Summarising the Economic Responses to COVID-19 by State and Territory Governments in Australia
Complete as at 18 May 2020
Late addition: Queensland Government Small Business Adaptation Grant of up to $10k for eligible Queensland small businesses. Details HERE
A range of economic and social measures have been announced by the State and Territory governments of Australia in response to the COVID-19 crisis. These measures are in addition to the economic response issued by the federal government.
Listed below is information about the various support measures available for businesses, sorted by state or territory. For more information about the support available to individuals or households, you can visit the respective government websites, which we’ll link below.
Relief for commercial tenants
A range of measures to assist commercial and residential tenants during COVID-19 has been agreed upon by the Federal, State and Territory Governments. It includes the temporary halting of evictions and rent reductions for eligible tenants, proportionate to their decline in turnover. Commerical tenants must be businesses with an annual turnover of up to $50 million, or are participating in the JobKeeper scheme, in order to be eligible. To find out more on the relief available to commercial tenants, including state and territory-specific information, visit the link here.
The Queensland (QLD) Government has announced numerous measures to support businesses impacted by COVID-19, including:
- a payroll tax refund for November and December 2019 for employers who pay $6.5 million or less in Australian taxable wages.
- a payroll tax refund for January and February 2020 for employers who pay more than $6.5 million in Australian taxable wages. Eligible employers must apply here.
- a payroll tax holiday for January to March 2020 for employers who pays $6.5 million or less in Australian taxable wages. Eligible employers must apply here.
- a payroll tax deferral for all business for the 2020 calendar year. Eligible businesses must apply here.
- a land tax rebate of 25% will be available for eligible properties for the 2019-20 assessment year. Properties will be eligible where the ability of one or more tenants to pay their normal rent is affected by COVID-19, the landlord provides rent relief to affected tenant(s) of an amount at least equal to the land tax rebate, and the landowner commits to comply with the national leasing standards. Additional information on the relief for commercial tenants can be accessed here.
- a land tax deferral of three months for the 2020-21 assessment year.
- a waiver of the 2% land tax foreign surcharge for foreign entities for the 2019-20 assessment year
- to support Queensland agricultural, food, forestry and fishing exporters, grants of up to $7500 are available to purchase equipment up to a maximum cost of $10,000. Applicants must contribute 25% of the total cost
- to support Queensland agricultural, food, forestry and fishing exporters, grants of up to $50,000 will be available to undertake activities such as market evaluation studies, market visits and staff training.
- small and medium sized businesses that consume less than 100,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year will automatically receive a $500 rebate of their electricity bill.
- the renewal fees for Queensland registered inbound tour operators will be waived for 12 months, if the renewal falls due between 1 February 2020 and 31 July 2020.
- the renewal fees for Queensland registered inbound tour operators which fall due between 1 February 2020 and 31 July 2020 will be waived for 12 months. Three year renewals will also receive a 12 month waiver.
- state land rent will be waived for farmers, businesses, tourism operators, and community and sports clubs for 1 April to 30 September.
- liquor licensing fees for 2020-21 will be waived for venues that have had to close.
- a concessional loan of up to $250,000 was offered to assist with carry-on expenses such as employee wages, rent and rates, with an initial 12-month interest free period for businesses and not-for-profit organisations financially affected by COVID-19. Note that new applications for this loan are now CLOSED.
For more information about the available QLD Government support, click here.
Australian Capital Territory
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government has announced numerous measures to support businesses impacted by COVID-19, including:
- a payroll tax waiver for businesses that have been required to close from April to September 2020. Eligible businesses, such as gyms, cinemas and beauty therapists, will need to lodge an application with the ACT Revenue Office, which can be found here.
- a payroll tax deferral for all ACT businesses with group Australia-wide wages of up to $10 million for their 2020- 21 payroll tax until 1 July 2022.
- a payroll tax deferral for all construction industry businesses for six months from April to September 2020. Eligible businesses will need to lodge their payroll tax returns as normal.
- the appointment of a Commercial Tenancy Mediator to support and encourage commercial landlords and tenants to engage and negotiate mutually agreeable outcomes.
- commercial property owners with an Average Unimproved Value below $2 million on their property will automatically receive a credit of $2622 to their 2019-20 general rates in quarter four.
- a rebate of $750 will be automatically applied to the next electricity bill for small business owners with electricity usage below 100 megawatts per year.
- licensed venues will receive a 12-month waiver of their food business registration and on liquor licensing fees from 1 April 2020. Outdoor dining fees for 2020-2021 will also be waived.
- infection control licence fees will be waived for businesses such as dentists and nail saloons for 12 months from 1 April 2020.
- license fees for rideshare and taxi vehicles will be waived for 12 months for rideshare operators from 1 April 2020.
- all general rates notices will be delayed by four weeks.
- rebates will be offered to landlords whose tenants have been impacted, provided they agree to lower rents by at least 25% . The government will provide tax relief to landlords, to the equivalent of approximately $100 per week.
- the government will be deferring the issuing commercial general rates notices for 2019-20 quarter 4 instalments by four weeks. Notices will be payable a month after the date of issue.
- gaming machine licensees will be provided a payment of $15,000 per authorisation if they surrender gaming machine authorisations.
- a waiver/refund of gaming machine tax liabilities for clubs for March 2020.
- a waiver/refund of the annual licence fee and gaming tax liabilities for March 2020 activity for Casino Canberra.
New South Wales
The New South Wales (NSW) Government has announced numerous measures to support businesses impacted by COVID-19, including:
- commercial lease support for tenants, including the requirement for commercial landlords to offer a reduction in rent at least proportionate to the reduction in turnover for eligible tenants. Tenants must provide landlords with evidence of eligibility for the JobKeeper payment, tax returns/BAS to demonstrate an annual turnover of less than $50 million and sufficient documentation to demonstrate actual decline in turnover in order to be eligible and calculate rent reduction. Landlords should act reasonably and abstain from placing onerous requests on tenants for documentation. More information for commercial tenants can be found here. Information for landlords can be found here.
- a payroll tax waiver for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months plus a three-month deferral.
- a payroll tax deferral for businesses with payrolls over $10 million for six months.
- the next round of payroll tax cuts will be brought forward by raising the threshold limit to $1 million in 2020-21.
- land tax waiver of up to 25% will be available to commercial and residential landlords. Those eligible can apply for a land tax concession of up to 25% of their 2020 (calendar year) land tax liability on relevant properties if their tenant is suffering from financial hardship cause by COVID-19 and they have reduced the rent of the impacted tenant by at least as much as the tax reduction. You can read more about the land tax waiver here.
- land tax deferral of three months on the outstanding land tax liability after the land tax waiver
- grants of up to $10,000 are available for NSW small businesses that employ 1 to 19 staff that have been highly impacted by COVID-19. Applications for this grant closes 1 June 2020. You can read more about the small business COVID-19 support grant here.
- a range of fees and charges for small businesses including bars, cafes, restaurants and trades will be waived. It includes a six-month deferral of the parking spaces levy. You can read more about fees and licence relief in NSW here.
- gaming tax for clubs, pubs, hotels and lotteries tax will be deferred for six months, provided that these funds are used to retain staff.
- commercial tenants with fewer than 20 employees in all government-owned properties will be eligible to defer rent payments for up to six months.
- the government will immediately pay all correctly rendered invoices.
For more information about the available NSW Government support, click here. Instructions on making your business safe for employees and customers, as well as resource kits from Safe Work NSW can be accessed here.
You can access information the current restrictions in place in NSW here.
The Northern Territory (NT) Government has announced numerous measures to support businesses impacted by COVID-19, including:
- a payroll tax waiver for businesses with a total payroll below $7.5 million and have experienced a 30% decline in turnover due to COVID-19 for six months from 1 April 2020.
- a payroll tax deferral for businesses with a total payroll above $7.5 million and have experienced a 50% decline in turnover due to COVID-19 for six months from 1 April 2020.
- an extension of the current payroll tax exemption for hiring Territory employees to 30 June 2021.
- the Business Hardship Register has been established, allowing businesses on the register to seek a three-month rate waiver and a further three-month deferral for paying rates until 1 January 2021 from their local council.
- power, and water and sewerage bills will be cut by 50% for business for six months from 1 April 2020.
- property activation levy will be waived for landlords whose property becomes vacant due to COVID-19.
- all regular increases to government fees and charges will are put on hold until 1 July 2021.
- a Small Business Survival Fund is available to NT businesses that operate in industry sectors affected by social gathering restrictions. Where such businesses can demonstrate a significant financial impact, they will be eligible for:
- an immediate survival payment of $2000 for sole traders, $5000 for businesses with 2 to 4 employees, $20,000 for businesses with 5 to 19 employees and $50,000 for businesses with more than 20 employees.
- a rapid adaption payment of up to of $1000 (for businesses with one employee) or $5000 (for other eligible businesses) to help them adjust their business to the restrictions.
- an operational boost payment to offset the costs of continuing to maintain the business. Payment amounts vary from $2800 for a one employee/sole trader business to $42,000 for businesses with more than 15 employees
- commercial landlords will only be able to access these support measures by negotiating rent relief in good faith with commercial tenants who demonstrate economic hardship. Such negotiation is expected to be in line with the National Code of Conduct for commercial tenancies. Information on commercial leases affected by COVID-19 can be found here.
- grants of up to $20,000 were available for businesses to purchase goods and services to make permanent physical improvements (land and/or building). Businesses can access a $10,000 grant, with an additional $10,000 available is the business contributes $10,000 of their own money. Note that applications for this grant are now CLOSED.
For more information about the available NT Government support, click here or here. Information on the current restrictions in place can be viewed here, and a guide to prepare for reopening can be accessed here.
The South Australian (SA) Government has announced numerous measures to support businesses impacted by COVID-19, including:
- commercial lease support is available for tenants, including requiring commercial landlords to offer a reduction in rent at least proportionate to the reduction in turnover for eligible tenants. The South Australia Small Business Commissioner has provided guidance on the information request commercial lessors can make of lessees, and includes turnover sales information, JobKeeper information and BAS statements, but does not include profit and loss information and bank statements, unless stipulated in the lease.
- a payroll tax waiver from April to September 2020 will be available to business groups with annual Australian wages of up to $4 million.
- a payroll tax deferral for the months of April to September 2020 for businesses with annual Australian wages of above $4 million, provided they can demonstrate they have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.
- a $10,000 emergency cash grant is available for SA small business and not for profit organisations with an annual turnover of more than $75,000, an annual payroll less than $1.5 million, are not entitled to a payroll tax waiver and are participating in the JobKeeper scheme. Applications for this grant close 1 June 2020.
- liquor licence fees for affected venues will be waived for 2020-21.
- The Business and Jobs support fund has been established to provide direct assistance to individual businesses and industry sectors facing potential collapse.
- eligible non-residential and residential landlords will receive up to 25 per cent land tax waiver on their 2019-20 land tax liabilities for properties leased to tenants who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible landlords must demonstrate that they will pass on at least the value of the land tax relief to affected tenants from 30 March to 30 October 2020.
- individuals and businesses will be able to defer paying their remaining 2019-20 land tax payment for six months.
- eligible taxpayers whose land tax bill had increased as a result of the changes in aggregation of land commencing from 1 July 2020, will receive 100% relief from that increase.
- businesses with 25 employees or less will be eligible for up to $5000 for every new apprentice or trainee hired in South Australia on a paid training contract. Further information is available here.
The Tasmanian (TAS) Government has announced numerous measures to support businesses impacted by COVID-19, including:
- a payroll tax waiver will be available for April to June 2020 for businesses with payrolls of up to $5 million that can demonstrate to the State Revenue Office that their business has been impacted by COVID-19.
- a payroll tax waiver will be available for March to June 2020 for hospitality, tourism and seafood industry businesses.
- a payroll tax rebate is available for businesses that employ a person aged 24 or younger between April and December 2020. The rebate will be for one year.
- commercial lease support is available for tenants, including requiring commercial landlords to offer a reduction in rent at least proportionate to the reduction in turnover for eligible tenants. Further information can be found here and here.
- a $5000 grant is available for businesses that hire an apprentice or trainee in the tourism, hospitality, building and construction, and manufacturing industries.
- land tax will be waived for commercial property business owners for the 2020-21 financial year. The business owner must be able liable for the land tax and be able to demonstrate that their business operations have been affected by COVID-19.
- a 50% discount on liquor licensing fees and a waiver of all application fees for the calendar year 2020, back dated to 1 January 2020.
- the Tasmanian Government will pay bills within 14 days, from the usual 30 days.
- small businesses will have their next quarterly energy bill waived. Additionally, energy prices will also be capped for 12 months.
- The freezing of business vehicle registrations is available for small businesses looking to suspend activity due to COVID-19. Businesses can apply to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles for the 12-month freeze, which include light and heavy vehicles.
- a Business Support Loan Scheme providing concessional loans of between $20,000 and $250,000 was available to hospitality, tourism, seafood production and export businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million. The loans were to be used to purchase equipment or restructuring business operations and will be interest free for three years. Note that applications for this loan are now CLOSED.
- a Business Continuity Grant of up to $750 was available to small business to help meet the cost of engaging a suitably qualified person to advise on business continuity planning. Applications for this grant are now CLOSED.
- a Small Business Emergency Support Grant of $2500 was available. Applications are now CLOSED for this grant.
- a Small Business Hardship grant of $15,000 was available. Applications for this grant are now CLOSED.
For more information about the available Tasmanian Government support, click here or here. Information on the current restrictions in place can be viewed here, and a roadmap to recovery can be accessed here.
The Victorian (VIC) Government has announced numerous measures to support businesses impacted by COVID-19, including:
- a payroll tax waiver is available to businesses with a payroll of up to $3 million, for the 2019-20 financial year. The State Revenue Office will directly contact eligible businesses to reimburse them for payroll tax already paid.
- a payroll tax deferral is available to businesses with a payroll of less than $3 million for the first three months of the 2020-21 financial year until 1 January 2021.
- a Business Support Fund has been established, to assisting small to medium businesses with a $10,000 grant. To be eligible, the business must have a turnover of more than $75,000 and a payroll of less than $650,000, and are participating in the JobKeeper program. This grant does not include sole traders. Applications close 1 June 2020 and can be completed here.
- landlords who provide tenants impacted by COVID-19 with rent relief may be eligible for a 25% reduction on the property’s 2020 land tax.
- the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme requires commercial landlords to offer a reduction in rent at least proportionate to the reduction in turnover for eligible tenants. More information on the scheme can be found here.
- renewable liquor license fees for 2020 will be waived, with businesses that have already paid being reimbursed.
- landowners due to pay 2020 land tax that own at least one non-residential property and have total taxable landholdings below $1 million are not required to pay their 2020 land tax assessment until 31 March 2021.
- the Government will pay all outstanding supplier invoices within five business days.
- payments received under the JobKeeper scheme will be exempt from payroll tax and the WorkCover premium to staff who are currently stood down. Top up payments to employees to bring their salary to $1500 per fortnight will also be exempt from payroll tax and the WorkCover premium.
- The Victorian Government will freeze all fees and fines that were due to be increased in July at current levels, which includes the Fire Services Property Levy.
For more information about the available Victorian Government support, click here. Information on the current restrictions in place can be viewed here, and guidelines for the health and safety of businesses can be accessed here.
The Western Australian (WA) Government has announced numerous measures to support businesses impacted by COVID-19, including:
- payroll tax waiver will be available from 1 March to 30 June 2020 for businesses with Australia-wide annual wages of less than $7.5 million in 2019-20.
- an interest-free payment arrangement and a waiver of late payment penalties for payroll tax, transfer duty, landholder duty, vehicle licence duty or land tax can be applied for by businesses impacted by COVID-19.
- a one-off grant of $17,500 will be provided to small businesses with a payroll between $1 million and $4 million.
- the payroll tax threshold will increase to $1 million from 1 July 2020.
- commercial lease support is available for tenants, including requiring commercial landlords to offer a reduction in rent at least proportionate to the reduction in turnover for eligible tenants. It states that tenants should gather as much supporting information as possible to validate their claim of rent relief including:
- financial statements which demonstrate the performance of the business before the impact of COVID-19 in early March through to the current period.
- projected future revenue based on orders, contracts or sales the tenant has in the pipeline.
- sales records which may indicate a drop in foot traffic as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- details of any actions taken to minimise the financial impact of COVID-19 on their business.
- a six-month moratorium on evictions and a prohibition on rent increases during the emergency period. Landlords are relieved of the obligation to conduct ordinary repairs due to financial hardship or movement restrictions during this time. More information can be found here.
- land tax waiver of 25% of a commercial landlord’s land tax liability for 2019-20 if landlord provides rent relief that equates to a minimum of three months’ rent and freezes outgoings to small business that have suffered at least a 30% reduction in turnover due to COVID-19. For more information, register here.
- a range of licence fees for SMEs will be waived for 12 months, including licences for building services, commercial fisheries licences, tax booking authorisation fees, etc.
- a one-off $2,500 credit on electricity bills for small businesses that consume less than 50MWh per year, for Synergy and Horizon Power customers.
- a one-off $2000 payment to employers of existing apprentices and trainees currently receiving Construction Training Fund (CTF) grant payments. Such employers can also receive monthly payments from $250 to $500 per apprentice or trainee, depending on the trade.