Since 1 July 2018, Single Touch Payroll reporting (STPR) has been mandatory for ‘substantial employers’ defined as those with 20 or more employees. STPR essentially requires employers to report employee payments including pay as you go (PAYG) withholdings and superannuation amounts to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) in real time, as employees are paid.
While the ATO has marketed the move as streamlining payroll reporting for employers, the introduction of STPR will enhance the ATO’s ability to detect audit targets and identify employers falling short of their taxation obligations.
The ATO website states that you are exempt from STPR if you are an “insolvency practitioner for an employer with 20 or more employees” for the 2018-19 tax year. It further states that it is not necessary to notify or apply to the ATO in order to rely on the exemption, however the ATO recommends that records are kept supporting the decision to do so.
However, the legal basis for this exemption is unclear as neither of the two legislative instruments made by the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in relation to STPR provide for such an exemption.
Separately to the exemption, an employer may apply to the ATO for their STPR obligations to be deferred to a later date in certain circumstances, including where the employer has entered administration or liquidation. The date to which the obligations will be deferred is unclear.
 The new STPR requirements arise from the amendments to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth) made by the Budget Savings (Omnibus) Act 2016 (Cth).