How are Centrelink’s COVID support payments assessed?

Catherine is about to fill out her tax return and isn’t sure how she should record her JobKeeper payment.

Q. Catherine
I received JobKeeper payments for three months last year while I was unable to attend work due to COVID-19 restrictions. Fortunately, I am now back at work but I have started to fill out my tax return for the last financial year and I am unsure how these payments are meant to be treated. Can you help?

A. JobKeeper payments that you received as an employee should be included on your income statement as either salary, wages or an allowance.

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This means that you shouldn’t have to do anything differently as it will be automatically included in your income statement for your online tax return.

It sounds like you may have been just a little too quick off the mark. Your income statement can be accessed in Australian Taxation Office (ATO) online services through your myGov account and should be finalised by 14 July. If you use a tax agent, they also have access to this information.

Sole traders who have received a JobKeeper payment on behalf of their business will need to include the payment as assessable income for the business.

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The ATO has also released guidance on how a whole range of assistance packages will be treated when completing your tax return.

If you have received JobSeeker payments, this information will also be included in your tax return at the Government Payments and Allowances question once it is ready.

If you are lodging before this information is there, you will need to add it yourself as leaving out income will slow your return.

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Stand-down payments
You may have received a one-off or regular payment from your employer after being temporarily stood down due to COVID-19.

These payments are taxable and should appear in your income statement and will be automatically included in your return.

If you aren’t sure whether these amounts have been included in your income statement, check with your employer.

COVID-19 disaster payment
Services Australia’s COVID-19 disaster payment for people affected by restrictions is taxable. When lodging your return, you must ensure you include this income.

Early access to superannuation
If you accessed your super early under the special arrangements due to COVID-19, you do not need to declare this in your tax return. Any eligible amounts withdrawn under this program are tax free.

Assistant tax commissioner Tim Loh has also reassured taxpayers caught up in some of the other disasters that have befallen Australians in the past 12 months that there is a range of information and support options available.

“We know that many taxpayers are facing lasting impacts left in the wake of natural disasters,” Mr Loh said. “If you find your records have been lost or destroyed, whether in cyclones, floods or bushfires, we are here to help.

“If you have a myGov account linked to the ATO, you’ll be able to view some of your records, including income tax returns, income statements and previous notices of assessments.

“If you lodge through a registered tax agent, they can also access these documents on your behalf.”

Do you file your tax return yourself or use a tax agent? Is this year’s tax return proving trickier than usual? What issues are you having? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Written by Ben Hocking

Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.

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