The Senate on Wednesday (5 December) passed the bill proposing to extend STP to employers with 19 or fewer employees from 1 July 2019.
The passage of legislation follows months of uncertainty for the small business sector, after STP was officially rolled out for employers with 20 or more employees from 1 July 2018.
In preparation for the rollout across all businesses, the ATO began seeking expressions of interest from digital service providers to develop low-cost STP software for the microbusiness sector.
It has since published an initial list of suppliers that will provide such solutions that are required to be affordable, costing less than $10 per month, takes only minutes to complete each pay period and does not require the employer to maintain the software.
ATO commissioner Chris Jordan has also pledged to ease microbusinesses into the STP regime, stating that they will not be forced into purchasing payroll software, with a number of alternate options set to be available, including the option of allowing their registered tax or BAS agent to report quarterly, rather than each time they run their payroll.
Exemptions to STP reporting will also be available to businesses that have no internet or an unreliable connection.
“We’re not going to force people to put in a business, accounting system and payroll software. A lot of people will have basic accounting software but not the component that does the payroll. Some of the software providers might be looking at that as an opportunity to get people in to maybe a more upgraded sort of accounting system,” Mr Jordan said.
“With some of these low-cost payroll solutions added on, they have to realise everyone is going digital — with e-invoicing, the way people order and dispatch.
“It is the way it happens. We’re not forcing people to go digital to get the accounting software and payroll.”