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Coronavirus Self-employed, Small Business Support

Current 1 April 2020

The following summary is to assist SEA members and supporters understand the key Coronavirus emergency assistance available through the Federal government and more. We’ve collated this from official government sources and checked with our government contacts.

The assistance support is available for self-employed, small business people who:

  • Are sole traders and don’t employ anyone
  • Employ people

And covers (details and links below):

1. Access to payments—no work
2. Access to payments—still working—no employees
3a. Where you have employees—Cash flow subsidies
3b. Where you have employees—Wages top-up
4. Accessing superannuation
5. Apprenticeship subsidies
6. Deferred payments on existing loans
7. New government backed loans
8. New tax investments subsidies
9. Help if going broke

We also have links to:

10. State governments’ support
11. Business tips during Coronavirus
12. Low income households
13. Cancellations—Travel, events, etc—Scams

Federal government Business Help Hotline 13 28 46 (open 7 days 7am to 11pm)

1. Access to Income Support—No Work

Sole traders/self-employed people now have access to the social security system, specifically the Job Seeker or Youth Allowance. You can receive a $550 fortnightly Coronavirus supplement. You can earn up to $1,000 a fortnight before the payment cuts out. Assets tests and other restrictions have been removed.

This is a change from existing rules. Currently if you are running a small business as a self-employed person but on low income you could not get social security. Now you can.
Examples are:

  • An artist can do shows and receive a social security top up.
  • An IT contractor can to do phone support work and receive a social security top up.
  • A café owner will be able to still serve coffee but receive social security support

Info here.

2. Access to Income Support—Still Working—No Employees

Sole traders/self-employed people will have access to the social security system, specifically the JobKeeper Payment. You will receive $1,500 a fortnight. Conditions:

  • Business income has dropped by more than 30%
  • Provide your business ABN. Not eligible if no ABN
  • Provide Tax File Number of the person to receive the $1,500.
  • Report monthly to ATO on your business income.
  • Available for 6 months. First payment early May.

Info here and here.
Apply to the ATO here.

3a. Where You Have Employees—Cash Flow Support

Tax free subsidy from $20,000 to $100,000 where you have employees.
Applies for the period March to September this year (2020)

The way it works is as follows as we understand it:

  • You lodge your normal PAYG statement (monthly/quarterly)
  • The ATO will apply a credit against your account up to 100% of your PAYG payments. It appears that this means you make your payment less the credit.
  • Or you will receive a subsidy payment from the ATO if you have low income employees who pay no tax.

The amount you receive will depend on the size of your business.
Minimum will be $20,000. Maximum $100,000.
Note: It's confirmed that this is only intended if you employ people.
ATO info here.
General info here.

3b. Cash Flow Support Where You Have Employees—Wages Top-up

Your business can receive $1,500 per fortnight per employee who you keep on even where your trading has dropped or ceased. Administered by the ATO through the JobKeeper Payment scheme same as item 2 above. Conditions:

  • Business income has dropped by more than 30%
  • Report employee numbers as of 1 March 2020
  • The full $1,500 must go to the employee if their wage is less than $1,500
  • Or $1,500 subsidies where the employees wage is greater than $1,500
  • Report monthly to ATO on your business income.
  • Available for 6 months. First payment early May

Info here and here.
Apply to the ATO here.

4. Access to Your Superannuation

Sole traders with reduced income (20% + reduction) can access $10,000 from super this financial year and $10,000 next year.
Info here.

5. If You Have Apprentices or Trainees

50% wage subsidy on each apprentice or trainee up to $7,000 per quarter (max $21,000).
Info here.

6. Defer Loan Payments

The banks are a deferring loan repayments for 6 months for small businesses needing help.
Info here and here.

7. Government-backed Small Business Loans

The Commonwealth is supplying a 50% guarantee on new small business loans up to $250,000 for terms up to 3 years. Loans are available through your bank from 1 April 2020 for 6 months. You don’t need to provide security and will not need to make repayments for the first 6 months.
Info here

8. Instant Tax Asset Write-off

Any business assets you buy can be instantly written off against your tax. Now applies to purchases up to $150,000 (increased from $30,000).
ATO info here.
General info here.

9. If You Look Like You’re Going Broke

Temporary relief from creditors' demands against you plus temporary relief for your personal liability as a director while trading insolvent.
Info here.

10. Links to Support from State Governments

Info here.
This table is a summary overview of the main efforts made by the States. It’s not a complete list. Check the link above for details.


Payroll Tax

Fees on business

Fund /grants








Refunds & deferrals

Liquor lic waived


Govt pay businesses 5 days
Rent deferral on govt buildings.




Loans & Grants




Liquor lic waived


Land tax relief
Unemployed benefits




Loans & grants











Electricity rebates




Fund & grants


11. Business Tips During Coronavirus

Info here.

12. Low-income Households Support

Info here.

13. Cancellations—Refunds (Travel, Events, Gym etc)—Scams

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has provided official advice on legal obligations and rights of businesses and consumers.
Info here.

Watch out for Coronavirus scams.
Info here.

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