The government has now been warned against making any further changes to its JobKeeper program ahead of its 23 July economic update, where Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is set to announce the outcome of its midway review of the $70 billion program.
Imminent changes have been anticipated following the abrupt withdrawal of JobKeeper for the childcare sector, with the government refusing to rule out similar moves for other industry sectors.
However, a joint submission by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, the Corporate Tax Association, CPA Australia, the Institute of Public Accountants, the Law Council of Australia and The Tax Institute has now called for the government to rethink plans to introduce changes ahead of the September end date.
“The strong message being conveyed by our members is that piecemeal or scattergun approaches to changes to the [JobKeeper] program will quickly erode community confidence and trust in the government’s handling of what will be an economic crisis for many Australians,” the joint bodies said.
“That confidence in government and its decisions will become even more important as employees and employers come to grips with the true impacts of COVID-19 over the coming months.
“On this basis, with the exception of announced changes impacting the childcare industry, the joint bodies would strongly caution against making any changes to the current program prior to the scheduled September end date.”
Should the government decide to extend or taper the JobKeeper program beyond 30 September, the joint bodies have now called for these announcements to be made on 23 July instead.
Consultation with the tax profession
The joint bodies have also highlighted the critical role that the tax profession has played in helping clients access the JobKeeper payment, and have called for the government to consult with the profession ahead of any proposed changes.
“In a relatively short period of time, the tax profession has had the responsibility of firstly establishing a clear understanding of the program and then disseminating this information to their clients in order to navigate access to the program,” the joint bodies said.
“Most of the heavy lifting regarding implementation was undertaken by tax professionals through the investment of a significant amount of time and effort.
“It would be greatly appreciated that this group has some involvement and input in any proposed changes to the program.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.