The rules for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, the payment accessible to those who have lost work because they have had to self-isolate with COVID-19, or are caring for someone who contracted it, changed on 18 January 2022.
The new rules change the definition of a close contact in line with the harmonised national definition. The payment is now accessible if you are a close contact because you either usually live with the person who has tested positive with COVID-19, or have stayed in the same household for more than 4 hours with the person who has tested positive with COVID-19 during their infectious period.
The payment provides:
- $450 if you lost at least 8 hours or a full day’s work, and less than 20 hours of work
- $750 if you lost 20 hours or more of work.
To claim the payment, you will need to be an Australian citizen, permanent visa holder (or temporary visa holder with a right to work) or a New Zealand passport holder. The payment is also subject to means testing with a $10,000 illiquid assets test.
The Treasurer has also announced that PCR and rapid antigen tests (RAT) will be tax deductible for individuals and exempt from fringe benefits tax (FBT) for employers if purchased for work purposes.
There has been confusion over the tax treatment of RAT tests with the Prime Minister stating for some time that they are tax deductible, but in reality, the tests were probably only deductible in limited circumstances.
If you have had to purchase RAT tests to be able to work, you will be able to receive a tax deduction for the cost you have incurred from 1 July 2021 (you will need evidence of the expense). If the RAT test cost $20, someone on a marginal tax rate of 32.5% would receive a tax benefit of $6.50.
For business, it is expected that RAT, PCR and other coronavirus tests will be exempt from FBT from the 2021-22 FBT year.
Legislation enabling the change is expected before Parliament this week.