State and Territory Government Lifeline for Businesses: A Summary of Key Support Measures Across All Jurisdictions

This article was first published on 15 April 2020 and was current as at that date. The enactment of legislation relating to the matters referred to in this article since the date of publication means that this article is no longer current.

The Federal Government’s mammoth $319 billion COVID-19 stimulus package has been creating headlines across the news media and waves through the business community.

While the Federal Government has brought the full force of its economic resources to bear during these trying times, the supporting roles played by the State and Territory Governments in helping businesses through the crisis should not be overlooked. At a total economic spend of $13 billion across all States and Territories, the support offered at a State and Territory level is far from chump change for businesses.

The South Australian Government was first off the mark with its economic response to the crisis, beating even the Federal Government with its announcement on 11 March 2020 of a $250 million stimulus package to help combat the threat posed by COVID-19 to its State’s economy.

The other States and Territories followed suite with their stimulus packages, with some States and Territories (including South Australia) announcing further packages as the true depth and breadth of the threat begins to dawn on the country.

The stimulus packages announced by each State and Territory as at 15 April 2020 total as follows:

Victoria: $1.7 billion
New South Wales: $3.3 billion
Queensland: $4 billion
South Australia: $1 billion
Western Australia: $1.607 billion
Tasmania: $985 million
Australian Capital Territory: $137 million
Northern Territory: $295 million.

While these stimulus packages are dwarfed by that of the Federal Government, it is important to remember that the packages are still exceptionally generous and complement the support at the Federal level. Business owners should be aware of the support available at both levels of Government so that they can position themselves as well as possible to weather this crisis.

The table overleaf contains a summary of some of the key support measures for businesses in each State and Territory as at 15 April 2020. Click on the hyperlinks above to be taken to directly to the summary of the measures for the jurisdiction that applies to you.

For a summary of the key support measures offered by the Federal Government, refer to my article ‘Supporting Businesses through the Coronavirus: A Brief Summary of Key Federal Government Measures’.

If you would like help in navigating the support measures that may be available to your business, please do not hesitate to reach out to me on 0426 353 397 or archana@archwaylegal.com.au.

Archana Manapakkam
Principal Lawyer
Archway Legal

Key Financial Support Measures Offered by State and Territory Governments to Businesses

Measure Description
Victoria
Payroll tax refund Businesses with annual Victorian taxable wages up to $3 million will have their payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year waived. The eligibility threshold applies to each employer, so any member of a payroll tax group that pays Victorian taxable wages under $3 million per annum will be eligible for relief. Eligible businesses must continue to lodge returns but do not need to make further payments for this financial year. The SRO will directly contact eligible businesses to reimburse them for payroll tax already paid in the financial year.
Payroll tax deferral Businesses with annual Victorian taxable wages up to $3 milion can defer paying payroll tax for the first quarter of the 2020-21 financial year until 1 January 2021.
Land tax deferral Landowners that have at least one non-residential property and total taxable landholdings below $1 million have the option of deferring their 2020 land tax payment until after 31 December 2020. The State Revenue Office will contact all taxpayers who are eligible for this deferral.
Waiver of liquor licence fees Renewable liquor licence fees for 2020 will be waived. Businesses that have already paid will be reimbursed. The State Revenue Office will administer the reimbursement, regardless of whether the licence fee was paid to it or the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation.
Grants for small businesses Small businesses that have been highly impacted by shutdown restrictions can apply for a one-off $10,000 grant from the Victorian Government’s Business Support Fund. Applications are open until 1 June 2020.        Grants can be used towards business costs such as rent, utilities and salaries, and activities to support business continuity planning, such as seeking financial and legal advice.
New South Wales
Payroll tax relief – deferral and reduction of payroll tax Payroll tax customers with total Australian grouped wages of no more than $10 million in the 2019-20 financial year will be able obtain the following relief: the payroll tax customer will have their annual tax liablity reduced by 25% when they lodge their annual reconciliation, which is due on 28 July;for customers who lodge and pay monthly, no payment for the months of March, April or May 2020 will be required; andthe customer will have the option of deferring these payments for an additional 3 months. Payroll tax customers with total Australian grouped wages exceededing $10 million in the 2019-20 financial year will be able to obtain the folloiwng relief: the payroll tax customer will have the option of deferring the payment of payroll tax for up to 6 months; andthe customer will not need to make payment for the March 2020 period, normally due on 7 April 2020.
Payroll tax relief – increase in tax-free threshold The tax-free threshold will increase from $900,000 to $1 million from the 2020-21 financial year.
Deferral of gaming machine tax for clubs, pubs and hotels Deferral for gaming machine tax for clubs, pubs and hotels for six months, which includes payments due for the most recent quarter and payments due for the coming quarter.
Deferral of duty on lotteries and keno Deferral of duty on lotteries and keno for six months. These deferrals will include payments due from April 2020 to September 2020.  
Deferral of parking space levy Deferral of parking space levy for 6 months for commercial tenants with less than 20 employees and not-for-profits in all NSW Government properties.
Deferral of rents for commercial tenants and not-for-profits Deferral of rents for 6 months for commercial tenants with less than 20 employees and not-for-profits in all NSW Government properties
Queensland
Payroll tax relief – refund, holiday and deferral All small and medium businesses (annual payrolls of $6.5 million or less) in Queensland will be eligible for: a 2 month refund of payroll taxa 3 month payroll tax holidaydeferral of all payroll tax payments for the rest of 2020. Larger businesses (annual payrolls over $6.5 million) affected by COVID-19 will be eligible for the 2 month payroll tax refund and have their deferral extended for all of 2020. All this means no Queensland business impacted by COVID-19 will have to make a payroll tax payment in 2020.
Jobs support loans A concessional loan facility comprising low interest loans of up to $250,000 for carry on finance with an initial 12-month interest-free period for businesses impacted by COVID-19 to retain staff and maintain operations. Any eligible business can apply for the loan.
Electricity bill relief for small and medium busiensses Sole traders and small and medium businesses will get a $500 rebate on their power bill. Any business consuming less than 100,000 kilowatt hours will receive the rebate, which will be automatically applied on business electricity bills.
Fee waivers for tourism businesses Waiver of a range of fees, charges and levies to support tourism operators to continue to operate. Includes application and liquor licencing fees for businesses impacted by enforced shutdowns, registration renewal fees for Inbound Tour Operators, rebates on marina charges and passenger levies, and deferral of tourism lease rent payments.
Government premises rent relief 6 months relief for businesses renting Queensland Government premises.
South Australia
Payroll tax relief Business groups with annual Australian wages of up to $4 million will receive a 6 month payroll tax waiver. Eligible business groups will not be required to pay any payroll tax in the months of April to September 2020. The payroll tax waiver is expected to provide maximum assistance of $84,150 over the six months to an estimated 2,400 business groups. Business groups with annual Australian wages above $4 million that can demonstrate they have been significantly impacted by COVID‑19 will, upon application, be able to defer payroll tax payments for the 6 months from April to September 2020. For these eligible business groups, payroll tax payments that were due to be paid from April to September will now be due from October 2020.
Land tax package Businesses paying land tax quarterly in 2019-20 will be able to defer payment of their remaining 2019-20 land tax payments for 6 months. In addition, the Government will increase the existing land tax reform transition fund relief by increasing the previously announced relief from 50% to 100% for the 2020-21 land tax assessment subject to the existing criteria.
Waiver of liquor licensing fees Waiver of annual liquor licencing fees for 2020-21 for the following liquor licence categories: On Premises, Residential, Restaurant & Catering, Club, Liquor Production and Sales, and Small Venue. Holders of a General and Hotel licence who have a bottle shop will receive reduced fees, or a full waiver if they do not have a bottle shop. Packaged Liquor Sales licence fee will not be reduced or waived.  Licensees who believe that they should receive a discount may still apply for a fee reduction through the Consumer and Business Services website from 1 June 2020.
Emergency cash grants for small businesses Small businesses and not-for-profit entities that employ South Australians who have been highly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible to receive a $10,000 grant to support the operation of their business. To be eligible, the entity will need to: employ people in South Australia.have annual turnover of more than $75,000 (GST exclusive).have an annual payroll of less than $1.5 million, and not be entitled to a payroll tax waiver under COVID-19 support measures introduced by the South Australian Government;have an ABN and were carrying on the operation of the business in South Australia on 1 March 2020;have been subject to closure or highly impacted by COVID-19 related restrictions;apply by 1 June 2020; anduse the funds to support activities related to the operation of the business. If the business has received any SA Government grants provided to address COVID-19 related business impacts, the value of these payment(s) will be deducted from the $10,000 grant. If the business is part of a group of companies that is registered for payroll tax and will receive the payroll tax waiver, the business is ineligible for this grant.
Job accelerator grants Relaxation of the existing Job Accelerator Grant (‘JAG’) criteria requiring an employer to have maintained their overall employment levels to be eligible for their second JAG payment. Applications for the second JAG payment from 1 February to 30 June 2020 will be assessed on staffing levels as at 31 January 2020 rather than the relevant anniversary date.
Western Australia
Payroll tax relief – one-off cash grant Payroll tax paying businesses with a payroll between $1 million and $4 million will receive a one-off grant of $17,500.  
Payroll tax relief – increase in payroll tax threshold Increase in payroll tax threshold from $950,000  to $1 milion from 1 July 2020 (6 months earlier than planned).
Payoll tax relief – deferral of payroll tax Small and medium sized businesses with Australian taxable ages of no more than $7.5 million and who have been directly or indirectly affected by COID-19 can apply to defer payment of their 2019-20 payroll tax until 21 July 2020.
Government premises rent relief Waiver of rental payments for small businesses and not-for-profit groups in Government-owned buildings for 6 months.
Electricity bill credit One-off $2,500 credit on electricity bills for small businesses that consume less than 50MWh per annum. For more information read the statements on the Synergy and Horizon Power websites.
Taxes & duties – interest-free payment arrangements & penalty relief Affected businesses can apply for interest-free payment arrangements and for late payment penalties to be waived for a range of taxes and duties, including payroll tax, transfer duty, landholder duty, vehicle licence duty or land tax.
Waiver of business licence fees A range of business licence fees have been waived, including liquor licence renewal fees for 2020, which will be waived and refunds given to businesses that have already paid.
Tasmania
Payroll tax waiver Payroll tax liabilities will be waived for hospitality, tourism and seafood industry businesses for 2019-20. Other businesses with payrolls of up to $5 million will be able to apply, based on the impact of virus, to have their payroll tax waived for 2019-20.
Interest-free business loans for small businesses $20 million in interest-free loans to small businesses in the hospitality, tourism, seafood production, and exports sectors. The loans will be available to businesses with a turnover of less than $5 million to purchase equipment or restructuring business operations and will be interest free, for three years. For small business, the Government will also increase the Small Business Interest Free Loan Scheme from $20 million to $50 million which is now available for businesses with turnovers less than $10 million.
Targeted small business grants program for apprenticeships and traineeships The targeted Small Business Grants Program provides a $5,000 grant for businesses that hire an apprentice or trainee in the tourism, hospitality, building and construction, and manufacturing industries. Funding for this measure has been brought forward.
Youth employment scheme The Scheme provides a payroll tax rebate for one year, to businesses that employ a young person aged 24 and under, between April and December 2020.
Waiver of fees for tourism operators For April, May and June 2020, the Government will waive a number of lease, license and parks’ entry fees for tourism operators. This initiative will support around 300 of our hard-working tourism businesses, right around Tasmania.
Liquor license fees reductions and waivers A 50 per cent discount on liquor licencing fees and a waiver of all application fees for the calendar year 2020, back dated to 1 January 2020.
Fisheries fee waiver Annual fees and levies for the rock lobster, giant crab, fin fishers and for abalone divers, will be waived for 12 months.
Government fee relief Government fees will be frozen, waived and capped, including: Water and electricity bills will be waived for the first quarterly bill received after 1 April this year for small business customers on Tariffs 22, 94, 82 or 75, including small businesses on market contracts that could access these tariffs.Next financial year, electricity bills will be capped, and water bills will be frozen.Fees and charges subject to the Government Fee Units Act 1997 will be frozen as well.
Motor tax relief The Government will waive fees and charges relating to the roads component of motor tax for heavy vehicles and vehicle registration where that business has been severely impacted because of measures taken to manage COVID-19.
Small business grants program For small business, the Government will provide a new $40 million Small Business Grants Program with $20 million set aside for an emergency grants program of $2500 cash payments.
Australian Capital Territory
Payroll tax waiver All businesses whose operations are directly affected by the prohibited activities list such as gyms and indoor sporting venues, cinemas, beauty therapists and nail salons will be eligible to receive a 6 month waiver of payroll tax from April to September 2020.
Payroll tax deferral All ACT businesses with Australia-wide wages of up to $10 million can defer their 2020-21 payroll tax, interest-free until 1 July 2022.
Payroll tax deferral – construction industry Businesses in the construction industry can defer their payroll tax liability for the 6 months from April to September 2020 to provide cashflow assistance to help them retain workers. No interest will be charged on deferred amounts until 1 September 2020, at which point the Government will assess the impacts of COVID‑19 AND determine if a further deferral period is required.
Food business registration, outdoor dining and liquor licensing fees -waiver Off licenced venues with gross liquor purchase value of below $3 million per annum and licenced venues will receive a 12-month waiver of their food business registration and liquor licencing fees from 1 April 2020. Outdoor dining fees for 2020-2021 will also be waived. In cases where food business registration has been prepaid for more than one year in advance, an additional 12 months will be added to the license.
Other business fee waivers The government will waive fees for 12 months from 1 April 2020 for businesses that require an infection control licence such as beauty therapists, nail salons, tattoo parlours and dentists.
Commercial general rates Commercial property owners with an Average Unimproved Value below $2 million on their property are eligible for a rebate on their commercial rates fixed charge. Commercial rate payers will receive a credit of $2,622 (equivalent to the annual fixed charge) to their 2019-20 general rates, in quarter four.Where rate payers have paid in full or have a quarter bill less than the credit, they will be eligible for a refund. Commercial property owners will also not receive an increase on their 2020-21 Fire and Emergency Services Levy. The government will reduce pressure on commercial property owners by deferring issuing commercial general rates notices for 2019-20 quarter 4 instalments by four weeks. Notices will be payable a month after the date of issue. The ACT Revenue Office will also allow rates charges to be deferred (interest-free) up to October 2020 for commercial property owners who have been affected by COVID-19.
Electricity rebate Small business owners with electricity usage below 100 megawatts per year will see rebates of $750 automatically applied to their next electricity bill in around June or July 2020.
Rental relief to tenants of ACT Government owned properties The ACT Government will review rent charges for commercial tenants of ACT Government properties whose operations have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. Commercial tenants that can demonstrate this may receive rental relief for up to 6 months from 1 April 2020.
Northern Territory
Payroll tax relief Businesses with total payroll of below $7.5 million and who can show that their turnover has dropped by at least 30% will have their payroll tax waived for 6 months. Businesses with a total payroll above $7.5 million and turnover below $50 million and who can show that their turnover has dropped by at least 50% will have their payroll tax deferred for 6 months. The current payroll tax exemption for businesses hiring employees who are NT residents has been extneded to 30 June 2021.
Power and waters bills NT businesses who have been hurt by COVID-19 will have their power and water bills halved for the next 6 months.
Handbrake on increases to government fees and charges All Government fees and charges – including electricity, water and car registration will be frozen (no increase due to indexation) until 1 July 2021.
Business Improvement Grant All Territory businesses will be able to access a $10,000 grant. For work valued at more than $10,000, the co-contribution by the Territory Government is limited to $10,000 on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a maximum grant of $20,000.
Small Business Survival Fund This fund is specifically targeted at supporting industries such as retail, hospitality, tourism and entertainment businesses. Eligible businesses will be able to apply for two payments: an immediate survival payment of between $2,000 and $50,000 to help offset the immediate cost pressures on businessesa rapid adaption payment of between $1,000 and $5,000 to help businesses make the necessary changes they need to help adapt to the new operating environment.
Home Improvement Scheme The scheme will help fast-track around 5,000 screwdriver-ready projects in NT homes. If you are a NT business, you can apply to supply goods and services to businesses, not-for-profits and home owners under the scheme.