State governments’ further COVID-19 support
Many state governments are providing further assistance to a range of their residents to soften the blow of the COVID-19 pandemic. Depending on which state you or your business is situated, there may be further help in the form of payroll tax deferrals or waivers, stamp duty discounts, land tax relief, grants, and extensions of tenancy protection measures. Not surprisingly, the Victorian state government has provided the most comprehensive range of support for small businesses, licensed venues, regional/holiday areas and businesses in general.
With the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect the economy along with the effect of border closures, it is no surprise that many state governments have opted to increase the amount of support offered to businesses and individuals situated in their respective states.
Victoria is the state that has endured the longest lockdown, and to assist businesses and individuals the government has provided a range of support including the following:
- Payroll tax – deferred for businesses with payrolls up to $10m for the full 2020-21 financial year;
- Stamp duty – extension of 50% discount for commercial and industrial property across all of regional Victoria to 1 January 2021;
- SME – $1.1bn in cash grants including $822m as a part of the third round of the Business Support Fund;
- Licensed venues (bars, restaurants, pubs, clubs etc) – $251m dedicated fund for grants to between $10,000 and $30,000 and waiver of liquor license fees for 2021;
- Local business groups and chambers – grants of up to $20,000 to help their members adapt to a “COVID Normal” world;
- Land tax – waiver of vacant residential land tax for properties that are vacant in 2020;
- Congestion levy – 25% waiver for 2020 and deferral of outstanding levy balances until 2021; and
- Alpine resorts – grants of up to $20,000 to help cover resort fees relating to travel restrictions.
In addition to these measures, the government will also invest up to $44m to equip businesses to under the new COVID environment, including $20m for small businesses to access off-the-shelf digital platforms for online operations.
Another $15.7m has been earmarked by the government for export recovery to assist logistics and supply chain issues caused by the pandemic and establish new export channels for Victorian exporters.
The Queensland state government’s addition COVID assistance is largely aimed at small and medium businesses, they include a 2-month waiver of payroll tax for July and August 2020 for businesses with annual taxable wages of up to $6.5m and continuing to exempt the JobKeeper subsidy from payroll tax. It will also allow businesses to pay off existing deferred payroll tax liability over the course of 2021. Furthermore, existing rent relief will be extended to the end of 2020 for those businesses renting state government premises if they can demonstrate a COVID impact.
The SA government will extend its land tax relief scheme by 6 months to the end of April 2021. The relief has also been expanded to allow eligible landlords to receive up to a 50% reduction on their 2019-20 land tax liability, and relief measures also include eligible commercial owner-occupiers. Other support includes the extension of its protections for commercial SME tenants impacted by COVID by 3 months to January 2021.
The WA government will similarly extend its tenancy measures (both commercial and residential tenancies) including moratorium on evictions, freeze on rent increases, and code of conduct for small business commercial lease rent relief negotiations until March 2021. However, the commercial tenancies legislation may be refined to only target tenants experiencing severe financial hardship as a consequence of COVID-19.
The NSW government will extend the 25% land tax concession for landlords providing rent relief to their commercial and residential tenants in financial distress to 31 December 2020. It will also provide $10m to the NSW Small Business Commission to deliver more mediation and advisory services to assist parties come to agreements.
The ACT government will extend its assistance to incentivise commercial landlords to offer rent relief for tenants impacted financially by COVID to January 2021. In order to receive rates assistance from the ACT government, commercial landlords are required to negotiate in good faith with their tenants, having regard to the National Code of Conduct.