Last month, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer announced the introduction of the amnesty to give employers the chance to voluntarily disclose previously undeclared SG shortfalls without having to pay the administration component of the SGC, to be pardoned from the Part 7 penalty, and for these catch-up payments to be eligible for tax-deductibility.
While the amnesty period runs from 24 May 2018 to 23 May 2019, it is still subject to the passage of the legislation, with Association of Accounting Technicians chief executive Rochelle Park noting that there has been some confusion amongst the community as to whether this is now law.
The ATO has begun accepting voluntary disclosures through the lodgement of SG Amnesty forms but has warned that if the proposed law does not come into effect then the subsequent benefits will be consequently withdrawn.
“The ATO are saying they are happy to receive this SG amnesty payment form and indeed they have received some already but as it is not yet legislated, the deductibility question remains a query because they can't do anything about that unless legislation is changed and that is the same as the waiving of the administration fee,” Ms Park told The Bookkeeper.
“However, the commissioner of taxation has the discretion to waive the penalties associated so for those who are voluntarily coming forward, the commissioner can waive the SG charge and they are indicating that even if this legislation doesn't pass, those who come forward voluntarily to disclose their outstanding liability will be extended that.
“It is really important to explain to the community that this is not yet legislation and that needs to be clearly communicated to clients so they can make educated choices about when and how they might go about disclosing.”
However, Ms Park was keen to stress that the incoming Single Touch Payroll (STP) regime would provide the ATO with real-time data and that non-compliant employers would face tougher penalties, including up to 12 months jail time.
“The important thing is to ensure clients understand that underpayment or non-payment or superannuation is not tolerated and the STP initiative will see that there is a lot more visibility on the regulators in terms of finding out who is not complying and that serious action will be taken moving forward around that because, essentially, it is wage theft,” said Ms Park.