• How to lodge your employee share scheme 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:

    Introduction

    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 (please 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.

    For a list of commercial software products that meet our requirements, visit our product registerExternal Link and search 'Finance and investment reporting' and 'Employee share schemes (ESS) annual report v2.0'.

    If you have problems using the product register, contact the Software Industry Partnership Office:

    If you are using commercial software, register your details with the software developer 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.

    Your software must comply with the current version of the electronic reporting specifications – we do not accept earlier versions.

    Note: you should always create back up 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 match the ABN on your AUSkey.

    Intermediaries (suppliers) are required to complete the Employee share scheme annual report – supplier lodgment declaration (NAT 73508).

    If you lodge annual reports for several entities, you may use the ABN listed in your intermediary record for all lodgments – this ABN must match the AUSkey you use for lodgment.

    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.

    See also:

    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 ESS reporters from the 2016 financial year onward.

    For the 2016 financial year onwards ESS reporting:

    • if you engage an intermediary (subsidiary, tax agent or share registry) to lodge your report, your intermediary will be required to lodge via the ATO Portal using the current electronic reporting specification V2.0.0, completing the “Reporting Party (Provider) ABN” field with zeros
    • if you do not engage an intermediary (subsidiary, tax agent or share registry) to lodge your report, you will be required to lodge via the ATO website's Data Transfer Facility using the current electronic reporting specification V2.0.0, completing the “Intermediary ABN” and “Reporting Party (Provider) ABN” fields with zeros. You will be required to register for a mailbox to access the Data Transfer Facility. Please contact us at ATO-ESS@ato.gov.au to arrange this access.

    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 the ATO Portal using the File Transfer option using the electronic reporting specification V1.0.1
      • via the ATO Portal using the Mail option and using the Bulk Load Excel Spreadsheet (BLES) V1.3.4
      • 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 the secure Business and Tax Agent portals.

    There are minimum security and computer requirements needed to log on and use the portals. To get started, you will need:

    • an ABN
    • an AUSkey (each user needs their own unique AUSkey)
    • anti-virus and firewall protection on your computer
    • the latest version of your browser and Adobe Reader (we also recommend you look at Browser settings to view and print).

    If there are multiple AUSkey holders in your business, you can use a separate, standalone tool called Access Manager to manage their access and permissions to your account and ATO's online services.

    See also:

    Lodging files using the portals

    Prepare your files using software compatible with our systems.

    Login to the portal

    • Go to the ATO online services page and choose:    
    • select Log on
    • the Welcome to the Business Portal page will be displayed, select Login
    • select your AUSkey and enter your password to continue to the selected portal home page
    • the selected portal home page will be displayed once you have successfully logged in.

    There are three ways to lodge your ESS report in the portal:

    Lodging files using the portal file transfer function

    Prepare your files using software compatible with our systems.

    • On the portal home page, select File Transfer in the left-hand menu.
    • 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.
    • 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 select File status in the left-hand menu of the portal.
    • 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 fail 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, key 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 select File status via the left-hand navigation.

    Lodgment status

    The status of your file will indicate the success or fail 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 is 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 portal online form function

    Note: this option is only available to employers reporting for 50 employees or less.

    • Select Online Forms in the left hand menu.
    • Select the ESS annual report form.
    • Enter your data.
    • Select ‘Lodge’ when complete.

    Lodging problems and solutions

    Unable to see the ESS online form in the Business Portal

    Providers reporting through ATO portals need to ensure they have the correct permissions set in Access Manager to prepare and lodge ESS reports. Your access administrator can login to Access Manager to set the permissions.

    Unable to see the ESS online form in the Tax Agent Portal

    Providers reporting through ATO portals need to ensure they have the correct permissions set in Access Manager to prepare and lodge ESS reports. Your access administrator can login to Access Manager to set the permissions.

    How many employees can I report for using the Online form?

    A maximum of fifty employees

    How many employee schemes can I report for using the Online form?

    A user can add up to 3 different schemes per employee.

    Online form sitting at Loading when I try to access the form

    Providers need to ensure they are using Firefox as their default browser.

    Where is all the data I entered into the Online form – it was there yesterday

    This is a known issue. Providers need to ensure they are using Firefox as their default browser and to click on save & exit not save & continue when finishing the form.

    Why does a Tax Agent need to have the Income Tax role selected to view the Online form?

    In order for Tax Agents to access the ESS Online Form via the Tax Agent Portal, the user is required to ensure their client is registered in their client list and that that client has the ‘Income Tax’ role added to the client profile.

    I engaged a Tax Agent to lodge part of my ESS report and when I access the Online form it tells me I can't access the form due to an electronic lodgment already lodged

    This is a known issue. An incident has been raised.

    The difference between Acquisition date and Plan Date

    The Acquisition date:

    • For taxed up front schemes the acquisition date is the same as the plan date
    • For Deferral schemes the acquisition date is the grant/offer date

    The Plan date is the vesting date and the date of the taxing event in the financial year of reporting.

    The difference between Assessable and Gross discount amounts

    An assessable amount is the gross amount less an adjustment. A gross amount is the full amount of the ESS discount received.

    For 2015 and prior years

    How to lodge your ESS spreadsheet through the portal

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

    • In the portal select Mail from the left-hand menu.
    • Select new message.
    • Select the debt and lodgment subject.
    • Select lodge data report.
    • Attach your spreadsheet (ESSccyyBnnnnnnnnnVn.xls – this file will appear blank when opened).
    • Select send.

    Note: if you cannot see the 'Mail' option on the left-hand 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:

    1. template ESS Bulk Load Excel Spreadsheet v1.3.4.xls
    2. working file ESS-ccyy-Bulk Load Tool-Bnnnnnnnnn.xls
    3. 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 back up 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 software provider for assistance with back ups.

    Checklist

    • Have you used the correct reporting party ABN?
    • Does your ESS annual report provide details of all ESS taxing events that occurred for employees during the financial year?
    • Have you created a back up 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.
    • You have not sent copies of employee statements to us.
    • 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.

    Find out about:

    • For more information about employee summaries and lodging your ESS annual reports electronically:    
      Last modified: 21 Sep 2016QC 23068