Businesses should not rely on “crystal ball calculations” or “a back of an envelope guesstimate” as they rush to lodge applications for JobKeeper assistance by April 26 to qualify for the start of the scheme.

While a huge number of businesses are hurting amid the COVID-19 crisis it’s important they meet the criteria set for the scheme, including the 30 per cent drop in revenue – or they may face paying back the money as well as significant fines.

Currently, there is also limited information to date on what the Federal Government is calling an “alternate” test for eligibility, making the process even more difficult.

We’ve been inundated with calls from businesses across the spectrum who are trying to get financial help to keep afloat, so there is a sense of urgency to get in on the first wave of JobKeeper payments backdated to 30 March this year. The risk is that some businesses might not even be certain they are eligible but will take a punt in the hope they don’t miss out.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has powers to claw back funds which are later ruled as being improperly paid, while those who make false or misleading statements to try and qualify for JobKeeper could see penalties imposed on top of the money that needs to be paid back.

It’s a particularly difficult situation for those who may have seen a 20 or 25 per cent slump in revenue, which is a big impact but doesn’t meet the 30 per cent threshold.

The JobKeeper scenario has highlighted the need for businesses to be on top of cashflow and have clear modelling in place to monitor revenue changes.

The eligibility criteria has also seen people “self employed” through a partnership, company or trust who are paid by other than a salary or wage face difficult JobKeeper decisions.

All these types of business owners must choose only ‘one’ partner, director/shareholder or beneficiary to receive the JobKeeper payment. That’s a stressful choice in these circumstances.

We are here to help. We will continue to keep you updated on the latest stimulus measures and announcements. For more information, visit HLB Mann Judd’s COVID-19 Resource Centre to help you and your business in this challenging time.