The new measures, which came into play at the start of the month, are part of Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 4) Bill 2018, and are aimed at protecting employees’ superannuation entitlements.
Among the measures includes the ability for the ATO to disclose information to employees regarding the non-payment of SG on their behalves, including the agency’s efforts to recover the outstanding amounts.
The commissioner can now also issue a direction to an employer to pay an outstanding super guarantee liability, with failure to comply possibly resulting in criminal penalties.
The maximum penalty for the offence is 50 penalty units, imprisonment for 12 months, or both.
The commissioner can also direct employers to undertake an approved course relating to their superannuation guarantee obligations where the commissioner reasonably believes there has been a failure by an employer to comply with those obligations.
The free course is expected to take approximately two hours to complete, spanning eight modules and an assessment.
Clients who are directed to undertake the course must also achieve a score of 80 per cent or higher to receive a certificate of completion, which must then be sent to the ATO for verification.
RSM senior manager Tracey Dunn previously said that the new law might catch out small- to medium-sized family businesses where a spouse or family member may be appointed as director without fully understanding their obligations regarding super payments.
“There is a real onus now on accountants and tax advisers to ensure their clients really fully understand what the risk is when they take a role as either an individual employer, the director of a trustee company or a director of a company that is employing staff,” Ms Dunn said.
“For example, a husband runs a business and he is the brains of the business, but the wife will be put in a position where she is a director. The accountant may discuss the director obligations with the husband but then rely on the husband to relay that to the wife and she may not ever fully understand what her risk is.”