JobKeeper and the Arts


The JobKeeper payment is open to eligible employers, including sole traders, to enable them to pay their employees or to receive a self-employment subsidy, of at least $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee or sole trader for up to six months this year.


Applications for the program have to be submitted by 30 April in order to be paid for the March-April period. If you are a client of the practice, we will assist your enrolment, including determining eligibility requirements, at no charge.


The basic eligibility test for employers or sole traders, directors and partners to meet is that you had a business in Australia at 1 March 2020, you were not an ineligible employer and you have suffered a decline in your turnover of at least 30% compared to your turnover from a year ago.


Your turnover may or may not contain GST and the comparison period may be from a year before your turnover decreased, after 1 March to the end of May. You are allowed to estimate your turnover in April or May to work out if you meet the basic eligibility test.


As the arts industries have been particularly affected by the Coronavirus, it was pleasing to see alternative tests announced last week to measure a decline in turnover sufficient to meet eligibility for the JobKeeper payment.


The alternative tests most applicable to the arts covered the following circumstances:

  • Business commenced before 1 March but did not exist a year prior to that date
  • There was a business acquisition or disposal that changed your turnover
  • Your business has had a substantial increase in turnover in the last year
  • Your business has an irregular turnover
  • You were a sole trader or small partnership that had no turnover during a comparison period last year due to sickness, injury or leave


If you meet the basic test, you do not need go to one of the alternative tests. If you do not meet the basic test or any of the alternative tests, the ATO does not have discretion to allow you access to the JobKeeper program.


One of the issues that has arisen for employers in registering for JobKeeper is the ‘one in, all in’ principle covering eligible employees. The Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Rules 2020 do not specify that an eligible employer has to nominate all of their eligible employees, but this was the initial position of Treasury.


Clarification of this principle came last week when the ATO released a guidance to the effect that, if an eligible employee declined to be covered by JobKeeper, the employer did not have to nominate them. That is, the employee would have to communicate their non-election to the employer, before the employer could exclude them from the program.


In relation to eligibility criteria for employees as well as sole traders, directors and partners, please note:


  • Government employees are generally not eligible
  • New Zealand citizens, who hold a special category (subclass 444 visa) may be eligible
  • Non-tax residents of Australia must notify their visa status to determine their eligibility


If you are a sole trader, director or partner who also has a permanent position in another entity, you are ineligible for the JobKeeper program.


Please contact the practice for further assistance:

Marianne                             JobKeeper applications for sole traders, directors and partners

Kim                                        JobKeeper applications for employers

Jane                                       Cash flow boost payments and single touch payroll

Lachlan                                 JobKeeper nomination forms for employees, sole traders, directors and