Cash Injection to Combat Coronavirus

On 17 March 2020, the New Zealand Government announced a $12.1 billion support package for New Zealanders to combat the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition to additional health services funding, the Government announced financial assistance in the form of wages subsidies, leave subsidies, tax changes and welfare benefits.

green plant in clear glass with coins

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Wages subsidies

The wage subsidies will be available to sole traders, self-employed and employing companies that have suffered at least a 30% decline in revenue compared to last year for any month between January 2020 and June 2020. Employers must declare that they will continue to employ affected employees at a minimum of 80% of their income during the subsidy period (e.g. 4 out of 5 days of the week). Employers must also have taken steps to mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus by engaging with their bank or financial advisor.

Applications can be made through the Work and Income portal below, for $585.80 per week for a full-time employee (20 hours or more) or $350 per week for a part-time employee. The payment will be made as a lump sum for a 12-week period, with a maximum amount of $150,000 per employer.

Work and Income MSD portal for employers - https://services.workandincome.govt.nz/ess/employer_applications/new

Work and Income MSD portal for self employed and contractors -

https://services.workandincome.govt.nz/ess/trader_applications/new

Leave & self-isolation support

The leave payment scheme will provide support for employees, sole traders and self-employed who are unable to work because they are in self-isolation, are sick with coronavirus or caring for dependents with coronavirus. It is not available to those who can work from home when self-isolating and can be paid normally by their employer.

The payment will be $585.80 per week for a full-time employee (20 hours or more) or $350 per week for a part-time employee. The payment doesn't affect paid leave entitlements and is available even if an employee is on paid leave for part of the period. Applications are made through the Work and Income portal above.

Tax relief measures

Building depreciation

Depreciation deductions of 2% diminishing value will be re-introduced permanently for commercial and industrial buildings from the 2020-21 income year. This will encourage investment and allow owners to reduce their provisional tax payments.

Low value assets

Taxpayers will be able to claim an immediate deduction for assets coding up to $5,000 in the 2020-2021 income year, by expensing the cost rather than spreading it over the useful life of the asset. From 2021-2022 income year onwards, the threshold will be $1,000 (currently $500). This will reduce compliance costs and encourage investment.

Raising the provisional tax threshold

The provisional tax threshold increases for the 2020-2021 income year from $2,500 to $5,000. This means that many smaller taxpayers will have until 7 February or 7 April 2022 to make their 2020-2021 income tax payments, instead of paying in instalments.  This measure reduces compliance costs and allows taxpayers to hold their cash longer. (Note: this doesn't affect the provisional tax payment due 7 May 2020. If you're having difficulty making the 7 May payment, you may still need to consider estimating tax down or applying for an instalment arrangement.)

Writing off interest

Inland Revenue is being given the ability to write off use of money interest (UOMI) for late payments for amounts due on or after 14 February 2020. This includes interest normally charged for income tax, PAYE and GST. The taxpayers would need to let IRD know that they are significantly affected by the coronavirus outbreak and unable to make payments by the due date. The interest write-off will be available for two years. This will assist businesses with cashflow.

Welfare benefits increasing

The main benefits are rising by $25 from 1 April 2020. The Winter Energy Payment for 2020 will be doubled. The hours test for the In-Work Tax Credit is being removed from 1 July 2020, making more working families eligible for family assistance even if their hours are reduced by their employer.

All of these measures have been designed to keep businesses operating and keep people employed. Reach out for help from your advisors and support networks, and keep your doors open.

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-          Serena Irving

Serena Irving is a director in JDW Chartered Accountants Limited, Ellerslie, Auckland. JDW is a professional team of qualified accountants, auditors, business consultants, tax advisors, trust and business valuation specialists.