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Eligible sole traders may now enrol for JobKeeper and we would like to encourage independent artists to consider applying.

You have until 31 May 2020 to enrol for JobKeeper to be back-paid for April.

There has been some confusion amongst indies as to whether you are eligible, given that many work part-time/ casual/ contract jobs, in addition to running an arts business as a sole trader. While short-term casual and contract workers – the largest cohort of employees for most arts companies – will not be eligible, you may still be able to benefit from JobKeeper if you are a sole trader.

Am I an eligible sole trader?

– Simply put, if you are an artist or arts worker with an ABN, and invoice for jobs/projects under an ABN, you are a sole trader / self-employed and SHOULD consider JobKeeper if you won’t already receive it via an organisation you work for.
– The turnover being considered is derived from work invoiced under your ABN, and does not include contracts where you are on an organisation’s payroll.
– Unfortunately, if you are an employee of another company (casual employees excepted), you will not be eligible for JobKeeper as a sole trader i.e. you are on a permanent part-time contract with an organisation.

Do I meet the fall in turnover criteria?

The ATO’s basic test outlines a few ways that sole traders can prove a fall in turnover.
– A month in 2019 vs the same month in 2020 (Eg. Apr 2019 vs Apr 2020)
– 2nd or 3rd quarter in 2019 vs 2nd or 3rd quarter in 2020 (Eg. 1 Apr – 30 Jun 2019 vs 1 Apr – 30 Jun 2020)
Note that the term ‘GST turnover’ does not mean you have to be registered for GST.
The basic test may prove an obstacle for many independent artists whose income fluctuates throughout the year.

However, ATO has determined alternative tests where there is not an appropriate relevant comparison period. ATO has also made a legislative instrument to deal with new businesses in operation less than a year. We encourage you to pursue an alternative test to prove loss of income if the basic test is not relevant to your circumstances.

What if I have yet to file my taxes?

If you haven’t lodged your 2018-2019 tax you are not eligible for Jobkeeper unless you have a deferral or it wasn’t due by the 12th March 2020. We encourage all sole traders to check with your accountants if you are still able to lodge returns.

Portal Open: Enrol for JobKeeper

You may now enrol for JobKeeper through ATO online services via myGov, or the Business Portal using myGovID. The ATO’s guide for sole traders walks you through the application process. There is a lot of information out there, and we encourage you to seek professional advice from your accountant if in doubt.

Full fact sheet on Jobkeeper is also online here.

Other Financial Help

We recognise that some of you may find yourself in an unfortunate position of being ineligible for both JobKeeper and JobSeeker. For example, if you work part-time in addition to running your sole trader business, you may not be eligible for JobKeeper, but be earning above the income threshold to be on JobSeeker. If you fall through the cracks and are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, you may qualify for help via the following initiatives:

– TNA’s 1000 x 1000: Crisis Cash for Independent Artists in the Performing Arts
– Support Act Crisis Relief
– Actors Benevolent Fund Emergency COVID-19 Assistance
– Adopt an Artist Fund

We understand how overwhelming these information and processes can be; the team is committed to navigating JobKeeper, JobSeeker and any further support packages alongside with you. As always, please feel free to get in touch with anytime.

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