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  • How to lodge your ESS annual report electronically

    This guide provides information to help you lodge your employee share scheme (ESS) annual report electronically.

    This guide also includes information about:

    • software requirements
    • the formats you need to use for each report.

    See also:

    Employee share schemes

    If you are an ESS reporting party (provider), you are required to report information to us in an annual report after the end of the financial year. This must be on our approved form (refer to the current specifications).

    • You must provide an ESS statement to your employee by 14 July after the end of each financial year.
    • You must lodge your ESS annual report information to us by 14 August after the end of each financial year.

    Software requirement

    To lodge your annual reports electronically, you must create your reports on software compatible with our systems.

    If you are using commercial software, register your details with the digital service provider so you receive upgrades for future changes to our specifications.

    If you are developing your own in-house software to lodge annual reports electronically, make sure you see our specificationsExternal Link.

    Ensure you use the correct version of the specifications depending on the year you are reporting. If amending a previous year's report use the version of the specification that relates to the year you are amending.

    • 2020 onwards use version 3.0.1
    • 2018 and 2019 use specification version 3.0.0
    • 2017 and 2016 use specification version 2.0.0
    • 2015 and prior years cannot be lodged electronically, refer to For 2015 and prior years

    Note: You should always create backup files of your annual report.

    Intermediary (supplier) number to use when lodging electronically

    An intermediary (supplier) is the entity lodging the ESS annual report.

    This may be either:

    • you if you lodge your own annual report
    • a third party that lodges reports on behalf of others – for example, payroll service providers and tax agents.

    When you save your ESS annual report information from your software to your hard drive you may be asked for a supplier number. This is the Australian business number (ABN) of the entity supplying the data (reporting party).

    If you are reporting online, you need to use your ABN in the intermediary number field – the ABN you use must be linked to your myGovID in Relationship Authorisation ManagerExternal Link (RAM).

    Intermediaries (suppliers) are required to complete the Employee share scheme annual report – supplier lodgment declaration.

    If you lodge annual reports for several entities, you may use the ABN listed in your intermediary record for all lodgments – this ABN must be linked to your myGovID in RAM.

    You must ensure the correct reporting party ABN is used in the data records. If you lodge on behalf of others, the intermediary ABN will be different to the ESS reporting party ABN.

    Overseas reporting parties

    From the 2015–16 reporting period onwards, there are changed procedures for overseas reporting parties.

    The bulk load Excel spreadsheet and paper forms will not be available for reporting for the 2016 financial year onward.

    Since the 2016 financial year you need to engage an intermediary (subsidiary, tax agent or share registry) to lodge your report. Your intermediary will be required to lodge via Online services for agents using the current electronic reporting specificationExternal Link, completing the 'Reporting Party (Provider) ABN' field with zeros.

    For 2015 and prior financial years ESS amendment reporting:

    • if you engage an intermediary (subsidiary, tax agent or share registry) to lodge your report, your intermediary will be required to lodge either    
      • via Online services for agents using the File Transfer option using the electronic reporting specification V1.0.1
      • via Online services for agents using the Practice mail option and using the bulk load Excel spreadsheet V1.3.4. The spreadsheet is only available upon request. To request the ESS spreadsheet email ATO-ESS@ato.gov.au
      • by mail using the paper form NAT 73514
    • if you do not engage an intermediary (subsidiary, tax agent or share registry) to lodge your report you are able to use the paper form NAT 73514.

    Lodging your ESS annual report

    You can lodge your ESS annual report online using either:

    There are minimum security and computer requirements needed to use these online services. You'll need:

    You can use Access Manager to manage access and permissions to your account and our online services.

    Prepare your files using software compatible with our systemsExternal Link.

    There are three ways to lodge your ESS report online:

    See also:

    Lodging files using file transfer function

    Prepare your files using software compatible with our systemsExternal Link.

    • On the Agent home page, select Reports and forms then File Transfer.
    • Select Lodge file to submit a file to test or lodge.

    Information on the Lodge file screen allows you to:

    • view which reports you are authorised to test and lodge via the ‘What reports can I lodge here’ link
    • test or lodge a file
    • choose to receive, or to not receive, an email notification when a validation report or file becomes available to download
    • add, update or delete an email address for notifications.

    Test your file

    Clients are encouraged to test their file to eliminate errors before lodging.

    To test a file, use the following steps:

    • From the Lodge File screen select the Test radio button.
    • Browse to select the file from your network.
    • The Run Type (6.17) field in the Intermediary Data Record must be set to ‘T’ for test data
    • To receive a notification email advising you the validation report is available for download, enter your organisation’s preferred email address for notifications. Only one email address can be input.
    • Select Submit to transfer the file to us for testing. Files submitted as a ‘test’ are not ‘lodged’ with us.
    • During the file transfer a progress indicator is displayed.
    • If the test file is successfully submitted, a reference number is displayed for your records.
    • To see the outcome of your test choose either the View validation result hyperlink on screen or View status.
    • Errors and warnings found in the file are listed in the validation report.

    Test status

    The status of your file will indicate the success or failure of the validation process.

    • If the status is Test failed, you will need to fix any errors before you lodge your file.
    • If the status is Test successful with warnings, we recommend you review and resolve the warnings before you lodge your file (however, you can proceed to Lodge your file).
    • If the status is Test successful, you can proceed to Lodge your file.

    Lodge your file

    After successfully testing your file, you can lodge your file.

    • From the Lodge File screen select the Lodge button.
    • Browse to select the file from your network.
    • Your notification email address will default to the last used email address (if you haven’t entered an email address previously, enter the email address).
    • When you select Lodge the ‘declaration statement’ is a mandatory field – read the statement and click on the declaration statement checkbox.
    • Select Submit to lodge the file to us.
    • During the file transfer a progress indicator is displayed.
    • If the lodgment is successfully submitted a reference number is displayed for your records.
    • To see the outcome of your lodgment choose either the ‘view validation result’ hyperlink on screen or View status.

    Lodgment status

    The status of your file will indicate the success or failure of the validation process.

    • View the status of your file under the Status column.
    • If the status is Lodge failed, you will need to fix any errors before you lodge your corrected file (errors and warnings found in the file are listed in the validation report).
    • If the status is Lodge successful with warnings, we recommend you review and resolve the warnings prior to your next lodgment (warnings found in the file are listed in the validation report).
    • If the status is Lodge successful, you have completed the lodgment process.

    Validation report

    One of four validation reports are generated and available for download by the lodger from the file status screen:

    • Successful Validation Report
    • Successful With Warnings Validation Report
    • Failed File Content Validation Report
    • Failed File Format Validation Report.

    Download the validation report by selecting the ‘download validation report’ hyperlink. The validation report can be saved to your network.

    Lodging files using the online form function

    Note: This option is only available to employers reporting for 50 employees or less, with up to 3 different schemes per employee.

    • For Online services for agents only, choose the client then select Lodgments then Client Forms in the menu
    • For the Business Portal select Online Forms in the menu.
    • Select the ESS annual report form.
    • Select Lodge for the reporting year
    • Enter your data.
    • Select ‘Lodge’ when complete.

    For 2015 and prior years

    How to lodge your ESS spreadsheet online

    The spreadsheet is only available upon request. To request the ESS spreadsheet email ATO-ESS@ato.gov.au.

    Note: Spreadsheets can only be lodged for 2015 and prior years.

    • Create a new mail message.
    • Select the Lodge report topic.
    • Select the Employee share scheme annual report extension of time subject.
    • Attach your spreadsheet (ESSccyyBnnnnnnnnnVn.xls – this file will appear blank when opened).
    • Select Send.

    Note: If you cannot access the 'Mail' or 'Practice mail' option on the menu, request access from your Access Administrator.

    If you are using an intermediary (supplier) to lodge your ESS report on your behalf, remember to download and retain your Employee share scheme annual report – supplier lodgment declaration for a minimum period of five years.

    Making changes before you lodge

    When you first create your report you will have three files, the:

    • template ESS Bulk Load Excel Spreadsheet v1.3.4.xls
    • working file ESS-ccyy-Bulk Load Tool-Bnnnnnnnnn.xls
    • file you send to us ESSccyyBnnnnnnnnnVn.xls.

    It is important you do not amend or change any data in the file already sent to us. To make changes prior to lodging:

    • go back into the working file
    • make your amendments
    • create another version of the file for us.

    This will ensure the data in your working file will match the data you send to us.

    Backing up your data

    You should always create backup files of your annual report.

    If we reject the information you lodge or you need to access data (for example, for an employee who has lost a statement), you may need to reload your data. You also need to keep a copy of your annual report to meet our record-keeping requirements. Contact your digital service provider for assistance with backups.

    Checklist

    • Ensure you have used the correct reporting party ABN.
    • Ensure your ESS annual report provides details of all ESS taxing events that occurred for employees during the financial year.
    • Ensure you created a backup copy of your ESS annual report because you must retain employee statement information for a minimum five years (you may also store the information electronically).
    • Do not sent copies of employee statements to us.
    • Ensure you have completed the Employee share scheme annual report – Employee share scheme annual report – supplier lodgment declaration if you have engaged an intermediary to lodge your ESS report on your behalf.
    • If you need help, phone us on 13 28 66.
      Last modified: 15 Jul 2020QC 23068