The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has announced that Australian employers will be given an extra two months to transition into the second phase of Single Touch Payroll (STP). The blanket deferral was made by the ATO as a consequence of recent lockdowns and the impact of the covid-19 pandemic has continued to have on the ability for businesses to operate. 

The two-month blank deferral means that employers will be required to start reporting additional payroll information under Single Touch Payroll (STP) Phase 2 by 1st March 2022 instead of the original date set by the ATO which was previously 1st January 2022. 

“Whilst the start date for STP phase 2 remains 1 January 2022, the ATO is committed to supporting employers’ transition to STP Phase 2 reporting by being flexible, reasonable and pragmatic. Where an employer’s payroll solution is ready and they can start reporting from 1 January 2022, the ATO will support and encourage them to do so,” said a spokesperson for the ATO. 

 Employers whose payroll solution is ready for 1 January 2022 will be considered to be reporting on time provided they start Phase 2 reporting before 1 March 2022. They will not need to apply to the ATO for more time, said the ATO’s spokesperson.  

STP Phase 2 reporting means that additional information, including a breakdown of gross amounts and income types, must be reported to the ATO each payday, and also shared with Services Australia in a bid to reduce employers’ reporting obligations to multiple government agencies. 

Because STP Phase 2 is significantly reliant on software providers to update their payroll solutions, the ATO has also announced that further deferrals will be available to providers that need more time. Customers of these software providers will automatically be covered by that deferral. 

On top of the deferrals, no penalties will be handed out for honest mistakes made during the first year of reporting the expanded data. 

The concessions coincide with key accounting and business groups told the Tax Office that preparing for the expanded reporting was not a priority for businesses and their advisers, particularly in NSW and Victoria where extended lockdowns drag on. 

It is the second time the ATO has moved on its Single Touch Payroll (STP) Phase 2 deadline, after previously bowing to pressure to defer its proposed 1st July 2021 start date to 1st January 2022. 

“Workloads and deadlines are abnormal at this time and the statement by the ATO that they allow an implementation deferral until 1 March 2022 is welcome,” said the spokesperson for the ATO. 

Covid Disaster Payments In NSW and ACT Have Been Discontinued 

Residents of NSW and the ACT who have been receiving Covid-19 Disaster Payments have been told that their payments were officially discontinued on Friday 8th October. The discontinuation comes as the two jurisdictions both reached the 70 percent vaccination threshold target.  

In an update made on Friday 8th October, Services Australia confirmed that the payments have automatically “stopped”, with recipients now required to apply every week to claim the $750 payments. 

The ACT hit its 70 percent fully vaccinated threshold on 8th October, while NSW hit it on 7th October. 

The Federal Government announced the changes to the distribution of Covid-19 Disaster Payments back in late September 2021. 

“These Covid disaster payments, these business support payments have been emergency payments and we can’t continue them forever, nor can we continue lockdowns forever. If you look abroad, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States – countries are starting to live with Covid,” said Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg back in September.  

Over the past few weeks close to 1.7 million Australians living across Victoria, NSW and ACT have been receiving the payments during recent lockdowns. 

“People whose income is still affected may still be eligible for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment. “Claiming online, through myGov, remains the quickest and easiest way to claim –more than 90 per cent of claims are made online and some claims are processed within hours,” said Federal Minister for Government Services Linda Reynolds in a statement to the media on Thursday 7th October. 

Most people in Greater Sydney and NSW will have received their last automatic payment at the beginning of the week and will be able to claim from 10th October.  

People living in the inner suburbs of Sydney should have received their final automatic payment on 7th October and will be able to claim from 14th October, while those who are receiving Centrelink top-up payments can claim from 18th October onwards.