The government has announced a new small business bushfire support package in the form of grants, low-interest loans, and the extension of lodgment deferrals.
Announced today, 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 loss or a significant loss of revenue”.
The loans will be up to 10 years and set at 50 per cent of the 10-year Commonwealth government bond rate – currently 0.6 per cent. 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.
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 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.
“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.”