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JobKeeper package: An accountant answers your questions about the $130 billion wage guarantee

The federal government’s massive $130 billion JobKeeper package was announced on Monday, but many questions still remain about the specifics of the scheme.

The package guarantees the wages of workers at risk of losing their jobs, with full-time and part-time workers, and casual workers who have been in their role for at least a year, eligible for a $1500 a fortnight payment.

It is accessible to businesses with a turnover of under $1 billion which have seen at least a 30 per cent drop in takings, or those with a turnover over $1 billion with a drop of at least 50 per cent.

Head of Certified Practicing Accountants (CPA) Australia, Paul Drum, answered 3AW Mornings listeners questions about the package.

He says there are still many aspects of the JobKeeper package that remain unclear.

Q: Is it taxed?

A: Probably.

“It’s not clear from the fact sheet and the information that has come out and it’s on our list of questions to go back to the government,” Mr Drum said.

“We won’t know until we see the legislation I would think, but I would expect that those recipients of those payments, it would form part of their taxable income just as Newstart is taxable income.”

Q: Will employees at businesses which have been open for under a year be eligible?

A: Maybe.

“You’re meant to have been open for 12 months or employed for 12 months,” Mr Drum said.

“For start ups or for businesses that haven’t been going on that long, the information available at this point talks about the Tax Commissioner having discretion to consider additional information that businesses can provide to establish that they’ve been adversely affected.”

Q: Is it true that if you normally earn less than $1500 you’ll effectively be getting a pay rise?

A: Yes, if you’re eligible for the JobKeeper payment.

“They’re guaranteeing that you’re going to get a minimum of $1500, so some will be getting a pay rise,” Mr Drum said.

Q: Are sole traders considered to be employees?

A: Yes, but those working for partnerships or trusts aren’t.

“Businesses without employees, such as the self-employed, will be able to register,” Mr Drum said.

“What is not clear is what’s going to happen in the case of partnerships or trusts. That again is on our list of things to take back to the government.”

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