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The State Government has moved to ensure businesses do not pay payroll tax on the Federal Government’s new JobKeeper payments.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the move was her government’s latest initiative to support Queensland businesses and Queensland jobs during the COVID-19 crisis.

“To date we’ve done well containing the virus, and that means we may soon be able to ease some restrictions,” she said.

“But life will be tough for many businesses for months to come, so we will ensure they don’t have to foot the bill for payroll tax on the Federal Government’s JobKeeper payments which are now starting to flow.”

Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson accused the Queensland Labor Government of dragging its heels on the issue for more than a month.

He praised the North Queensland business community for its lobbying efforts on the issue.

“The business community has been overwhelmingly positive in its feedback to me on the JobKeeper payment but were extremely concerned about the fact that they could be hit with an extra tax bill by the State Labor Government,” he said.

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said administrative arrangements had been fast-tracked to ensure payroll tax assessments did not include JobKeeper payments, providing additional effective relief of $360 million over six months to businesses employing Queenslanders.

“The Federal Government has decided to make JobKeeper a taxable allowance – that is, it will count as income when recipients come to file their tax return,” Ms Trad said.

“Since COVID-19 started affecting Queensland businesses and jobs in January, we have been talking regularly to business.

“Measures to relieve payroll tax have been at the heart of the Palaszczuk Government’s response, including tax holidays, tax deferrals, and payroll tax refunds that have put more than $345 million back into the accounts of Queensland businesses.

“We’re also delivering $500 million in jobs support loans, $400 million in land tax relief for property owners to pass on to tenants, rebates on utility bills for households and small-to-medium businesses, and a range of other measures to support Queenslanders and industry.”

The JobKeeper payment scheme commenced on 30 March and is available for eligible businesses to cover the costs of their employees’ wages through payments of $1500 per fortnight to eligible employees.

The subsidy has been taken up by almost 730,000 organisations covering about 4.7 million employees nationwide.