1st May, 2020

Trades and construction under lockdown: Seeking business support

In part two of our tips for trades and construction businesses impacted by restrictions, we cover off government support for businesses impacted pandemic-related restrictions.

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

If you’re working as a contractor or run a trades-based business facing restrictions, your cash flow and income may be impacted as a result.

Here are some stimulus support options across Australia and New Zealand you may be eligible for. 

Federal support in Australia

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

But for business owners seeking information specific to them, the Government’s website has plenty of detail on financial aid, grants, services, and support from across departments, plus details on eligibility and timing for new programs.

The Australian Tax Office has also made changes to help those affected by COVID-19, too.

The ATO website includes information on initiatives like varying PAYG instalments, claiming GST credits, and depreciation deductions on the purchase of certain new depreciable assets.

Consult with a Registered Tax Agent

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).

In 2020, 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 make it easier for Australians to obtain critical tax 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.

In a joint press release from the professional bodies, John Maroney, CEO of SMSF Association, praised the ruling, handed down by ASIC in 2020.

“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.”

Don’t forget state and local support

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, NSW and Victoria recently announced business support packages, to be delivered through Service NSW and Service Victoria.

Local governments may also have a range of initiatives worth considering, so don’t forget to consider all options.

Government business support in New Zealand

For tradies and building outfits in New Zealand, the Level 4 lockdowns of 2020 are still fresh memories.

Fortunately, New Zealand has managed to maintain a more workable business environment through 2021, allowing trades and construction activity that can be done in a COVID-safe way.

Whether your business has been directly impacted by restrictions or the knock-on effects of the pandemic, it pays to continue monitoring news and updates from the Government.

If you have been impacted, the Work and Income website details COVID-19 support for employers, with two different payments on offer.

The 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.

Don’t forget tax updates

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 updated Inland Revenue updates came into effect in April 2020, including 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 business advisors, such as bookkeepers and accountants when trying to get a clear view of their business’s health and to help maintain accurate financial records for tax purposes.

Having expert business advice means better cash flow, and less vulnerability to disruption as a result.

Even better, trades business operators will benefit from the peace of mind that comes from having an expert opinion.

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.