Speaking to Accountants Daily, TaxBanter senior tax trainer Robyn Jacobson said despite the best efforts of the ATO, there is still some confusion amongst tax agents on the ground.
One of the biggest myths is that agents will be able to help lodge STP reports through the tax agent portals or through BAS statements, Ms Jacobson said.
“There is no, and will be no, ability to lodge any STP reports through the agent or business portal, or via activity statements,” she said.
“STP reports can only be lodged via an STP-enabled software solution. The ATO will not be providing a software solution.”
The ATO has made it clear that they will not be enabling STP to be reported through its systems, with clients required to have STP-enabled software.
“I do like to remind people why we are doing Single Touch Payroll — it is about reporting through natural business processes, which are your payroll process and system, where you use a system to do that,” former ATO assistant commissioner John Shepherd previously said.
“A hot topic has been, will we support submission of reports through the portals or the online services, and the answer is no; not through there and not through the clearing house. You will have to have an STP-enabled solution.”
Deferrals and quarterly reporting
According to Ms Jacobson, another point of confusion has been around the application for deferrals or concessional reporting.
With commissioner Chris Jordan providing a three-month buffer from 1 July 2019, small employers will not need to apply for a deferral as long as they start reporting by 30 September 2019.
Closely held payees are exempt for the 2019–20 financial year and will be afforded the option to report quarterly from 1 July 2020. They will need to notify the ATO via an online form that will soon be available.
Micro employers, specifically those with one to four employees, can choose to report through their registered tax or BAS agent on a quarterly basis until 30 June 2021, but their registered agent must apply for the concession by 30 September 2019.
Employers with seasonal employees will also need to apply for a concession to quarterly report.
Payment summary changes
Lastly, employers who start reporting through STP will be exempt from providing end-of-year payment summaries to their employees. They will still need to give payment summaries to employees for any payments not reported through STP.
Instead, payment summary information will now be called an income statement, and can be accessed through their myGov account or their tax agent.
Employers will need to finalise their employees’ information by 31 July 2019 and 14 July each following year, giving certainty to their employees to lodge their tax return when the information is “tax-ready”.
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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.