Accounting professionals: help your clients with SuperStream – video
This video provides information to help you provide advice and guidance to your clients about SuperStream.
Philip Hind, National Program Manager, talks about key dates, benefits and what your clients need to do to prepare.
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This video runs for 11 minutes and 22 seconds.
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Hello and welcome. Today we are taking a look at how tax practitioners can assist their clients with SuperStream implementation, depending on their client needs. And to talk us through that subject I’m joined by the National Program Manager of the Data Standards and e-Commerce Project, Philip Hind.
Philip, welcome back.
Thank you Tracey.
Now we did talk about the new SuperStream standard last year but perhaps you could start by reminding us what SuperStream is.
Yes we did.
SuperStream is a major government reform aimed at improving the efficiency of the ’back office’ of superannuation. It requires contributions to be made electronically with linked data and payments.
So this means no more cheques or paper remittances. Instead now there is a simple, consistent electronic format for sending payments and the contributions information.
How do you believe it will actually benefit employers?
SuperStream will simplify things for employers by reducing some of the complexity that has crept into the system over recent years and by taking time and effort out of the contributions process.
The data itself is being standardised – so whether contributions are being sent to a default fund, a major choice fund or an employee’s self-managed super fund (SMSF), super contributions are treated in a similar way. And increasingly funds will be offering employers a single channel for making contributions.
In short, there should be less variation, less errors and rework and more consistency.
When does SuperStream begin?
Employers can start using SuperStream from as early as 1 July 2014. Some of the major payroll providers, clearing houses and default funds will be ready to begin implementation from this date or soon afterwards. You will need to work with your service provider to get started.
Medium to large employers must complete their SuperStream implementation by no later than 30 June 2015. However, the ATO expects most employers will implement SuperStream in the period up to December of this year.
Small employers (those with 19 or fewer employees) have another year before they must commence using SuperStream, but they must complete that implementation by no later than 30 June 2016. But small businesses can make a start at any time of their choosing. They do not have to wait for these statutory start dates.
What would you like to see employers doing now to be ready to hit those start dates?
The ATO is encouraging all employers to work out their plans as early as possible. The earlier a business transitions in to SuperStream, the earlier it will see the benefits and the less chance it will get caught short for time.
After the regulatory start date employers must be making a genuine attempt to get ready. This means having an implementation plan in place with a service provider and a start date for sending its first SuperStream compliant contributions.
How do you see the role of tax practitioners then in helping their clients to better understand and implement SuperStream?
Yes, in fact, tax practitioners play a range of key roles depending on the relationship they have with their clients. These roles vary between:
- providing general business advice about superannuation changes
- providing payroll and accounting services to employing businesses, and
- providing administration or other related services for self-managed super funds.
Ok so let’s pick up on that first scenario, a tax practitioner who provides general advice on superannuation to business clients. What should they be saying about SuperStream?
A business with 20 or more employees should start preparing now to get ready. It can do this by working out its best option for implementation and committing to a target start date.
The sorts of options an employer should look at include payroll software upgrades, clearing house services, payroll bureaux services and default fund portals.
Even though medium and large sized employers have until 30 June 2015 to complete their implementation of SuperStream, the ATO is urging employers not to delay and get on with preparations now.
Ok, and you’ve produced a range of tools that a tax practitioner can provide to employers to help them become SuperStream ready?
Yes we have a range of information available on the ATO’s website for employers.
This includes frequently asked questions, educational videos and other support material.
Recently we also developed and published a SuperStream employer checklist. This is a step-by-step guide and includes information on choosing the option that best suits their needs right through to making their first SuperStream contribution.
I’d encourage all employers to access this checklist on our website at ato.gov.au/superstreamchecklist
Our website also contains a listing of payroll software and other providers with details of whether they have a SuperStream compliant product ready or in the pipeline, as well as key contact information.
Let’s go to the second scenario that you outlined, so what's the advice if I’m a practitioner who provides payroll and related services to employers?
So you are in a position to provide much more direct assistance to your clients if they’re an employing business.
If you provide for example payroll bureaux or processing services for clients which includes payment of super contributions, you need to work out how you will upgrade to provide a SuperStream compliant service.
Now there’s a range of technical support material and advice the ATO can assist with:
- I recommend you make contact with us through our mailbox at SuperStreamStandards@ato.gov.au and we will ensure one of our support team provides more personalised support
- you can assist your clients by providing them with an implementation path and readiness date which means they have met the requirements for having a plan and start date
- the employer checklist also contains a lot of useful information which will assist you get organised.
Philip, what about practitioners who provide advice to self-managed super funds?
SMSF trustees associated with medium and large employers should start preparing now for SuperStream to ensure they are ready to receive contributions electronically.
When their employer starts implementing SuperStream, a trustee should be ready at the same time. At the very least, they need to have a firm plan to do so.
The ATO will provide compliance flexibility until 30 June 2015 for trustees associated with these medium and large employers, but this flexibility will only be provided where a genuine attempt to get ready is being made by the trustee.
What about trustees associated with small employers?
So they have another year before their legal obligations come into effect.
The requirements for SMSFs are very simple and take very little effort. The member needs to provide their employer with the Australian business number (ABN) of their SMSF, the bank account of their fund, and an electronic service address which allows delivery of remittance information.
The ATO has published a list of SMSF messaging service providers on its website to assist trustees in finding a provider with the right service and commercial offer.
There are a number of free and low cost solutions available. Your clients will also need to check with their employer to see when they will start using SuperStream.
Employers will sometimes help with arranging an electronic service address, but this needs to be with the trustee’s consent.
Ok, and what if I’m a practitioner providing administrative services to an SMSF?
You are in a position to take advantage of SuperStream and simplify the receipt of employer contributions for your clients.
Some administration software packages can receive SuperStream compliant messages and integrate the information automatically for each client into your software. You are then able to view contribution information from employers in the software and report it out or pass it on to clients in various forms.
You should check with your software provider to understand their plans and how they can assist you.
You may also choose to do a bulk registration of your clients with a messaging service provider.You can access the register of SMSF messaging providers on the ATO website and identify those providers who support bulk registration and how to access the contribution messages for your clients.
Remember, your SMSF clients need to provide their employer with their fund ABN, bank details and electronic service address – and they should do this prior to their employer’s implementation of SuperStream.
Ok and what if I have SMSF clients who only receive contributions from a related party?
If these clients only receive contributions from an employer who is a related party, the related party employer is exempt and is therefore not required to use SuperStream for contributions transactions sent to related SMSFs.
The ATO is clearly very focused on not just raising awareness but also educating and supporting employers and SMSFs.
Yes, so that’s our commitment during the first two years of SuperStream as the new standard is adopted.
I would reiterate that the ATO will provide flexibility and support provided an entity is making a genuine attempt to comply with their obligations under SuperStream.
But our core message is that it is better to get ready to implement SuperStream as soon as possible, rather than wait and risk leaving it to a last minute rush.
For a copy of the employer checklist, and more information about what these changes mean for your employer clients visit our website at ato.gov.au/superstream
Philip Hind once again thank you for your time today.
Pleasure, Tracey. Thank you.