ATO streamlines Single Touch Payroll reporting for agents

The ATO has streamlined the requirements for registered agents lodging Single Touch Payroll forms on behalf of employers.

Previously registered agents – including tax agents – needed to get a declaration that the information in the Single Touch Payroll lodgment was ‘true and correct’ and they were authorised to lodged the form each time. This is common for other tax forms, but these are lodged much less frequently than under Single Touch Payroll – which requires lodgements each pay cycle.

“You have told us that the requirement to have a written declaration each time you lodge a STP [Single Touch Payroll] pay event for you client was impractical. This is due to the need to submit STP pay events every pay day for your clients, which could be weekly, fortnightly or monthly – depending on your payroll frequency,” says the ATO.

“We have been working with your professional associations and now have another solution to meet your needs.”

The ATO has “streamlined” this process by allowing – eligible – employers to provide the declarations once a year instead of each pay event. This is through a ‘STP engagement authority’.

“The STP engagement authority is subject to eligibility criteria and must only be used for lodging an STP pay event – not other approved forms,” says the ATO.

“An authority must be reviewed and signed by an employer and their registered agent every 12 months or any time there has been a significant change in the industrial relations, taxation or payroll process.”

However not all employers are eligible to provide an STP engagement authority, such as those who have overdue activity statement lodgements. The ATO lists the other eligibility requirements on its website.

“The STP engagement authority does not apply to other approved forms or the finalisation declaration.”

“A registered agent must still obtain a signed declaration in writing from an employer before making the finalisation declaration on behalf of the employer at the end of the financial year. ”

The STP engagement authority seemingly doesn’t have an approved form, though the ATO, on its website, sets out some minimum expectations.

“Both the employer and registered agent should co-sign the agreement, and keep a copy for their records. You do not need to provide a copy to the ATO.”

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