COVID-19 Business Support Grant - FAQs


Page last updated: 11 Oct 2021

The purpose of the COVID-19 Business Support Grant is to provide short term support for small to medium businesses whose turnover has significantly declined as a result of COVID-19 restrictions in place since 13 August 2021. The COVID-19 Business Support Grant was open from 26 August to 7 October 2021.

About the grant

What is the total amount my business will receive?

Businesses in industries significantly impacted by the lockdown can expect to receive:

Business categoryInitial PaymentExtension
Payment
Larger Business Top up paymentTotal
Timeframes Sept - OctOctober To be advised
Non-employing (turnover over $75k) $7,500 $7,500 - $15,000
Employing (more than $75k and less than $2m) $20,000 $20,000 - $40,000
Employing (more than $2m and less than $5m) $20,000 $20,000 $20,000 $60,000
Employing (more than $5m and less than $10m) $20,000 $20,000 $40,000 $80,000
Employing (turnover over $10m) $20,000 $20,000 $60,000 $100,000

If you are eligible for the Tourism, Accommodation provider, Events, Hospitality and Fitness grant payments you will receive the following.

Business categoryTotal Business Support Grant (as outlined above)TAPAEHF Top-up paymentTotal
Non-Employing (turnover over $75k)$15,000$5,000$20,000
Employing (more than $75k and less than $2m)$40,000$8,000$48,000
Employing (more than $2m and less than $5m)$60,000$15,000$75,000
Employing over $5m turnover $80,000 or $100,000$25,000$105,000 or $125,000

Your application will be reassessed to determine which top-up payments you may be eligible for. Businesses will be contacted to verify this information.

[Added 1/10/21]

Is the Business Support Grant taxable?

An application is being lodged with the ATO for the grants to be treated as Non-assessable, non-Exempt income in accordance with the treatment afforded to similar COVID-19 Business Assistance Programs.

Until a ruling has been received determining otherwise, the grants will be treated as assessable income.

Does the Business Support Grant attract GST?

No, Goods and Services Tax (GST) does not apply to the Business Support Grant.

How often can I apply for this grant?

You only need to apply once, before 7 October 2021 to be assessed for the COVID-19 Business Grant. Your application will be reassessed for its eligibility for the Extension and Top Up payments.  Businesses will be contacted to verify this information.

What has changed between versions 2 and 3 of the Guidelines?

The COVID Business Support Grants Guidelines were updated following the 30 September announcement of extended business support. The amendments included:

  • Extending the comparison period to 15 October.
  • Clarifying that bank statements are recommended as a minimum to provide evidence of a 30% decline in turnover, recognising this is not right for every business.
  • Adding reference to the Extension payments, Top-Up payments for larger businesses and the Tourism, Accommodation Provider, Arts, Events, Hospitality and Fitness (TAPAEHF) top up payment.
  • Noting that the Real Estate and Construction sectors are no longer considering significantly impacted by the lockdown and are not eligible for Extension or Top-Up payments.
What has changed between versions 1 and 2 of the Guidelines?

The COVID Business Support Grants Guidelines were updated following the 31 August 2021 announcement that lockdown would be extended until 17 September 2021. The amendments included:

  • extended dates of the ACT's declared lockdown period to 17 September;
  • increased grant amounts to $20,000 (employing) and $7,500 (non-employing);
  • clarified that successful applicants will receive the full $20,000 or $7,500 amount;
  • added an additional form of evidence of a 30% decline in turnover, that applications should include, at a minimum, bank statements for the comparison and lockdown periods (section 4.2.4a);
  • updated wording regarding confidentiality to clarify that information in the Territory’s possession will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2016 (section 10); and
  • minor editorial changes.

Grant eligibility

I run a not-for-profit organisation. Can I apply for a Business Support Grant?

Not-for-profit organisations may apply for a grant as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.

Not-for-profit entities with annual turnover between $75,000 and $150,000 that are not registered for GST and are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission are eligible to apply.

[Updated 22/9/21]

I run a business or a not-for-profit organisation that is not registered for GST. Am I eligible for the grant?

Not-for-profit entities with annual turnover between $75,000 and $150,000 that are not registered for GST and are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission are eligible to apply.

Entities with turnover above $75,000 but are not required by law to register for GST and meet the other criteria may be eligible. Please upload evidence with your application to support this. Examples of evidence may include a statutory declaration from a tax agent or evidence of registration as an NDIS provider.

[Updated 22/9/21]

Why do I have to be registered for goods and services tax (GST) to receive this grant?

This grant requires a business to be registered for GST because it shows the business was actively trading before 1 April 2021 and is a genuine operation, which the owner and their employees rely on for income.

A business must register for GST when it has a GST turnover (gross income minus GST) of $75,000 or more.

If you are paying GST but your business does not show as registered for GST on the Australian Business Register, then you may wish to provide a Business Activity Statement (BAS) that has been lodged with the ATO as evidence for this criterion.

More information on whether you need to register for GST is available on the Australian Taxation Office website.

We acknowledge that businesses not registered for GST have also been significantly impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. These businesses should explore the support available through the Commonwealth Government.

Businesses or entities with turnover over $75,000 that can demonstrate they are not required by law to register for GST (e.g. NDIS suppliers or Not-for-profits with annual turnover less than $150,000) may be eligible.

[Updated 1/10/21]

If my business receives the ACT Business Support Grant, can my employees still access the Commonwealth COVID-19 Disaster Payment?

Yes.

[Added 4/9/21]

What industry sectors are eligible for the COVID-19 Business Support Grant?

All industries are eligible for the COVID-19 Business Support Grant.

Only industry sectors still considered to be impacted by the lockdown will receive the Extension and Top-Up payments and therefore Real Estate and Construction sectors will not receive the payment as they were able to reopen on 17 September 2021.

I am an incorporated association, can I apply?

Yes, as long as the incorporated association meets all other eligibility requirements. Industry associations (whether membership or non-membership) are not eligible to apply.

I am an unincorporated association, can I apply?

No, unincorporated associations cannot apply as they are not legal entities.

I operate a mobile business. Can I apply for this grant?

Yes, mobile businesses, for example food trucks, stallholders etc are eligible to apply for the COVID-19 Business Support Grant, subject to meeting the other eligibility criteria. The business must demonstrate primary operation in the ACT.

I run a franchise, am I able to apply?

Yes, franchisees can apply as long as they meet all the eligibility criteria.

I’m a business owner on a temporary visa, can I still apply?

Yes, subject to meeting all the eligibly criteria for the COVID-19 Business Support Grant.

I operate multiple separate and distinct businesses with no employees. Can I apply for a grant for each of those businesses?

Where one individual, company, partnership or trustee controls multiple non-employing businesses that meet the eligibility criteria, they will only be eligible for one grant.

Is a contractor considered an employee for the purpose of assessing eligibility for the COVID-19 Business Support Employing Business Grant? 

To be considered an employee, staff must have been under the control of the business since 1 April 2021. This includes receiving regular PAYG salary or wages and having Pay As You Go Withholding amount as well as superannuation paid by the employer.

Where it is not known whether there is an employee/employer relationship, businesses should consider the guidance provided by the ATO.

Are operators of taxis, Ubers and other commercial passenger vehicle ride services eligible for a grant?

Yes, subject to meeting all the eligibly criteria for the COVID-19 Business Support Grant.  Businesses receiving a vehicle registration fee waiver for hire cars and charter buses registered in the ACT can also apply for this grant.

Are Trusts eligible for Business Support Grants?

A trust structure does not prevent an applicant from applying or being eligible for the Business Support Grant. The trust will still need to meet all the criteria of the grant program.

A beneficiary of a trust is not deemed an employee, unless there is a genuine employer/employee relationship with Pay As You Go Withholding amounts and superannuation paid by the employer.

Are partners in a partnership eligible for the Business Support Grant?

The non-employing business grant is open to partnerships that do not employ staff.

To be eligible for the employing business grant a business or not-for-profit must have employed staff and meet all other eligibility criteria. Partners are not considered to be employees for the purpose of the grant.

My business has sites all under one ABN? Can I apply for each of those sites?

Where a business has multiple sites operating under the one ABN, they can only apply for one grant per ABN.

I recently registered my business for GST. Will this affect my eligibility?

To be eligible for the COVID-19 Business Support Grant a business must have had an active GST registration as at 12:01am Thursday, 1 April 2021.

You may be eligible to apply for the Commonwealth Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment from Services Australia.

My business also does work in Queanbeyan and elsewhere outside of the ACT. Will this affect my eligibility for the ACT program?

To be eligible you must demonstrate your primary operations in the ACT. To prove that your business operations are primarily in the ACT you may need to provide the following evidence:

  • Rates or utilities notice;
  • Lease agreement;
  • Receipts;
  • Tax invoices or delivery dockets;
  • Appointment/scheduling platform, demonstrating appointments or bookings.
Is there a minimum annual turnover test to apply for the grant?

Yes. Businesses must have a minimum annual turnover threshold of $75,000 (excluding GST) in 2019-20 or 2020-21 to apply for the COVID-19 Business Support Grant.

My turnover was below $75,000 in 2019-20 and is likely to be below $75,000 in 2020-21.  Can I still apply?

No, eligibility requirements are for turnover greater than $75,000 in 2019-20 or 2020‑21.

We understand this is a difficult time for business. There are a range of supports available for small businesses in the ACT during the lockdown period. Sole traders who are unable to earn an income during the lockdown may be able to access the Commonwealth Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment from Services Australia.

Payment amounts will vary from $200 to up to $750 depending on the hours of work lost during the lockdown and other eligibility criteria. More information about the scheme and how to apply is available on the Services Australia website.

Other supports such as the Canberra Business Advice and Support Service can be found on the ACT Government’s Business Hub website.

My business earns income from rent, interest and dividends. Will this affect  my eligibility?

Possibly. If your business primarily earns its income from rent, interest or dividends (called passive income), you will not be eligible.

A business primarily earns passive income where more than 80% of its annual turnover comes from passive income.

For the purpose of this grant, the following amounts are passive income:

  • Distributions by a corporate tax entity (excluding non-portfolio dividends and franking credits on distributions by a corporate tax entity)
  • Non-share dividends
  • Interest or amounts in the nature of interest, excluding the following:
    • Where the entity is a financial institution or is a registered entity that carries on a general business of providing finance on a commercial basis;
    • Where the entity holds an Australian credit licence or is a credit representative of another entity that holds such an Australian credit licence;
    • Where the entity is a 'financial services licensee' whose licence covers dealings in securities, or is an 'authorised representative' of such a financial services licensee; or
    • Where the amount is a return on an equity interest in a company.
  • Royalties;
  • Rent
  • Gains on qualifying securities;
  • Net capital gains;
  • Amounts included in the assessable income of a partner or a beneficiary from a trust or partnership, to the extent that it is referable to an amount that is otherwise passive income.

The ATO’s guidance on what constitutes passive income for the purpose of determining whether a company is a base rate entity that is subject to the lower corporate tax rate is set out in LCR 2019/5.

I recently applied for and received COVID Business Support from another jurisdiction. Will this affect my eligibility for the ACT program?

You are not eligible to apply for the ACT COVID-19 Business Support Grant if you have applied for and received a similar grant from another jurisdiction since 1 April 2021. For example, the NSW JobSaver payment or COVID-19 Business Grant.

I recently applied for and received the COVID-19 Disaster Payment from the Commonwealth Government. Will this affect my eligibility for the ACT program?

You can still apply for the COVID-19 Business Support Grant if you have already applied for and received the Commonwealth Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment.

If you apply for the ACT COVID-19 Business Support Grants and are successful, you may need to advise Services Australia of a change of circumstances for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment as you would not be entitled to receive both a COVID-19 Disaster Payments and a state-based COVID-19 small business payment for the same period. Any identified overpayments will incur a debt payable to the Commonwealth.

You are also still eligible if you received JobKeeper or the Cash Flow Boost from the Australian Taxation Office.

Application process

Will I need to provide further information for the top up payments?

Your applications will be reassessed to determine which top-up payments you may be eligible for. Businesses will be contacted to verify this information.

We are working to make this as simple as possible for businesses.

[Added 1/10/21]

Will I have to reapply for the Tourism, Accommodation provider, Events, Hospitality and Fitness grant payments?

No, to be able to receive the top up grant payments for the Tourism, Accommodation provider, Events, Hospitality and Fitness sectors you need to have applied for a Business Support Grant by 5pm on 7 October.

This payment will be made later in the year once the main Business Support Grants are paid. Grant applications will be reassessed to determine turnover tiers and eligible sectors. Businesses will be contacted to verify this information.

[Added 1/10/21]

When will the extension payments be made?

Extension payments will begin in October to eligible businesses in industries still significantly impacted by the lockdown.

[Added 1/10/21]

When will top up payments be made?

Top up payments will be made to larger businesses in the coming months. There will be some further verification required to determine turnover levels for the tiered top up payments for larger businesses and we may need to get in touch with businesses to confirm our assessment or seek any further information.

[Added 1/10/21]

I have lodged my application. What happens now?

A lump sum payment will be made to eligible businesses on average within 30 days of receiving a correctly lodged application.

You will hear from us if we require more information from you to support your application and you’ll receive notification your application has been approved or declined (including the reasons for decline).

[Added 9/9/21]

I made a mistake on my lodged application or have further evidence to add to my already lodged application. How can I get back into fix it?

Once the application is submitted, you are unable to log back in to make changes. If you do need to reopen your application to make an amendment you can email the support team at business.mailbox@act.gov.au who will be able to grant you access. Please do not send or attach personal information with your email as you will need to upload it once access has been granted.

When can I expect to receive my grant payment or application status update?

A lump sum payment will be made to eligible businesses on average within 30 days of receiving a correctly lodged application. During the assessment process, if we need to seek further or updated information from you to correctly assess your claim, this timeframe may be reset. We have received a high volume of applications and are working through them as quickly as possible.

While we acknowledge waiting for an outcome of your application can be stressful, we are unable to respond to individual requests asking for the status of applications.

You will hear from us a number of times during the process including:

  • acknowledgement that your application has been submitted
  • when you have moved to eligibility assessment stage
  • when you have moved to financial assessment stage
  • if we require more information from you to support your application
  • notification your grant has been approved or declined (including the reasons for decline).

If you haven’t already, please sign up to the CBR Business Update e-newsletter for general updates on business supports and other COVID-19 news for business.

[Added 9/9/21]

My ANZSIC code doesn't appear on the list. What do I select?

Please select the industry subdivision that most accurately reflects your business. This will be the first two digits of your four-digit ANZSIC code.

Is my business employing or non-employing?

Employing

Non-employing

An employing business has PAYG employees as at 1 April 2021

To be considered an employee, staff must be under the control of the business, receive regular PAYG salary or wages, and have Pay As You Go Withholding amounts as well as superannuation paid by the employer.

A company may employ an owner, director, partner shareholder in a role other than an owner, director, partner or shareholder. The employee would receive regular PAYG salary or wages, and Pay As You Go Withholding amounts and superannuation would be paid by the employer.

Individuals who may have been considered “Eligible Business Participants” in the JobKeeper program https://www.ato.gov.au/General/JobKeeper-Payment/Partnerships,-trusts-and-companies/ are not considered employees for the purpose of this program.

Example:

ABC Business is owned by Sam. Sam draws a salary from the business and has to pay PAYG. ABC Business employs three other staff and has to pay PAYG for those employees. This business is considered to be ‘employing’.

A non-employing business does not have any employees as at 1 April 2021

An owner, partner, director or shareholder in a company is not considered to be an employee for the purpose of this grant. A beneficiary of a trust is also not considered to be an employee for the purpose of this grant.

If the owner, partner, director, shareholder or trustee is also employed by the business and is the only employee of that business, then for the purpose of this grant, the business is a non-employing business.

Example:

XYZ business is owned by Alex. Alex draws a salary from the business and has to pay PAYG. There are no other employees in the XYZ business. The business is considered to be ‘non-employing’.

[Updated 4/9/21]

Can my accountant/lawyer/tax agent/BAS agent apply on my behalf?

Yes, an agent such as an accountant or lawyer can submit the application on behalf of business provided they have been instructed to do so by the following authorised people:

  • In the case of a business that is a sole trader that employs, the sole trader;
  • In the case of a business that is a partnership that employs, a partner; or
  • In the case of a business that is a body corporate that employs, a director, secretary, public officer or equivalent.

Agents submitting an application on behalf of a client should make note of the Application Number as a reference.

Who can the Territory disclose information to relating to my application? 

Under the guidelines, you agree that information contained in or relating to your application may be disclosed as deemed necessary or desirable by the Territory. This may include disclosure to Territory contractors for the purpose of assisting the Territory to assess some or all of your application, and to other Territory agencies to verify information contained in your application.

All personal information contained in your application will be handled in accordance with the Information Privacy Act 2014 (ACT).

The Territory may also be obliged to disclose application information in other circumstances, for example, pursuant to law or Court orders, or to Territory Ministers, the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Assembly committees.

Who can help if I still have a question?

If after reading the guidelines and FAQs and you still have a question, you may wish to consult your accountant or financial advisor or email your enquiry to business.mailbox@act.gov.au.

[Updated 9/9/21]

What is the primary industry or sector in which  my business operates?

In the application form you are asked to nominate the industry or sector your business is in. You will need to nominate your ANSZIC subdivision (a 2-digit code) in this section.

For example, if you are a hairdressing business, you would nominate “Personal and Other Services -> Personal Services”.

Visit the ABS website for a full list of ANZSIC codes.

Does a not-for-profit organisation need to include donations and government grants when calculating aggregated turnover and decline in turnover?

A not-for-profit organisation, that meets all other eligibility criteria, must include all donations when calculating aggregated turnover and decline in turnover, regardless of whether the donations were deductible to the donor for tax purposes.

How do I calculate my annual turnover? 

Turnover is defined as current GST turnover under section 188-15 of the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 (Cth).

GST turnover is the total business income (not your profit), minus:

  • GST included in sales to your customers
  • sales that aren't for payment and aren't taxable
  • sales not connected with an enterprise you run
  • input-taxed sales you make
  • sales not connected with Australia.

It is important to note that GST turnover includes GST-free supplies and supplies that would be taxable if registered. Only Australian based turnover is relevant.

For more detail on working out GST turnover, see GSTR 2001/7 from the Australian Taxation Office.

Under the GST law, only Australian based sales are included and therefore, only Australian based turnover is relevant.

Note: not-for-profit organisations must include donations when calculating turnover (see FAQ on donations, below).

What method is used to calculate turnover?

Businesses should not alter their usual accounting method, whether it be cash or accrual, when calculating their reduction in turnover.

Applicant businesses should use the same method they would normally use to populate the “G1 Total sales” field in their BAS.

How do I calculate my decline in turnover?

To determine if a business has experienced a 30% reduction in turnover:

Select a consecutive 7-day period (Impacted Period) between 13 August to 15 October (inclusive) where your business turnover was most impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

Select a consecutive seven-day period (Benchmark Period) in April to August 2021 for which you would have been doing similar business activities to the 7-day lockdown period.

Calculate the reduction in turnover using the following formula:

Reduction in turnover % = [1 - (GST turnover in Impacted Period/GST turnover in Benchmark Period)] x 100

Decline in turnover calculation template:

Turnover for impacted period

What was your business’ turnover for a minimum consecutive 7 days between 13 August and 15 October 2021 inclusive

[insert dates used]

[insert GST turnover]

Turnover for benchmark period

What was your business’ turnover for a minimum consecutive 7 days between April and August inclusive for which you would have been doing similar business activity to the 7 day lockdown period.

[insert dates used]

[insert GST turnover]

Description

Describe why the two periods chosen represents comparable activity

Decline in turnover (in dollars)

Turnover for benchmark period – Turnover for impacted period equals Decline in Turnover ($)

Decline in turnover (%)

Decline in Turnover ($)

Turnover for benchmark period     x 100    equals    Decline in Turnover (%)

The ATO GST concept should be applied for the purposes of applying the decline in turnover test. As such, the meaning of ‘turnover’ is defined as set out under s 188-10 of the GST Act.

For GST purposes, refunds for amounts paid in advance due to the business no longer being able to fulfill the delivery of the agreed goods or services may be deducted from the entity’s turnover as an adjustment.

Adjustments are also permitted for GST purposes where you include an amount as accrued income in your turnover, but subsequently write it off as bad debt. Therefore, where there were amounts that were included in your turnover for a particular period which were subsequently refunded to customers or written off as bad debt after that period has ended, you may exclude those amounts from your turnover for the relevant period.

Supporting evidence

How do I demonstrate my business turnover was more than $75,000?

We recommend providing a Business Activity Statement or Income Tax Return for either financial year (2019-20 or 2020-21). Please note that if you are providing a quarterly BAS, we will calculate your turnover on an annualised basis.

[Added 4/9/21]

How do I demonstrate my businesses wages were under $10 million?

We recommend providing a Business Activity Statement (BAS), a PAYG Summary Report or Income Tax Return for either 2019-20 or 2020-21. We recommend providing a monthly April 2021, May 2021 or June 2021 BAS or quarterly (April – June 2021) BAS.

[Added 4/9/21]

How do I demonstrate a link between my ABN and bank account?

We require evidence that the bank account nominated for payment is associated with the ABN nominated on the application.

In most instances, we expect the name of the account will match the registered entity name. Where this is not the case, please provide additional information demonstrating the connection.

[Added 4/9/21]

What evidence do I need to provide to prove my business has had a 30% decline in turnover?

A business will need to provide evidence to demonstrate 30 per cent reduction in turnover revenue in a consecutive seven-day period in the declared lockdown (between Friday 13 August and Friday 17 September), compared to a prior consecutive 7-day period in April to August 2021, for which comparable business activity would have occurred.

We recommend you please include:

  • Bank statement for 7 day period in lockdown and comparable 7 day period between 1 April and 12 August.

To further demonstrate your claim you can include (but you are not limited to), any combination of the following:

  • Extracts from accounting software of turnover comparison data for the comparable week to the assessment period;
  • Emails or texts to or from clients or suppliers detailing cancelled or postponed orders or appointments;
  • Receipts for refunds provided;
  • Invoices or delivery dockets;
  • Appointment/scheduling platform, demonstrating cancelled appointments or bookings; and / or
  • Screenshots of cancelled events.

To assist the assessors to process your application as quickly as possible, please only include evidence that prove the 30% decline in turnover and highlight the relevant information where possible.

If the evidence provided in your initial application did not sufficiently demonstrate the turnover decline, you will be contacted with a request for extra information. Please note this will delay the time it takes to process your application and to issue payment.

View a short video to assist you with providing sufficient evidence of your 30% decline in turnover.

[Updated 14/9/21]

Which identification documents should I submit with my application?

You must provide details of a current proof of identity document. This must be one of the following:

  • driver licence or learner permit issued in any Australian jurisdiction
  • Australian Passport
  • Medicare Card
  • foreign passport for those issued with an Australian Visa.
What evidence do I need to retain and for how long?

Businesses are required to retain supporting information for two years and produce this information at the request of the ACT Government.

In addition to the information provided at application (refer Section 4 of the guidelines), evidence of information that could be made available if required includes records and documents submitted with application:

  • Revenue comparison data for the consecutive 7-day period in April 2021 to August 2021 to the assessment period;
  • Emails or texts to or from clients or suppliers detailing cancelled orders or appointments;
  • Receipts for refunds provided;
  • Invoices or delivery dockets;
  • Appointment/scheduling platform, demonstrating cancelled appointments or bookings; and / or
  • Screenshots of cancelled events.
When will the COVID-19 Small Business Hardship Scheme open?

The COVID-19 Small Business Hardship Scheme will open soon.  The scheme provides credits for payroll tax, utility charges, rates and other selected fees and charges.

To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate a 30 per cent loss of revenue from June quarter 2021 to September quarter 2021 and have a turnover between $30,000 and $10 million. Detailed guidelines for the Small Business Hardship Scheme will be made available in the coming weeks.

If I applied for the COVID-19 Business Support Grants can I also apply for the COVID-19 Small Business Hardship Scheme?

Yes, if you are eligible, you can apply for the COVID-19 Small Business Hardship Scheme. Details of the Hardship Scheme are being finalised and will be available as soon as possible.