The Morrison Government will ensure that disaster relief payments being made to individuals and businesses impacted by the devastating bushfires are tax exempt.

This decision will ensure that every dollar that is paid out to affected individuals, businesses and primary producers goes to supporting them during these difficult times and to rebuilding their livelihoods.

Notably, the exemption will extend to payments such as:

  • Disaster Recovery Allowance payments made to individuals; and
  • payments that would otherwise be taxable under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, such as grants that may be made to small businesses and primary producers.

This follows on from an announcement by the Prime Minister on 29 December 2019 that the payments being made to eligible Rural Fire Service Volunteers will be free from tax.

Legislation to give effect to these changes will be required as was the case to give effect to similar tax exemptions in relation to the North Queensland floods. The legislation will be introduced in the next sitting of Parliament.

This action comes on top of the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) ongoing support, including the automatic deferral of lodgement and payment obligations for individuals and businesses in communities affected by the bushfires.

Further information on the support being provided by the ATO can be found at ato.gov.au/naturaldisasters. Impacted individuals or businesses can also contact the ATO’s Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218.