We use cookies to make your experience better. By using xero.com, you accept our cookie notice terms.

Brought to you by

Accountants and BAS agents: Xero has created a new tool to help your clients apply for lockdown support

Posted 2 months ago in Advisors by Joseph Lyons
Posted by Joseph Lyons

This article was published on Monday, 16 August 2021. As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, you can find the information you need on government support at Service NSW

If you’re an accountant or BAS agent with clients in New South Wales (NSW), chances are, you’ve heard about the new support package for businesses impacted by the Greater Sydney lockdown and those on the NSW border with Victoria. As of today, eligible business owners can apply for a COVID-19 business grant outlined here. However, in order to qualify for financial assistance, they’re going to need your help. 

At this stage, to apply for a COVID-19 business grant, your clients will need a letter from you (download the Service NSW template here or look to the version provided by your professional body) demonstrating a decline in turnover of at least 30 percent across a minimum fortnightly period within the Greater Sydney lockdown periody (which began 26 June). This must be compared to one of three options: the same period in 2019, the same period in 2020, or the fortnight immediately before 26 June 2021. For businesses on the NSW border with Victoria impacted by stay-at-home restrictions that began on 27 May, a different time frame could apply. Any fortnight between 27 May to the end of the NSW lockdown may be used to show a decline in turnover compared to the same minimum period in 2019, 2020 or the fortnight immediately before 27 May 2021. 

To help make this assessment easier, Xero has released a ‘COVID-19 Business Support’ tool. Read on to find out where you can access it, and how it works. 

Aside from the NSW COVID-19 business grants, the JobSaver and COVID-19 micro business grant applications are now open with the same 30 percent decline in turnover eligibility criteria. Read more about these support measures here. 

How does the COVID-19 Business Support tool work? 

The COVID-19 Business Support tool is designed to help qualified accountants and registered tax or BAS agents (as well as business owners) quickly and easily determine grant eligibility. 

In your Xero account under Accounting > Reports, you’ll notice the ‘JobKeeper Support’ tab has been updated to a ‘COVID-19 Business Support’ button. Click on this to access the new tool. 

From there, you’ll be able to check if your client qualifies for a payment. You can do this by selecting a start date of any two-week timeframe within the Greater Sydney lockdown period (which began 26 June or 27 May for some businesses) – this will automatically draw on 2019 records to populate a revenue percentage change between 2021 and the same fortnightly period from two years ago. You’ll also have the option to select a comparison range for the same period in 2020, or the fortnight immediately before 26 June 2021.

A detailed summary, including statement lines from each comparable period, can be exported as an Excel spreadsheet or PDF. You can include this snapshot with your letter of validation. 

Remember, a business needs to demonstrate a decline in turnover of at least 30 percent between the specified intervals to be eligible for a grant. Service NSW outlines the payment amounts based on three turnover thresholds, detailed on their website here

What should I do next? 

Once you know how many businesses on your books intend to claim a COVID-19 business grant, you could start by triaging appointments early this week. At this stage, you must use the letter template provided by Service NSW or your professional body to verify a decline in turnover. As well as this, your clients will need to provide proof of identity documents, an Australian income tax return, and other information in order to apply. 

In the meantime, make sure they’ve created an account with MyServiceNSW, and ask that they check with the Australian Business Register to ensure their business and contact details are correct. From there, they’ll be able to submit an application via their MyServiceNSW account, using the step-by-step instructions

Are there any other ways that I can support my clients? 

Here is a full list of the grants, loans and support measures announced by the NSW government. 

As well as financial assistance, the NSW and Commonwealth governments are committing over $17 million to a state-wide mental health support package. This will provide a boost to services like Lifeline and Sonder – both of which offer free, round-the-clock counselling. 

For wellbeing support that’s tailored to small business owners and employers, there’s also Beyond Blue’s NewAccess service for free mental health coaching and the Ahead for Business wellbeing plan for managing stress. Both are available to any business owner – including advisors. 

There’s also the Beyond Blue course in Xero Central, specifically designed to show small business advisors how to help their clients and themselves with day-to-day wellbeing. Be sure to lean on this resource if and when you need it.

In the meantime, head to Xero’s Business continuity hub for more resources and guidance on how to support your clients during this challenging period, and keep an eye on the NSW government website for more information.

13 comments

Charise Hassey
July 20, 2021 at 3.29 pm

If your client had Nil income during the period in 2019 and Nil for the same period, does that make them eligible even though there is 0% turnover change?

Beeny Atherton in reply to Charise Hassey Xero
July 20, 2021 at 4.25 pm

H Charise, you’re best contacting Service NSW directly because they’ll be able to advise based on your client’s specific circumstances. You can contact Service NSW directly by calling 13 77 88.

Kellie
July 20, 2021 at 4.25 pm

What are other accountants charging for this letter?

Zelen
July 20, 2021 at 6.43 pm

Does this include and cover Victoria?

Beeny Atherton in reply to Zelen Xero
July 21, 2021 at 4.00 pm

Hi Zelen, you can find out about the financial support available to people and businesses affected by COVID-19 in Victoria here.

Suzette
July 30, 2021 at 11.12 am

Is reduction based on cash or accrual- for a business that reports on a cash basis normally?

Xero in reply to Suzette Xero
August 3, 2021 at 4.18 pm

Hi Suzette, it’s typically determined using the same method you use to submit your BAS statements – so if you do your BAS on a cash basis, then it is based on a cash basis. Hope that makes sense. If you need further help, please contact our Support Team who will be more than happy to give you a hand.

Justin Tomas
July 30, 2021 at 11.24 am

Hi Joseph
Great article.
Did you get advice from Service NSW or another Government dept. on why the end date 26 July was reduced to 17 July especially that the PHO were extended to include a restriction on construction workers? Doesn’t make sense, the dates should’ve been expanded not the other way around!
Cheers
Justin

Beeny Atherton in reply to Justin Tomas Xero
August 3, 2021 at 9.47 am

Hi Justin, we have recently updated the blog post based on the very latest information provided by Service NSW. At this stage, to apply for a COVID-19 business grant, businesses need to demonstrate a decline in turnover of at least 30 percent across a minimum fortnightly period within the Greater Sydney lockdown period (which began 26 June). For businesses on the NSW border with Victoria impacted by stay-at-home restrictions that began on 27 May, a different time frame could apply. Any fortnight between 27 May to the end of the NSW lockdown may be used to show a decline in turnover compared to the same minimum period in 2019. Please let us know if you still have further questions.

Orange
August 12, 2021 at 12.05 am

The Service NSW website states that 2020 can be used for a comparable period. Will this be added to the Xero turnover testing tool?

Beeny Atherton in reply to Orange Xero
August 16, 2021 at 3.31 pm

Hi, yes – this has now been updated. We are trying to refresh our information as quickly as possible based on the latest information from Service NSW, and appreciate your support as changes happen that need to be implemented in Xero. Thanks for your comment.

S P Meaher
August 13, 2021 at 12.28 pm

Can you advise if the NSW Micro Business Grant taxable income or tax free income?

Beeny Atherton in reply to S P Meaher Xero
August 16, 2021 at 3.10 pm

Hi, we recommend that you get in touch with Service NSW here who’ll be able to provide more in-depth information about the available support.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *