The JobKeeper subsidy has progressed beyond the rush for eligibility and entered its second phase: compliance. Late last month, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) released guidance highlighting where the regulator will focus its compliance resources.
The ATO is looking carefully at businesses that appear to have made adjustments to their circumstances to meet the JobKeeper eligibility requirements where, if those adjustments had not been made, the entity would have been ineligible or had lower JobKeeper payments. Or, where adjustments have been made to enable another entity or subcontractor to meet the decline in turnover test.
Industries or businesses that have not experienced adverse trading conditions and those that appear to have increased staff numbers are likely to be looked at closely. In its guidance, the ATO sets out a series of examples that are likely to attract their attention:
- Increase in staff – where the number of staff the business reports have increased beyond levels that were previously required to run the business prior to 1 March 2020.
- Deferring supplies – in industries unlikely to be adversely impacted by the pandemic, the business agrees with its customers to defer making supplies, resulting in the company’s projected GST turnover declining to the level required to meet the turnover test.
- Bringing forward supplies - in industries unlikely to be adversely impacted by the pandemic, the business brought forward supplies to be able to meet the decline in turnover test in a following month or quarter.
- Restructures – the example given by the ATO is a company that leases assets to third parties. The leasing business is generally unaffected by the pandemic. However, the business restructures and transfers the assets of the business to a new company. It then withholds the payment of dividends from the new company to the business resulting in a decline in the turnover of the business.
- Management fee manipulation – where inter-entity management fees are charged, the timing of the fee is changed to meet the decline in turnover test.
- Reduction in payments to subcontractors – where a business has reduced or deferred payments to subcontractors to enable them to meet the decline in turnover test. The ATO has stated that they will review the business and the subcontractors.
- JobKeeper used to reduce cost of supplies to customers – in this scenario, the business and its customers agree to reduce, waive or defer payments to enable the business to meet the decline in turnover test. JobKeeper is then used to fund the reduction in payments. In effect, JobKeeper is paying for the payment reduction.
Manage your JobKeeper compliance
Monthly declarations of your current and projected GST turnover are due within fourteen days of the end of each relevant month.
It’s important to ensure that you have paid eligible JobKeeper staff at least $1,500 during each JobKeeper fortnight. If you pay employees less frequently than fortnightly, the payment can be allocated between fortnights in a reasonable manner. For example, if you pay your employees on a monthly pay cycle, your employees must have received the monthly equivalent of $1,500 per fortnight.
For the first two JobKeeper fortnights (30 March-12 April, 13 April-26 April), employers had an extension until 8 May to make the JobKeeper payments to eligible employees. For the remaining JobKeeper fortnights, employees will need to receive at least $1,500 by the end of each JobKeeper fortnight or the monthly equivalent of $1,500 per fortnight. Depending on your pay cycle, this may require some adjustments each month.