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  • Guidance for pay event reporting

    This section includes how to report and fix payroll information, and rules on how to finalise employer's payroll information at the end of financial year (EOFY).

    Regular pay cycle

    A regular pay cycle is when an employer carries out payroll at fixed regular intervals to remunerate employees. This is usually weekly, fortnightly or monthly. You can have different regular pay cycles for different employees.

    When you start reporting through your Single Touch Payroll-enabled solution, your pay event will need to include minimum reporting requirements in order for us to receive the file. The fields included in your updated software will capture the data we require, which is outlined as follows.

    • You are required to report a pay event to the ATO on or before the pay day.    
      • The pay day is either the payment date stipulated in the electronic transaction to your financial institution or, if you did not stipulate a date for payment, the date you intend to make the payment into your employee's bank account.
      • If you include out-of-cycle payments in your regular pay event, report the date of your regular pay day.
    • The report must include, at a minimum, each employee with an amount subject to withholding in that regular pay cycle. The report may include information for other employees.
    • You must report the year-to-date values of gross salary or wages, allowances or other payments (as relevant), deductions and PAYG withholding for each employee included in that pay event.    
      • These year-to-date amounts may be less than a previous report (for example, recovery of a current year overpayment).
      • These amounts cannot be negative.
    • You must report period gross salary or wages (BAS label W1) and PAYG withholding (BAS label W2) for all employee payments included in that pay event.  
      • These are your 'employer-level amounts'.
      • These amounts may be negative because of fixes you've made.
      • These amounts would generally correspond to the amounts you posted to your general ledger for the pay run.
    • You must report year-to-date employer superannuation liability or ordinary time earnings (OTE) amounts for each employee in that pay event.  
      • If you pay above the minimum super guarantee (SG) liability, report this higher amount if you can't separately identify these in your payroll solution.
      • If your year-to-date employer superannuation liability is zero, report zero.
      • If your employee is a member of a defined benefit fund and you make superannuation contributions for the employee, report this amount. Otherwise, report zero as the super liability amount. This would usually correspond to the year-to-date amount shown on the employee’s payslip.
      • Where you cannot report superannuation liability you must report the year-to-date OTE amount.
      • You can report both OTE and SG amounts if your payroll solution allows.
      • We will compare the superannuation liability amounts you report with information we receive from superannuation funds. If we identify your contributions vary significantly from the liability reported, we will contact you.
    • All payees must have either a tax file number (TFN) or Australian business number (ABN) reported.  
      • Where you report a payment and withholding to a contractor under a voluntary agreement, you must provide the contractor’s ABN. The contractor’s TFN is not required. The reporting of these payments through Single Touch Payroll is voluntary.
      • Where a TFN has not been provided you must use the TFN exemption codes.
      • A payee may be a contractor and employee with the same payroll ID within the same financial year. If so, the TFN and ABN must be reported if payments are made under both a voluntary agreement and any other gross payment.
    • A pay event must contain at least one employee record.
    • A pay event can only include one record per employee, per payroll ID.    
      • If you establish two payroll records for an individual you can report these payments within the same pay event by using unique payroll identifiers. You must report separate year-to-date amounts for each unique payroll identifier for an employee.
    • Where an employee is paid more than once on a particular day, you may provide a single report for that employee including the latest year-to-date figures (for example, updated year-to-date figures including all payments made for the day).  
      • The employer level W1 and W2 amounts must include all payments included in the report.
    • You may lodge multiple pay event files for the same day. The time stamp is always used to identify the latest record for each employee to ensure the employee’s myGov display recognises the latest record.

    Pay as you go (PAYG) branches or multiple payroll solutions

    An employer can report separately based on how their employee records are managed. If an employee is paid out of two systems there will be two corresponding end of financial year summaries for each instance reported.

    PAYG withholding branches

    Some business entities register PAYG withholding branches to suit the structural, management and accounting arrangements of the organisation. When an entity registers a branch, it must report and pay PAYG withholding separately for each branch.

    If you have registered multiple PAYG branches, you must conduct your Single Touch Payroll reporting separately for each branch.

    Multiple payroll solutions

    When you run multiple payroll solutions, you can report separately from each payroll solution. This will be identified by the payroll solution via a unique BMS ID, which forms part of the pay event file.

    If you report PAYG withholding through an activity statement we will pre-fill labels W1 and W2 with the sum of amounts across all of your BMS IDs from 1 July 2019.

    Out-of-cycle reporting

    You may make payments other than as part of the employee's regular pay cycle, such as when you pay commissions, bonuses, payments in advance or back payments.

    These payments may be reported in either:

    • submitting a pay event on or before the pay day you made the payment
    • including the out-of-cycle payment made to the employee in the next regular pay event you lodge. This can be when you pay that employee in your next regular pay cycle, as long as it's in the same financial year. If the next regular pay cycle is in the following financial year, you must report the payment by 30 June in the year the payment was made.

    Example: out-of-cycle reporting

    ABC Pty Ltd pays its employees monthly. The employment agreement stipulates that employees should receive their pay on the 15th of every month.

    On 30 March, Matthew, an employee of ABC Pty Ltd, earns a commission of $1,000. On 31 March, ABC Pty Ltd processes Matthew's commission through payroll.

    ABC Pty Ltd has two options to report the payment made to Matthew, either:

    • report this payment to Matthew through a separate pay event (that is, not the regular 15th of the month pay event)
    • include the commission payment to Matthew when it submits the next regular pay event (the pay event with the pay date 15 April).

    *Note: some Single Touch Payroll-enabled solutions may not offer both options.

    End of example

    Employment termination payments (ETP)

    If you make an employment termination payment (ETP) you must report it in a pay event on or before the day you make the payment.

    If the payment is not made as part of your regular pay cycle, you may apply the same rules that apply to out-of-cycle payments. That is, you may report it as an out-of-cycle payment or include it in your next regular pay event report.

    ETPs are reported by ETP type code and payment date. If you pay the ETP in multiple instalments, you will report each payment separately. If you pay multiple ETP types on the same day, they must still be identified separately if the ETP type code is different.

    You must not add the payments together and report the payments as a year-to-date figure unless they are paid on the same day and are the same type.

    Death benefit ETP

    If you pay a death benefit ETP, you have the option to report this payment through Single Touch Payroll. If you do so, and make a finalisation declaration in relation to this payment, you will be exempt from providing a payment summary and payment summary annual report.

    The estate beneficiary tax file number (TFN) should be reported if the employer has been given the details. This could either be an individual TFN where the beneficiary is a dependant or non-dependant or the estate TFN when paid to a trustee.

    If you pay more than one ETP to the same beneficiary or estate in the same financial year, you must report each payment separately. You must not add the payments together and report the payments as year-to-date figures.

    Lump sum E

    If you make a Lump sum E payment you must issue the employee with a letter specifying the financial years over which the amount accrued and the gross amount that accrued each financial year. This is as per current requirements and has not changed as a result of Single Touch Payroll.

    Lump sum D

    If the employee’s only income for the financial year is a Lump sum D income then no PAYG should be withheld and the payments do not need to be reported to us.

    Foreign employment income

    The classification of payments made to employees working in foreign countries depends on a number of factors, such as the time in the foreign country and the applicable tax treaties.

    These rules detail how you can report and adjust these payments through Single Touch Payroll.

    You can use one or a combination of three models to report:


    If you believe the employee will remain overseas for the qualifying period, treat that employee as earning foreign income from the beginning.

    If the employee’s status changes, adjust the employee's year-to-date figures accordingly. You may also need to adjust your employer level amounts.

    • For example, your employee is working overseas for a year and the payments are subject to withholding in that country. Apply the withholding rate for that country from the beginning.


    Treat the employee as earning foreign income from the time they qualify for withholding in the foreign country.


    Treat that employee as an employee working in Australia for the financial year and then reconcile the payments and withholding at the end of the financial year.

    How to report foreign employment income

    Foreign employment income is reported as follows:

    • Payments to an employee posted to a foreign country should be reported as foreign employment income if amounts are withheld in that country.
    • If no amounts are withheld for the foreign country then payments should be reported as individual non-business payment types.
    • If the employee is posted to the joint petroleum development area (JPDA) then the amounts must be reported as JPDA foreign employment income.
    • The employer should follow the accounting for foreign tax instructions.

    You must report payments made to employees posted overseas throughout the year and make adjustments as required. These adjustments can be reported in either a pay event or update event. The adjustments can be done throughout the year or at the end as part of the finalisation process.

    See also:

    Exempt foreign employment income

    The following information needs to be reported for exempt foreign employment income:

    • If the employee’s only income for the financial year is exempt foreign employment then no PAYG should be withheld. You don’t need to report these payments through Single Touch Payroll.
    • Where the employee returns to Australia earlier than expected, the employer needs to start reporting the employee in the next pay event or an update event.

    Where the employee has another payment type to be reported as well as exempt foreign employment income, then the employer must report throughout the year and make adjustments as required. These adjustments can be reported in either a pay or update event. The adjustments can be done throughout the year or at the end as part of the finalisation process.

    Reportable fringe benefit amounts and reportable employer superannuation contributions

    You can report an employee's reportable fringe benefit amount (RFBA) or a reportable employer superannuation contribution (RESC) through Single Touch Payroll.

    You only report RFBA amounts if the total taxable value of certain fringe benefits you provided to your employee exceeds $2,000 for the fringe benefits tax year (1 April to 31 March).

    The following information needs to be reported for RFBA or RESC:

    • You may provide year-to-date RFBA and RESC through a pay event (if the information is available in payroll) throughout the financial year.
    • You may provide year-to-date RFBA and RESC through an update event throughout the financial year.
    • Once you’ve reported an amount, you should continue to report the amount in all following pay events, even if the year-to-date amounts remain the same.
    • You may report these amounts through an update event. This can be before or when you make the declaration that you have finalised your reporting for that employee for the financial year.
    • If you cannot (or choose not to) provide RFBA or RESC through Single Touch Payroll, you must provide this information on a payment summary and provide us with a payment summary annual report. The payment summary must not include amounts reported through Single Touch Payroll.
    Last modified: 22 Mar 2018QC 54550