Weekly Digest – 22 December 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward. This is the last weekly digest for the year. We hope you have a relaxing holiday break and we’ll be back with more updates in the New Year.

Government Rules Out Lockdowns Despite Omicron Surge

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia must move past “the heavy hand of government” and authorities must stop shutting down people’s lives with lockdowns. This comes amid the surge of COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant. The government is now aiming to ramp up the rollout of booster shots.

Australia- UK Free Trade Agreement

The UK and Australia have signed a Free Trade Agreement, eliminating all tariffs on UK exports and making Australian products more accessible for the UK market. The deal will also allow British nationals 18 to 35 years old to work and travel in Australia for up to three years at a time, eliminating previous visa conditions.

Australia and Vietnam Deepen Trade Ties

The governments of Australia and Vietnam announced their enhanced economic engagement strategy to boost bilateral trade and investment ties. This will provide mutually beneficial opportunities especially in key areas such as education, resources, agriculture, manufacturing, and digital economy.

Over the past two decades, two-way trade has expanded by 8.6%– this is much higher than the average growth rate of 5.8% between Australia and other ASEAN countries.

Australia-India Travel Bubble Pact

Australia joined the list of countries that have a travel bubble agreement with India. Qantas has recently started flights between Sydney and New Delhi. It is also set to start flights between New Delhi and Melbourne before Christmas.

Record Monthly Increase in Jobs Number

Australia added 366,000 jobs in November, representing the single largest monthly increase in employment in history. This drove the jobless rate down to 4.6%, a level not expected until mid-2022. The latest figure surpassed market expectations of 220,000 new jobs.

NSW: Emergency Surge Support Program Launched

The government is now offering a one-off emergency surge support program to supply Rapid Antigen Testing kits for residential aged care facilities in New South Wales. You can find the list of eligible Local Government Areas here.

$276 Million to Support Health Scientists

The government is providing $276.4 million through 12 research grant opportunities to support Australian health and medical research. Researchers can apply for grants in various areas including chronic respiratory conditions, Indigenous health, and chronic neurological conditions.

Aviation Recovery Plan Launched

The federal government is investing an additional $78 million to help Australia’s aviation sector recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The framework includes support to rebuild the workforce, boost general aviation, drive emerging technologies, modernise regulation, and reduce red tape.

WA Border Reopening

Western Australia will reopen its borders at 12.01am on 5 February. For domestic travel, you can find information about state-by-state travel restrictions here. Meanwhile, for international travel, you need to check the official advisory of the country you’re visiting.

Depending on the location, you may need to obtain a PCR test, show proof of vaccination, quarantine, or purchase insurance. Australia has a travel bubble with Singapore, which means West Australians can travel to the country without having to quarantine.

Business Adoption of eInvoicing

More than 1.2 billion invoices are exchanged in Australia every year, with around 90% of invoice processing still partly or fully manual. Replacing a paper or email invoice with an eInvoice will lead to up to around $20 in cost savings.

The government has taken a series of actions to support the business adoption of eInvoicing.

  • In the 2020-21 Budget, as part of the JobMaker Digital Business Plan, the government invested $3.6 million to facilitate eInvoicing adoption across the public sector.
  • In the 2021-22 Budget, as part of the Digital Economy Strategy, the Government invested a further $15.3 million to improve business awareness and accelerate eInvoicing adoption.

The government is now seeking stakeholder views on further ways to support business adoption of eInvoicing, including by consulting on the idea of a Business eInvoicing Right (BER). You can submit responses to this consultation up until 25 February 2022. You can view the submission guidelines here.

FBT Implications of Christmas Parties

As the end of the year is fast approaching, businesses are getting ready for their Christmas party and are organising gifts for their staff. With this, it’s important to be aware of the fringe benefits tax (FBT) implications of these.

Because there is no separate FBT category for Christmas parties, here are some ATO guidelines to keep you on track:

  • Exempt property benefits– The costs associated with such events are exempt from FBT if they are provided on a working day, on your business premises, and consumed by your employees.
  • Exempt minor benefits– It can be regarded as a minor benefit and exempt if the cost of the party is less than $300 per employee and certain conditions are met.
  • Christmas gifts– Christmas gifts to employees may be a minor benefit that is an exempt benefit when the value is less than $300.

If you need help with your FBT, get in touch with us today to avoid running into problems with the ATO.

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