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‘No need to buy payroll software’: ATO fronts STP confusion


The Tax Office has confirmed that micro businesses will not be required to purchase payroll software to be compliant with the proposed single touch payroll  regime, with apps and internet banking alternatives being explored.

By Jotham Lian 12 minute read

Speaking on the ATO’s webcast yesterday, Assistant Commissioner and STP lead, John Shepherd confirmed that micro businesses – those with one to four employees – will be provided with different options to be STP compliant.

“You won’t need to buy payroll software, that’s why we’re looking for those alternate solutions – some of which might be an app, something that’s fit for purpose to get the STP information in but is easy to use, doesn’t take much time and doesn’t cost that business money to do so,” said Mr Shepherd.

“We’ve spoken to some different banks and the possibilities around as people pay staff through internet banking being able to submit the single touch pay run information at the same time and we expect that to be part of the list of options that come forward over the next 12 months.


“There are obviously lots of other benefits from using payroll software but we’re not saying for STP that you need to go out and buy a product to do STP.”

Earlier this month, the ATO began seeking expressions of interest from digital services providers to develop Single Touch Payroll software for the micro employer market, looking at a low or no-cost solution, software that has a simple user experience and a solution that will enable STP reporting within no more than 5 minutes.

The Tax Office has now received over 20 expressions of interest, with a plan to publish a public register of ‘tailored micro solutions’ by 10 November 2018 in a bid to spread awareness to employers.

‘Don’t panic’

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman deputy, Dr Craig Latham said it was important that small business employers and their advisers did not rush into purchasing new software, having heard of stories of people peddling STP compliant products.

“We have heard those stories of unscrupulous people saying that and it is not true. There will be people looking to make money off the back of this – take your time, don’t panic, there’s no reason to rush on this,” said Dr Latham.

Likewise, Small Business Financial Ops director, Cate Kemp said it was vital for accountants and bookkeepers to help advise small business employers understand their obligations under the STP transition phase.

“None of your obligations as an employer are actually changing here and it is going to be more visible but take this opportunity to have a look at how you operate your business, what your principles are and don’t let any software vendor or computer supplier tell you that you’re not compliant and that you have to spend money. Reach out to the ATO or to an adviser if you're unsure,” said Ms Kemp.

“There are platforms available now that are under $20 a month for employers so if there’s someone telling you that you need to spend $500 or $5,000 on a computer system or a piece of software, it’s just not right. Do some research first.”

At present, legislation to expand STP to employers with 19 or less employees from 1 July 2019 is still before the Senate.

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Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian


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.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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