The Tax Institute highlighted that many businesses are under significant pressure due to managing JobKeeper payments, adapting to working-from-home arrangements, dealing with staff downsizing and other challenging issues arising as a result of COVID-19.
This means accountants and advisers have been under enormous pressure to help deliver the government’s JobKeeper and cash-flow boost assistance to their clients which has pushed work on the amnesty to one side, according to the accounting body.
Even as the SG amnesty deadline of 7 September nears, the Tax Institute said it has repeatedly called for a six-month extension of the deadline to 7 March 2021.
“The amnesty became law on 6 March 2020, but the additional six months in which employers could come forward has unfortunately coincided with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tax Institute senior advocate Robyn Jacobson.
“Given the adverse impacts caused by COVID-19, it seems illogical and unreasonable to maintain the 7 September 2020 deadline.
“We urge the government to allow employers more time to come forward.”
Ms Jacobson said the current stage 4 restrictions in Victoria highlight the issues with the deadline.
“The restrictions are preventing the collection and sharing of physical payroll records which are typically archived at currently inaccessible offices or off-site third-party storage areas,” she said.
“Without such records, it is impossible for some employers to determine whether there are any shortfalls as far back as 1992 and therefore a need to claim the amnesty.”
In addition to the SG amnesty extension, the Tax Institute also called for changes to the penalty regime in relation to the superannuation guarantee system.
“These draconian penalties have the effect of actively discouraging employers to come forward as the consequences can be horrendous. An employer who pays just one day late is treated the same as an employer who never pays super. This is why the amnesty has been so desperately needed,” Ms Jacobson said.
“The fact that the penalties for non-compliance with the superannuation guarantee system are so onerous they can place an employer in an insolvent position forcing a liquidation, administration or bankruptcy is reason enough to allow more time to apply for the amnesty. We should be assisting businesses to get back on their feet rather than pushing them towards collapse.”