ATO announces first use of Single Touch Payroll Data

ATO deputy commissioner James O’Halloran said they are now focused heavily on SG obligations having recently examined the SG contributions for 75 million payment transactions for the first three quarters of 2018-2019 covering around 400,000 employers.

Mr O’Halloran said in a speech to the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees 2019 Chairs Forum that between 90 per cent and 92 per cent of contribution transactions by volume were paid on time and that between 85 per cent and 90 per cent of the transactions by dollar value were paid on time.

He further commented on how the data is now being used to warn employers who appear not to be paying the required SG on time, in full or at all, that they should change their behaviour.

The ATO attributed that increase in data transparency is a result of the introduction of Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting and improvements in super funds’ reporting through the Member Account Transaction Service (MATS).

A SG campaign is now underway noting 2,500 employers that were identified as having paid some or all their SG contributions late during 2018-19 to be contacted this week and a further 4,000 employers will begin receiving reminders of due dates from the ATO.

“It should be noted this is the first direct use of the Single Touch Payroll reporting arrangements, based on what your funds report to us relating to SG payments,” Mr O’Halloran said.

“It’s a tangible action which demonstrates our increasing ability to effectively follow up in relative real time apparent late or non-payment of SG.”

SG amnesty

The ATO’s actions come as the proposed SG amnesty and its associated legislation has been reintroduced into Parliament.

Employers are encouraged to self-correct historical SG non-compliance dating from 1 July 1992 to the quarter starting on 1 January 2018 resulting from the one-off amnesty.

While the ATO will continue to apply the existing law until the bill passes, employers have been warned of the short six-month amnesty time frame to rectify any past underpayments.

SG audit work

Mr O’Halloran was also keen to tout the ATO’s ongoing SG audit work, with 27,000 SG cases completed over the last financial year.

22,000 employers were contacted and the ATO raised assessments for $805 million in outstanding SG.

The ATO also issued 5,000 individual director penalty notices (DPNs) for 3,600 companies to a combined value of $283 million.

“As importantly, as a result of our compliance activities, we collected $532 million in outstanding SG and distributed it to 471,000 individuals during 2018–19,” Mr O’Halloran said.

If you have any concerns on how the above may affect you, please contact your tax professional.

Source: Written by Michael Rodriguez, Director of Cambridge & Kent, Chartered Accountant, October 2019.