Support for sole traders affected by COVID-19

The Australian Government has announced measures to assist sole traders affected by COVID-19.

This information is current as at Monday 23 March 2020.

The Australian Government has announced a range of measures to assist sole traders. This guide is intended as an explainer only and we encourage you to contact each relevant government department for more information.

Income support payments

The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This supplement will be paid to both existing and new recipients of Jobseeker payments, Youth Allowance Jobseeker, Parenting payment, Farm Household allowance, Special Benefits. These changes will apply for the next six months. Expanded access will allow sole traders, the self employed, contract workers and casual workers to apply for income support payments with reduced means testing, reduced waiting times and flexible jobseeking arrangements. Sole traders will meet jobseeking arrangements by developing and sustaining their business.

What does this mean?

  • You can apply for income support payments without any waiting period, and receive double the rate of the former Newstart across the next six months
  • You’ll also be able to access rent assistance and other support payments – be sure to ask about what’s available for you
  • The Australian Government has announced that an additional 5,000 workers will be employed by Services Australia to help support everyone who needs to access income payments
  • It may take a while to be able to speak to someone when you call. Please be prepared to be patient over a couple of hours, so that you can get the support that you need.
  • Payments at the new rate will begin on 27 April 2020.

For more information see: https://www.business.gov.au/Risk-management/Emergency-management/Coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/Increased-and-accelerated-income-support


Early access to superannuation

Individuals affected can access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. Individuals can apply from mid-April 2020 if they are unemployed or their business turnover as reduced.

What does this mean?

  • Many artists and artsworkers don’t have a great deal of super accumulated in their super fund accounts and a $20,000 withdrawal may be detrimental to your future savings. 

For more information see: https://www.business.gov.au/Risk-management/Emergency-management/Coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/Early-access-to-superannuation


Tax support

The ATO will provide administrative relief for certain tax obligations for taxpayers affected by the coronavirus outbreak, on a case-by-case basis. This includes payment deferrals and remitting interest and penalties.

What does this mean?

  • You can contact the tax office and see how they can help you with your specific circumstances.

For more information see: https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Dealing-with-disasters/In-detail/Specific-disasters/COVID-19/


Instant asset write-off

The instant asset write-off threshold has been increased to $150,000 and expanded to include businesses with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million. This applies from 12 March 2020 to 30 June 2020, for new or secondhand assets first used or installed ready for use in this timeframe.

What does this mean? 

  • Companies can write off the value of their assets, free up their depreciation liabilities and reduce their taxable income, thus encouraging new investment.

For more information see: https://www.business.gov.au/risk-management/emergency-management/coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/instant-asset-write-off


Deferred loan payments

The Australian Banking Association has announced that all small businesses affected by COVID-19 will be able to access a six-month deferral on loan repayments. Contact your lender for more information.


Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) Guarantee Scheme

The Government will provide a guarantee of 50% to small and medium enterprise lenders for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital. SMEs with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive these loans. The Government will provide eligible lenders with a guarantee for loans with the following terms:

  • Maximum total size of loans of $250,000 per borrower.
  • The loans will be up to three years, with an initial six-month repayment holiday.
  • The loans will be in the form of unsecured finance, meaning that borrowers will not have to provide an asset as security for the loan.

What does this mean? 

  • Small-to-medium companies can apply for loans with less burdensome asset criteria, and they won’t have to make any repayments for six months.

For more information see: https://www.business.gov.au/Risk-management/Emergency-management/Coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/Coronavirus-SME-Guarantee-Scheme


Continuing business

There are positive steps you can take to keep your business operating including reviewing your finances and updating your business continuity plan, as well as getting advice on handling cancellations and supporting your mental health. For more information see https://www.business.gov.au/risk-management/emergency-management/coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/continuing-your-business


Support for casual workers

Those working as sole traders may also be employed casually and be affected by reduced hours or hours being cut all together. Casual employees are eligible for the income support payments and early access to superannuation mentioned above. 

Some casual workers will be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment. For more information see https://visualarts.net.au/news-opinion/2020/about-jobkeeper-wage-subsidy-program/


Stay updated

Up-to-date information on all the above and new measures can be found on https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/businesses

https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/households

https://www.business.gov.au/risk-management/emergency-management/coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/what-support-is-available-to-your-business