Weekly Digest – 8 December 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

Queensland Border Reopening Requirements

The Queensland border will open at 1 am on 13 December, earlier than expected. Fully vaccinated people from declared “hotspots” – that includes NSW, Victoria and South Australia- will be able to enter by road or air.

Those crossing into Queensland from a declared hotspot require evidence of a negative PCR test in the 72 hours prior to crossing the border. After arriving, those from hotspots must also take a second test after five days. Meanwhile, international arrivals will still have to quarantine.

Rules will come into effect on 17 December to allow only vaccinated people into some public spaces.

Pfizer Vaccine Approved for Children 5 to 11 Years Old

The Therapeutics Goods Administration has provisionally approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11. According to the Health Minister, the rollout could begin from 10 January.

International Students Return to Australia

The first group of 250 international students is in quarantine after flying into Sydney under a COVID-19 pilot scheme to boost the education sector.

Onboard the flight from Singapore were nationals from more than 15 countries who will be placed in quarantine.

$540 Million to Expand COVID-19 Response

The government has invested an additional $540 million in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including significant funding to keep Australians safe and for COVID-19 testing.

The existing Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD) Support Loan Program will also be extended to continue to support the residential aged care sector.

Less Than 6% of $4.2 Billion Received in Jobkeeper Repaid

Australian companies listed on the stock exchange repaid just 5.73% of the $4.2 billion in Jobkeeper they received over the past two years, according to data released by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

They repaid just $26.8 million in 2020, but amid rebounding profits and political pressures, this increased dramatically to reach $241 million in 2021.

Support for Farmers to Increase Soil Carbon

The government is working with Australian farmers to help lower emissions and realise new commercial opportunities through soil carbon projects.

According to Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor, a new Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) method will make it easier for farmers to generate income from increasing soil carbon.

This could create a new revenue stream of more than $2.4 billion annually for farmers and land managers. The Long Term Emissions Reduction Plan also shows increasing soil carbon could reduce our emissions by between 4 and 16%.

FBT Implications of Christmas Parties

As the end of the year is fast approaching, businesses are getting ready for their Christmas party and are organising gifts for their staff. With this, it’s important to be aware of the fringe benefits tax (FBT) implications of these.

Because there is no separate FBT category for Christmas parties, here are some ATO guidelines to keep you on track:

  • Exempt property benefits– The costs associated with such events are exempt from FBT if they are provided on a working day, on your business premises, and consumed by your employees.
  • Exempt minor benefits– It can be regarded as a minor benefit and exempt if the cost of the party is less than $300 per employee and certain conditions are met.
  • Christmas gifts– Christmas gifts to employees may be a minor benefit that is an exempt benefit when the value is less than $300.

If you need help with your FBT, get in touch with us today to avoid running into problems with the ATO.

Upcoming Key Dates for December 2021

Here are the upcoming key dates for the month of December:

21 December

  • November monthly BAS due

Support for Apprentices to be Expanded

The $3.9 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program will extend support into the second and third year of an eligible Australian Apprenticeship through the $716 million Completing Apprenticeship Commencements program.

From October, eligible employers will receive a 10% wage subsidy in the second year of an eligible apprenticeship, and 5% in the third year. The government’s investment is expected to continue to support the 270,000 anticipated commencements under the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program from October 2020 to March 2022.

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