Where to get help if you're strapped for cash during COVID-19

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A new wave of COVID-19 has brought about a new slew of relief measures for individuals and businesses. Here are the main ones to be across.

New South Wales

Small businesses in New South Wales can apply for grants of between $5000 and $10,000 for small businesses.

financial support during covid19

There are three levels of grants: $10,000 for businesses with a 70% decline in turnover, $7000 for businesses with a 50% decline, and $5000 for a 30% decline.

Eligible sole traders and small businesses will need to prove turnover of more than $75,000 a year, payroll tax threshold below $1.2 million, and have fewer than 20 full-time employees.

Hospitality businesses will need to have turnover of more than $75,000 and an annual wages bill of less than $10 million.

"This latest outbreak has coincided with school holidays when a lot of regional areas were counting on more visitors to help boost local economies," says Deputy Premier John Barilaro.

"These grants will help many get through the winter, and just like after the bushfires, the floods and the first wave of COVID-19, the regions will lead NSW out the other side."

Banks

The banks have stepped up with a range of support measures for both businesses and retail clients.

National Australia Bank (NAB) is offering eligible retail customers temporarily reduced payment arrangements; temporary payment breaks; wellbeing and financial counselling; and restructured loans or debt consolidation.

Business support includes restructuring of business facilities along with reduced or waived applications fees, deferral of principal payments, waived costs for early term deposit withdrawals, and credit card and personal loan relief.

Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is offering support along the same lines, including accessing money you may have available in redraw in your eligible loan; restructuring your home loan; the ability to switch to a fixed rate home loan; reducing your repayments to the minimum monthly repayment amounts; and the ability to use money in your Everyday Offset account.

CBA has also introduced a freeze on forced sales until September 2021 this year for customers affected by the pandemic.

Eligible businesses customers have access to repayment deferrals on asset finance and eligible business loans, refunds of merchant terminal fees for up to 90 days for eligible customers, and waived fees and notice periods on cash Deposit and farm management deposit accounts.

Westpac has rolled out support measures for customers in NSW and the Northern Territory, including temporary credit card repayment and interest rate reductions; home or personal loan repayment deferrals or reductions, interest rate reductions and loan term extensions; fee waivers, debt restructuring and financial counselling.

Eligible businesses can get reduced or deferred repayments on asset and equipment finance and eligible business loans, or get their loans restructured.

ANZ is in lockstep with the other majors, offering short-term payment relief, waived fees, restructured home loan debt or switching to fixed-rate loans.

Business customers can also access short-term payment relief on asset finance or business loans, receive a refund on merchant terminal fees and have some other fees waived.

ATO

The Australian Taxation Office has provided some guidance around how COVID-19 related payments and schemes will be handled come tax time.

JobKeeper will be included in your income statement as either a wage, salary or allowance.

"If you've received JobKeeper payments from your employer, you don't need to do anything different," says assistant commissioner Tim Loh.

"We will automatically include this information from your income statement in your online tax return for you," Mr Loh says.

JobSeeker should be included as income. If you're doing your tax return yourself, it will be included in the Government Payments and Allowances question.

The COVID-19 disaster payment and any stand-down payments should also be included in your tax return as income.

On the other hand, superannuation withdrawn via the early release scheme does not need to be included as income.

Helplines

If your mental health has taken a hit this lockdown, or in general, the following free helplines are available 24/7.

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Lifeline: 131 114

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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.