With Single Touch Payroll (STP), you report your employees' payroll information to us each time you pay them through STP-enabled software. Because you already report pay as you go (PAYG) withholding in STP, we will use that same data to help you prepare your activity statements – so you can 'tell us once'.
When we use the STP reports you have sent us to pre-fill your electronic activity statement in ATO online services, we call this ATO PAYG withholding pre-fill.
We will use your STP reports to pre-fill PAYG withholding labels W1 and W2. However, we can only pre-fill your electronic activity statement with the information you send us through your STP-enabled software. Your primary source of data should be your software and payroll records. Your product may already populate W1 and W2 for you, using your records.
We will also make ATO PAYG withholding pre-fill available for digital service providers. They will determine if and when they will use this in their products.
If you use ATO online services to lodge your activity statement, ATO PAYG withholding pre-fill will be made available for:
- monthly PAYG withholders from the July 2023 activity statement
- quarterly PAYG withholders from the Quarter 1 2023–24 activity statement.
If you received ATO PAYG withholding pre-fill as part of the limited rollout which commenced in February 2020, this change won't affect you. You'll still have access to this information.
We will pre-fill your activity statements in ATO online services using the PAYG withholding amounts you’ve reported to us though STP. The payment date of your STP report will determine which activity statement we assign the PAYG withholding amounts to.
Labels and amounts we will pre-fill
We will use your STP reports to pre-fill the following PAYG withholding labels in your activity statement:
- PAYG withholding label W1: the total gross salary or wages and other payments made in the PAYG withholding month or quarter
- PAYG withholding label W2: the total amounts withheld from payments shown at label W1.
You can see the W1 and W2 amounts reported in STP that make up your pre-fill in the STP report list available in ATO online services. To view this report, go to:
- Employees function of Online services for business
- Employment > Manage employees in Online services for individuals
- STP reporting function of Online services for agents
If you are lodging your activity statement in ATO online services and pre-fill is available for the period, we will provide a hyperlink to the STP report list on the screens:
- Prepare activity statement
- Edit PAYGW
Labels and amounts we can't pre-fill
While most payments made to employees which are reported at W1 and W2 must be reported through STP, there are some payments which are out of scope or can be voluntarily reported through STP. You'll need to make sure you include these amounts in your activity statement reporting, where you haven't reported or can't report them via STP.
If you have lodged an update event, it will appear in your STP reporting list. However, remember that update events only correct employee year-to-date amounts. An update event will not include W1 and W2 totals, so will not be reflected in your activity statement pre-fill.
We can't pre-fill PAYG withholding labels W3 or W4, as amounts reported at these labels are out of scope of STP reporting. For example, where you've made a payment to a contractor who did not provide their ABN. You'll still need to complete these labels on your activity statement as you would normally.
Pre-fill will appear when your electronic activity statement is made available.
Viewing pre-fill before the end of the reporting period
Your activity statement is made available before the end of the reporting period. This means your pre-filled amounts will include STP reports lodged and processed:
- with a payment date that falls within the activity statement period, and
- up to and including the day you are reviewing the activity statement.
We will display the date of the latest STP report included in your pre-fill – in ATO online services, a message will be displayed on the Prepare activity statement and Edit PAYGW screens.
The pre-filled amount will update each time you lodge an STP report with a payment date in the same activity statement period, until you save or lodge your activity statement.
How pre-fill works when you save your activity statement
If you saved and did not lodge your activity statement, we will lock the PAYG withholding amounts. You may subsequently lodge an STP report that has a payment date in the same activity statement period. If you do, you'll be alerted that there is new STP data available the next time you view your activity statement. You can:
- correct your saved W1 and W2 amounts, or
- ignore this message if you've already accounted for the PAYG withholding amounts when you saved your activity statement.
Example: viewing pre-fill before the end of an activity statement period
Jen prepares her own activity statements and lodges them in ATO online each quarter.
Jen has one employee. She pays them $7,000 in gross payments and withholds $2,100 PAYG on the 17th day of each month. Each time Jen made a payment to her employee, she reported that payment through STP.
On 15 September, Jen reviews her electronic activity statement for Quarter 1 2023–24 and sees:
- $14,000 has been pre-filled at W1
- $4,200 has been pre-filled at W2.
Jen knows she has another pay run to make in September and that this pre-fill only reflects the payments she has made to her employee to date.
On 17 September, Jen pays her employee $7,000 in gross payments and withholds $2,100 PAYG and reports the payment through STP.
When Jen logs in to lodge her September activity statement on 21 October, the pre-fill has updated and she sees:
- $21,000 has been pre-filled at W1
- $6,300 has been pre-filled at W2.
Jen will see a message letting her know that her pre-fill includes all of the STP amounts reported for this period up to 17 September 2023.
Jen checks and confirms the amounts match her records. She then checks and completes the other labels on the activity statement before lodging and paying the amount due.End of example
You must still make sure you report your complete PAYG withholding obligation for each activity statement period (month or quarter) to us by the due date.
If you are lodging your activity statement in ATO online services, you should:
- check that pre-filled PAYG withholding amounts on your activity statement match your records
- correct pre-filled PAYG withholding amounts at labels W1 and W2 if they don't match your records, making sure to report total amounts
- complete PAYG withholding labels W3 and W4 if applicable (these amounts cannot be reported via STP) and all other remaining labels as you normally would
- lodge your activity statement and pay any amounts owing.
There may be times when you need to correct information reported through STP, or when you lodge an STP report late.
If the STP report impacts your PAYG withholding and the payment date falls within the period of the activity statement:
- If you have not yet lodged, the information in the STP report will be made available for pre-fill.
- If you have lodged, you may need to correct the PAYG withholding amounts in your activity statement. Refer to Correcting information reported through STP for information on corrections that impact your PAYG withholding liability.
We understand the nature of payroll and real time reporting means there will be times when you need to correct pre-fill. Some common reasons why the pre-filled amounts may not match your records are:
- you did not lodge all your pay events through STP
- you started reporting through STP part way through an activity statement period
- an STP report you’ve lodged for the period has not processed yet – full file replacements are processed overnight
- an STP report you lodged for the period was not able to be successfully processed
- you have reported a retrospective correction in STP
- you withheld from a payment which is out of scope of STP reporting.
If you are eligible for an STP quarterly reporting concession, we can't pre-fill your activity statement until we have received and processed your quarterly STP report.
If you report via your STP software and lodge your activity statement at the same time, the data will not be available for pre-fill. This means you will need to include these amounts in your activity statement as you normally would.
Example: PAYG withholding pre-filled labels need correcting
Jeffery’s BAS agent prepares and lodges his activity statements in ATO online each quarter.
Jeffery has 8 employees. He pays $64,000 in gross payments and withholds $19,000 PAYG on the 15th day of each month. Each time Jeffery made a payment to his employees he reported the payment through STP.
Jeffery’s BAS agent logs in to lodge the Quarter 1 2023–24 activity statement on 27 October 2023, and can see:
- $192,000 has been pre-filled at W1
- $57,000 has been pre-filled at W2
Jeffrey’s BAS agent will see a message letting him know the pre-fill includes STP amounts reported through this period up to payday 15 September 2023.
Jeffery’s BAS agent checks the pre-fill amounts against Jeff’s PAYG withholding records and they do not match. This is because Jeffrey has recently paid a contractor who has a voluntary agreement in place. He paid the contractor $3,000 and withheld $700. Jeffrey did not report this payment in STP (these payments can voluntarily be reported in STP, but it’s not mandatory). Therefore, these amounts are not reflected in Jeffrey’s pre-fill.
Jeffery’s BAS agent corrects the PAYG withholding pre-filled amounts to match his records:
- W1 is corrected to $195,000 ($192,000 + $3,000).
- W2 is corrected to $57,700 ($57,000 + $700).
Jeffery’s BAS agent then prepares the rest of the BAS for lodgement.End of example
Remember, your primary source of data should be your software and payroll records.
You should feel confident to correct pre-fill to match your records.
We may contact you where there are significant discrepancies between your STP reporting and the amounts you report on your activity statement to see if you need support.