With approximately 40,000 employers have implemented STP since it was introduced for businesses with 20 or more employees from 1 July this year, attention has started to shift to the smaller end of town, despite the delay in passage of legislation for employers with 19 or less employees.
Speaking to Accountants Daily, ATO assistant commissioner and STP lead John Shepherd said it would be looking at “alternative reporting mechanisms” to help micro businesses with fewer than five employees adjust to STP.
“There’s a larger cohort of what we would call micro-employers, less than five, who don’t currently use a payroll product. Our clear message to those is that we won’t force businesses to take up payroll to do STP. We’ll be working with industry to look at some alternate reporting mechanisms,” said Mr Shepherd.
However, Anderson Tax & Consulting director Debra Anderson said she has seen unjust comments from fellow practitioners complaining about how such a move would not be beneficial to accountants.
“In my opinion, it is a common issue that practitioners encourage vigorously that their clients shift to a particular software or solution because it benefits the practitioner,” said Ms Anderson.
“I'm seeing practitioners complaining that the ATO is coming out saying you don’t need to have cloud software to do STP. I get incredibly frustrated that practitioners think it’s about them when it should be about the right solution for clients and what’s easiest for them to comply with the law.
“Cloud software is fantastic and I’m a big fan but of course not every client needs it,” she added.
“There’s no point changing a client’s software if it is working for them and they are getting what they need out of it.”
With over 700,000 employers required to start STP reporting by 1 July 2019, the ATO has urged practitioners to start helping clients prepare for the deadline but notes that there will be flexibility in the transition period.
“We don’t expect that they’re all going to start by July 1. That’s a lot of employers to support. So, we’ll be working with industry around that flexibility, around things like deferrals,” Mr Shepherd said.
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Jotham Lian is the 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.