More than $800 million has already gone out to businesses under the Government's wage subsidy support scheme but there could be a surge of applications in the next two days as the 11.59pm Thursday cut-off period nears.
Unlike the first level 4 lockdown in March last year, businesses have a window to apply for each two-week tranche.
Those who don't apply by then miss out on that 14-day period and it won't be back-dated, says Robyn Walker, a tax partner at Deloitte.
"It is just a complete cut-off. If you miss out on it then you miss out. If you put in the applications at the last minute, MSD will still evaluate it, MSD can still process it."
Walker said the two-week cut off was probably administratively easier and less confusing for people to only be able to apply for one thing at a time.
But she warned it could catch some people out. "The close-off date might come as a surprise to some people."
Walker said those who didn't apply for the first two weeks could still apply for subsequent fortnights.
"You don't have to have applied for the first fortnight to apply for the second fortnight. I expect a lot of businesses will probably be thinking about it more today if they have drawn a line under their August accounts and can quantify whether they have or haven't made that 40 per cent revenue drop threshold."
Last year, the wage subsidy initially covered a 12-week period and then a subsequent eight weeks for the 2020 August Auckland lockdown, paying out $14 billion.
As of August 29, 2021 the Ministry of Social Development had received 288,315 applications and approved a total amount paid out for $811.65 million.
Walker said the 2021 wage subsidy scheme would continue to be available for every fortnight that somewhere in New Zealand was at alert level 3 or higher.
That means businesses throughout the country who meet the criteria will still be able to apply for it even when the rest of New Zealand, outside of Auckland, drops to alert level 2 as long as Auckland remains at level 4 and 3.
"If you are at least four full weeks in Auckland at level 4 and then if you assume it could be conservatively two weeks at level 3 then you are going to have three cycles. It rounds up to the nearest fortnight so as soon as you get to five weeks and one day that is when it will expand out to that third fortnight."
So far largely smaller businesses have applied. Last week deputy prime minister Grant Robertson noted that just one business with more than 500 employees had applied so far.
As of August 30, two with over 500 staff had applied. But most have fewer than 20 staff (101,340) and 98,339 are sole traders.
Walker expected some larger business applications in the next day or so.
"I think there will be a bunch of employers, probably more at the larger end of the spectrum, who were waiting and seeing how long is this going to go for. That factors into your whole evaluation of 'can I ride this out on my own?'"
"The more things become clearer then the more you do need to stop and think what will this do to my business if I don't claim it? Do I need to claim it just to keep the cashflow coming through?
"It will depend on the particular business as well and what level of operation they can manage at level 4 and level 3 as well. It is not necessarily a huge difference between the two levels."
The original wage subsidy covered 1.65 million jobs, which included 230,000 sole traders and 1.43m employees. This time around it is unlikely to be anywhere near that big.
"It is quite a big difference."
Businesses can start to apply for the second tranche of the wage subsidy from Friday 9am but if they have applied for the first tranche they must wait two weeks from their first application date to apply for the second tranche."
Businesses can also access the resurgent payment support scheme from the Inland Revenue.
This is a one-off pay-out per lockdown with qualification based on a 30 per cent revenue drop over a seven-day period, which can be used for business expenses. Businesses can claim $1500 plus $400 per full-time equivalent employee up to a maximum of 50 full-time employees. Sole traders can receive a payment of up to $1900.
That can give a payout of up to $21,500.
As of Tuesday morning IRD had received 144,576 applications with $438.86m applied for and $378m dispersed. The average amount applied for has been $3035.51.