The ATO has put out guidance on how sole traders and some other entities such as partnerships, trusts or companies may be entitled to the JobKeeper payment scheme.

Entitlement may be possible for an “eligible business participant” (more below), according to the ATO. The JobKeeper payment scheme may be open to entities if they:

  • have a non-employee individual who is actively engaged in the operation of the business (which it refers to as being a business participant), and
  • meets some other relevant eligibility requirements (see below).

An entity will be eligible if:

  • on 1 March 2020, it carried on a business in Australia
  • it satisfies the fall in turnover test for the relevant period
  • it satisfied certain conditions as at 12 March 2020, being
    • it had an ABN on 12 March 2020, and
    • it had lodged, on or before 12 March 2020, at least one of
      • a 2018–19 income tax return showing that it had an amount included in its assessable income in relation to it carrying on a business, or
      • an activity statement or GST return for any tax period that started after 1 July 2018 and ended before 12 March 2020 showing that it made a taxable, GST-free or input-taxed sale.

The ATO maintains that a limit of one $1,500 JobKeeper payment per fortnight applies for the eligible business participant, but that if the business has employees it may also be possible to claim additional JobKeeper payments (if they are eligible).

The entity, not the eligible business participant, receives the JobKeeper payment. The exception is a sole trader, who is both the business entity and an eligible business participant, and so receives the JobKeeper payment themselves.

Eligible business participant
Entities covered by these rules include sole traders, a partner in a partnership, an adult beneficiary of a trust, and a shareholder or director of a company.

The non-employee individual is an eligible business participant of the entity (for the in question) if they meet all of the following (as at 1 March 2020):

  • they are an individual not employed by the entity
  • they are actively engaged in the business carried on by the entity
  • they are both aged at least 16 and are an Australian resident (within the meaning of section 7 of the Social Security Act 1991), or a resident for income tax purposes and the holder of a special category (Subclass 444) visa.

They must also not be currently receiving government parental leave or dad and partner pay, and not presently be incapacitated for work and receiving workers compensation.

The ATO has further guidance specifically for sole traders, and for partnerships, trusts and companies.