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Beware casual staff trap ahead of STP, firm warns

Small businesses with casual staff on their payroll may be unaware of their inclusion under the initial rollout of single touch payroll (STP) on 1 July, cautions an accounting firm.

Beware casual staff trap ahead of STP, firm warns
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STP begins from 1 July 2018 for businesses with 20 or more employees with further expansion to include businesses with 19 or less employees from 1 July 2019.

For those who had 20 or more employees on their payroll on 1 April 2018, the ATO notes that every employee must be counted, not just those that are full-time.

However, speaking to Public Accountant, Lotus Accountants director Kylie Parker said an issue she has found with a number of clients is where small businesses are unaware they are caught under STP due to the number of casual staff on their books.

She said the types of businesses that commonly fall into that trap are usually tutoring companies, dance studios, cafes and restaurants.

“They might not normally be a small business, and their administration really is once a quarter with a monthly payroll. I think [under STP] you might find that compliance costs are going to really increase and will impact on their cash flow,” Ms Parker said.

“All of a sudden, because of single touch payroll, it means that we will need to need to change the payroll part of their business, and their accountants aren't ready.

“With obviously a lot of small business clients still under that threshold, it's just better to delay for a year, really, because no-one ever does things early.”

Other common sore spots, according to Ms Parker, include cash flow planning, making sure that businesses pay at gross wages, not just the net amount.

She also cited change management for small businesses as a factor behind why businesses still haven’t prepared themselves for STP.

“They're not just having to change for the payroll side of things, they're generally shifting everything, so massive change management. I think that's a lot of the reason why people are not moving across [to STP],” Ms Parker said.

Last month, All That Counts director Lielette Calleja said she had some concerns around whether the software providers would be ready in time for the STP rollout.

Ms Calleja feels confident that if the software providers don’t deliver the required software on time, then no-one’s likely to be penalised by the ATO.

“It’s not the business owner’s fault nor is it the bookkeeper’s fault … I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ATO push out the go-live date [of STP] on 1 July.”

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