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‘Shoulder to shoulder’: ATO details COVID-19 assistance


Penalty remissions, deferred tax payments and varied PAYG instalments are among some of the administrative relief measures the Commissioner of Taxation has pledged to help businesses cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

By Jotham Lian 11 minute read

Announced in the wake of the government’s $17.6 billion fiscal stimulus package, the ATO has now signalled a flexible approach in the way it will handle taxpayers’ affairs over the coming months.

The string of measures will include up to a six-month deferral of the payment date of amounts due through the business activity statement, including PAYG instalments, income tax assessments, fringe benefits tax assessments and excise.

The ATO will also allow quarterly GST reporting businesses to opt into monthly GST reporting in order to get quicker access to GST refunds they may be entitled to.


Further, businesses will be allowed to vary pay-as-you-go (PAYG) instalment amounts to zero for the April 2020 quarter.

Businesses that vary their PAYG instalment to zero will also be allowed to claim a refund for any instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters.

The ATO will also look to remit any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities, and allow affected businesses to pay their existing and ongoing tax liabilities by allowing them to enter into low-interest payment plans.

Speaking at the Tax Institute’s annual Tax Summit, commissioner Chris Jordan said his office would do its part to help the community through a “harrowing” start to the year.

“Our message to businesses feeling the impact of the coronavirus is simply this: let us know. Reach out to us. We can help,” Mr Jordan said.

“The ATO will work shoulder to shoulder with businesses to assist them through this difficult period and do what we can to ease the pressure.”

Unlike the bushfire relief measures, which applied automatically to particular geographic areas, assistance measures for those impacted by COVID-19 will not be automatically implemented.

Instead, businesses and their advisers will be required to contact the ATO on its 1800 806 218 Emergency Support Infoline to discuss their situation.

However, the ATO will look to ease access to relief by establishing temporary shopfronts in areas of highest impact, starting with Cairns.

The Tax Office will also consider other face-to-face options in other significantly impacted areas.

Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian


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.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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