Simeoni News Update - What Individual’s Need To Know about the $66.1 bn Stimulus Package

24-Mar-2020
The Government yesterday released a $66.1 bn stimulus package as per the following summary:  

Note - The stimulus measures are not yet legislated as parliament will reconvene on Monday 23 March.

Sole traders and self-employed eligible for Jobseeker payment

The eligibility criteria to access income support payments will be relaxed to enable the self-employed and sole traders whose income has been reduced, to access support.

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Early release of superannuation

From mid-April, individuals in financial distress will be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20, and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. The withdrawals will be tax free and will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

To be eligible to access your superannuation you need to meet the following requirements:

you are unemployed; or
you are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance; or
on or after 1 January 2020:
o you were made redundant; or
o your working hours were reduced by 20% or more; or
o if you are a sole trader — your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more.

For those eligible to access their superannuation, you can apply directly to the ATO through the myGov website from mid-April.

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Temporary reduction in minimum superannuation draw down rates 

Superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products will be reduced by 50% in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Age

Default minimum drawdown rates (%)

Reduced rates by 50 per cent for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 income years (%)

Under 65

4

2

65-74

5

2.5

75-79

6

3

80-84

7

3.5

85-89

9

4.5

90-94

11

5.5

95 or more

14

7


The upper and lower social security deeming rates will be reduced further. As of 1 May 2020, the upper deeming rate will be 2.25% and the lower deeming rate 0.25%.


Time limited fortnightly $550 ‘coronavirus supplement’

For the next 6 months, the Government is introducing a new Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This supplement will be paid to both existing and new recipients in the eligible payment categories.

The payment will be made to those receiving:
Jobseeker payment (and those transitioning to the jobseeker payment)
Youth allowance jobseeker
Parenting payment
Farm household allowance
Special benefits recipients

In addition, eligibility to income support payments will be expanded to:
Permanent employees who are stood down or lose their job
Casual workers
Sole traders 
The self-employed
Contract workers who meet the income test

The Government notes that these criteria could include those required to care for someone affected by the Coronavirus.

Asset testing has also been reduced and will be waived for 6 months. Income testing will still apply.

The payment is not available if you have access to any employer entitlements such as annual or sick leave or income protection insurance.

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Second $750 payment to households

The Government is now providing two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders residing in Australia (see the full list here). The payment will be exempt from taxation and will not count as income for the purposes of Social Security, Farm Household Allowance and Veteran payments.

Payment 1 from 31 March 2020 (previously announced on 12 March): Available to people who are eligible payment recipients and concession card holders at any time between 12 March 2020 to 13 April 2020;
Payment 2 from 13 July 2020: Available to people who are eligible payment recipients and concession card holders on 10 July 2020.

The payments will be made automatically to those that meet the criteria.

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Bankruptcy safety net

A temporary 6 month increase to the threshold for the minimum amount of debt required for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against a debtor will increase from $5,000 to $20,000. In addition, the time a debtor has to respond to a bankruptcy notice will be temporarily increased from 21 days to six months.

Where someone declares their intention to enter voluntary bankruptcy, the period of protection from unsecured creditors will be extended from 21 days to 6 months. 

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