Tips for individuals and businesses to help with the current COVID-19 situation

Individuals

Working from home

Many workplaces are asking employees to work from home. Working from home can be great if it is set up well. It can be frustrating and unproductive if it is not. Check out the following tips to have a productive home office.

  • Find a dedicated space away from distractions. A kitchen table is often what people default to, however if you can get yourself a desk and find space in a bedroom, garage, or quiet corner, this will make your life so much easier.
  • Set up a desk that is comfortable, check that the height is good for you and that you can sit/stand in a comfortable way. If you have a small laptop, consider getting a large screen to connect, so that you minimise eye strain at a stressful time. This is a good practice generally, but particularly important when you are tired.
  • Clear as much clutter away from your work area as possible.
  • Track your hours worked from home. On your tax you can claim a deduction for 52c per hour worked from home. Keep a record of your hours so that you can claim this later. Also keep records of your internet and phone costs associated with this work.
  • If you have kids and schools/childcare are shut down, try to dedicate time to work when you will not be distracted (good luck) and dedicate time that you will spend with the kids. This may involve shifts of you working and your partner looking after the kids and vice versa, or working during nap times or early morning. It will not be practical if kids are at home to have you both work from 9 to 5, so this flexibility will need to be discussed with your employer.

$750 Pension payment

If you receive a pension or social security payment you will be eligible to receive this one-off payment. Details of exactly who is eligible will likely be in the media and on government sites on 23 March as this is the date that it will be legislated. Payments will be made directly into your bank accounts.

ATO relief

The ATO have announced a number of measures to help cash flow, including low-interest loans and deferrals for tax payments. The important thing to note is that to be eligible, you must apply for this by contacting the ATO to request assistance. The dedicated phone line for this is 1800 806 218.

Wills, powers of attorney and personal insurance

Make sure that you have all your relevant documents and insurances in place, this makes it easier for the people around you to help if you get sick. Please contact us should you need details of advisers who can help you with this.

Businesses

Budget regularly

Most accounting systems include a budgeting tool which allows you to insert what you believe your costs will be and then compare how you perform against them. Start preparing budgets for a few different scenarios: business as usual, staff unavailable, business needs to be run from home and business shut down. Reviewing this weekly/fortnightly will help you make better decisions.

Consider how you own your cars

The government now allows you to claim the full cost of a motor vehicle up to the value of $57,581. Discuss with us the benefits of owning your car in your business’s name rather than your individual name.

Engage with your staff with regards to the plans that you have in place

This may include things such as working from home. If their regular role cannot be performed temporarily, consider other roles that they may be able to perform which will put you in a strong position when things recover. Consider that if the conditions we are currently in last for months or a year, get staff to think of and test new ways of performing their role. For example, can tasks be performed remotely such as via video conference?

Engage with your customers

Contact your customers to let them know your business is running and inform them of any new ways of doing business that you offer. For example, let them know if you are doing teleconferences rather than in-person meetings now.