Coronavirus and the Financial Impact on YOU

What Can You Do To Finance Yourself Through This Coronavirus Shutdown

 

While we continue on in this time of uncertainty there is an increasing amount of information out there to sift through.  Economic support payments? Coronavirus Supplements?  Shutdowns? Entitlements?

And the biggest question, what does it all mean for me? This information is targeted at those employees and individuals that have been or are about to be impacted by the Coroavirus-19 shutdowns.

Here at Suntax we are working hard to be across all that we can when it comes to understanding the Government offerings and today we have put it all together in the one place for you. We hope to answer the many questions that we receive and that you may have.
 

I Have Been Stood Down – What Help Can I Receive From Centrelink?

You are eligible to register for JobSeeker Payments if you are:

  • A permanent employee who has lost their job or been stood down
  • A sole trader, are self employed, a casual worker or a contract worker who is now earning less than $1,075 a fortnight as a result of the coronavirus caused economic downturn
  • You’re caring for someone who has COVID-19

And

  • Your partner does not earn more than $1,850 per fortnight

 
How much will I get?

If you are a single person with no children who registers with Centrelink before April 13th you will receive:

  • Basic JobSeeker payment up to $566 per fortnight
  • The Energy supplement up to $8.80 per fortnight
  • The Coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight
  • A one off stimulus payment of $750 (see below) 


While it may take some days to be approved, all payments will be backdated to the day you applied.  In some cases this week they will be backdated to the 23
rd due to the difficulties people have had applying.

Please note: You may also be eligible for rent assistance and other benefits with Centrelink


How do I apply for JobSeeker Centrelink Payments?

We have all seen the lines on the news outside Centrelink offices this past week. Thankfully, they have relaxed their requirements so that you can now register online here:

Register for Centrelink

 
The following information is also worth noting: 

  • Waiting periods have been waived
  • Asset testing has been waived, i.e. you don’t need to use all the money in your bank accounts before applying.
  • You CANNOT get JobSeeker payments if you are still receiving annual leave, long service leave or other payments from your employer.
  • You may be eligible for a one off Crisis payment if you’re in severe financial hardship and either need to self isolate or are caring for someone who is self isolating.  This payment will be a one off extra payment of one week of your JobSeeker payment rate. 

What are the Government Economic Support Payments?

 The Government has offered two Income Supplement Payments

 
Supplement #1     $750

This will go to whomever already receives an eligible Centrelink payment (see appendix) including anyone who is already registered as or has registered to be a JobSeeker by April 13th 2020

  • This is applied automatically and you do not need to call Centrelink to apply.
  • The payment will be made between March 31st and April 17th 2020

 

Supplement #2     $750

The second supplement will go to anyone on the eligible list and to those who are concession card holders on July 10th 2020.

  • Again, this is applied automatically and you do not need to call Centrelink to apply.
  • The payments will be made from July 13th 2020.


Those who are registered as JobSeekers will NOT have a concession card and will not be entitled to the second $750 supplement. Instead they will have begun to receive the ongoing Coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight.  This is in addition to their regular JobSeeker payment and the Energy Supplement.

 

Can I Get Support From My Bank?

Australia’s major banks have really come to the party on this but they are all offering different options to help support customers by allowing a pause on their loan repayments.

The rules differ between banks as to who is eligible and if you have to provide proof of hardship.


If you're with Commonwealth Bank Of Australia

  • You will be able to defer home loan repayments for up to six months
  • Interest will be capitalised
  • Interest and charges will be added to your loan balance
  • Your loan balance will be recalculated at the end of the support period
  • Your loan term will be extended so repayments stay the same as they were before you started the deferral

To apply, you need to request the deferral under the ‘Hardship Request’ section of their website, or click on this link: CBA Hardship Request

 

If you're with Westpac Bank

  • You will be able to defer repayments for three months
  • A three-month extension is available after review
  • This option is for people who have lost their job or income as a result of coronavirus
  • Deferred interest will be capitalised, so your repayments will increase for the remainder of your loan term

To apply, complete the Westpac Assistance Application form by clicking this link: Westpac Financial Hardship

 

If you're with NAB

  • You will be able to defer your repayments for up to six months
  • There will be a three-month checkpoint with the bank
  • You are eligible if you are a home loan customer affected by coronavirus
  • This applies for owner-occupiers, investors or those on a principal and interest or interest only repayment schedule
  • You will still be able to redraw during the repayment pause

To apply, click on this link: NAB COVID-19 Support


If you're with ANZ

  • You may be able to put your repayments on hold for six months
  • Interest will be capitalised
  • The bank will check in with you after three months

You can request a call back by completing this form: ANZ Hardship Enquiry

 

And if you're with Bendigo Bank (Australia's fifth-largest bank)

  • You can apply for six months of relief

You can find more information from Bendigo Bank here: Bendigo Bank Coronavirus Package

While we applaud the banks for this much needed relief, you must be sure to check with your own bank for your eligibility and for any affects this may have on your loan.  Some examples of this could include:  

  • Interest Capitalisation (all of the banks are implementing this). This means that the interest will still be charged to your loan account, which will increase the amount of your loan for the period that you are not making repayments.
  • You may need to make additional payments due when payments restart (some banks may be doing this but the big four are not)
  • An extension of your loan period once payments start again

Can I Access My Super To Help With My Finances?

From Mid April 2020, eligible individuals will be able to access part of their superannuation, capped at $10,000 this financial year and a further $10,000 next financial year. The withdrawals will be tax-free. The eligibility requirements for individuals are:
 

  • you're unemployed
  • you're eligible to receive a JobSeeker payment, youth allowance for JobSeekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance
  • on or after 1 January 2020
  • you were made redundant
  • your working hours were reduced by 20 per cent or more
  • if you're a sole trader, your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20 per cent or more.


People accessing their superannuation will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.


We applaud this change, as it will have a direct cashflow injection to those that have been impacted by the Coronovirus. But be aware, withdrawing money from your superannuation will reduce your retirement nest egg, if this option is used, a plan to rebuild your superannuation balance should be put into place once we are over this pandemic.

 

We understand that there is an abundance of information out there at the moment and we hope that we have been able to provide a clear summary for you.

As always, if you need to talk to us about anything or to discuss any of the above matters please reach out to us.  While the team are all working remotely it is business as usual and we are here to support you in any way that we can.


 

Your Suntax Team 

  

Below Are A Number Of Questions We Are Frequently Answering

 I lost my job but my Partner is still working. Does my partners income affect my JobSeeker Payments?

The way it currently stands is if your partner earns more than $1,850 per fortnight ($48,100 a year) then you will not be eligible for the JobSeeker Payment.  However, this has been broadly criticized and is under review.

 
I am a sole trader/contractor who has been reduced to 1 day a month of work.  Can I get any support from Centrelink?

JobSeeker allowance is tapered depending on how much you are earning. For example, a Single person with no children would only have their JobSeeker payment reduced to nil once their income reaches $1,086.50 per fortnight.  

It is important to note that if you receive ANY amount as a JobSeeker payment you will still receive the full $550 per fortnight coronavirus supplement.

 
How am I going to pay my Rent?
 

If you are eligible to receive JobSeeker payments, you may be able to receive rent assistance.  It would also be worth contacting your agent/landlord and asking for assistance.


I have been stood down and I have no annual leave and no savings – how quickly can I get support?

Waiting periods have been waived so you can apply for a JobSeeker allowance straight away and should also receive the $550 per fortnight coronavirus supplement.

 
I have been stood down from work.  I have savings but this is for a house deposit – Will Centrelink tell me I have to use the savings or can I get support payments?

Centrelink are waiving Asset testing from the 25th of March.  This means that any savings would not affect your ability to receive JobSeeker allowance.


I am on a Pension – Do I receive any assistance?

The pension will continue as normal and you will receive both Supplement #1 $750 and Supplement #2 $750.

A couple on the pension will receive $750 each for each Supplement.  Therefore, it would be $1,500 on the 31st of March and $1,500 on the 10th July making it a $3000 total for the household. 

 

 

Appendix: Centrelink Payments Types Eligible For At Least One Coronavirus Supplement

If you receive one of these payments, you will be eligible for both $750 supplements EXCEPT JobSeekers who will receive Supplement #1 and then go onto the $550 per fortnight coronavirus supplement.

  • Age Pension
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Carer Payment
  • Carer Allowance
  • Parenting Payment
  • Wife Pension
  • Widow B Pension
  • ABSTUDY (Living Allowance)
  • Austudy
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • JobSeekers
  • Youth Allowance
  • Partner Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Widow Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Family Tax Benefit A
  • Family Tax Benefit B
  • Double Orphan Pension.

You’ll also get the payment if you have 1 of the following concession cards:

  • Pensioner Concession Card
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
  • Veteran Gold Card.

You’ll also get the payment if you get 1 of the following Department of Veterans’ Affairs payments:

  • Veteran Service Pension
  • Veteran Income Support Supplement
  • Veteran Compensation payments, including lump sum payments
  • War Widow(er) Pension.

You’ll only get 1 payment per supplement, even if you get more than 1 qualifying payment or card.