73% not very confident they will be ready for Single Touch Payroll
Deb Jenkins from the ATO speaking at the Single Touch Payroll Employer Engagement Forum.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) ran a Single Touch Payroll (STP) Employer Engagement Forum on Thursday 16 November. It was clear from the questions asked that there is still a gap to fill in terms of employers understanding of what STP means for their businesses. A poll of the attendees found only 27% were very confident that they would be ready to report via STP by 1 July 2018, 45% were partly confident and the remaining 28% weren't sure.
Many payroll software providers won’t be ready until March 2018
Sage MicrOpay are “looking to roll out by a March release timeframe” according to their Product Manager for Payroll Products, Janice Aldinger. Jason Low, head of The Association for Payroll Specialists (TAPS) indicated that this timeframe is consistent with what he has heard from other software providers. “What this means for us in payroll is we only have a three-month window to implement (Single Touch Payroll), so in terms of planning now, keep in mind that it will be a busy time.”
What you can do now to prepare for STP
Talk to your payroll software provider. Ask them when they will have their STP solution ready for you. For Attaché clients, Attaché 3.7.2 is the last major update required for STP. It is available now and tightly integrates with Attaché Online which provides the data link to the ATO.
Tidy up your payroll data. Assess which pay codes other than salary or wages should be reported under STP and what label or category they should appear in. Make sure they are also capturing year-to-date information. Think about the errors you get when completing your payment summary annual report. Your payroll software provider may help you identify some of these. For example, Attaché enables you to validate your employee masterfile data. Do what you can to clean up bad data now. Ensure you investigate the root cause of these errors. It may be a result of another team in another area.
Deferrals from 1 July 2018 deadline
The obligation for STP compliance is on the business, not the software provider. According to the ATO some payroll solution providers have already indicated that they won't be able to get all of their products STP-enabled before 1 July 2018. If this is the case for your payroll solution, your software provider should be telling you this now. You can then decide whether to look for an alternate solution or to submit a “deferral evidence package” to the ATO that will be formally reviewed and assessed.
The STP Employer Engagement Forum live stream attracted around 3800 viewers from 15 countries and around 700 questions were put to the ATO and payroll industry experts. This level of attendance is “unprecedented” according to Deb Jenkins, STP Program Sponsor at the ATO and shows “… that the time is right to have more conversations about Single Touch Payroll”. This event follows the letters the ATO sent in October to all employers with 15 or more staff sent to inform them of their STP reporting obligations.
A recording of the forum, transcripts and slides are available online.