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‘Compulsory reading’: Coronavirus omnibus bill passes

By Jotham Lian
March 24 2020
1 minute read
Coronavirus omnibus bill passes
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The new coronavirus omnibus bill has been flagged as “compulsory reading” for all accountants as their advice becomes crucial in helping clients access support measures.

The Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Bill 2020 has now been introduced into Parliament and covers the government’s initial $17.6 billion economic stimulus package and its latest $66.1 billion support package.

The bill has now been passed by both houses after it sped through the parliamentary process with bipartisan support, and is currently awaiting royal assent.

“The Australian people can be reassured that tonight, their parliament reached across the political divide and passed the most significant set of measures since wartime,” said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

The bill details various measures, including the beefed-up instant asset write-off, accelerating depreciation deductions, the tax-free cash payments to small and medium businesses, and access to the early release of superannuation.

Speaking to sister publication Accountants Daily, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand tax leader Michael Croker said it was crucial for accountants to be well acquainted with the lengthy bill.

“I’d really recommend that this bill becomes compulsory staff training straightaway,” Mr Croker said.

“There are going to be a lot of phone calls being made particularly about this cash-flow boost.

“Accountants and bookkeepers will be under enormous pressure to get their clients’ BAS ready and lodged so the cash flows to eligible businesses from 28 April.”

However, Mr Croker also warned that accountants should tread carefully in helping their clients access the support measures, noting that the government would come down hard on those who were rorting the system.

“False or misleading statements made in haste now could come back to bite down the track. Fines and even imprisonment could apply in addition to having to repay the money,” Mr Croker said.

“To guard against ‘pop-up’ employer schemes designed to rort the incentive, the second-round statement makes clear that the cash boost will only be available to ‘active’ eligible employers established prior to 12 March 2020, the date of the first COVID-19 stimulus announcement.”