Disaster Recovery & Relief

Tax Obligations

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Individuals and businesses affected by a natural disaster can seek assistance from the revenue authorities to help manage their ongoing tax obligations. Some of the assistance is automatically implemented for all taxpayers but other assistance will need to be applied for.
Disaster Recovery & Relief
Disaster Recovery & Relief
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Tax Obligations

ATO obligations 

The ATO offers assistance in times of natural disaster in a number of ways, including:

  • providing deferrals for lodgement obligations
  • prioritising tax refunds owed to you
  • establishing a payment plan for tax owing, tailored to your individual circumstances
  • remitting penalties or interest charged during the time that you have been affected

Lodgement Deferrals

The ATO has launched a new lodgement deferral function in Online services for agents on 21 April 2023. This has now become the only way to request lodgement deferrals. If you need an extended time to complete your lodgement obligations, please contact your Grant Thornton agent for assistance with the deferral application.

ATO Payments, Interest and Penalties

Deferred Business Activity Statements and Instalment Notices

Despite the lodgement due date for Business Activity Statements and Instalment Notices being deferred, the payment due date for these deferred lodgements will not change.

The ATO have advised that general interest charge (GIC) will still apply if payment is not made by the original payment due date, however the ATO encourage taxpayers or their tax agent to contact them to discuss payment options, including the remission of GIC if this has been applied.

Based on our experience, the ATO are often quite willing to negotiate tax debt payments by instalments, with a partial or full reversal of general interest charges and any applicable penalties. For natural disaster affected individuals and businesses, the ATO have confirmed that they will adopt an empathetic approach. 

If you require any assistance with discussing a payment plan, the options available to you, or the remission of GIC, please contact your Grant Thornton advisor.

PAYG instalments

As a result of the impact of the floods the level of PAYG instalments being paid to the ATO may no longer be appropriate for your business. Where the change in circumstances would mean that you have already paid too much PAYG, it is possible to claim a credit in your next activity statement. Where payments are still needed but at a lower level, a process is available to vary the instalment level. Please speak to us so we can assist you with this process.

Superannuation guarantee 

Where your business has been affected by the natural disaster, difficulties may also be encountered in meeting super guarantee obligations. As an employee entitlement there is currently no relief available from making the Superannuation Guarantee payments. If you cannot make your contributions for a quarter, you must lodge a Superannuation Guarantee Charge (‘SGC’) statement for impacted employees. In an emergency the ATO may extend the time for lodgement of the SGC statement, although no announcement has been made about this to date. 

Please be aware that in the instance you are required to lodge a SGC statement, additional costs can arise in the form of a 10 per cent nominal interest, $20 admin fee per employee as well as potential additional penalties (which the Commissioner has discretion to reduce in instance such as natural disaster). SGC must also be calculated on the broader definition of Salary and Wages and will be non-deductible for tax purposes.

We recommend that the SGC statement is lodged as soon as possible to avoid the accrual of the 10 per cent interest component which the Commissioner does not have the discretion to waive. Once lodged, general interest charges (‘GIC’) will accrue on any unpaid SGC. Whilst at this time there is no current directive or relief specific to the recent events, the Commissioner has the power to remit GIC under PS LA 2011/12 in events such as Natural disasters. The ATO has also expressed a willingness to consider the implementation of payment plans for those employers unable to pay the charge within the relevant deadlines. 

Please contact us if you would like further advice and assistance on the lodgement of SGC forms, remission of penalties and GIC or arranging a payment plan to be put in place with the ATO. 

Fringe Benefits Tax 

Our discussions with the ATO have informed us that they are not considering any official disaster relief policies from employers with respect to Fringe Benefits Tax. However, please be aware that there are already existing FBT exemptions for emergency assistance which includes assistance for the immediate relief of a victim of an emergency and the assistance is in the form of: 

  • first aid or other emergency health care
  • emergency meals, food supplies, clothing, accommodation, transport, or use of household goods
  • temporary repairs, or
  • any similar assistance

Generally, these exemptions are reserved for benefits and relief that are temporary in nature. Please contact us for advice on the specific benefits or relief that you put in place for your employees.

Other tax considerations

In addition to the statutory reporting and payments required by the ATO, there are some other considerations which you should consider to help you manage your tax obligations.

In respect of GST, it is worth considering any outstanding debts which you believe will no longer be recoverable. Steps should be taken to write these off in order to reclaim the GST as soon as possible. For those whose systems are down, whilst you may not be able to process invoices currently, if you are able to maintain a simple spreadsheet of the invoices you have received in order to reclaim input tax credits as soon as possible, this will assist with managing cash flow. 

Pay-roll tax obligations 

At this time, both the Queensland Revenue Office (QRO) and Revenue NSW have not put in place any automatic concessions but have advised that they are in the process of determining the appropriate concessions and relief to be made available to businesses impacted by the recent floods, with an official position to be handed down within the coming weeks. 

Based on previous events, we anticipate that some of the measures they will look to implement in relation to this will be as follows:  

  • extending the time to lodge documents or returns
  • extending the time for amounts to be paid without interest being charged
  • arranging for debts to be paid in instalments

We can assist with the process of obtaining suitable relief from the QRO and Revenue NSW to allow time for you to get back on your feet. Additionally, we will update this page as soon as QRO or Revenue NSW announce their official policy in relation to their proposed disaster relief measures.

Reconstructing Records

If your records have been damaged, destroyed or lost because of a natural disaster, the ATO can re-issue or help construct damaged or lost records to support your claim entitlements such as tax deductions, or your access to government payments or concessions.

Grants and other Financial Assistance

QRIDA Disaster Recovery Grants

Extraordinary Disaster Assistance Recovery Grants of up to $75,000 are available for affected businesses following the South Queensland Severe Storms and Rainfall, 24 December 2023 - 3 January 2024.  These include:

  • Up to $75,000 for primary producers within the declared disaster area and having suffered direct impact from the disaster – to hire or purchase equipment and materials, clean up, remove debris, replace fencing and other costs associated with the recovery process.
  • Up to $50,000 for affected small businesses – sole traders or private companies with less than 20 employees - to hire or purchase equipment and materials, clean up, remove debris, replace or repair damaged infrastructure and stock and other costs associated with the recovery process.
  • Up to $50,000 for affected ACNC registered non-profit organisations – as for small businesses

Disaster Relief Allowance 

Disaster Relief Allowance which is a short term (13-week) support payment is available to those whose income has been impacted by the recent natural disaster events in Queensland. The payments can be accessed through Centrelink and where eligible, will be the maximum equivalent rate of the JobSeeker Payment. We encourage Employers who are aware of employees who have been impacted by the recent natural disaster events to inform their employees of this Allowance before the due date (see Disaster Relief Allowance for QLD).

These recent natural disaster events include:

  • South East Queensland Sever Storms and Flooding, December 2023 to January 2024;
  • Queensland Tropical Cyclone Jasper, December 2023;
  • Queensland Western and Darling Downs Bushfires, October 2023.
  • Bushfires, Floods and Storms in Victoria

Building Resilient Tourism Infrastructure program

The Queensland Government has announced the $10m Building Resilient Tourism Infrastructure program as a further response to ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper.  Tourism operators, both for profit and not for profit, in the Local Government Areas of Cairns, Cassowary Coast, Cook, Douglas, Hope Vale, Mareeba, Tablelands, Wujal Wujal and Yarrabah can now apply for grants up to $250,000 (minimum of $30,000) to build resilience and aid their response to future flooding and natural disasters through innovative solutions and bespoke engineering projects, such as flood prevention infrastructure, equipment such as alternative power, safety upgrades, or flood levees.

Applications are open now until 19 April 2024 to fund projects to be completed by 30 November 2025.

Learn more about how our Government grants services can help you
Learn more about how our Government grants services can help you
Visit our Government grants page