Employers with 20 or more employees are being reminded to prepare for single-touch payroll reporting, which starts on July 1, 2018.

Single-touch payroll requires employers to report payments such as salaries and wages, pay as you go (PAYG) withholding and super information directly to the ATO from their payroll software at the same time they pay their employees.

The ATO says the change streamlines reporting to them and does not need to change employers’ payroll cycle.

The changes are aimed at improving the effectiveness of the ATO’s recovery powers – including strengthening director penalty notices and use of security bonds for high-risk employers – to ensure that unpaid superannuation is better collected by the ATO and paid to employees’ super accounts.

It also gives the ATO the ability to seek court-ordered penalties in the worst cases of non-payment, including those involving employers who are repeatedly caught but fail to pay superannuation guarantee liabilities.

From July 1, employers with 20 or more employees must use a single-touch reporting system. From July 1, 2019, all employers must make the switch.

The ATO says payroll software and service providers should update their systems to include single- touch reporting.

To find out whether your software is single-touch enabled, visit the product catalogue on the Australian Business Software Industry Association (ABSIA).

For the first year, employers reporting through single-touch payroll will be exempt from penalties for failing to report on time unless they have previously received a written warning from the ATO.

Some employers in rural areas with poor internet and those with fluctuating workforces, such as in agriculture, will be exempt from single-touch reporting.

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