COVID-19 support measure update for accountants and bookkeepers
Industry representatives have been negotiating with the NSW state government to clarify updated requirements for businesses to access JobSaver.
Navigating the COVID-19 support measures with Robyn Jacobson
The small business community and their bookkeeping and accounting advisers were caught off guard on Friday 10 September when the NSW state government announced updated requirements to continue to access JobSaver.
JobSaver is a state-government initiate, co-funded with the Commonwealth, to provide financial support on a fortnightly basis to businesses that are materially impacted by the COVID-19 public health order.
Intuit Quickbooks, in conjunction with Accountants Daily, recently hosted a webinar during which Robyn Jacobson, CTA, Senior Advocate at The Tax Institute, explained the details of the new requirements.
The main change is from the fortnight commencing on 13 September 2021, every fortnight JobSaver recipients will need to confirm the business continues to experience a decline in turnover of 30 per cent or more as a result of the public health order. They will also need to verify the employee headcount has been maintained since 13 July 2021, with some provisos. These include if someone resigns, retires or passes away.
Since the state government announced refreshed requirements to access JobSaver, Robyn and her colleagues at the key accounting and bookkeeping bodies have been working through the practicalities of the new rules with the NSW Government.
“All options were on the table throughout the consultation process with the NSW Government. We worked to strike an appropriate balance between the policy intent and a practical, flexible outcome for businesses and accountants,” she explained.
The policy intent is that JobSaver support goes to businesses that are genuinely affected by COVID-19 closures, with support to end when businesses experience a return to more normal trading conditions.
“It is important that public money is not paid to businesses that have recovered,” Robyn told the audience.
What’s a comparison period and why is it important?
What constitutes a comparison period for JobSaver purposes is important because the comparison period is how a business determines whether it has experienced a 30 per cent or more decline in turnover. For most of the duration of the JobSaver program to date, there are three options.
To work out whether they have experienced a 30 per cent or more decline in turnover,
businesses can compare their turnover for a minimum period of two weeks from 26 June 2021 to:
- Their turnover for the same period in 2019.
- Their turnover for the same period in 2020.
- Their turnover for from 12 June to 25 June 2021.
The comparison period may change under the new requirement to reconfirm eligibility.
Working through the detail
There are a number of other important variables to take into account when working through JobvSaver eligibility details.
If the business was closed from 13 September to 26 September 2021 and could not trade during this period due to the public health order, all the business has to do to confirm its eligibility is tick a box to indicate this when completing its online declaration.
There are three options for other businesses that initially qualified for JobSaver and need to re-confirm their eligibility. If the initial comparison period was in 2019 or 2020, either:
- Option 1: use the same year but the corresponding fortnight as the current fortnight for which you are reconfirming your eligibility; or
- Option 2: use the same comparison period that was used in the initial application.
If your initial comparison period was 12 June to 25 June 2021:
- Option 3: use the same period that was used in the initial application.
“You must use the same option each time eligibility is reconfirmed. You won’t need to provide additional evidence or attach documentation when reconfirming eligibility. But you need to maintain proper records to show you are eligible,” says Robyn.
Accountants, bookkeepers and businesses can rely on Intuit QuickBooks to ensure their financial information is accurate and up-to-date, should they be required to provide evidence of their trading history through this period.
If a business confirms they continue to experience a decline in turnover of 30 per cent or more, but no longer meets the requirements to receive government assistance, businesses should expect to have to repay JobSaver payments received after they were no longer eligible.
The rules to access JobSaver are extremely nuanced. Businesses must ensure their financial information is accurate and up-to-date, so they can provide evidence they have met the requirements to receive government support.
Intuit QuickBooks is an invaluable tool for businesses, accountants and bookkeepers to maintain accurate financial records during these difficult times.