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
Business Activity Statements and Instalment Notices
Lodgement Deferral Announced – Small Businesses and Individual Taxpayers
For small businesses and individual taxpayers in affected local government areas (LGAs) in QLD and NSW, the ATO have announced that for Business Activity Statements and Instalment Notices with an original due date of:
- 28 February 2022 (December quarterly lodgements); or
- 21 March 2022 (February monthly lodgements)
- Can lodge these relevant returns up until the 28th of March 2022; and
- Do not need to request a lodgement deferral if they are able to lodge by that date.
The ATO have clarified that their systems will reflect the original lodgement due date for each of the documents, until these documents are lodged with the ATO. Therefore, eligible small businesses and individuals will not yet see these deferred due dates within their ATO Business Portal.
Further information in relation to this can be found here.
Further Deferral – Business Activity Statements and Instalment Notices
For small businesses and individual taxpayers who will not be able to lodge their deferred Activity Statements or Instalment Notices by the 28th of March 2022, taxpayers or their tax agent can apply for a further lodgement deferral on a case-by-case basis.
If you have already obtained a lodgement deferral, this will remain in place. Please contact your Grant Thornton advisor to discuss the options which are available to you, or if you require any assistance with applying for a lodgement deferral.
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 flood 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.
Large Businesses and Significant Global Entities
The ATO have confirmed that the lodgement deferrals announced do not apply to significant global entities or large businesses. Significant global entities and large businesses are to contact the ATO to discuss any concerns regarding their lodgement obligations. If you require assistance with this, please contact your Grant Thornton advisor to discuss the options which are available to you.
The automatic extension above assists with the deferral of December 2021 quarterly activity statements and February 2022 monthly activity statements only. No further automatic extensions for Activity Statements or Income Tax Returns have been put in place by the ATO at this stage. Therefore, the income tax return lodgement deadlines of 28 February and 31 March remain in place.
The standard process to apply for a lodgement deferral is still available where you have identified that the floods will impact on your ability to report or make payments. If you do not qualify for the automatic concession and need help accessing a deferral, please contact us to work with the ATO on your behalf.
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.
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% 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% 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.
Disaster Relief Allowance
Services Australia has recently announced the Disaster Relief Allowance. This allowance is a short term (13-week) support payment made available to those whose income has been impacted by the recent flooding events. 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 flooding events to inform their employees of this Allowance (see Disaster Relief Allowance for NSW).