'Do I owe tax on JobKeeper?': We answer your tax return questions

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Whether you are a business or an individual, navigating your tax return this year will look a little different if you were involved with the Australian Government's JobKeeper subsidy. Your eligibility and claims processing will also be changed if you had to work from home between July 1, 2020, and June 30 this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The JobKeeper subsidy was a payment made to eligible businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to support their company in retaining employees. Until the program concluded on March 28, 2021, the subsidy took on many forms as it pushed to include more potential employees that were impacted by the pandemic. In its original form, eligible businesses received $1500 per fortnight per eligible employee employed as of March 1, 2020.

These are the most common questions we're being asked about JobKeeper at tax time.

do i owe tax on jobkeeper tax questions answered

Do I owe tax on my JobKeeper payments?

Your JobKeeper payments were deducted under the same legislation that your normal take-home pay packet is. You do not need to do anything different come tax time because your employer should have included your tax in your income statement.

My employer gave me a large payment before JobKeeper was announced - what does this mean for tax time?

If your employer gave you a stand-out payment to support you through the initial COVID-19 period before JobKeeper was announced, this should already be included as part of your salary and wages. You shouldn't have to do anything different with your income statement when it comes to placing your tax return.

I'm a sole trader who was eligible for JobKeeper - are these payments assessable?

If you're a sole trader who received JobKeeper on behalf of your business, you'll need to include the payments as assessable income for the business if you haven't already paid the relevant tax.

Was I paid superannuation on my JobKeeper payment?

If you were an employee that is paid more than $1500 per fortnight, the employer's superannuation obligations to you during this period did not change, and you received the same superannuation contributions.

If you were an employee who was having their wages topped up to $1500 per fortnight by the JobKeeper payment, it was up to the discretion of the employer to pay superannuation on any additional wages.

What tax deductions can I claim from my stint of working from home?

You can now claim 80 cents per hour for every hour worked over the last financial year. This shortcut method makes it easier for Aussies to claim from their working-from-home expenses, which includes phone, internet, lighting, heating and depreciation on equipment. With this new method it is critical that you kept a record of your hours, like a diary or a timesheet, to prove your work from home status.

If I accessed my super early, do I need to pay tax? 

More than two million Australians took money out of their retirement savings early under the Superannuation Early Release Scheme in 2020. Those people do not have to pay tax on it or declare it in their tax return.

When is the tax deadline?

The tax window will open on July 1 and you will have until October 31 to submit your claim.

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Coco Hou is a Certified Public Accountants (CPA). She is the CEO of training institute Platinum Professional Accounting, and CEO of accounting firm Platinum Accounting.

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