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Payroll reporting: a touchy subject

If you are an employer, the way you report payments - such as salaries and wages, PAYG withholding and superannuation - is changing.

The ATO will need you to report these payments directly from your payroll solution in real-time, at the same time as you pay your employees. This is known as Single Touch Payroll (STP) and is intended to simplify business reporting obligations. It comes into effect from 1 July 2018 or 2019, depending on the number of employees in your business. Our advisors at The Peak Partnership can help you and your business prepare for the move to STP.

The introduction of Single Touch Payroll is in line with the Government's “digitisation agenda” to make reporting more streamlined, but many small businesses will feel an extra compliance burden. Those who work in remote areas of Australia may be at a disadvantage as Single Touch Payroll reporting will require a strong internet connection.

In a straw poll conducted by Accountants Daily (between 5 September and 14 October 2017), almost 90 per cent of accountants and advisers said that their clients were not ready for the shift to Single Touch Payroll.

How will this change affect you as an employer?
The change to STP means that employers won’t need to complete Payment Summaries at the end of the year as these will have been reported in real time throughout the year. If you have a payroll solution (software that you use in order to pay employees), you will need to update this or make sure it is updated by your service provider. If you do not have a payroll solution, you can speak to us about how to find the best solution for your business.

We may be able to report using STP on your behalf. The first 12 months of STP will be considered to be a transition period, during which time you could be exempt from an administrative penalty for failing to report on time. There are other exemptions, including if you operate in an area with an unreliable internet connection or you are classed as a substantial employer for only a short period during the year (for example, if your employees are seasonal).

If you run a small business?
Mr Conway said the IPA's concern is for 70,000 small businesses that will struggle to implement STP without help and support. If you do not use digital software for your payroll you may also need our help to adopt new technology.

What does STP mean for employees?
With the move to STP, employees will be able to log on and make sure they are being paid the correct amount for their superannuation contributions, so "this level of transparency is most welcome".

What is the time frame?
Single Touch Payroll will be compulsory for employers (including those in a wholly-owned group) with 20 employees or more from 1 July 2018. If your business has 19 employees or fewer, you have longer, but you will need to get on board by 1 July 2019, subject to legislation. If you're unsure about whether you are a “substantial employer”, the advice is to do a headcount of all of your employees who are on your payroll.

A key milestone date for the introduction of STP is 1 April 2018; when you will need to complete a total headcount of employees. This headcount includes all full-time, part-time, casual employees, those based overseas, absent employees and seasonal employees, not just your full-time equivalent (FTEs).

Want to find out more?
You may not feel ready to meet your compliance needs in relation to STP. You could qualify for a deferral (due to circumstances beyond your control), but you will need to make a request for this. Contact us to discuss the changes to payroll and what you need to do to make the transition seamless.

Robyn Henshaw

Robyn Henshaw is a Director at The Peak Partnership and she's been with the firm for the past 23 years. Click on Robyn's image above to find out more about her background and expertise.

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