Australian employers will now have two more months to transition to the second phase of Single Touch Payroll as the ATO announces a blanket deferral in light of the current business environment.
The ATO has revealed that employers that begin reporting additional payroll information required under STP Phase 2 by 1 March 2022 will be considered to have met its 1 January 2022 deadline.
“Whilst the start date for STP phase 2 remains 1 January 2022, the ATO is committed to supporting employers transition to STP Phase 2 reporting by being flexible, reasonable and pragmatic,” an ATO spokesperson told Accountants Daily.
“Where an employer’s payroll solution is ready and they can start reporting from 1 January 2022, the ATO will support and encourage them to do so.
“Employers whose payroll solution is ready for 1 January 2022 will be considered to be reporting on time provided they start Phase 2 reporting before 1 March 2022. They will not need to apply to the ATO for more time.”
STP Phase 2 reporting will see additional information, including a breakdown of gross amounts and income types, required to be reported to the ATO each payday, and subsequently shared with Services Australia in a bid to reduce employers’ reporting obligations to multiple government agencies.
With STP Phase 2 heavily reliant on software providers to update their payroll solutions, the ATO has also announced that further deferrals will be available to providers that need more time. Customers of these software providers will automatically be covered by that deferral.
Further to the deferrals, no penalties will be applied for honest mistakes made during the first year of reporting the expanded data.
The concessions come after key accounting and business groups told the Tax Office that preparing for the expanded reporting was not a priority for businesses and their advisers, particularly in NSW and Victoria where extended lockdowns drag on.
It is the second time the ATO has moved on its STP Phase 2 deadline, after previously bowing to pressure to defer its proposed 1 July 2021 start date to 1 January 2022.
Matthew Addison, executive director of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, said the ATO’s concessions would come as a relief for many practitioners and their clients.
“Workloads and deadlines are abnormal at this time and the statement by the ATO that they allow an implementation deferral until 1 March 2022 is welcome,” he said.
Likewise, the Institute of Public Accountants general manager of technical policy Tony Greco said the profession would welcome any concession after a torrid 18 months.
“In a perfect world we welcome reforms such as STP 2, it’s just that it competes with a backlog of other work that just gets pushed aside to respond to emergencies, such [as] helping clients access vital business support to keep businesses afloat,” said Mr Greco.
“Practitioners have not experienced business as usual conditions since March last year.
“The ATO has acknowledged the workload predicament facing practitioners. The profession will take any concessions gratefully. Any further concessions delaying other measures would be appreciated especially for practitioners facing fortnightly retesting required for clients who wish to continue to receive NSW JobSaver payments.”