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  • Single Touch Payroll Employer Transition Working Group key messages 15 February 2022

    Welcome

    Chair, Chontelle Weyman welcomed members and attendees to the first Employer Transition Working Group meeting of 2022.

    Member updates

    Members were asked to provide their insights on Single Touch Payroll (STP) Phase 2 awareness amongst employers and their readiness to transition, noting:

    • Awareness of STP Phase 2 amongst small employers is relatively low as their focus remains on COVID-19 and the busy Christmas season.
    • There is a sense of relief from small employers as they have become aware that they are covered by their digital service provider’s (DSP) deferral.
    • Most employers are now working through when to implement the changes and are developing their transition plans, with some questions still being raised around product readiness.
    • Given so many employers and agents are still covered by deferrals, the ATO should review the communication messaging around the 1 January mandate to avoid unnecessary confusion.
    • Questions about mapping pay codes or items is increasing, as more within the payroll profession undertake preparations to transition.

    Digital service provider update

    Travis Wright from the ATO provided an update on DSP readiness and testing, noting the following:

    • During January 2022, 12 products were whitelisted for production, despite interruptions from the recent COVID-19 Omicron wave, including impacts on staff shortages for DSPs and their clients. A further 7 are expected to be whitelisted by the end of February 2022.
    • The ATO is continuing to track DSPs' progress against deferral due dates. Based on forecasts, the ATO is anticipating most products will be ready by the end of July 2022.
    • Common issues identified through the testing process have been captured and are being used to inform the development of help and support materials for DSPs.

    Travis also provided the group an update on DSP deferrals, noting:

    • DSPs who need additional time to update their solutions have accessed deferrals.
    • The Digital Partnership Office undertook call campaigns to contact DSPs who have deferrals until March 2022 that had not commenced testing.
    • The ATO are continually monitoring DSP readiness and sending reminder notices to DSPs in advance of deferral expiry dates.

    Employer transition and engagement

    Chontelle provided the group an update on the Phase 2 employer transition and engagement activities, noting:

    • An online employer deferral application process opened on 6 December 2021 for employers who need more time to transition. The tool is available in ATO online services.
    • Moving into 2022, we continue to receive a steady flow of requests for speaking engagements and presentations from a range of partners such as tax professionals, associations, and DSPs. These are good opportunities for the ATO to partner with industry to create awareness and understanding of STP Phase 2.
    • Pleasingly, we continue to see a number STP Phase 2 events, training and information sessions being held by industry and professional associations, payroll training associations and other industry groups without ATO involvement, which indicates awareness raising and preparation is increasing.
    • We are continuing to write out to employers through our outbound correspondence campaigns. During February 2022, we will write to those employers who will need to start reporting STP Phase 2 information between now and 1 July 2022.
    • In March 2022, we will issue a tax agent client list to all tax and BAS agents outlining their clients STP Phase 1 and Phase 2 status. The list will support agents transition plans and activities.
    • We have been engaging with some of Australia’s largest employers, to understand their readiness. These engagements provide valuable insights into the transition experience of large and complex employers. We will continue to engage throughout 2022 to ensure we have a clear understanding of their plans and how we can support their transition journey.

    Practitioner focus group

    A practitioner focus group was held in December 2021 featuring representation from the STP consultative groups, BAS Agent Association Group and Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group. This was an opportunity to explore providing additional tailored engagement and readiness support for practitioners. Subsequently, practitioner and employer checklists have been developed. These are currently going through design and we expect them to be ready for publishing in March 2022.

    Other business

    Chontelle thanked members for their attendance and closed the meeting.

      Last modified: 04 May 2022QC 69438