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STP regime sees increase in ATO ‘please explain’ letters


A rise in “please explain” letters from the ATO, in the wake of the new Single Touch Payroll regime, has been reported by one accounting network, with businesses urged to come good on their super obligations.

by Jotham Lian4 minute read
Michelle Maynard

Speaking with Accountants Daily, Carbon Group partner Michelle Maynard said the firm has seen a rise in clients receiving letters from the ATO asking if they have met all their superannuation guarantee obligations.

“I’ve had three or four letters in the past two weeks saying, ‘We dont think youve met your super obligations for a certain period. Either show us that you have or lodge your super guarantee statement or we are going to audit you’,” Ms Maynard said.

“Single Touch Payroll is bringing the focus on employers doing the right, and the ATO is getting a lot more proactive in sending these ‘please explain’ letters, mainly focusing on unpaid super.”

The uptick in ATO activity coincides with the failure of the proposed SG amnesty to be reintroduced into Parliament.

CPA Australia head of policy Paul Drum had earlier warned that the amnesty was the “calm before the storm”, where businesses could expect tougher ATO action on SG non-compliance with the help of real-time data from STP.

Likewise, Ms Maynard believes employers can expect to receive more letters from the Tax Office in the coming days.

“The SG amnesty was meant to give everyone a free pass to get their super obligations up to date, but our read of the situation is that the ATO wanted everyone to declare their cards, because now that STP is in, it is going to be a real focus for them and they are going to come down hard,” she said.

Ms Maynard believes advisers should now push their clients to come forward with their outstanding super guarantee obligations before the ATO comes knocking.

“Accountants and bookkeepers have covered their own risk by mentioning it to clients, but we need to be more proactive,” Ms Maynard said.

“If an employer client has an outstanding balance, we need to start talking to them on how to fix it by lodging an SG statement and making some payments if they can and getting on the front foot.

“It is not good enough to wait for the ATO to come knocking, and it will also hold them in good stead when the ATO do eventually find out, which they will through the STP regime, to say, ‘We have been trying to do it, we may have been behind, but these are the steps that weve done to make sure it wont happen again’, which will hopefully help with fines and penalties.”

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STP regime sees increase in ATO ‘please explain’ letters
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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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