Queensland and WA governments announce COVID-19 stimulus packages

Roelof van der Merwe

Following the Australian Government’s recent $17.6 billion corona virus economic stimulus package and the NSW government’s $2.3 billion package, the Queensland and Western Australia governments have today announced measures to support businesses in their respective states.

Queensland Stimulus Package

The Queensland Government announced[1] it will create a new $500 million loan facility, interest free for the first 12 months, to support businesses and keep Queenslanders in work. They will also extend the payroll tax deferral to all businesses across the state.

The $500 million concessional loan facility will comprise of loans of up to $250,000 with an initial 12-month interest free period for businesses to retain staff.

Deferring payroll tax returns due to coronavirus

The due date for lodgement and payment of the monthly payroll tax remittances for February 2020 to May 2020 has been deferred until 3 August 2020.

The lodgement and payment of the 2019-20 payroll tax annual return has also been deferred until 3 August 2020.

However, during this time, employers can:
 - Lodge returns without paying them. This may assist employers to keep track of its liabilities so that they are aware of what they need to pay by 3 August.
 - Continue to lodge and pay returns as usual.

If employers choose to defer lodging returns, they can resume at any stage during this time.

As part of this initiative, the Office of State Revenue will work with affected businesses to create repayment plans for the deferred tax liabilities.

Western Australia Stimulus Package

The Western Australia government also announced[2] a stimulus package to support WA households, pensioners and small businesses in the wake of COVID-19. The package includes:

 - A freeze on household fees and charges, including electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, the emergency services levy and public transport fares.
 - Allocation of $402 million in the 2020-21 Budget to go towards paying for the freeze.
 - $91 million allocated to double the Energy Assistance Package (EAP) in 2020-21 to provide additional support to vulnerable Western Australians. The payment will increase from $300 to $600 for eligible concession card-holders.
 - $114 million in measures to support Western Australian small and medium businesses.
 - A one-off grant of $17,500 to businesses paying payroll tax with a payroll between $1 million and $4 million.
 - The $1 million payroll tax threshold being brought forward by six months to July 1 2020.
 - Deferral of 2019-20 payroll tax payment until July 21 2020 for small and medium sized businesses affected by COVID-19.

Effective from 17 March 2020, a freeze will be placed on household fees and charges, including electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, the emergency services levy and public transport fares.

As part of its stimulus package, the Western Australia government announced that payroll tax paying businesses with a payroll between $1 million and $4 million will receive a one-off grant of $17,500 to assist them to manage the impacts of COVID-19.

The payroll tax threshold will also increase to $1 million from 1 July 2020, six months earlier than planned.

On top of this, small and medium sized businesses affected by COVID-19 can now apply to defer payment of their 2019-20 payroll tax until 21 July 2020. The deferral is available to employers who pay $7.5 million or less in Australian Taxable Wages and have been directly or indirectly impacted by COVID-19, compared to normal operating conditions.

If you require more information or would like some support accessing any of the support measures announced, please contact the Crowe Tax Advisory Team.

[1] http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2020/3/17/palaszczuk-government-offers-500m-in-loans-to-support-workers-in-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus

[2] https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2020/03/COVID-19-economic-response-Relief-for-businesses-and-households.aspx