Single Touch Payroll (STP) commences on 1 July for employers with 20 or more staff, yet most are not even aware of what STP is all about. A second ATO reminder letter is about to go out to every client with 15 or more staff as the 1 April head count ‘lock-in’ date is fast approaching.
But most accountants have done little about STP. Only 1 in 20 businesses have indicated their accountant has even raised it with them. Many think STP is merely something between clients and their software providers. That is only part of the story. It is also about compliance i.e. accountants core business.
“Accountants, bookkeepers and tax agents are a really important resources to businesses,” said John Shepherd, the ATO’s STP program lead, “they need to get their knowledge up to speed on (STP) so they can be a key advisor to their clients.”
If they don’t, “someone else will be approaching our clients and offering services,” warned Michael Crocker, Tax Leader at Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.
This is particularly concerning given this “medium (business) group probably provide a sizable chunk of their fees,” added Mike Rich, co-founder of Attaché Software and the NFP M-Institute (ANZ).
Mr Crocker also pointed to the overseas experience in implementing similar schemes where accountants saw the legislative changes as “an opportunity to offer a suite of employment services” such as payroll tax, fringe benefits tax, superannuation and employee share plans to their clients.
According to Mr Shepherd, “the worst thing to do would be to just ignore (STP),” emphasising that accountants need to start thinking about Single Touch Payroll and take action to get themselves and their clients STP-ready.
According to Mr Rich, “our free checklist will help anyone affected by STP … there are a few extra things in the advisors version (for accountants).
These comments are part of recorded interview by Barry McGee (Worthmore) with John Shepherd (ATO), Michael McCormack (CA Australia) and Mike Rich (co-founder NFP M-Institute and Attaché Software).