COVID-19 Update

This is a short summary of support measures that have been introduced over the last few days:

For individuals:

  • Centrelink income support:
  • There are one-off $750 payments to be made from 31 March 2020 to certain income support recipients, and there is a second payment to be made from 13 July 2020 (the second payment will not be received by individuals who remain eligible for the $550 coronavirus supplement at that time). The eligibility for income support payments will be temporarily expanded and a new temporary Coronavirus supplement will be paid at $550 per fortnight (to both new and existing Jobseeker Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit recipients).
  • If your financial circumstances have changed due to income/employment being effected by COVID-19,  make sure you check eligibility and apply for any entitlement that you can (which may include Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, and Family Tax Benefits).  
  • Note also that if you are receiving the child care subsidy, your current circumstances due to COVID-19 may make you eligible due to temporary financial hardship – look into the Additional Child Care Subsidy payment and make a claim for it if you are eligible. 
  • We know how frustrating the Centrelink process has been for most people at this time, but keep persisting.  You can now register your intention to claim a Centrelink payment if you’re affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) for those who have issues making an online claim or linking Centrelink to MyGov (e.g. for those people who do not have a CRN).
  • See here for more information.
  • Individuals can access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-2020 financial year and again $10,000 in 2020-2021 without needing to pay tax on the amounts released – see here, but check your financial hardship eligibility with your superfund and get financial and accounting advice.
  • We’re still waiting to hear what measures may be introduced in relation to residential tenancies pending meeting of federal and state governments.
  • The South Australian State Government package detail is still pending as to what relief if any may be provided for individuals.
  • Check with your local council as to whether any measures and assistance is being provided by them for residents.

For businesses:

  • Boosting cash flow for employers and not-for-profits of up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses (linked to lodgement of your BAS/PAYG for the March and June Quarters) and wage subsidies for apprentices and trainees (see here, check your eligibility requirements and speak to your accountant)
  • Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses including:
  • A temporary increase in the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive;
  • A temporary increase in the threshold for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings, an increase in the time period for debtors to respond to a bankruptcy notice, and extending the period of protection a debtor receives after making a declaration of intention to present a debtor’s petition;
  • Temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent

(this provides some breathing room for businesses that owe money, but conversely, if you are chasing payment the circumstances for recovery are much harder, likely to less effective and at more cost risk to you – see here but get financial and legal advice before relying on any of these measures)

  • Increasing the instant asset write-off threshold and accelerating depreciation deductions – see here but again make sure you check the details and get accounting advice if necessary – and be sure of your financial position before spending!
  • A guarantee of 50 per cent to small and medium enterprise lenders for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital by businesses – see here but ensure that you get business financial and accounting advice.
  • Advice from government and business advisory services is:
  • The ATO is working with people and businesses who have tax liabilities and debts and is implementing measures including temporary reduction of payments or deferrals, withholding enforcement actions including Director Penalty Notices and wind-ups, and in some instances write-off of interest/penalties – be proactive in talking to the ATO about your circumstances.
  • Lodge your BAS and annual tax returns on time – relief measures and being provided by way of these and if you don’t lodge, you don’t get! 
  • For businesses with employees who have concerns about duty of care, WHS, enforceable government directions and staffing needs during this uncertain time, there is a useful summary by the Fair Work Ombudsman here. In short and generally, temporary changed arrangements with employees (such as taking leave, reduced hours) can occur by mutual consent and should be carefully documented. Any employer looking to take steps under the stand down provisions or considering redundancies should seek specialist employment law advice.
  • Australian banks will defer loan repayments for six months to small businesses who need assistance due to COVID-19. Also offering loans (including overdrafts) with no repayments for the first six months at low interest rates supported by the Government Guarantee. Other assistance can include waived fees, loans restructured and further credit. See here and speak to your individual bank (most have COVID-19 specific enquiry processes).
  • We’re still waiting to hear what measures may be introduced in relation to commercial tenancies pending meeting of federal and state governments.
  • The South Australian State Government package detail is still pending as to any adjustment to payroll tax or other measures.

The key message is that we all need to work together to keep people in jobs (and receiving income) and businesses afloat not just during the crisis, but also to ensure that we emerge from the other side. Communication is key between stakeholders to keep up the flow of information about our respective operational and financial circumstances and to reach agreement about alternative arrangements during the crisis (i.e. business to business, creditors and debtors, customers and businesses, employers and employees, lessees and landlords).

How Kin Lawyers can assist:

For individuals:

  • Estate planning documents – it is vital now more than ever that you have a current and valid will, power of attorney, advanced care directive and superannuation beneficiary nominations in place.
  • Dealing with family and parenting arrangements in new COVID-19 circumstances.
  • Reviewing, negotiating and/or updating contractual, property or other arrangements you may have now that circumstances have changed.

For businesses:

  • general advice on business, commercial and property matters;
  • document reviews;
  • negotiating and/or documenting updated or new business, commercial or property arrangements
  • succession planning including ensuring you have the necessary estate planning documents in place to ensure your business can continue to operate in event you are unable to continue to be involved personally.

We’ve introduced HALF PRICE wills and estate planning packages for health workers, teachers and early childhood educators until the end of April 2020as a show of gratitude for all that you do at this trying time.   Our wills start from $275 for one person and $500 for a couple (or from $137.50 and $250 respectively with eligible discount) and estate planning packages (wills and powers of attorney, advanced care directive and/or revocations) start from $425 for one person and $770 for a couple (or from $212.50 and $385 respectively with discount) – all prices inclusive of GST. Our offer brochure can be downloaded here.

BOOK YOUR FREE 15-minute Phone Consultation for us to assess your situation and answer any preliminary enquiries you may have.

You can arrange an in-depth conference (by phone or video conferencing) or make a further enquiry by: 

Our current initial fixed fee consultation (for matters other than estate planning) is now only $220 inclusive of GST (reduced from $275) for up to 90 minutes until the end of April 2020.

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Other links

Key websites to get up to date information on what measures are available include:

Treasury (Australian Government)

Australian Tax Office

Business (Australian Government)

Business (South Australian Government)

Fair Work Ombudsman

Also check in with your local business and industry associations to see what they may be able to offer by way of information and support (free or reduced fee) advice including:

Office of Small Business Commissioner, Business SA, Gawler Business Development Group, Southern Business Mentoring Program

  • Small Business Commissioner South Australia – businesses facing particular issues or disputes in terms of their banks, their rental premises, suppliers or other business parties are encouraged to contact their office on 08 8303 2026 or 1800 072 722. Also offering alternative dispute resolution services to assist with resolution here.
  • Business SA – offers a range of COVID-19 specific services for members including webinars, resource guides, forms and templates, business advice line.
  • For businesses in Gawler, membership of the Gawler Business Development Group is a great idea if you are not already. Members are entitled to get advice on all aspects of business including referrals to specialists. They are also offering to sign up 100 Gawler businesses to the Gawler Community App for 6 months at no cost. See here.

See also your local council for measures and assistance they may be introducing: 

Gawler, Light Regional, Barossa

Salisbury, Playford, Tea Tree Gully

Adelaide City, Port Adelaide Enfield, Charles Sturt, West Torrens

Holdfast Bay, Marion, Onkaparinga