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Is this JobKeeper’s ‘Robodebt’ moment?

Article image for Is this JobKeeper’s ‘Robodebt’ moment?

Some small business owners who started companies after January 1 are being told by the tax office they might actually be ineligible for JobKeeper and will have to repay the money.

The business owners, who have relied on the JobKeeper payments throughout the coronavirus pandemic, have been told they might have future payments suspended in addition to being forced to pay back the payments they have already received.

The issue relates to the scheme’s eligibility test, where businesses had to show a 30% reduction in revenue by with a comparable month in the 2018-19 financial year. However, there is an alternative calculation method for businesses which are less than one year old, a fact seemingly ignored in emails from the tax office.

Peter Strong, president of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA), tells Brooke Corte he is in close contact with the tax office.

“At the beginning of all of this they said ‘if anybody has done anything in good faith then they won’t be chased’,

“I would say that they won’t have to pay the money back, it makes no sense that they have to do that, they’ve done nothing wrong,” he said.

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