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  • 20 May 2016

    The ATO Tax Practitioner Advisory Group meeting was held on Friday 20 May 2016.

    The information provided below is to assist professional associations to communicate key messages to members.

    Proposed superannuation reforms

    If the proposed reforms are legislated:

    • The lifetime cap will take effect from 7:30pm on 3 May 2016, taking into account all non-concessional contributions made since 1 July 2007.
    • The Budget 2016 superannuation fact sheet 04 highlights this change is only expected to affect a relatively small number of individuals, contributing more than $500,000 non-concessional amounts.
    • We do not currently publish information on superannuation fund members who have contributed more than $500,000 in non-concessional contributions to their superannuation fund.
    • We can calculate the non-concessional contribution amount for all superannuation fund members (from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2015) where individuals and superannuation funds have met their lodgment obligations.

    The contact details to obtain this amount are:

    • Tax Practitioners – 13 72 86 (Fast Key Code 4 4) or via the portal
    • Individuals – 13 10 20
    • Written requests or bulk requests (greater than 10 clients) - GPO Box 9990 in any capital city.

    For phone contact a response will be provided through a call back service within 48 hours. Written and bulk requests will take longer.

    To ensure we can provide this information to clients who have a critical need to understand their position, we ask you to prioritise your requests for balance information as we work towards a more streamlined process that will be in place before 1 July.

    We will be using the data and information in our holdings to work with super funds and their members to inform them when members are likely to be approaching or exceeding their contribution limit.

    If the remaining reforms proposed for superannuation are legislated:

    • They will take effect from 1 July 2017.
    • The Budget 2016 superannuation fact sheets provide further detail about the proposed measures.
    • We recognise the need to provide visibility and certainty for tax practitioners to enable individuals to make informed decisions about their superannuation contributions.
    • We will be using the data and information in our holdings to work with super funds and their members to inform them when members are likely to be impacted by the proposed measures.

    SuperStream and small businesses

    More than 450,000 small businesses (65% of total population) have implemented SuperStream.

    Small businesses have until 30 June 2016 to implement SuperStream (the actual reporting period for contributions extends to 28 July 2016).

    Our message to small business is – if you are not one of these then time is running out.

    What do small businesses need to do?

    SuperStream requires all businesses to send all super payments and employee information electronically in a standard format.

    A business can select how they become SuperStream ready – they can choose an option that best suits their business. These include using a payroll system that meets the SuperStream standard, a super fund’s online system, a messaging portal or a super clearing house, including the ATO’s Small Business Super Clearing House (SBSCH).

    How can accounting professionals assist small businesses

    We are encouraging accounting professionals to proactively support their employer clients in their SuperStream implementation. Tax Time is an opportunity to remind employers of their SuperStream obligations.

    We are reminding businesses they can seek advice and assistance on implementing SuperStream from their accounting professional. This may include helping an employer choose an option to implement SuperStream that best suits their business needs.

    For those businesses who do not operate electronically, they can use a third party, such as a bookkeeper or accountant, to pay their super using SuperStream on their behalf, including delegating access to the SBSCH.

    What are we hearing from small businesses

    We are hearing from many small businesses that have implemented SuperStream and are realising the benefits it provides including streamlined processing and a reduction in time spent on super processing by around 70 per cent each cycle.

    • ‘It was easy once I got my head around it, and now I’m SuperStream compliant, ahead of the deadline. Now that I’ve done it once, I know I can do it again next time, as it’s all set to go.’ Gwenda Rowbottom, Farming, NSW, Fund Portal solution.
    • ‘I don’t have to log into different sites to make different payments, it’s seamless. Processing time is now 5 minutes rather than 45 minutes. It’s hugely improved the time. The bigger the organisation; the better the streamlining. If you’re time poor SuperStream is a good thing to do.’ Ange Hopkins, Hairdressing, VIC, Payroll Solution.

    We are hearing of some common challenges for small businesses with SuperStream implementation – reluctance to stop paying by cheque, internet connectivity issues, no access to electronic banking or confusion of solutions available.

    Some small businesses are concerned they do not operate electronically and therefore cannot meet the requirements of SuperStream or want to continue paying by cheque.

    • The design of SuperStream acknowledges that some businesses may be reluctant to undertake internet banking and/or have issues in managing direct internet connectivity.
    • SuperStream does not mandate how this happens and therefore employers can continue paying by cheque by using an agent as their intermediary and providing them the mandatory employee details required by SuperStream.
    • Employers who do not have access to a computer can also delegate an agent to use this service and act on their behalf.

    Some small businesses who are already paying super electronically and concerned and assume they are already SuperStream compliant or concerned they have to change the way they make their payments (ie use a clearing house or a fund’s online portal solution):

    • Our advice to these employers is they are already well on their way to being SuperStream compliant as EFT and BPAY are compliant payment options. They do, however, need to ensure they are including the necessary data as prescribed by SuperStream.

    We continue to work with solution providers to identify new solutions for small employers who may struggle to implement SuperStream.

    We are conducting a small business pulse survey in May to assess SuperStream readiness amongst this segment as the 30 June 2016 deadline approaches.

    SuperStream Education and Support

    We are continuing to educate and support businesses with their SuperStream implementation.

    Webinars - Our employer-focused webinars are well subscribed and we they are scheduled until end of June.

    We have scheduled a weekend webinar on Saturday 28 May at 10am; and an after business hours webinar on Wednesday 22 June at 7pm. We will monitor demand and schedule more webinars out of hours as required.

    Media releases - We issued a media release on 5 May reminding employers there were eight weeks until the deadline; we intend to issue a media release on 1 June advising there is one month to go.

    Media releases – Weeks to go until SuperStream deadline for small business | Australian Taxation Office

    Employer checklist and video – There are a range of SuperStream information and tools available on our website – - to help employers. These include an employer checklist, brochure and a short video.

    Employer checklist

    SuperStream employer brochure (PDF, 6.3MB)This link will download a file

    SuperStream makes super simple for employersExternal Link

    Employee or contractor? Avoid the mythsExternal Link

    Employer SuperStream FAQ 

    Small Business Newsroom – We regularly publish SuperStream-related articles in the ATO’s Small Business Newsroom.

    Social media - We are continuing to include SuperStream messages via the ATO’s social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter, and encouraging third parties to promote similar messages via social media.

    More information

    Tax practitioners can obtain more information on these topics from the professional association representatives. Tax practitioners should contact their representative to contribute items for future discussions.

    Tips and links

    The tax profession is going through significant change. Open forums provide a platform for discussion on how the environment and systems are changing, and to encourage and support practitioners to get ready for these changes.

      Last modified: 27 Mar 2019QC 27350