From 29 January, the Tax Office will begin writing to small employers who have 19 or less employees and already use payroll software.
The ATO will inform them about STP and that they do not need to wait for legislation to pass before they start reporting through STP.
Small business clients will also be encouraged to speak to their tax practitioner for any enquiries.
“If their payroll software offers STP they can update their software and start reporting now,” said the ATO in an online update.
“We are letting them know that they can contact you if they have questions, and that their digital service provider will let them know when their software offers STP.”
There are approximately 781,908 businesses with 19 or less employees in Australia. That’s about 36.8 per cent of Australian businesses, according to ABS data. Broken down, microbusinesses with 1–4 employees account for 584,744 of that total, and the remaining 197,164 are businesses with 5–19 employees.
Late last year, the bill proposing to extend STP to employers with 19 or less employees from 1 July 2019 was passed by the Senate, but has yet to be legislated.
This is due to proposed amendments to other measures contained in the same bill, notably the addition of entities as deductible gift recipients, and are not related to STP.
The bill has been referred back to the House of Representatives to consider those amendments and will only be heard when Parliament resumes on 12 February.
In essence, small businesses can expect STP to kick off as expected on 1 July 2019.
In preparation for the rollout across all businesses, the ATO began seeking expressions of interest from digital service providers to develop low-cost STP software for the micro business sector.
It has since published an initial list of suppliers who will provide such solutions that are required to be affordable, costing less than $10 per month; takes only minutes to complete each pay period; and does not require the employer to maintain the software.
You can listen to ATO STP lead John Shepherd speak about what small businesses can expect ahead of the 1 July 2019 deadline and the range of alternative options available.
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.