Many of us will be happy to put 2020 behind us and embrace a fresh new year.  Along with New Year’s resolutions comes a raft of new rules, regulations, taxes and some benefits you need to know about.  Here are all the changes coming in 2021. 

JOBKEEPER TO BE AXED

JobKeeper, the economic stimulus to keep workers in jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be cut on January 4, 2021 and will be axed completely on March 28, 2021.  From January 4 until March 28, 2021, the payment will drop from $1200 to $1000 for full-time workers and from $750 to $650 per fortnight for part-time employees, after being cut from around $1500 a fortnight back in September.

The JobKeeper stimulus was introduced to provide support for businesses who faced financial losses to be able to pay their employees and keep them in jobs.

JOBSEEKER PAYMENTS DROP

JobSeeker was created to support people who suddenly found themselves out of work due to the pandemic and replaced Newstart Allowance.

JobSeeker Payment recipients and recipients of other eligible payments receive the Coronavirus Supplement on top of their base rate of payment. It was paid at an initial rate of $550 per fortnight until September 24. Then it was extended and at a rate of $250 per fortnight until December 31. From January 1 to March 31, the Coronavirus supplement will continue to be paid but at a rate of $150 per fortnight.

JOBMAKER PLAN

As part of the 2020–21 budget, the government announced a new incentive for businesses to employ additional young job seekers called the JobMaker Hiring Credit.

The JobMaker Hiring Credit, administered by the Australian Taxation Office, will give $200 a week to employers who hire anyone aged 16-30, and $100 a week for any worker aged 30-35.  Eligible employers have had access to a JobMaker Hiring Credit for each new job they create over the 12 months from October 7, 2020.  Employers will be able to make claims quarterly commencing in February 2021.

LUMP SUM TAX CUT

We’ll all be getting an extra tax boost when we file our tax return in 2021.

Early tax cuts were implemented in October 2020, with a tax relief plan announced in the budget.

Workers have been receiving half of their early tax cuts in their pay, while the second lot of the tax relief will come mid-year when Aussies do their tax return.  The lump sum employees will get in their tax return will be the backdated amount from July 1, 2020 – which is about four to five months worth of tax cash.

HEALTH INSURANCE CHANGES

Reforms to private health insurance announced in the federal budget include increasing the maximum age of dependants to 31.

From April 1, 2021, the government will increase the maximum age of dependants under family private health insurance policies from 24 to 31 years.  For dependants with a disability, there will be no age limit.

The change is an attempt to make health insurance more accessible and affordable for Australians.

MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT

The Australian Government has made mental health and suicide prevention a national priority, with an unprecedented $5.7 billion to be spent on mental health in 2020–21.  The number of Medicare-funded psychological services doubled in 2020, from 10 to 20 through the Better Access Initiative, announced in the 2020 budget.

The government also announced subsidised telehealth services, including for mental health services, would be extended until the end of March 2021.  More funding is also being provided to Lifeline, headspace, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline.

PAID PARENTAL LEAVE CHANGES

People may have lost their jobs or worked reduced hours due to the coronavirus pandemic so may not meet the requirements of the government paid parental leave payment.

But the government has relaxed the rules a little so they are still covered.

Normally parents must have worked 10 of the previous 13 months before they gave birth or adopted a child to be eligible for the payment.  This changed to allow parents who give birth or adopt a child between March 22, 2020 and March 31, 2021 to still qualify for the payment if they have worked in 10 of the last 20 months.