Tax Relief and Support For Communities Devastated By Bushfire
The Victorian Government has announced that businesses, families, and individuals in bushfire affected communities will get immediate tax relief, with local people at the heart of the recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Premier Daniel Andrews said, “When it comes to local communities, local people know best. We will take the lead from them and give their communities and local councils the support they need to recover and rebuild.”
Support for Individuals and Local Councils
- Those whose properties have been destroyed or substantially damaged by bushfires will receive ex-gratia relief for their 2020 land tax assessment. Land tax will be also be waived on eligible properties being used to provide free accommodation for people who need it.
- For people who decide not to rebuild in their local community, the Government will provide up to $55,000 in stamp duty relief if they buy a home elsewhere.
- For people who lost motor vehicles due to bushfires, they can receive up to $2,100 in ex-gratia relief from the duty on up to two replacement vehicles.
- The Government understands that recovery and rebuilding efforts need to be driven by local people – that’s why we’re providing Councils $7.3 million to put in place dedicated local teams to coordinate and drive bushfire recovery efforts.
Each council will set up a Bushfire Recovery Directorate for twelve months to oversee bushfire recovery, focusing on rebuilding and planning, economic development, support for the farming and primary production sectors, and the ongoing well-being of community members.
This initial funding package will help ensure that recovery efforts are undertaken by locals who live in and know their local community.
- The Government has also approved a temporary 3-month increase in allowances for mayors and councilors in the Alpine, Towong and East Gippsland Shires. This reflects the significant additional demands and acute pressures on mayors and councilors during this time and is based on the experience of the February 2009 fires.
Support for Small Business
Small businesses impacted by the bushfires will be afforded up to $50,000 in tax-free grants and loans of up to $500,000 for businesses that have suffered significant asset or revenue losses.
The loans will be up to 10 years and set at 50% of the 10-year Commonwealth government bond rate – currently sitting at 0.6%. There will also be a repayment holiday of up to two years, with no interest accruing during this period.
The ATO will now extend its automatic deferral program for those in impacted postcodes to 28 May 2020 to lodge and pay business activity statements and income tax returns.
Impacted businesses that pay their pay-as-you-go instalments quarterly are also allowed to vary these instalments to zero for the December 2019 quarter and claim a refund for any instalments made in the September 2019 quarter.
The government’s latest announcement comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, and Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Michaelia Cash hosted a small business roundtable with small business peak bodies, industry groups and representatives to discuss a range of initiatives to support businesses impacted by the bushfires.
“This comprehensive package will make it easier for those who have suffered direct fire damage, or have been indirectly economically impacted following the bushfires, to get back on their feet,” said Mr Morrison in a joint statement with Mr Frydenberg and Ms Cash.
The government will also establish a small business bushfire financial support hotline, staffed by small business specialist financial counsellors who will be able to provide information on the assistance and support available to small businesses in bushfire affected regions.
Funding for 10 additional financial counsellors with the ability to provide advice to around 100 small businesses a day will also be provided.
“This package deals with the challenges we know small businesses in these areas are facing and will continue to face. Our immediate priorities for small businesses include grant funding, concessional loans, tax relief, a dedicated and single contact point to help them access the support that is available, and financial counselling services that are targeted to help small and family business owners deal with the emotional and financial challenges they face,” said Mr Morrison.
Business & Sport for Bushfire Recovery Program
The Victorian Government has also released details of a new initiative that will see more than 115 major organisations hold multi-day stays in bushfire affected areas in regional Victoria.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula released details of the `Business & Sport for Bushfire Recovery’ program, which has won enthusiastic backing from business chiefs who have pledged to hold meetings, events or conferences in a bushfire-affected region over the next six months and then through the rest of 2020.
The Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula said, “The days and nights that these groups spend in regional communities will be warmly welcomed and the money that they spend will make a massive difference to the economies of those towns.”
The minimum stay is two nights and in just days more than 115 organisations have come on board, including the AFL, NAB, the Herald & Weekly Times, EY, Alibaba, BHP, Swisse, Tabcorp, Crown, Tennis Australia, PWC, Bosch, and AustralianSuper, as well as every Victorian AFL club.
The Government expects more organisations from the corporate, sports and government sectors to take the pledge in coming days to invest their time and money in regional Victoria.
Individuals can also support regional tourism businesses which have suffered a massive hit to their trade in what would normally be their busiest months by exploring a part of Victoria impacted by these fires.
The Government’s tourism and events company, Visit Victoria, will also put in place a range of marketing activities to promote the experiences on offer for visitors to regional Victoria.
High-profile Victorians including Rachel Griffiths, Dave Hughes, Andy Lee and Nick Dal Santo will lead the charge to help regional communities by recording video messages to share with their followers on social media.
In further Government support for tourism operators, Tourism North East and Destination Gippsland will each receive a $200,000 grant to assist with their immediate recovery efforts. This includes support for a dedicated staff member to work directly with operators and coordinate marketing and campaign activities.
For details on how companies can get involved in `Business & Sport for Bushfire Recovery’, go to businesseventsvictoria.com/bushfirepledge. Companies enrolled in the program will be listed on the same page.
Premier Daniel Andrews said “These bushfires have devastated communities, with businesses taking a massive hit during what is normally their busiest time of the year – I encourage everyone to follow the lead of these organisations and visit and spend money in these bushfire affected communities.”
If you have any questions or need advice and clarity specific to your business, feel free to contact Semmens & Co on 03 8320 0320 for a free consultation.