25 Mar 2020
Cashflow
Income Support for Individuals
BY DANIEL MATHERS | PRINCIPAL OF DW MATHERS & CO. & FUTURE KEY FINANCIAL

Various measures have been introduced by the Government so as to provide a ‘safety net’ for individuals who are financially impacted by the Coronavirus Crisis.

Below is specific information regarding stimulus and support for individuals and business.  We urge you to read this blog in its entirety before contacting us for assistance.

The new Coronavirus supplement

A new six-month ‘Coronavirus supplement’ of $550 per fortnight will be paid to individuals who are currently eligible for certain income support payments, including the:

  • Jobseeker Payment;
  • Youth Allowance; and
  • Parenting Payment (Partnered and Single).

Furthermore, it appears that this new (additional) supplement will be paid to eligible individuals as part of their existing income support payments (e.g., Jobseeker Payment and Youth Allowance).

Expanding access (and eligibility) to certain income support payments

For the period that the Coronavirus supplement is paid, the Government will also expand access to certain income support payments (e.g., the Jobseeker Payment, the Youth Allowance Jobseeker and the Parenting Payment) for eligible individuals.

For example, a new category of Jobseeker Payment and Youth Allowance Jobseeker will become available for eligible individuals financially impacted by the Coronavirus Crisis.

According to the Government, this could include, for example, permanent employees who are stood down or lose their employment; sole traders; the self-employed; casual workers; and contract workers who meet the income tests, as a result of the economic downturn due to the Coronavirus.

Additionally, asset testing for the JobSeeker Payment, the Youth Allowance JobSeeker and the Parenting Payment will be waived for the period of the Coronavirus supplement. Income testing will still apply to the person’s other payments, consistent with current arrangements.

Tax-free payments of $750 to eligible recipients

The Government will be providing two separate $750 tax-free payments (referred to as ‘economic support payments’) to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and to eligible concession card holders.

The first $750 payment will be available to individuals who are residing in Australia and are receiving an eligible Government payment, or are the holders of an eligible concession card, at any time from 12 March 2020 to 13 April 2020 (inclusive).  This payment will be made automatically to eligible individuals from 31 March 2020.

The second $750 payment will be available to individuals who are residing in Australia and are receiving one of the eligible Government payments or are the holders of one of the eligible concession cards on 10 July 2020 (except for those receiving an income support payment that qualifies them to receive the $550 fortnightly Coronavirus supplement).  This payment will be made automatically to eligible individuals from 13 July 2020.

Each of the $750 payments will be exempt from income tax and will not count as income for the purposes of Social Security, the Farm Household Allowance and Veteran payments.

Early access to superannuation benefits

The Government will introduce a new compassionate ground of release that will allow individuals to access their superannuation entitlements where those benefits are required to assist them to deal with the adverse economic effects of the Coronavirus, but only where one or more of the following requirements are satisfied:

  • The individual is unemployed.
  • The individual is eligible to receive the Jobseeker Payment, Youth Allowance for jobseekers, Parenting Payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), Special Benefit or Farm Household Allowance.
  • On or after 1 January 2020 either:
    • the individual was made redundant;
    • the individual’s working hours were reduced by at least 20%;
    • if the individual is a sole trader – their business was suspended or there was a reduction in the business’s turnover of at least 20%.

Under this new compassionate ground of release, eligible individuals will be able to access (as a lump sum) up to $10,000 of their superannuation entitlements before 1 July 2020, and a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 (subject to a six-month time frame).

Eligible individuals who are looking to access their superannuation entitlements under the above new ground of release will be able to apply directly to the ATO through the myGov website (at www.my.gov.au) and certify that the relevant eligibility criteria is satisfied.

Lump sum superannuation withdrawals under this new compassionate ground of release will not be taxable to the recipient.  The amount withdrawn will not affect Centrelink or Veteran’s Affairs payments.

Before withdrawing superannuation, we urge you to contact your financial adviser.  If you do not have a financial adviser, please contact Emily Matthews at Future Key Financial here.

Reducing the minimum drawdown amounts for superannuation pensions

The Government will be temporarily reducing the superannuation minimum drawdown amounts for account-based pensions and similar products by 50% for the 2020 and 2021 income years.

Reducing social security deeming rates 

From 1 May 2020, the Government will be reducing both the upper and lower social security deeming rates by a further 0.25 percentage points.  This is in addition to the recent 0.5 percentage point reduction, resulting in an overall reduction to the social security deeming rates of 0.75 percentage points.

On this basis, as of 1 May 2020, the upper deeming rate will be reduced from 3% to 2.25%, and the lower deeming rate will be reduced from 1% to 0.25%.

Finally, a word of caution:

Many of the comments in this publication are general in nature and anyone intending to apply the information to practical circumstances should seek professional advice to independently verify their interpretation and the information’s applicability to their particular circumstances.

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Daniel Mathers is an authorised representative (1238174) of Hunter Green Pty Ltd (AFSL 225962). Emily Matthews is an authorised representative (1261200) of Hunter Green Pty Ltd (AFSL 225962). Future Key Financial Pty Ltd ACN 608 953 840 is a Corporate Authorised Representative (1238170) of Hunter Green Pty Ltd (AFSL 225962). The information on this website contains general information and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you seek for specific financial advice if you require advice that takes into account your personal circumstances.