Thousands of Aussies could be eligible for delayed JobKeeper cash

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Aussie workers and their employers could be in line for a cash windfall, but whether they get it will depend on the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) making a discretionary call about business registration.

To be eligible for JobKeeper payments, businesses must have held an ABN on March 12, 2020, and must be able to prove the business was active prior to March 12, 2020.

However, JobKeeper rules allow the Commissioner to use discretion to grant additional time for holding an ABN and providing notice of assessable income or supplies.

aussies eligible for jobkeeper cash

The potential for further JobKeeker payments follows a finding by the Federal Court that the ATO Commissioner's discretionary prerogative is broader than had previously been applied.

Robyn Jacobson, a senior advocate at The Tax Institute, says the court's decision shows that the Commissioner disregarded factors that were considered by the tribunal to be relevant in exercising the discretion.

"The full Federal Court decided that the tribunal was correct to take those factors into account."

She expects the decision would affect thousands of workers.

"The ATO will be identifying those taxpayers who have previously been denied JobKeeper or cash flow boost following a review or lodging an objection. There will be some taxpayers who never enrolled in JobKeeper because they thought they were not eligible or had sought advice and were advised that they were not eligible. These taxpayers will be able to contact the ATO for a review of their case."

Jacobson says automatic reviews will be undertaken for taxpayers who previously received a decision where the Commissioner declined to exercise his discretion and so missed out on stimulus assistance.

"This is not a free for all — applicants are still required to meet existing conditions, and the decision doesn't apply to other discretions within JobKeeper or cash flow boost, or in other parts of the tax law, so it doesn't mean everyone who was previously denied JobKeeper or cash flow boost is now eligible."

As of the end of February, ATO data indicates around 680,000 businesses employing roughly 2.8 million people had qualified for JobKeeper.

If you need assistance or have a complaint about how your stimulus application has been handled, Jacobson recommends you contact the Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman (IGTO).

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David Thornton is a journalist at Money magazine and is one of the hosts of the Friends With Money podcast. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.