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Single Touch Payroll - Questions and answers

3 October 2019

Single Touch Payroll - Questions and answers

We ran a Single Touch Payroll (STP) webinar with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and have compiled some of the questions we received during the session.


Getting ready for STP

STP entities


Changes to reporting



How do I gain and demonstrate experience to meet the BAS agent registration requirements if I am new to the profession, having just obtained the educational qualifications?

You can gain the relevant experience:

  • under the supervision and control of a registered tax or BAS agent
  • as an employee of a registered tax or BAS agent.

To demonstrate your relevant experience you must complete a Statement of relevant experience form. If your experience is gained under the supervision of another tax practitioner, they will need to sign your statement.

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Getting ready for STP

How do I transition mid-year?

There are a number of methods to start reporting part way through a financial year. These include providing an opening year-to-date balance for all employees in an update event or in your first pay run, and starting to report with a zero year-to-date balance and give payment summaries to all of your employees for the payments you made to them prior to your first STP pay event.

The best thing to do is talk to your provider. You can also find more information on the ATO website.

Will the TPB consider contacting business owners directly about what a registered tax or BAS agent is? I have had plenty of conversations with people providing services and/or business owners that have no idea!

The TPB endeavours to reach out to the community through our various communication channels to provide information concerning registered tax and BAS agents. This includes TPB eNews, our free webinars, social media, consultative forums and speaking events. Stay in touch with us by subscribing to TPB eNews for the most up to date information.

Why can’t we lodge STP through BAS or the ATO portals, it would be so much easier?

Firstly, we wanted to leverage natural business processes of paying staff, and ATO portals do not roll off payroll processes. Secondly, we wanted to make sure that we had options to help all small employers with different digital capability, so we let Industry come to the table with a range of micro solutions to suit all business types for low or no cost.

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STP entities

What is a closely held payee?

A closely held payee means the payee is directly related to the entity from which they receive payments, for example:

  • family members of a family-owned business
  • directors or shareholders of a company
  • trustees or beneficiaries of a trust.

Employers may not always pay closely held payees a regular salary or wage, and instead, may draw on income from the business throughout the year. As STP information is reported each time payroll is run, employers would not be able to report their closely held payees this way.

Small employers (19 or less employees) with closely held payees are exempt for the 2019-20 financial year and therefore do not need to be reported.

Small employers with closely held payees will need to be reported through STP from 1 July 2020 and will have the option to report their closely held payee information quarterly.

What is a micro employer?

To be eligible for the small business quarterly reporting concession, an employer needs to be considered a micro employer at the time of application. Micro employers are those who have between 1-4 employees. Find out more about determining who is a micro employer.

What is a seasonal employer?

Seasonal or intermittent employers may have no employees for most of the year and have an increase in their employee numbers due to a seasonal workforce (for example shearing or fruit picking).

Seasonal employers will be able to start report quarterly through an STP enabled solution or through a registered agent and then notify us if they have no further requirement to report for the rest of the year.

More on information on eligibility and how to apply is coming soon.

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If a client is processing payroll and is late to file an event, does this impact us as registered agents?

If a client is lodging their own STP reports, then it has no impact on the agent.

For closely held employers who are required to start lodging from 1 July 2020, can a registered tax or BAS agent lodge the wages for the quarter or does this need to be done by the employer?

The registered tax or BAS agent can lodge for the employer.

How can a registered tax agent lodge the STP if it cannot be done through ATO portal?

You will need to report through an STP enabled solution. There are a large range of low-cost products available for registered tax and BAS agents. See the STP Product Register for more information.

We work with a number of clients in insolvency. Does the super guarantee charge need to be reported through STP?

If you are an insolvency practitioner for an 'incapacitated entity' under administration, you will need to work out how the entity's STP obligations can be met.

Payments that need to be reported include:

  • all payments of salary and wages, fair entitlements guarantee (where applicable), superannuation liability and/or ordinary time earnings and pay as you go (PAYG) withholding for employees of your client
  • any component of a dividend in lieu of salary and wages or leave, where that component is separately identifiable
  • any other payments subject to withholding that have typically been included in the employees PAYG withholding payment summary.

If your client is already reporting through STP – then you should continue to report on or before the pay date either through the client’s software or your own practice software.

If there are no employees and therefore no STP to lodge for a client, do we need to get the client to sign an authority for this to lodge the information with the ATO?

If there is no STP report, then there is no STP requirement from the employer or their agent.

Are there any options for lodging quarterly totals or do registered tax and BAS agents have to enter and lodge each pay-run into a payroll software solution?

Depending on the client’s eligibility we are offering a number of quarterly concessions. Refer to the ATO website for more detail on concessional reporting.

With STP for closely held payees only commencing from 1 July 2020, the clients will have the option to report on a quarterly basis. The ATO website mentioned the due date for lodgement will be the same as the due date for your activity statement. Our clients have an extra four weeks to lodge and pay their BAS from the normal due date. Does this four-week extension also apply to the quarterly STP reporting for tax agent clients?

The quarterly reporting concession due date is the due date including any concession that the registered tax and BAS agent gets for lodgement.

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Changes to reporting

One of my clients has been employing staff, but the business is being sold and employment has ceased. How do we advise this?

If they began reporting through STP, they can fill in a no requirement to report form. To do this:

  • log in to the Business Portal
  • select Manage employees then STP deferrals and exemptions
  • select No requirement to report.

If they have not started reporting through STP then they don’t need to do anything.

If I have a client that is registered for Pay as you go (PAYG), but they currently have no employees — do they still need to be registered for STP in case they employ someone in the future? Last financial year they only employed someone for a period of about 2-3 weeks. 

No, if they have no employees then there is no need to register for STP.

What do I do if employee numbers increase?

If your application for this concession is accepted and your employee numbers increase, you are still eligible to report quarterly until 30 June 2021.

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When an employee looks at their myGov status — Super position, is that what has been physically paid into their super account or what the employer is expected to pay?

This is what they should be expecting to be paid into their super account from their employer.

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Last modified: 3 October 2019