From 1 July 2018, employers with more than 20 employees were required to provide real-time reports to the ATO of salary and wage payments, super guarantee contributions, ordinary time earnings of employees and PAYG withholding amounts.

From 1 July 2019, this Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting system has extended to all employers. 

The ATO has announced it will soon write to small employers (those with up to 19 employees) who have not yet started reporting or applied for a deferral, to remind them of their STP obligations.

Small employers have until 30 September 2019 to start reporting or apply for extra time to get ready. The ATO will grant deferrals to any small employer who requests additional time to start STP reporting.

There will be no penalties for mistakes, or missed or late reports, for the first year, and employers experiencing hardship or who are in areas with intermittent or no internet connection will be able to access exemptions.

The basics of STP reporting

  • Each employer needs to report their employees' tax and super information to the ATO on or before each payday, or authorise a third party such as a registered agent or payroll service provider to report on their behalf. They need to send the information from STP-enabled payroll software.
  • When STP reporting is in place, employers no longer need to provide payment summaries to their employees for the payments reported and finalised through STP. Payments not reported through STP, such as employee share scheme (ESS) amounts, still need to be reported on a payment summary.
  • Employers no longer need to provide payment summary annual report (PSARs) to the ATO at the end of the financial year for payments reported through STP.
  • Employees can view their year-to-date payment information using the ATO's online services, accessible through their myGov account. They can also request a copy of this information from the ATO.
  • Employers need to complete a finalisation declaration at the end of each financial year. The information reported through STP will not be tax-ready for employees or their tax agents until the employer makes this declaration.
  • Employers need to report employees' superannuation liability information – as usually provided to the employees on their payslips – for the first time through STP. Super funds will then report to the ATO when the employer pays the super amounts to employees' funds.
  • From 2020, the ATO will pre-fill activity statement labels W1 and W2 for small to medium withholders with the information reported through STP. Employers that currently lodge an activity statement will continue to do so.

Sources: www.ato.gov.au/Tax-professionals/Newsroom/Digital-interaction-with-us/Contacting-small-employers-about-STP/; www.ato.gov.au/Media-centre/Articles/Transition-to-Single-Touch-Payroll-for-small-employers/; www.ato.gov.au/stpsolutions.