Speaking at MYOB Partner Connect 2019, ATO acting director Angela Lehmann said that with STP now in place, the Tax Office will be looking to build on its data-sharing arrangements with other government agencies to create a “tell government once” environment.
“We have already got in place arrangements with other government agencies where we do share data with them, and that existed pre-STP and we will continue to do that within the parameters that we have in place,” Ms Lehmann said.
“Over time, we hope [STP] will create greater efficiencies for employers and individuals; we hope eventually it will be as simple as ‘tell government once’.
“All those things that employers now report from their payroll to different agencies, whether it is ABS for your employment surveys, whether it is DHS or Centrelink for employment income or separation certificates, we are hoping that, in time, STP will streamline that process and not create multiple payroll-type reports for all different agencies, so just ‘tell government once’.”
The accounting industry has anticipated a larger data-sharing program with the introduction of STP, with technology consultant Matt Paff noting that employees’ visas and work rights are set to come under greater scrutiny.
“There has been an obligation on behalf of every business in Australia since 2013 to check the work rights of all their staff, but the reality is that it hasn’t been happening because a lot of people haven’t been aware of the obligation and there has been very little enforcement because the Department of Home Affairs hasn’t had the resources,” Mr Paff said.
“What STP has done is effectively automated the ability of Home Affairs to manage compliance because of the data-sharing program where the ATO has flagged three departments initially that they will share STP data with, including Centrelink, Human Services and Home Affairs.”
Likewise, BDO partner Ben Renshaw believes STP will give regulators greater visibility over pay discrepancies.
“In the past, it has been difficult to try and determine whether somebody has been paid incorrectly and it is a slow lumbering process, but now all that pay data is electronic and real-time, so the ATO has it straight away,” Mr Renshaw said.
“From a data perspective, there is now a lot more data sharing going on between the ATO, Fair Work and Border Force, and they are then able to build processes and tools to interrogate that data very efficiently and find discrepancies.”
Jotham Lian is the news editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.