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  • When to start reporting

    The timeframe, reporting systems and concessions available for Single Touch Payroll reporting depend on how many employees you have.

    You can do a headcount to work out how many employees you have.

    On this page:

    Counting your employees

    Each of the following count as one employee:

    • Full-time employees
    • Part-time employees
    • Casual employees
    • Employees based overseas
    • Any employee absent or on leave (paid or unpaid).

    Don't include the following in your headcount:

    • Employees who have ceased working for you
    • Independent contractors
    • Staff provided by a third-party labour hire organisation
    • Office holders
    • Religious practitioners
    • Closely held payees such family members of a family business, directors or shareholders of a company and beneficiaries of a trust.

    If you have a mixture of employees (who are included in your headcount) and closely held payees (who are excluded from your headcount), you are still considered a micro employer if you have 1–4 employees.


    You have:

    • three full-time employees
    • one part-time employee
    • two directors.

    You are considered to have four employees and are considered a micro employer.

    End of example

    Employers with 19 or less (small employers)

    STP started from 1 July 2019 for employers with 19 or less employees.

    This will be a gradual start and not all employers will start reporting at the same time.

    There are three options around reporting:

    1. Start reporting now – If you use payroll software which is STP-enabled, you can start reporting now. To find out what you need to do talk to your software provider or visit their website. See our STP checklists for important steps you need to take to connect your software to the ATO.
    2. Apply for more time to get ready – If you're not ready to start reporting, apply for a deferral. Or if you meet the criteria, you can apply for an exemption.
    3. Consider if one of the concessional reporting options is right for you.

    Employers with 1–4 employees (micro employers)

    If you have 1–4 employees and you don't currently use payroll software, there are concessional reporting options for micro employers.

    We have asked software developers to build no-cost and low-cost STP solutions for micro employers, including simple payroll software, mobile phone apps and portals.

    You also have the option to get your registered tax or BAS agent to report on your behalf. They can do this quarterly, rather than each time you run your payroll. This option will be available until 30 June 2021.

    Employers with closely held payees

    A closely held payee means the payee is directly related to the entity from which they receive payments, for example:

    • family members of a family-owned business
    • directors or shareholders of a company
    • trustees or beneficiaries of a trust.

    Employers may not always pay closely held payees a regular salary or wage. Instead, they may draw on income from the business throughout the year. As STP information is reported each time payroll is run, employers will not be able to report these types of payments to their closely held payees.

    There are concessional reporting options for employers with closely held payees.

    Employers with 20 or more employees

    STP started from 1 July 2018 for employers with 20 or more employees.

    If you're not sure if STP applied to you during the 2018–19 financial year, you can do a STP headcount 2018–19This link opens in a new window to check if you had 20 or more employees as at 1 April 2018.

    You should either be reporting through STP now, or have a deferral in place to start reporting at a later date.

    If you have not yet started reporting through STP, we have checklists to help you get ready. You can find out if your software is STP-enabled by talking to your software provider. Your tax professional can also help.


    The 12 month transition period to start STP reporting ended on 30 June 2019.

    If you haven't started reporting via STP and you don’t have a deferral, we may contact you. If you don't start reporting within a reasonable amount of time, we may apply penalties.

    Find out about:

    See also:

    Last modified: 01 Oct 2019QC 54702