The inside word on getting ready for STP

When we say Amanda Gascoigne has the inside word on Single Touch Payroll, we mean it.

You may have noticed that Amanda Gascoigne has written a few articles for The Pulse on getting your business ready for STP, but what you may not know is that she played a role in getting businesses ready for the STP switch with the ATO.

In 2016, chartered accountant and practice advisor Gascoigne answered a call out from the ATO wanting help on a Single Tough Payroll Readiness Working Group.

The experience on the working group taught Gascoigne about how the ATO operates when it comes to rolling out big changes like STP – so we decided to catch up with her about her time on the working group, and why business owners should be excited about the changes to come.

 

The Pulse: Why were you selected for the working group?

Amanda: The ATO was looking for a broad cross section across all industries including accounting, payroll software, professional bodies and employers to bring a different lens, expertise and perspective.

I had always had an excellent relationship with the ATO and our lodgment history had always been in the top percentile of tax agents. The other ways I was supporting SMEs and their accountants as an author for MYOB would no doubt have also assisted with my selection.

 

 

The Pulse: Can you tell me a bit about the experience?

At times it’s been time consuming but it’s been so positive and rewarding. I’ve gained valuable behind the scenes insights of how the ATO plans, communicates and rolls out projects of this magnitude.

I’ve also been impressed by the way the ATO has taken on our feedback (including the negative stuff) to ensure the successful implementation of STP.

As a bonus, we have learnt from others in the group and see the role they play in the business ecosystem in a whole new light.

 

The Pulse: What would you say your biggest contribution to the working group was?

Bringing the perspective of small business to the table.

My focus has been to make sure that the voices of SMEs and their accountants have been heard and are being communicated to effectively.  Pretty crucial, as we know 750,000 of the 820,000 Australia employers are small employers!

Their start date will be 1 July 2019 subject to the passing of legislation but many will choose to be “early adopters” and voluntarily enter the STP system much earlier.

READ: Why you should go early on STP

 

The Pulse: What’s going to be the major benefit of STP for small businesses and their advisors?

I hear so many businesses and advisors still using old outdated processes when it comes to their bookkeeping and accounting, yet in all other areas of their business and their life they are embracing technology.

I believe STP can be the impetus for change – to modernise and streamline many business processes to free up time and increase profitability.

There’s absolutely no downside in having up to date financial data to allow better business decisions to be made and easier collaborations between SMEs and their advisors.

 

The Pulse: When people hear that you’re on the working group – what questions do they ask?

Apart from asking if the role pays well, they ask why I would want to be involved with the ATO.

I ran a highly profitable and systemised practice which was built around being adaptable to changes in the accounting industry for the betterment of my practice, my staff and my clients.

I see STP as a platform that others can do the same if they and their clients embrace it, and I can help spread that message.

 

The Pulse: Do you think people get how much of a game-changer STP could be?

Absolutely not.

It’s a game-changer for all – ATO, employers, employees, advisors and payroll software providers and here’s why:

  • Greater visibility of employee entitlements
  • Streamlining of employee reporting to the ATO
  • Availability of real-time information
  • A level playing field for all employers

 

For larger business (20 or more employees) who have done their headcount – what should their next steps be?

Ask yourself, will I be ready to start reporting via STP from 1 July 2018?

If yes, your software is STP-compliant, you have reviewed and optimised your internal payroll processes to ensure the accuracy of the data to be transmitted and ideally you’ve been in touch with your advisor for them to do a double check that you will be ready to go.

If, no that could be because either your software or yourself will not be ready.

If it’s software, an ATO deferral would have been granted or hopefully is in progress (might pay to check). If you will not be ready, it’s time for yourself or your tax practitioner to lodge a deferral request and evidence package to the ATO.