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1st May, 2020

Tips for tradies under COVID-19 lockdown: Seeking stimulus

In the second part of our series for tradies in the small-to-medium business sector, we cover off government stimulus support for businesses impacted by the pandemic.

Governments across the world are currently implementing numerous strategies to stimulate their economies, and aid businesses and employees hit financially.

As a tradie, your cash flow and income are likely already significantly reduced or will become more severely affected over the coming months.

Here are some stimulus support options across Australia and New Zealand you can apply for or research further today.

Australia:

Head to the Australian Government’s Treasury department website for details on the Federal Government’s economic response to COVID-19.

Here you’ll find details about support such as the JobSeeker and JobKeeper packages.

There are also other support options, including cash flow support for small and medium businesses, temporary relief for financially distressed organisations, support for apprentices and trainees, assistance for sole traders, and an increased instant asset write-off.

The Government’s specific Business website is packed full of information about financial aid, grants, services, and support from across departments, plus details on eligibility and timing for new programs.

The Australian Tax Office is making changes to help those affected by COVID-19, too.

The ATO website has information about its measures, such as varying PAYG instalments, claiming GST credits, and depreciation deductions on the purchase of certain new depreciable assets.

If you need help understanding and getting access to relevant economic packages, including early access to your superannuation, you can now talk to your Registered Tax Agent (RTA).

Recently, five major Australian professional bodies – CPA Australia, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, SMSF Association, Financial Planning Association, and Institute of Public Accountants – joined forces to ensure it’s easier for Australians to get this advice.

As a result, you can turn to RTAs, such as professional accountants and financial planners, for assistance with accessing your super and making other decisions about your financial position.

This is possible even if they don’t hold an Australian Financial Services licence.

In a joint press release from the professional bodies, John Maroney, CEO of SMSF Association, praised the new ruling handed down by ASIC.

“The decision to access superannuation early is a significant one with a long-term impact on individuals’ retirement savings, so for [people] to be able to speak to an accountant or adviser for a small fee to get the advice they need without sacrificing safeguards is welcomed.”

On top of Federal support, each state and territory government is also providing stimulus packages to help residents.
Investigate what’s on offer in your region by checking out the appropriate website.

For example, though, the Northern Territory Government’s Jobs Rescue and Recovery plan includes a $120 million investment to keep cash flowing and businesses open.

NT tradies can register to be listed as eligible businesses that provide services under the Home Improvement Scheme, Business Improvement Grants, or Immediate Work Grants.

Tradies in the Northern Territory are already noticing the beneficial impacts of the Home Improvement Scheme, which is flowing $30 million into local renovation jobs.

It operates on a voucher system, with homeowners receiving money to invest in physical improvements to land and/or buildings, and repairs and maintenance services.

Applicants get vouchers worth $4000 if they contribute at least $1000 of their own money to the new work, or $6000 if contributing at least $2000. Local workers from the state must complete the jobs.

Builder Peter MacFarlane, in an ABC News interview, reported that the scheme is already making a difference to his business.

He said: “There’s people out there that possibly wouldn’t have taken on these jobs previously”.

“But now, with such a generous grant from the government, there’s definitely a lot of people wanting to take advantage of it.”

New Zealand:

For tradies in New Zealand, things are even more dire, due to the country having until this week been in lockdown level 4.

If you’re struggling to survive, the Government has initiated various stimulus responses to assist.

The Work and Income website details COVID-19 support for employers, with two different payments on offer.

There is a Wage Subsidy for business owners impacted by the pandemic and needing to reduce employee hours or lay off staff.

The Essential Workers Leave Support helps essential businesses to pay employees who can’t work from home or come into work.

The specific COVID-19 Government website has a section covering financial support for individuals and households, and another for businesses and employees.

Initiatives include the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme, supporting targeted new loans to eligible ventures.

There is also redundancy support, a mortgage repayment holiday scheme, and protection for renters and tenants.

Plus, check out the Treasury department’s website for more information on the broader economic package released in response to the pandemic.

Tradies should be aware of tax changes made to support NZ businesses, too.

These changes include a provisional tax threshold lift, interest write-off on late tax payments, and the reinstatement of building depreciation.

Head to the Inland Revenue website for further information.

Also, note that new Inland Revenue updates came into effect on 15 April.

The latest measures include a tax loss carry-back scheme, changes to the tax loss continuity rules, further business consultancy support, and greater flexibility for affected businesses to meet tax obligations.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson commented on a press release about the updates that, “We have taken decisive action…to cushion the blow for our businesses and workers…Our focus on cash flow and confidence continues through these measures.”

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Where to seek further advice


Tradies in both Australia and New Zealand should speak with their accountant and financial advisor for assistance with getting through these tough economic times.

It also pays to check out the website of Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand (CA ANZ).

The organisation has created a dedicated hub, updated often, to help people navigate the impacts of the pandemic.

The site features the latest updates, commentary, and insights on government packages, guides for businesses on tax and working from home, and mental health and wellbeing support.

 

In the final part of this series, coming next week, we’ll examine marketing strategies for tradies to use to ensure enquiries and jobs keep flowing in over the coming months. You can find the first part, on staying compliant, here.