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Learn more about tax areas and issues that may impact you.

6 March 2020
The Victorian State Revenue Office (SRO) has announced that from 1 March 2020, the "practical approach" currently given to discretionary trusts with potential foreign beneficiaries will be withdrawn and no longer applied.

The "practical approach" meant that foreign purchaser additional duty was not charged where it could be shown that no foreign persons have benefitted from the trust and there is no intention that a foreign person would benefit from the trust.

The SRO will continue to apply the "practical approach" to dutiable transactions where contracts of sale are entered into before 1 March 2020.

However, from 1 March 2020, the SRO will now strictly apply the foreign purchaser additional duty provisions to all discretionary trusts (including family discretionary trusts), so that if a discretionary trust has any potential foreign beneficiary, the trust will generally be treated as a foreign trust for duty purposes.
13 March 2020
Federal Government unveils coronavirus stimulus package
The Federal Government has announced today a $17.6 billion economic stimulus package, in a bid to keep Australians in jobs, as the economy will likely be severely impacted by the coronavirus.
19 March 2020
Government released more details in relation to businesses impacted by COVID-19
Since the Federal Government announced the economic stimulus package, some more details have become available in relation to some of the concessions available.

We must note that full details are still unknown, at this time, as the stimulus package will be legislated in four separate parts and Parliament does not sit again until 23 March 2020.
20 March 2020
Response to Impact of COVID-19
The business disruption of COVID-19 is real and moving fast. We understand the social and economic implications this is causing and the importance of implementing management policies and strategies to get through this crisis from a financial and operational perspective.
24 March 2020
Victorian Government announces "concessions" for Payroll tax, Land tax and Liquor licence fees
The Victorian Government has announced a range of concessions to support small and medium sized businesses and help these businesses retain employees in response to impact of COVID-19
24 March 2020
Banks announce "deferral" of loan repayments for up to 6 months
Australia's banks have announced that small businesses who are affected by COVID-19 will be eligible to have their loan repayments (principal & interest and interest only) "deferred" for six months, starting Monday 23 March 2020.

At the end of the deferral period, small businesses are not required to pay any lump sum as a catch-up payment; it is a clear six month deferral.
25 March 2020
Government Stimulus Stage 2 - Early Release of Super
The Federal Government released Stage 2 of its Stimulus Package this week and the measures have now been passed into law.

In particular, two superannuation concessions have been announced, to assist individuals which have been financially impacted by COVID-19, including:

Introducing a new concession to expand the circumstances where an individual can access their superannuation early; and
Temporarily reducing the superannuation minimum drawdown amounts for account-based pensions.
26 March 2020
Government Stimulus Stage 2 - Business Cash Flow Assistance
The Federal Government released Stage 2 of its Stimulus Package this week and the measures have now been passed into law.

In particular, some of the concessions announced as part of Stage 1 of the Stimulus Package have now been expanded and increased, to provide cash flow assistance for eligible businesses (to manage cash flow challenges and to help businesses retain employees), in the form of:

Specific payments that are based on the amount of PAYG withheld from salary and wages paid to employees (and other similar payments such as termination payments, director's fees and payments to contractors that are subject to voluntary withholding arrangements); and

Wage subsidies paid to eligible employers who retain an apprentice or trainee.
27 March 2020
COVID-19 Tax Concessions, Key Dates & Fact Sheets
We understand that since 12 March 2020, when the Federal Government announced Stage 1 of its Stimulus Package, there has been an extraordinary amount of technical information released in relation to the various concessions available to assist individuals and businesses during these unprecedented times.
30 March 2020
Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses in response to COVID-19
The Australian Government has announced temporary amendments to defer financially distressed businesses being bankrupted or wound up.
31 March 2020
Government Announces New JobKeeper Payment
The Federal Government announced yesterday another assistance program to help businesses and employees who have been (or will be) impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The JobKeeper Payment will be made available to businesses, in the form of a subsidy from the Government, to assist them to continue paying their employees. For employees, this should mean they can keep their job and earn an income, even if their hours have been cut.

The JobKeeper Payment is a temporary subsidy program (for up to 6 months) open to businesses and the self-employed, and will provide $1,500 per fortnight per employee.

The program will be managed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and details will be verified via the Single Touch Payroll (STP) payroll reporting system.
31 March 2020
Victorian Government Launches $500M Business Support Fund
The Victorian Government has launched the $500 million Business Support Fund to help small businesses survive the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and keep people in work.

Funding of a one-off grant of $10,000 per business is available and allocation will be made through a grant process.
2 April 2020
Tips to Assist Businesses to Prepare for Impact of COVID-19
As you are aware, our business landscape is rapidly changing as the impacts of COVID-19 expand. Not only are we concerned for the personal health (of business owners and employees), but also the direct commercial impacts of either Government restrictions, supply chain restrictions or the overall economic slowdown.

In short, COVID-19 will impact many businesses, which could place their immediate future in serious jeopardy, and the duration of this impact is currently unknown.

As part of any business risk management plan, there are numerous actions you should consider taking now, to prepare your business for COVID-19
3 April 2020
JobKeeper Payment for Self-Employed and Sole Traders
On Monday, the Federal Government announced details of the new JobKeeper Payments program, and sole traders and self-employed people will need to consider if they are eligible to access the wage subsidy program.

Sole traders and self-employed people are included in the group of eligible employers, and the available $1,500 per fortnight subsidy will start flowing to eligible employers and employees from the first week of May.

We have prepared the following Q&A to help explain the details which are currently available.
12 April 2020
JobKeeper Payment Legislation Passed, but Full Guidance Not Released Yet
On 31 March, the Federal Government announced Stage 3 of its stimulus package, to help businesses and workers affected by COVID-19, by announcing the JobKeeper Payment scheme.

Last Wednesday (8 April 2020) the legislation enacting the JobKeeper Payment scheme was passed through Federal Parliament, however more clarification on certain key issues still needs to be released.

While we await the Government’s full guidance, these are the issues which we consider need some urgent clarification.
14 April 2020
ATO Announces Shortcut Method for Home Office Tax Deductions
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has announced a new temporary short cut method to simplify claiming tax deductions for working from home due to COVID–19. Under the new shortcut method, from 1 March 2020 until at least 30 June 2020 (which may be extended), taxpayers can claim $0.80 cents per work hour for additional running expenses, where an individual carries out genuine work duties from home (ie. not just checking emails).

This is an alternative method to claiming home running expenses under existing arrangements, which generally require an analysis of specific running expenses incurred and more onerous record-keeping.
16 April 2020
JobKeeper Payment Application Process Explained
Yesterday, details were released by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) in relation to the necessary steps which need to be completed for an Eligible Employer to receive the JobKeeper Payment.

We have prepared the following as a practical step-by-step guide on how to navigate the application process for the JobKeeper Payment scheme, including what information and details you are required to provide, and what your obligations will be as an Eligible Employer.
26 April 2020
Victorian Land Tax Relief: Frequently Asked Questions
Both houses of Victorian Parliament has recently passed amendments to the Victorian land tax provisions and they should be passed into law next week. This amendment will ensure that if a landlord provides tenants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with rent relief, the landlord will be eligible for a 25% discount on land tax, with any remaining land tax able to be deferred until March 2021.

It is expected that land tax relief will be available from 1 May 2020 via the State Revenue Office (SRO) website portal.

Here are some frequently asked questions relating to the Victorian land tax relief concession.
27 April 2020
JobKeeper Payment "Alternative Decline in Turnover Tests" Guidance Released
The JobKeeper scheme aims to assist entities that have a significant decline in turnover due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The JobKeeper rules establish a decline in turnover test that must be satisfied at the end of a fortnight for an employer to qualify. Once an entity satisfies this test it does not need to retest its turnover in later months.
The JobKeeper rules specify two ways in which a business can satisfy the decline in turnover test:

• the basic test; and

• the alternative test.

The Government has now released further guidance which sets out the “alternative decline in turnover tests” (the Alternative Tests) where there is not an appropriate relevant comparison period in 2019 for the purpose of an entity in the class of entities satisfying the decline in turnover test.
27 April 2020
COVID-19 Commercial/Retail Landlords & Tenants Legislation Passed in Victoria
Two weeks ago, the National Cabinet announced that property industry stakeholders were working on a National Cabinet Mandatory Code of Conduct (the Code), to allow each State and Territory to introduce legislation to implement leasing principles to help guide landlords and tenants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Code introduced the following key points:

• the Code applies from 30 March 2020 to 27 September 2020;

• leases must not be terminated due to non-payment of rent;

• landlords must offer rent reductions in proportion to reduction in tenant’s turnover in two forms, including:

o at least 50% of the rent reduction must be a rent waiver; and

o the balance must be a rent deferral, which is amortised over the greater of 2 years or the lease term;

• landlords must pass on to tenants a proportionate share of benefits received from the deferral of loan payments;

• landlords cannot charge fees or interest on waived or deferred amounts; and

• landlords cannot draw on tenants’ bonds.
28 April 2020
JobKeeper Payment Enrolment Extension & Latest Announcements
The ATO has now extended the time given to enrol for the initial JobKeeper periods, from the original date of 30 April 2020, until 31 May 2020.

If eligible businesses enrol by 31 May 2020, they will still be able to claim for the four fortnights in April and May, provided the business meets all of the eligibility requirements for each of those fortnights. This includes having paid eligible employees by the appropriate date for each fortnight.

For the first two fortnights (30 March – 12 April, 13 April – 26 April), the ATO will accept that eligible businesses will now have until 8 May 2020 to pay the minimum payment of $3,000 gross wages.

However, eligible businesses can enrol and claim for JobKeeper earlier if they choose.
4 May 2020
JobKeeper Payment and Expanded Test for Service Entities
On 2 May 2020, the Treasurer released some guidance in relation to a new rule introduced for the JobKeeper “decline in turnover” test. The test has been expanded to allow service entities, which may not suffer the necessary decline in turnover in their own right, to test whether they may now become eligible for JobKeeper Payments.
4 May 2020
Victorian Land Tax Relief: Instructions on How to Claim
The Victorian Government has released instructions on how landlords can claim land tax relief .
5 May 2020
COVID-19 Relief Measures for Not For Profit Organisations
The Federal and State Governments have provided various relief measures for not-for-profits (NFPs) to assist with the economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following is a summary of the various relief measures available.
6 May 2020
JobKeeper Payment and Service Entities Guidance has now been Clarified
On Monday we released a Tax Alert with the initial guidance released by the Treasurer, expanding the JobKeeper “decline in turnover” tests to now consider service entities which provide employment services to a group. To see our previous Tax Alert – click here.

The Treasurer has now provided some more detailed guidance on how service entities can test whether it can satisfy the JobKeeper “decline in turnover” threshold (ie. 30% or 50%), and determine if they may be eligible for the JobKeeper Payments scheme.
8 May 2020
REMINDER: JobKeeper Payment key dates for May 2020
Among the various JobKeeper Payment conditions, it is important to remember that an employer is eligible to receive a JobKeeper payment for an individual for a fortnight if the employer passes on the $1,500 fortnightly payment to its eligible employees in full (the wages payment condition).
11 May 2020
COVID-19 Rent Relief Regulations are now in place
The Commercial Leases and Licences Regulations (the Regulations) have now come into force and will be applied with retrospective effect from 29 March 2020 and continue until 29 September 2020.

These Regulations provide the guidelines for landlords and tenants to deal with rent relief for those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
12 May 2020
Access to the Victorian Business Support Fund $10,000 Grants have been Expanded
The Victorian Business Support Fund is dedicated to small businesses that do not pay payroll tax and which operate in those sectors of the economy that have been directly or severely impacted by the trading restrictions arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the first phase, businesses in sectors such as retail, tourism, hospitality, accommodation and the arts were eligible for $10,000 Victorian Business Support Fund grants.

After more than $150 million already being paid out in grants to businesses across Victoria, the Business Support Fund will now move to the second phase of support.
14 May 2020
JobKeeper Payments Expanded to include Religious Practitioners
Generally, religious practitioners may not be classified as “employees” for tax purposes, and may receive financial support via non monetary benefits and/or a stipend, rather than salary and wages.

The eligibility rules for the JobKeeper Payment scheme have now been expanded to include religious institutions in respect of religious practitioners (with the exception of those that are students only) who are impacted by the COID-19 pandemic.
1 June 2020
Amended Guidelines for Ancillary Funds During COVID-19
The Federal Government recently announced amendments to ancillary fund guidelines that will change the way they are administered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ancillary funds are trusts that act as an intermediary between donors and Deductible Gift Recipients (DGRs). Donations and transfers to these ancillary funds are tax deductible, subject to the funds distributing a minimum amount each year to DGRs, which is normally 4% of the market value of net assets for public ancillary funds (PuAFs) and 5% for private ancillary funds (PAFs).

The objective of the amendments is to encourage ancillary funds to maintain or increase distributions to help meet the increased demand on the services of many DGRs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
9 June 2020
$25,000 Home Builder Grant Scheme Announced
The Federal Government has announced a new Home Builder grant scheme, providing eligible owner-occupiers (including first home buyers) with a tax-free grant of $25,000 to encourage people to build a new home or substantially renovate their existing home.
10 June 2020
2019-2020 Year End Business Checklist
Many of our business clients like to review their tax position at the end of the income year and evaluate any year-end strategies that may be available to legitimately reduce their tax. Traditionally, year-end tax planning for small businesses is based around two simple concepts (ie., Accelerating business deductions and deferring income). This year, consideration will obviously also need to be given to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on specific businesses.

Small Business Entities ('SBEs') (ie., Businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million) often have greater access to year-end tax planning due to particular concessions that only apply to them. Taxpayers that qualify as an SBE can generally pick and choose which of the concessions they wish to use each year (although see below regarding the simplified depreciation rules). The following are a number of areas that may be considered for all business taxpayers.
10 June 2020
2019-2020 Individual Tax Return Checklist
Tax saving strategies prior to 1 July 2020

A good strategy to reduce tax payable is normally to accelerate any income tax deductions into the current income year, which will reduce overall taxable income in the current year. Despite this, for the 2020 tax season, tax planning may require consideration of an individual's potentially reduced income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (where applicable), in which case a decision may be made to defer expenditure.
1 July 2020
Local Lockdowns Business Support Program:
$5,000 Grant to help businesses through temporary COVID-19 lockdowns.
7 July 2020
Practice Update - July 2020
Extending the instant Asset Write-Off
Testamentary trusts and minotrs
Regulations confirm no Superannuation Guarantee (SG) obligation on JobKeeper payments where work is not performed
July 13 2020
Victorian Business Support Fund has been Expanded
Last Friday (10th July 2020) the Victorian Government announced that expanded support will soon be available for businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire affected by the current "Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions".
July 20 2020
New JobTrainer Package Explained
The Government has announced yesterday the latest $2.5bn stimulus package, the JobTrainer package, with the intention of helping employers re-train, upskill and open new job opportunities.
22 July 2020
JobKeeper Payment Scheme now extended until 28 March 2021
Yesterday (21 July 2020), the Federal Government announced an extension of the JobKeeper Payment scheme for a further six months to 28 March 2021, and is now being referred to as JobKeeper 2.0.
5 August 2020
COVID19 - Business Continues During Stage 4 restrictions
Lowe Lippmann Chartered Accountants and staff continue to work remotely, despite the business restrictions which came ino effect midnight tonight, Wednesday 5th August 2020 forcing the office at 616 St Kilda Road, Melbourne to be closed for six weeks.
5 August 2020
2020 Property Valuations during the time of Coronavirus
With most Victorian Council Rate Notices for the 2020-21 Year currently being issued, we thought it timely to make you aware to take particular notice of the unimproved values noted therein. In particular, as such valuations will be adopted by the Victorian State Revenue Office for the 2021 Land Tax Assessments.
6 August 2020
Victorian Business Support Fund - Expansion Program open until 14 September 2020
On Monday (3rd August 2020, the Victorian Government announced updated restrictions to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Victoria by introducing the following..
10 August 2020
JobKeeper Payment Scheme rules relaxed and expanded after 28 September 2020
Last Friday (7 August 2020) the Government made an announcement to relax and expand the eligibility criteria for the JobKeeper Payment scheme after 28 September 2020. These rules are being referred to as "JobKeeper2.0".
17 August 2020
JobKeeper 1.0 Rule Changes after 3 August 2020
As you will be aware, the Government made an announcement two weeks ago (on 7 August 2020) to relax and expand the eligibility criteria for the JobKeeper Payment scheme after 28 September 2020 (now known as, JobKeeper 2.0). We explained the details in our previous Tax Alert.
24 August 2020
Assistance available for Victorian Hospitality Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
The Victorian Government has recently announced three distinct grant assistance programs for Victorian hospitality businesses impacted by the restrictions implemented to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

We will discuss each program below, and note that all three programs are now open to take grant applications.
25 August 2020
Further land tax relief for landlords & business owners
On 20 August 2020, the Victorian Government announced further land tax relief for landlords and business owners to extend the commercial & residential tenancy relief schemes until 31 December 2020.
4 September 2020
Practice Update - September 2020
14 September 2020
Victorian Government announces Business Survival Package worth $3bn
Yesterday (13 September 2020) the Victorian Government announced another round of cash grants, tax relief and cashflow support packages to assist Victorian businesses that have been most affected by COVID-19 restrictions.
17 September 2020
JobKeeper 2.0 New Rules
Legislation passed & Further Guidance released
29 September 2020
JobKeeper 2.0: New alternative decline in turnover tests explained
7 October 2020
2020/2021 Federal Budget
FEDERAL BUDGET 2021 SUMMARY AND FULL COMMENTARY UPDATES The 2020/21 Federal Budget was handed down by Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg on the evening of Tuesday 6th October 2020. Lowe Lippmann is pleased to provide the following commentaries, explaining the key issues released in the budget. • To read the Summary, please click here • To read the Full Commentary, please click here
22 October 2020
JobKeeper 2.0: Additional (8th Category) of Alternative decline in turnover test released
26 October 2020
Practice Update - October 2020
24 November 2020
Insurers lose COVID-19 “business interruption” test case
Last week, a unanimous judgment from the New South Wales Court of Appeal, constituted by five judges, was handed down which ruled that certain insurance policyholders could be entitled to claim for COVID-19 related “business interruption” losses, when their business was forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.
16 December 2020
Practice Update - December 2020
17 December 2020
Update to landholding valuations for Victorian land holders