The Tax Office has revealed that it is looking to “streamline” the process of business activity statements for business owners by pre-filling much of the data.
During the My Business Live webcast on transitioning to Single Touch Payroll (STP), ATO assistant commissioner and program lead John Shepherd (pictured) said the move to pre-populate data onto the quarterly BAS is one of many options being explored on the back of the new payroll reporting system.
Speaking about what benefits STP ultimately brings for businesses, Mr Shepherd said that “from an employer’s perspective, there’s certainly the level playing field stuff, that they know others are paying their share, because we’re following them up. But importantly, over time, [it’s] not just that you don’t need to report payment summaries”.
“We’ll be looking to pre-fill the business activity statement from next year with that data, to make that more streamlined,” he said.
Mr Shepherd then went on to state that the government is looking at other ways the data can be used to bring about other efficiencies.
“There was an announcement in the budget, that people may or may not have seen, around then looking to use that [data] in the welfare system, again to actually remove burden from employers who get contacted about providing proof of income for benefit recipients,” he said.
“So there’s a whole range benefits from here that start to come back to employers where government can use this information to provide better services and not have to continually go back with separate requests to business.”
Keep tabs on your business
Bookkeeper Lielette Calleja, director of All That Counts — who was also on the My Business Live panel — said that she was relieved when she heard that STP would be extended to cover all employers.
“I know a lot of businesses out there are thinking, ‘What’s wrong with our wage book and our Excel spreadsheets?’” she said.
“But there is something wrong with it, because it’s not real-time; it’s not giving you real-time visibility to your numbers.
“So it’s very disjointed, where you’ve got some people operating their payroll system outside of an accounting system, or they’re operating where their accounting system is their bank statement, and they hand that over to their accountant to do their BAS.”
According to Ms Calleja, many SMEs may only be viewing their bookkeeping “as a form of compliance”, rather than seeing it as a means of keeping tabs on the profitability and performance of their business.
“I think Single Touch Payroll changes that ... to be not so much compliance, but let’s get every business out there on a digital solution that enables them to see the profitability of their business in real time, be able to do invoicing on the go, be able to give them more balance and not have to wait until they get home to do their books,” she said.
“You can do things on your mobile as well now.
“I’m a huge fan for it because I’m an advocate for small business, and for me, Single Touch Payroll is just a by-product of getting them digital.”
Single Touch Payroll reporting is already required for employers with more than 20 employees, having taken effect from 1 July 2018. Smaller employers will be required to adopt the new reporting system from 1 July this year.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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