Thousands of Australian enterprises were forced to scale back or shutter their operations in late March after sweeping shutdown measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 were introduced. With millions of workers facing an uncertain future, the federal government launched JobKeeper, a temporary wage subsidy to help keep people employed.
To access the scheme, eligible businesses with turnover of less than $1 billion had to estimate a fall in turnover of at least 30%, relative to a comparative period. As the economy begins to open up again, it’s still a crucial financial lifeline, allowing businesses to keep their teams intact and to plan for the future.
What are the chances the ATO will come down on those that engaged with the scheme at the end of the payment period in September? According to Pluta Accountants partner Daniel Pluta, only those who’ve manipulated their figures to meet the scheme’s eligibility requirements may face some hard questions down the track.
“Governments don’t just hand out money without there being some accountability for it,” Pluta says. “Over the next few months, the ATO will have programs in place to see how JobKeeper funds were spent to make sure the correct people got it and were eligible in the first place.”