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ATO to ‘nudge’ small employers over STP compliance

Jotham Lian
Jotham Lian
30 September 2019 1 minute readShare

With Single Touch Payroll reporting now in force for all employers, the ATO has outlined how it will seek to promote compliance from 1 October 2019.

Tax and BAS agents with clients that have yet to begin reporting through Single Touch Payroll (STP) will soon receive correspondence from the ATO, before it moves to directly contact employers.

STP is now in force for businesses of all sizes, with 460,000 businesses now reporting, and just over 40,000 covered by a deferral, exemption or concessional reporting arrangement.

According to the latest figures from the Tax Office, 383,000 small businesses are now reporting through STP, out of the estimated 750,000 small business population.

Employers with five to 19 employees were more likely to be reporting through STP, with 66 per cent compliant, compared to micro businesses, with only 43 per cent compliant as of 27 September.

Substantial employers, or those with 20 or more employers, were required to begin STP reporting since 1 July 2018, and have achieved a 97 per cent compliance rate as of 27 September.

Despite the passing of the 30 September deadline, there will be no penalties for mistakes, missed or late reports for the 2019–20 financial year for small businesses, as the ATO adopts a facilitative approach in implementing the new law change.

Speaking to My Business sister publication Accountants Daily, ATO assistant commissioner Jason Lucchese reaffirmed the agency’s approach to helping employers transition to STP through “nudge correspondence”.

“The ATO recognises that 2019–20 is a transition year, and for employers that start reporting during that financial year, there will be no penalties applied for any late reports or mistakes in their reporting,” Mr Lucchese said.

“Our real immediate focus is to educate and help small employers transition into STP and we’ll begin to make contact with those that are not reporting.”

From mid-October, the ATO will reach out to tax and BAS agents through email with a full client list documenting the STP status of their clients.

The Tax Office will then begin contacting employers directly, with further nudges set to follow from February to May 2020.

The full penalty regime for small businesses will then come into effect from 1 July 2020.

While the reporting deadline has now passed, Mr Lucchese added that the ATO will still accept applications for deferrals, exemptions or concessional reporting.

“It is not too late for employers who are still making their way through that transition,” Mr Lucchese said.

“We recognise that making the change will be different depending on each employer’s circumstances, which is why we are taking a supportive and flexible approach to assist small employers in that transition.

“Small employers still have those three pathway options available to them.”

ATO to ‘nudge’ small employers over STP compliance
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Jotham Lian
Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian is the news editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals. With a focus on breaking news and exclusive analysis, Jotham keeps Accountants Daily readers up to date with company moves, tax updates and essential business and client strategy. 

Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including The Sydney Morning Herald and Channel NewsAsia.

You can email Jotham at: [email protected] 

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