tax, we encourage you to contact the ATO as early as possible to discuss your situation as there are a range of options to support you through this period. If you need assistance we are here to help.

This could include deferring your income tax, FBT and excise payment due dates up to 12 September 2020, stopping interest accruing on your tax liabilities, and low interest payment arrangements.

  • Remitting Interest and Penalties

If your business is affected by COVID-19, ATO will consider remitting interest and penalties incurred after 23 January 2020.

  • Low Interest Payment Plans

If your business has been affected by COVID-19 and you need help to pay your existing and ongoing tax liabilities, contact us to discuss entering a low interest payment plan.

  • Deferring Repayments

If you owe a debt to the ATO (which includes a compulsory repayment or overseas levy) and you can’t pay on time, you may apply to defer or amend your compulsory repayment or overseas levy – meaning the ATO will either;

  • Not raise a repayment (defer)
  • Reduce the amount of repayment required toward your debt (amend)

You may apply to defer or amend your compulsory repayment or overseas levy if:

  • making your repayment would cause you serious hardship
  • there are other special reasons, for example
  • natural disasters affecting you
  • death or serious illness
  • other serious or difficult circumstances

If you apply to defer or amend your repayment under serious hardship, the ATO will ask you for a detailed statement of your household income and expenditure to justify your claim.

  • Interest-free payment plans for activity statement debts

If you’re a small business with an activity statement debt, you may be able to pay it off interest-free over 12 months.

Eligibility

You may be eligible for an interest-free payment plan if your business:

  • has an annual turnover of less than $2 million
  • has a recent activity statement debt of $50,000 or less that has been outstanding overdue for no longer than 12 months
  • has a good payment and lodgement compliance history, including 
  • no more than one payment plan default within the last 12 months
  • no outstanding activity statement lodgements
  • is unable to obtain finance (such as a loan) through normal business channels
  • is able to demonstrate ongoing viability.

You must meet all of your other tax payment and lodgement obligations.

Changing your GST Reporting Cycle

It is worth considering if you should temporarily change your reporting cycle?

If you report quarterly and you are due for a GST refund, moving to monthly reporting means you can get quicker access to GST refunds you are entitled to. Before you make the change, you should be aware that:

  • you can only change from the start of a quarter, so a change now will take effect from 1 April 2020
  • changing your GST reporting cycle doesn’t mean you have to change your PAYG withholding reporting cycle – you can manage this by specifying the roles you are changing
  • once you choose to report and pay GST monthly, you must keep reporting monthly for 12 months before you can elect to revert to quarterly reporting
  • if you’re registered for fuel tax credits, and change your GST reporting from quarterly to monthly, you will also need to claim your fuel tax credits monthly.

You can change your GST reporting cycle through your myGovID (RAM Portal), by phoning the ATO on 13 28 66, or if you require our assistance phone our office on 02 6626 6200.

If your GST turnover is more than $20 million you must pay and report monthly.

Vary Pay as you go (PAYG) instalments

If you are a pay as you go instalments payer, you can vary your PAYG instalments on your next activity statement. You may also be able to claim a refund for any instalments made during the 2019–20 financial year

Where you choose to vary your PAYG instalments we won’t apply penalties or charge interest to varied instalments for the 2019–20 financial year.

If you realise you’ve made a mistake working out your PAYG instalment, you can correct it by lodging a revised activity statement or varying a subsequent instalment.

Please contact our office if you require assistance varying your next instalment.

Who to Contact?

The ATO assistance is indiscriminatory but it is not automatic, the ATO does not apply relief options automatically, you will need to contact them. If you are more comfortable with us negotiating on your behalf please feel free to contact us.

If you’re an individual, sole trader, small or medium business, you can talk to someone at the Australian Taxation Office Monday to Friday, between 8am to 5pm, on 13 28 61.

If you require a Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) phone 13 14 50.

Tell the operator the language you speak and ask them to phone the ATO on 1800 806 218.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can phone our Indigenous Helpline on 13 10 30.

If you have difficulty hearing or speaking to people who use a phone, you can contact us through the National Relay Service External Link (NRS).

Book an after-hours call back

The ATO is extending an after-hours call back service to get you the help you need.

Just complete the online form to book a time to talk.

NOTE: If you’ve lost your tax file number TFN or other tax documents, the ATO will verify your identity using other information such as your date of birth.

Small business owners experiencing mental health issues

Having a mentally healthy workplace is important. Everyday pressures, unexpected life circumstances, stress, depression or anxiety can have a negative impact on your quality of life and ability to run your business. This can affect the people who are involved with your business including employees, contractors, partners and clients.

We, and the ATO, understand that these circumstances can affect meeting your tax and super obligations. If you’re having difficulty paying your tax, we encourage you to contact the ATO as early as possible or ask us to speak to them on your behalf.

If you or anyone you know needs help, call:

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36

Headspace on 1800 850 890

Connect with us and request an appointment today.