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“Alarming”: 70% of micro-businesses haven’t heard of single touch payroll as deadline passed

Two-and-a-half months out from the soft deadline on single touch payroll (STP) reporting for micro businesses a “concerning” number haven’t even heard of the scheme, new data shows.

A YouGov Galaxy survey of 517 business owners required to comply with the new regulation has found 70% have no idea what’s ahead of them and more than half (55%) have “little knowledge” about how to become compliant.

The research, commissioned by QuickBooks owner Inuit Australia, has raised new concerns about the readiness of the more than 700,000 businesses who will technically be required to implement STP reporting by July 1.

Described as the biggest tax change since the GST almost two decades ago, the introduction of businesses with 19 employers or fewer to STP will increase the size of the reporting regime many times over.

BDO tax partner Mark Molesworth says the figures should “concern” the Australian Tax Office (ATO), which is tasked with administering the scheme.

“Those numbers are stark,” he tells SmartCompany.

“Single Touch Payroll is an important compliance tool for the ATO — so to have such low recognition should be of concern for the administrator.”

Tony Greco, general manager of technical policy for the Institute of Public Accountants says the proportion of businesses who don’t recognise the term STP is “alarming”.

“The ATO couldn’t really do anything until it was law and now we’re in this mad rush — it’s unfortunate it took so long to get through parliament,” Greco tells SmartCompany.

The ATO says it’s taking a long view and will apply a soft-touch enforcement approach in the months after the official deadline, but tax agents remain worried many business owners aren’t getting the message.

by Matthew Elmas