What's in the government's $17.6 billion stimulus package for you


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Households, pensioners, and small businesses stand to benefit from the governments $17.6 billion response to COVID-19, but will it be enough?

"It's not for us to tell those Australians how to spend their money, but what we do know from experience is that they will spend that money and that money will encourage economic activity," says Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Households receiving benefit payments will get one-off tax-free payment of $750. The payments cover pensioners, social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to media during a press conference in the Blue Room at Parliament House on March 03, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

"They comprise around half of those who will receive those payments, but [the package] also will be extended to those in family tax benefits, which obviously goes to those in earning households."

These payments will be made progressively from March 31, with 90% of it expected to be paid out by mid-April.

While acknowledging the short-term relief the $750 one-off payments will provide to those on social security, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) says "it's nowhere near enough".

"The government has not targeted today's package in the way that was needed, with some of these $750 payments going to households who don't qualify for a pension because they have millions in superannuation assets," the organisation said in a statement.

"These households are less likely to spend than someone living on $40 a day. Others are seriously left behind, particularly larger families on very low incomes."

Morrison says that "[Pensioners] comprise around half of those who will receive those payments, but [the package] also will be extended to those in family tax benefits, which obviously goes to those in earning households."

While not part of the stimulus package, the government has also cut deeming rates - the amount your income to assessed to come from your financial assets - by 50 basis points. This moves the lower deeming rate to 1% for investments up to $51,800 for single pensioners and $86,200 for pensioner couples, while the upper deeming rate will drop from 3% to 2.5%.

Employers will collectively receive a $6.7 billion boost to cash flow - up to $25,000 each, with a minimum payout of $2000 for small and medium businesses; all of it tax-free.

In addition, $700 million has been put aside to increase the instant asset write off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000, while coverage of the write-off will be widened to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million, up from $50 million. Again, all tax-free.

ACOSS again reinforced the need for more.

"While the direct funds to small businesses should soften rising unemployment, the depreciation allowances may be less effective, because businesses will not invest in new assets without the confidence of ongoing demand."

If you're part of any of the following schemes, expect a one-off payment of $750 into your account by April 17, 2020:

  • Age Pension
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Carer Payment
  • Carer Allowance
  • Parenting Payment
  • Wife Pension
  • Widow B Pension
  • ABSTUDY (Living Allowance)
  • Austudy
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Newstart Allowance
  • Youth Allowance
  • Partner Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Widow Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Family Tax Benefit A
  • Family Tax Benefit B
  • Double Orphan Pension.
  • You'll also get it if you hold one of the following cards:
  • Pensioner Concession Card
  • Commonwealth Seniors Card
  • DVA Gold Card.

Or if you get one of the following Department of Veterans' Affairs payments:

  • Veterans Service Pension
  • Veteran's Income Support Supplement
  • Veterans' Compensation payments
  • War Widow(er) Pension.

It's also worth noting that you won't be allowed to use the cash to pay off Centrelink debt.

Meanwhile, the Australian Tax Office is doing what it can to lighten the burden on small businesses. Some of the options include:

  • Deferring by up to four months the payment date of amounts due through the business activity statement (including PAYG instalments), income tax assessments, fringe benefits tax assessments and excise;
  • Allow businesses on a quarterly reporting cycle to opt into monthly GST reporting in order to get quicker access to GST refunds;
  • Allowing businesses to vary Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalment amounts to zero for the April 2020 quarter. Businesses that vary their PAYG instalment to zero can also claim a refund for any instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters
  • Remitting any interest and penalties, incurred on or after January 23, 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities;
  • Working with affected businesses to help them pay their existing and ongoing tax liabilities by allowing them to enter into low interest payment plans.

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David Thornton was a journalist at Money from September 2019 to November 2021. 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.
Jenine Harris
March 15, 2020 3.30pm

How do we access the direct cash support of $25K for small business. Also how do we defer our BAS payments, do we need to contact the ATO?

Gina Barton
March 18, 2020 3.00am

What about those on social security disability that don't pay taxes?? I've stretched my money as far as it can go to try to take care of myself. I've looked at the list, I did not see ssdi on the list. I'm confused?

Money magazine
March 18, 2020 9.49am

Hi Gina,

Sorry to hear that you are struggling.

SSDI is available in the US, not Australia. You can find out more information about the American stimulus package here: https://www.washingtonpost.com...

- Money team

Michael Foster
March 21, 2020 7.50pm

Why the delay in posting this stimulus? Delay and stimulus oxymoronic.

John Smith
March 21, 2020 11.30pm

If I have 3 children and get FTB for all of them, do I get $2250 or the $750 in total?

Gemma Bennett
April 2, 2020 5.40pm

What about people who don't get tax a or b currently but have just had a big drop in income and only changed their estimate with Centrelink in the last day or Two

Samantha Bywaters
April 7, 2020 6.54pm

What will single mothers on disability pension receive?

Jan Worthington
April 16, 2020 8.27pm

Am I entitled to the 550 extra a fortnight being on the widows allowance


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