The Australian Government has put measures in place for small businesses who have suffered direct fire damage, or have been indirectly economically impacted following the bushfires.
If you are an affected small business, you may be eligible for a range of assistance, including grant funding, concessional loans and tax relief and financial counselling services targeted to help small and family business owner’s deal with financial challenges they face.
- Recovery grants of up to $50,000 (tax free) for eligible small businesses and non-profit organisations under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements – to build on the recovery grants put in place by state governments;
- Concessional loans of up to $500,000 for eligible small businesses (including farmers, fishers and foresters) and non-profit organisations who have suffered significant asset loss of significant loss to revenue. The loan would be for up to 10 years and used for the purposes of restoring or replacing damaged assets and for working capital. The loans will be provided under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
Grants and loans are available in eligible Local Government Areas. For more information on Recovery grants and concessional loans visit the Bushfire support page on the Australian Government Business website.
- A Small Business Financial Support Line staffed by specialist financial counsellors who will provide information on the assistance and support available to small businesses in bushfire affected regions;
- While the specialist Support Line is being established, businesses can visit the Bushfire support page on the Australian Government Business website or call 1800 413 828.
- Local Economic Recovery Plans that will be locally developed and locally-led and will ensure the focus in each community is on the infrastructure and assets they need to rebuild;
- Tax relief assistance (see below) for businesses in identified bushfire-impacted postcodes to alleviate cash flow pressures and assist with recovery efforts.
The Commonwealth will also provide support as required to Recovery Centres that may be established by state governments in fire-impacted regions. The centres will provide a one-stop-shop for small business owners and operators to ensure they have access to expert support.
For more information on assistance available to small business, visit the Bushfire support page on the Australian Government Business website.
ATO Business Administrative Relief
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has announced assistance for taxpayers in identified bushfire impacted postcodes. Tax assistance available for small businesses includes:
- Deferring the due date to lodge and pay money owed as a result of business activity statements, income tax, excise and fringe benefits tax returns to 28 May 2020.
- Allowing businesses that pay their Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalments quarterly, to vary their instalments to nil for the December 2019 quarter without penalty, and also claim a credit for the instalment amount paid for the September 2019 quarter.
- Allowing businesses to opt in to monthly GST reporting from the start of a quarter (such as 1 April 2020), in order to get quicker access to GST refunds.
Small businesses impacted by the bushfires can contact the ATO’s Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 for help. This phone line is available for everyone, including those who are outside the identified impacted areas.
Further information is available on the ATO website: Bushfires 2019–20.
Emergency support for farmers, fishers and foresters
Grants of up to $75,000 are being made available to assist eligible farmers, fishers and foresters deal with their immediate needs and can be used for everything from fodder and water, sheds, fencing and agricultural equipment, where those needs are not covered by their existing insurance policies. The $75,000 grant includes the $15,000 grant available to primary producers under Category C arrangements.
To be eligible, you must:
- earn more than 50 per cent of your income from primary production
- spend part of your labour on primary production
- have been carrying on your business at the time of the fires
- not be a corporation.
If you don’t earn more than 50 per cent of your income from primary production, you may still be eligible if:
- you can show you will earn 50 per cent of your income from primary production within 3 years, or
- you can show you would ordinarily earn more than 50 per cent of your income from primary production but this has been affected by drought, and
- in both cases, you earn less than $100,000 in “off-farm” income.
For more information on the Emergency Bushfire Response - Primary Industries Grants Program contact:
New South Wales: call 1800 678 593 or visit the NSW Rural Assistance Authority website
Queensland: call 1800 623 946 or visit the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority website
South Australia: call 1800 931 314 or visit the Primary Industries and Regions SA website
Victoria: call 1800 260 425 or visit the Rural Finance website
Primary producers can also visit Farm Hub for information on available bushfire assistance.
Financial Counselling for Farmers, Fishers and Foresters
The Australian Government is providing an additional $15 million to fund 60 more rural financial counsellors and support workers to assist primary producers on their path to recovery, over the next two years.
The Rural Financial Counselling Service provides free financial counselling to farmers, foresters, fishers and small related businesses, who are suffering financial hardship.
If you need support, please call the national referral hotline on 1800 686 175 or visit the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) page.
Additional support for Indigenous corporations
Staff of the National Indigenous Australians Agency are available to assist Indigenous Australians and their communities, organisations and businesses get access to supports and services – contact details are on the National Indigenous Australians Agency Support to bushfire affected communities page.
The Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) has established an emergency response grant for any Indigenous corporation whose property has been directly affected by the recent bushfires.
- A grant of up to $20,000 will be available to assist Indigenous corporations to immediately secure and clean up damaged properties.
The ILSC will also make available a grant to assist Indigenous land management groups and contractors assisting the vital recovery efforts with much needed equipment.
Indigenous corporations should contact the ILSC on 1800 818 490 or EDOAdmin@ilcorp.gov.au. ILSC staff will be available to take enquiries seven days a week, from 9am to 8pm (AEDT).
The Australian Government is working with the New South Wales and Victorian Governments to share the cost of clean-up for residential and commercial properties destroyed by this season’s bushfires. This service is provided at no cost to property owners.
Property owners can register their property for clean-up by contacting organisations listed below: