In the not-so-distant past, Australian business owners like you faced the laborious task of manually reporting payroll information to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The annual reporting burden was time-consuming and often took up valuable resources, hindering efficiency and productivity.
Recognising these challenges, the ATO introduced Single Touch Payroll (STP), a system devised to simplify payroll information reporting, benefiting businesses like yours and the government.
As we delve into the world of single-touch payroll, this article aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of how STP functions and how it has transformed payroll management for Australian businesses.
We’ll also explore the key benefits, requirements, and steps involved in implementing and utilising this innovative system.
What is Single Touch Payroll (STP)?
Single Touch Payroll (STP) is a digital payroll reporting system introduced by the ATO to streamline and simplify how employers report their employees’ tax and superannuation information.
With STP, employers can report employee payroll information, such as salaries, pay-as-you-go (PAYG) withholding, and superannuation contributions, in real-time every time they pay their employees.
The new system reduces the administrative burden for businesses and ensures that employees receive accurate and up-to-date information regarding their pay and entitlements.
STP Implementation: A Two-Phase Approach
The ATO introduced STP in two phases to ensure a smooth and gradual business transition. This approach allowed businesses to adapt to the new system at a manageable pace, minimising potential disruptions and challenges.
STP Phase 1: Initial Implementation
The first phase of STP implementation targeted employers with 20 or more employees as of July 2018 and employers with 19 or fewer employees as of July 2019.
These businesses were required to start reporting through STP, using STP-enabled software to submit their payroll data to the ATO in real-time.
This phase’s purpose was to familiarise businesses with the new system and establish a consistent and transparent payroll reporting process across the country.
STP Phase 2: Expanded Reporting Requirements
The second phase of STP implementation, known as STP Phase 2, became mandatory on January 1, 2022, and expanded the reporting requirements for businesses. This provided more detailed information to the ATO and other government agencies, including:
- Paid leave
- Salary sacrifice arrangements
- Other types of income
Benefits of STP for Employers and Employees
STP offers numerous benefits for both employers and employees, including:
- Real-time reporting: STP eliminates the need for employers to submit separate reports to the ATO, as payroll data is reported in real-time every pay cycle.
- Reduced administrative burden: The streamlined reporting process means less paperwork and manual data entry for businesses, freeing up time for other tasks.
- Improved accuracy: Real-time reporting helps to reduce errors and discrepancies in payroll data, ensuring employees receive their correct entitlements.
- Enhanced compliance: Employers can more easily meet their tax and superannuation obligations, reducing the risk of penalties and fines.
- Greater visibility for employees: Employees can access their payroll information, including year-to-date tax and superannuation details, through their myGov account, allowing them to make informed financial decisions.
How Does STP Work?
Each time you conduct a pay run, STP reports your payroll information to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), including salaries, wages, PAYG withholding, and superannuation contributions.
Reporting Through STP-Enabled Payroll Software
You need a payroll software solution with STP-enabled features to implement STP effectively. This software gathers all the relevant data required to calculate your employees’ wages, tax deductions, and superannuation contributions and reports it to the ATO automatically.
Various payroll software providers, like MYOB, Xero, and Quickbooks, offer STP-enabled solutions to help you streamline your payroll processes, ensure compliance with ATO requirements, and minimise the need for manual data entry.
When choosing STP-enabled payroll software, you should consider factors such as:
- Ease of use
- Scalability to accommodate business growth
- Compatibility with government requirements
Registering for STP with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
Once you’ve chosen your STP-enabled software, you must register for STP with the ATO. This process typically involves:
- Logging into the ATO’s Business Portal using your myGovID
- Navigating to the “Manage Employees” section
- Selecting “Report through Single Touch Payroll” and following the prompts
During registration, you must provide information about your software, such as the software ID. The ATO will then verify and approve your registration.
STP Reporting Obligations
There are three main types of STP reports that employers must submit to the ATO:
This report is submitted to the ATO each time you submit a pay run.
An update event reports employee changes year-to-date (YTD) amounts previously reported. These can be submitted at any time but should be done as soon as an error is discovered or an adjustment needs to be made to ensure accurate employee records.
Full File Replacement
A complete file replacement event may align the latest data in your payroll software with the last employee data reported to the ATO or assist with end-of-financial-year processes, including finalisation and amendments to prior finalised years.
Single-touch payroll has revolutionised the way employers manage and report payroll.
- STP is a mandatory digital payroll reporting system in Australia that streamlines reporting processes and enhances transparency.
- Businesses must use STP-enabled software and comply with reporting requirements, which include pay events, update events, and total file replacements.
- STP implementation occurred in two phases, with the second phase expanding reporting requirements.
If you need help setting up your system, selecting the best STP-enabled software for your business, and ensuring a seamless transition, contact KNS Accountants today.