In light of COVID-19 and the proposed new stimulus package, we have been inundated with questions from clients and concerned community members who are either sole traders, self-employed, or now unemployed. 

The golden question is “What is the difference between sole trader and self-employed?” The most straight forward answer received to date was from Self-Employed Australia: https://www.selfemployedaustralia.com.au/

SOLE TRADER: a person who carries on a business, solely by themselves, who is responsible for, and pays their own PAYG, and does not employ staff and is not a company or trust.

SELF-EMPLOYED: a person who carries on a business, who is responsible for, and pays their own PAYG, and employs staff, and is not a company or trust. 

How does the COVID-19 Supplement and the potential application for Job Start Allowance affect you? 
If you are classified as a Sole Trader, or have lost your job, you could be eligible for the Jobseeker Payment and the Coronavirus Supplement.  If you are classified as Self-Employed, you could be eligible for both these, plus the Government Stimulus Package for Business. The Government have created the “Coronavirus Supplement” payment, which is a fortnightly payment of $550. To be eligible to receive the supplementary payment, you must be a recipient of any of the below income support payments:

  • Jobseeker Payment
  • Youth Allowance Jobseeker
  • Parenting Payment (Partnered & Single)
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Special Benefits recipient

There is also provision for application of Jobseeker Payment and Youth Allowance Jobseeker for employees who are stood down or lost their employment (including casual and contract workers), who meet the income tests as a result of the economic downturn due to the Coronavirus. 

For further information on the income test, and to check your eligibility follow the link below:
https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/jobseeker-payment/how-much-you-can-get/income-and-asset-limits/income-test

However, while the usual income testing still applies, the Government have waived the usual waiting period, and the asset testing for the duration of the Coronavirus Supplement payments.

To apply for any of the income support payments, and the Coronavirus supplement, you are encouraged to do so online. 
You will be required to register via Services Australia.  
https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/affected-coronavirus-covid-19/people-who-dont-get-payment-from-us-coronavirus-covid-19 

The Coronavirus Supplement and expanded access for payments will commence from 27 April 2020.  If you are successful in your application for the Jobseeker Payment, you are eligible to receive this and earn up to $1,000 per fortnight in other income. 

PLEASE NOTE: For Closely held employees – where (a) you are  director of a company, and (b) who is also an employee of that company or beneficiary of a trust – we strongly urge you to seek clarification from your accountant before taking any action with regards to yourselves as individuals. 

Further information can also be found here:   
https://www.business.gov.au/Risk-management/Emergency-management/Coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business 

Click below for the Treasury Fact Sheet on Income Support for Individuals: https://saveyourmoney.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID19-Treasury-Fact_sheet-Income_Support_for_Individuals.pdf

As always, we remain available to answer any of your queries and concerns. Stay safe!