COVID-19 Assistance

The ACT Government delivered tax relief measures to help businesses and households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic - see below.

If you require any further information, you can call us on (02) 6207 0028.

For more information about other support included in the COVID-19 Economic Survival Package, please visit the COVID-19 website.

JobKeeper Payments

  • Businesses were exempt from any payroll tax on wages subsidised by the Commonwealth JobKeeper payment scheme from 30 March 2020 until 28 March 2021.

New Apprentice or Trainee Wages

  • Wages paid to apprentices or trainees employed after 1 August 2020 are exempt from payroll tax for the period from the start of the employment until 30 June 2022. To ensure this applies only to new employees, the apprentice or trainee cannot have been employed by the business (or another business within the payroll tax group) at any time during the previous month from when the employment commenced. This measure was originally until 30 June 2021 but has been extended for another year.
  • Businesses are expected to self-assess their eligibility for these exemptions and lodge their payroll tax returns accordingly.

Businesses Unable to Trade

  • The exemption applied to wages paid or payable by eligible employers for a specified period – any of the months in the period 1 December 2020 to 30 June 2021.
  • The Payroll Tax Exemption Determination sets out, for the purposes of the exemption the eligibility requirements and the period of exemption. (Taxation Administration (Payroll Tax - Businesses Not Permitted to Operate) COVID-19 Exemption Scheme Determination 2021 - DI2021-10)
  • An eligible employer is an employer who controls or operates a business that was unable to trade due to an emergency direction in force under section 120 of the Public Health Act 1997 in respect of a COVID-19 declaration.
  • If at any time during one of the specified months, the employer’s business was unable to trade they would be exempt from payroll tax on wages for that month.
  • Businesses are expected to self-assess their eligibility for this exemption and are still required to lodge returns for the specified period.

Payroll tax waiver

  • A six-month payroll tax waiver, from April to September 2020, is available for businesses whose operations are directly impacted by the prohibited activities list due to COVID-19.
  • To apply for a waiver, please complete this Payroll tax waiver form.
  • If your application is approved, you will need to continue lodging returns as normal, however, no payment is required during the waiver period.
  • If you lodge annually, the waiver will be applied to your annual reconciliation return, which is due on 21 July 2020. The amount will be calculated at 25% of the total tax payable.

Payroll tax deferral

  • If part of a group all ACT businesses with group Australia-wide wages of up to $10 million can defer their 2020-21 payroll tax, interest free until 1 July 2022. All ACT businesses that are not part of a group with Australia-wide wages of up to $10 million can defer their 2020-21 payroll tax, interest free until 1 July 2022.
  • To apply for deferral, please complete this Payroll tax deferral form.
  • For information about payroll tax and grouping, please see our Payroll tax page.

Construction deferral for payroll tax

  • ACT businesses in the construction industry could defer their payroll tax liability, interest-free for nine months from April to December 2020.

Payroll tax waiver - businesses able to operate only on a very limited basis

  • A payroll tax waiver for eligible businesses that were able to operate, but only on a very limited basis, as a consequence of an emergency direction in force under section 120 of the Public Health Act 1997 in respect of a COVID-19 declaration, may be eligible for a payroll tax waiver from January to July 2021, for wages paid or payable between 1 December 2020 and 30 June 2021.
  • If you own or operate a business that falls into this category, you can apply for a payroll tax waiver by making a written submission to COVID19TaxAssistance@act.gov.au.
  • Submissions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and need to demonstrate that business operations are severely restricted by a specific emergency direction. A business will not be eligible just because it has reduced capacity due to a maximum person limit per usable space or because customers are required to remain seated.
  • In your submission, please provide the following information:
    • Payroll tax account number
    • ABN and trading name
    • Address/es of business premises in the ACT
    • Contact person name, email and phone number
    • Type of business/main operations of the business
    • A description of the relevant emergency direction and how it severely restricts the operation of the business rendering it only able to operate on a very limited basis

A recommendation will then be made to the Treasurer on the assistance to be provided for approval.

Payroll tax deferrals for universities

Universities can apply to defer up to 18 months of payroll tax from 1 January 2021, capped at $10 million per university, with the deferred amount required to be repaid by 30 June 2027 at the latest. A concessional rate of interest will be applied to the deferred amount.

Deferral requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and will need to demonstrate that ACT Government assistance is needed to help the university sustain its operations and staffing and student levels in the ACT.

Applications (and enquiries) can be made by emailing covid19taxassistance@act.gov.au with the following details:

  • Company name and ABN
  • Contact person name, email address and phone number
  • A summary of the university’s operations in the ACT, including locations and local staffing and student levels
  • A summary of the university’s current financial position, how the university has been financially impacted by COVID-19, and any supporting documents that help demonstrate the need for assistance

ACT Treasury will then contact you to discuss a potential payroll tax deferral arrangement. A recommendation will be made to the Treasurer on whether a deferral should be provided, and the rate of concessional interest to be applied.

Financial hardship

  • Parties experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, had the opportunity to defer payment of rates on their principal place of residence, interest-free for up to one year.

Rates rebate

  • For 2020-21 only -

Rates rebate

  • For 2020-21 only, a rates rebate of $150 applied to all residential properties in the ACT.
  • In addition, for 2020-21, there was no increase in the Fire and Emergency Services Levy; the amount was frozen
    at the 2019-20 rate.

Land tax credit

  • Eligible landlords, who reduced rent on their privately rented properties by at least 25% due to COVID-19, could receive a land tax credit to cover 50% of the rental reduction, up to a limit of $1,300 per quarter.
  • The credit was available in situations where landlords had reduced the rent paid by a person renting the property.
    It was not available to landlords who rent their property to a company in the business of providing short term rentals, i.e. serviced apartments.
  • If your application is approved, we will apply this contribution as a reduction to your land tax account.
  • To apply for a land tax credit please complete the Land tax credit application form. Applications must be lodged by 31 August 2021.

Commercial rates rebate

  • For 2020-21, a rates rebate of $2,622 was applied to commercial properties with an average unimproved value (single property or unit) of $2 million or below.

Commercial tenancy relief

  • Commercial tenancy relief was provided for quarter 4 2019-20 through to quarter 3 2021. Applications closed 31 March 2021.
  • Commercial landlords of properties with an average unimproved value (AUV) of $2m or below, with tenants who had been directly impacted by COVID-19, could apply for rent reduction support if they reduced rent for their tenants.
  • Support was provided based on the following tiered category system:
Category 1

Businesses partially or not affected (no more than 30 per cent reduction in business income).

  • Business tenants should continue to pay rent and no rental reduction assistance will be provided by the ACT Government.
Category 2

Businesses significantly affected (at least 30 per cent reduction in business income) but still operating.

  • Landlords with business tenants in this category, could receive 25 per cent of rent reduction provided to tenants as a rebate from the government, capped at the lower of $5,000 per quarter (or around $380 per week) or total quarterly rates.
  • Owner-operated properties could receive a rebate equal to 50 per cent of their rates, capped at $5,000 per quarter (or around $380 per week).
Category 3

Businesses who effectively shut-down operations (at least 80 per cent reduction in business income).

  • Landlords with business tenants in this category, could receive 50 per cent of rent reduction provided to tenants as a rebate from the government, capped at the lower of $8,000 per quarter (or around $615 per week) or total quarterly rates.
  • Owner-operated properties could receive a rebate equal to 80 per cent of their rates, capped at $8,000 per quarter (or around $615 per week).
  • The City Centre Marketing and Improvements Levy (CCMIL) was reduced by 50 per cent for the 2020-21 financial year.
  • The balance of the payment was deferred until February 2021 to help alleviate financial pressure on commercial property owners within the levy collection area. (Note: CCMIL is applied to all rateable commercial properties in the City and some selected areas of benefit in Braddon)

The ACT Government offered stamp duty concessions in the ACT for some home buyers planning to live in their new property.

The following concessions apply to contracts exchanged between 4 June 2020 and 30 June 2021:

  • No stamp duty on single residential dwelling blocks.
  • No stamp duty on off-the-plan unit (unit-titled apartment and townhouses) purchases up to $500,000.
  • An $11,400 stamp duty reduction for off-the-plan unit (unit-titled apartment and townhouses purchases from $500,000 to $750,000.
Eligibility requirements included:
  • contracts had to be signed and exchanged from 4 June until 30 June 2021
  • at least one buyer must live in the home continuously for at least one year, starting within 12 months of settlement or completion of construction.
  • the concessions relating to off the plan ‘units’ refer only to unit-titled apartments or townhouses.
  • the concession relating to ‘single residential dwelling blocks’ mean the land must be vacant when you purchase it, and the land title must only allow one residence/house to be built on the land.

Eligible new homeowners are identified as part of the settlement process.

Further information is available at: Taxation Administration (Owner Occupier Duty) COVID-19 Exemption Scheme Determination 2020 DI2020-205

Questionnaire

To determine your eligibility and apply for this concession, complete the online questionnaire.

The HomeBuilder Grant is now closed to new applicants. Part A – Registration closed on 14 April 2021.

On 17 April 2021, the Commonwealth Government announced the extension of the construction commencement requirement from six months to 18 months for all existing applicants who signed contracts during the HomeBuilder eligibility period between 4 June 2020 and 31 March 2021.

The Commonwealth Government announced the HomeBuilder Grant (Grant) to provide economic support during the Coronavirus pandemic.

More information is available on the HomeBuilder Grant webpage.

  • Assessments for General Rates, Land Tax and Land Rent were delayed by up to three weeks for the first three quarters of 2020-21. The City Centre Marketing Levy annual charge was also delayed by 3 weeks.
  • The 2020-21 Quarter 4 instalment was brought back to the regular timing.
  • The delay applied across all billing sectors. As an indication, the assessments for the first quarter were:
    • sector one was issued on 7 August 2020 (instead of 15 July),
    • for sector two, assessments were issued on 8 September 2020 (instead of 15 August), and
    • for sector three, 6 October 2020 (instead of 15 September).
  • Payment due dates were one month after the date of issue i.e. for first quarter:
    • sector one, the due date was 7 September,
    • for sector two, the due date was 8 October 2020 ,and
    • for sector three, the due date was 8 November 2020.

The Government extended the assistance provided under the utilities concession to eligible asylum seekers for 2020-21, including the additional one-off $200 rebate provided as part of the COVID-19 Economic Survival package. Asylum seekers with a valid ACT Services Access Card were able to apply by 30 June 2021 for a credit of $900 rebate on their electricity bills for 2020-21, which included the annual $700 utilities concession and additional one-off $200 rebate.

The amount was credited to the applicant’s electricity account by the utility provider upon confirmation of eligibility by ACT Treasury.

See detail about an ongoing utilities concession for asylum seekers at www.revenue.act.gov.au/community-assistance/utilities-concession.

 
The information on this page is current as at 30 June 2021.