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  • Small Business Stewardship Group key messages 1 March 2022

    Member discussion

    Discussion focused on what members are hearing from small business including impacts from recent flooding events and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    • Floods have resulted in loss of homes, stock and livestock with flow-on effects for supply chains.
    • Flood events emphasise the ‘wave after wave’ of impacts businesses have experienced and should be viewed as ‘compounding’ not stand-alone.
    • Angst is high due to ongoing uncertainty and this is impacting mental health.
    • The housing market was tight before the recent flood events in Queensland and New South Wales and housing shortage and affordability issues, particularly for rental accommodation. Housing shortages will be further compounded by the unavailability of tradies and materials.
    • The ability for small business to access proportionate and cost-effective insurance is likely to be impacted.
    • Businesses outside the flood zone that are impacted may not be eligible for government support.
    • Many businesses have depleted their financial reserves. There may be ongoing hurdles accessing capital.
    • With commercial tenancy rent relief coming to an end, many small businesses may face eviction.
    • Consumer confidence in the hospitality sector has increased albeit there is still hesitation from some. Consumer preferences have changed with takeaway food sector sales higher then pre-pandemic – with changes in business models as a result.
    • The hospitality sector is being affected by increasing inflation, immigration policies and skill shortages.
    • ATO trust guidelines released for consultation have created concerns amongst small businesses and tax professionals.
    • Business owners and intermediaries that assist business are facing increasing mental strain.
    • Tax professional associations highlighted feedback received from members regarding concerns with ATO payment and lodgment processes.
    • Although Australian Bureau of Statistics data suggests business and industry are doing well, this is not the case for everyone.
    • Businesses want a coordinated, single contact point for state and Australian Government support.

    Agency updates

    Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO)

    The Discretionary Mutual Funds review report (PDF 4.45MB)This link will download a file was released on 6 December 2021. With insurance issues becoming wider due to natural disasters, this work may have broader application.

    Work on the inquiry into small business natural disaster preparedness and resilience continues with extensive consultation conducted across five states.


    The NewAccess for Small Business OwnersExternal Link program and Small Business Debt HelplineExternal Link have been extended to the end of 2022.

    The Payment Times Reporting Scheme is in place and the most recent annual Pay On-Time Survey, released in January 2022 demonstrates that Commonwealth agencies are continuing to improve their payment time performance to small businesses.


    The ATO is actively monitoring the flooding in Queensland and New South Wales. Our message is not to worry about tax affairs right now. We will provide tailored support and help affected taxpayers get their tax affairs back on track later.

    Insights from members are invaluable in helping us understand small business issues and challenges below headline statistics, assisting our empathetic engagement with clients.

    Member comments

    Members discussed the ATO’s Independent review service and how the ATO can work with associations to raise awareness of the service – particularly why small businesses choose not to use it when those who use it are positive about it, regardless of the outcome.

    New website and Small business newsroom

    The website is the ATO’s highest used digital channel, attracting almost 113 million visits last financial year.

    The ATO’s website technology needs replacing. The new website is a key priority for the ATO and design improvements will be delivered through this process.

    The design of the new website has been developed as a result of extensive community consultation with over 5,000 users across all audience groups, including 1,200 business representatives.

    The new intends to improve the experience for the community, intermediaries and businesses by making it easier to find, understand and use tax and super information.

    The Small business newsroom will also undergo changes as part of the transition to the new platform. The changes will ensure the newsroom meets accessibility requirements and increases engagement through improved visual and timely content to subscribers.

    Member comments

    • It would be useful to reference other government agency content in the Small business newsroom.
    • Content should be current and continually updated with real-time information.
    • Users rely on social media and mobile devices to access information.
    • It is not always apparent where and how to subscribe to the Small business newsroom

    Review of the Superannuation standard choice form

    The Superannuation standard choice form (the form) is used by businesses when onboarding new employees to ensure they meet their choice of fund obligations.

    With the introduction of stapled super fund measures, the importance of employees exercising choice has increased. Employers are now required to request stapled super fund details when an employee does not provide a choice.

    The ATO has received anecdotal feedback from a number of stakeholders regarding the form. Themes include the need for a better explanation of the options available to an employee following stapled fund reforms, better form design and instructions, and the need for digital solutions.

    In response to this feedback, the ATO is undertaking a review of the form to understand what works well, and what potential changes can be considered and user-tested for future improvements.

    Member comments

    Members offered the following insights regarding small business experience with the form including awareness of obligations.

    • The form requires modernisation to reflect superannuation reform and small business progression towards digitalisation.
    • Employees, especially those new to the workforce, do not have much knowledge about superannuation obligations and employer knowledge is often limited.
    • It can be onerous and time consuming for employers to explain the purpose of the form.
    • Employees often do not return the form or choose the default option as it is the easiest selection even though they may have an existing superannuation fund.
    • There may be benefit in going back to basics with employer education, given the volume of change over the last 18 months.
    • Utilising existing trusted adviser pathways will help translate government messaging to small businesses.

    Single Touch Payroll Phase 2 implementation

    Single Touch Payroll (STP) Phase 2 reporting commenced 1 January 2022.The ATO is taking a pragmatic and reasonable approach to support employers to transition to STP Phase 2.

    • If an employer’s digital service provider (DSP) is ready, we encourage them to start reporting.
    • Many DSPs needed more time to update their products and transition their customers, so have applied for a deferral, which covers their customers. As such there are various deferral dates throughout 2022. Employers will need to speak to their DSP to understand their deferred start date.
    • An online deferral application process is available for employers who need more time to transition to STP Phase 2 reporting. Tax professionals can apply on their clients’ behalf.
    • The ATO has commenced the failure-to-lodge penalty process for the small business employers who have not yet commenced STP Phase 1 reporting and should have.

    Director identification number

    Director ID has had a strong uptake during its soft launch into public beta on 1 November 2021.

    Communication activities are increasing with a focus on tailored communication for small business owners who make up 65% of potential director ID applicants.

    Conversation focused on how the ATO can better raise awareness of director ID obligations in the small business community, especially those that may not identify as company directors.

    Member comments

    • Australian Business Registry Services branding could be problematic as it is relatively new.
    • Utilise trusted pathways –.professional and industry associations can assist with raising awareness if they are provided content to shape communications for their members.
    • Consider using other channels, including social media to promote director ID requirements and to gain traction on existing directors applying for their director ID.

    A communication pack was shared out of session to assist members with their own director ID communications.


    Attendees list




    Deborah Jenkins (Co-chair), Small Business


    Andrew Watson, Small Business


    Emma Rosenzweig, Superannuation and Employer Obligations


    Vivek Chaudhary, Lodge and Pay

    Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

    Jenny Lambert

    Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association

    Ben Kearney

    Australian Retailers Association

    Jason Robertson

    Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman

    Bruce Billson (Co-chair)

    Australian Veterinary Association

    Moss Siddle

    Business Enterprise Centres Australia

    John Todd

    Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

    Susan Franks

    Council of Small Business Organisations Australia

    Alexi Boyd

    Direct Selling Association of Australia Inc

    Gillian Stapleton

    Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

    Matthew Addison

    Motor Trades Association of Australia

    Richard Dudley

    Real Estate Institute of Australia

    Jock Kreitals

    Restaurant and Catering Industry Association

    Hugo Robinson

    Small business operator

    Paul Meissner

    Small business operator

    Tony Sama


    Bede Fraser


    Peter Cully

    Guest attendees

    Guest attendees list




    Anthony Marvello, Technical Leadership and Advice


    Gillian Reeves, ATO Corporate


    Katie Constance, Superannuation and Employer Obligations


    Larissa Jones-Angel, ATO Corporate


    Marina Dolevski, Small Business Assurance


    Mitchell-Lee Meek, ATO Corporate


    Moe Elrifai, ATO Corporate


    Ross Edwards, ATO Corporate


    Tammy Gardner, Australian Business Registry Services


    Thomas O’Byrne, ATO Corporate


    Tracie Crowden, Superannuation and Employer Obligations


    Apologies list




    Michelle Crosby, Australian Business Registry Services

    Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association

    Michael Renshaw

    Indigenous Business Australia

    Greg Ellis

    Small business operator

    Deborah Cook

      Last modified: 22 Apr 2022QC 69382