While employers and their tax agents are being urged to clear up commonly made mistakes in super reporting, one bookkeeper has hit back at “bureaucrats”, suggesting the Superannuation Clearing House has plentiful errors of its own making.
Last week, the ATO released advice on common errors it sees with the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House (SBSCH), including basic character input errors.
Responding to the story, West Australian bookkeeper Alex Polglaze told My Business of frustrations he is having with incorrectly addressed messages.
“We run a payroll bureau and as a consequence have several clients that we pay their super through the Australian Super Clearing House. The clearing house can’t even get the return messages addressed to the correct company,” he said.
“I made a payment yesterday [25 July] on behalf of Company A and I get a ‘payment successfully matched’ message today for company C.”
According to Mr Polglaze, this type of error by the clearing house “happens every month”.
“We are called a bureau client by the super house. All of our clients come under that umbrella, so I have a bureau [number] and my clients have an employer [number] that comprises my number and my internal client number for them,” he said.
“For example, I am AU12345, so my clients will be AU123451478, AU 123451587, etc.”
The bookkeeper continued: “It happens every month and goes back to the beginning of the move to the clearing house. I can see back as far as 2017 with just a cursory glance over old records.”
Mr Polglaze said that he attempted to alert the clearing house to the problem “a very long time ago” when he first noticed it, with little success.
“Their attitude is or was very dismissive — when you can get onto them — and quite frankly, I haven’t got time to waste dealing with bureaucrats,” he said.
“I know what the message should be and to which client it should go, so I just file them there.”
Mr Polglaze said that despite the error, the system has the correct details on it — it is just the confirmation alert that is wrong. Nevertheless, he said it was frustrating that after the “very significant” amount of time spent preparing super payments, the response would be incorrect.
“The time taken to process super payments is actually very significant and we have to charge accordingly,” he said.
According to Mr Polglaze, the errors are particularly frustrating given the pushback of administrative burden onto employers for completing super payments.
“None of the bureaucrats actually took into account the cost of the small businesses’s time or the cost if they outsource it, when they decided to shift the admin burden to the business owner. All of this admin was previously done by the super fund,” he said.
“They didn’t reduce their monthly fees to their members when they offloaded the work. In our case, the software automatically generated the reports from the payroll system and the business owner just wrote a cheque for the total amount and sent it off.
“Now, we have to take that report and manually enter it into the clearing house website, then go to the bank website and make the payment. For a small employer, [with fewer] than five employees, it takes 15–20 mins from start to finish to log on to the clearing house website, load all the info and generate the reports and do the filing.”
Mr Polglaze added: “It might not seem much, but eight clients becomes two hours a month, 20 clients means more than a day. So, you can see my point.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.