Back in March 2020, the Federal Government rolled out the JobKeeper scheme. The scheme was intended to assist businesses that were financially impacted by the by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The scheme was dependent on businesses to self-assess and declare in their application for JobKeeper on whether they were eligible. There was however, much confusion as to the eligibility criteria of JobKeeper. As a result, many businesses have claimed JobKeeper when they would not have qualified, due to an error in assessment.
So, what happens if your business has wrongly claimed JobKeeper?
No repayment if “honest mistake”
The ATO has released some guidelines on how they will deal with businesses that have wrongly claimed JobKeeper. Generally, businesses will not need to repay the subsidy if they accepted it due to an honest mistake. The ATO considers the following circumstances honest mistakes:
- the business relied in good faith on a statement made by an employee in their nomination notice;
- the business fully passed on the benefit of the JobKeeper payment to the relevant employee;
- the mistake was made earlier in JobKeeper when there was less public guidance.
When repayment will be required
Repayment will be required however, if JobKeeper was wrongly claimed other than an honest mistake. In such situation, penalties may even be levied by the ATO. The ATO has provided several scenarios where businesses will likely be required to repay the subsidy:
- fraud was perpetrated by either the JobKeeper recipient or another entity;
- there has been intentional disregard of the law or recklessness in its application;
- you nominated employees, business participants or religious practitioners that you should have known would not satisfy eligibility requirements;
- you have deliberately not met the wage condition; and
- you have been contacted by the ATO about your claim potentially being ineligible and have not taken reasonable steps to check the eligibility before making claims subsequent.
How We Can Help
If you think your business has wrongly claimed JobKeeper, now is the best time to contact the ATO to inform them of your mistake. If it’s an honest mistake, a repayment is likely not required. If you are required to repay and not able to however, we can help negotiate a payment arrangement with the ATO, or provide other solutions that are suitable for your circumstances.