The Australian Tax Office (ATO) hosted a webinar earlier this year (April 2021), introducing details of the STP Phase 2 expansion to the Australian public. This session was aimed largely towards payroll professionals and accountants, and we’ve summarised the main points of interest below:
What is the STP Phase 2 Expansion?
The ATO has emphasised that this most recent update to Single Touch Payroll (STP 2.0) is to assist in reduced reporting requirements to different government agencies. Permitting all relevant information to be reported through the payroll system and allowing agencies to collect this information directly from the ATO.
One of the primary examples of this information sharing between agencies is with Services Australia, allowing Services Australia to confirm child support deductions without a separate report to be required.
What’s new in STP Phase 2?
Further definitions around allowances and other earnings
Previously in payment summaries and STP (Phase 1), most employee earnings were grouped into one ‘gross earnings’ bucket, including most allowances.
Moving forward with STP Phase 2 (STP 2.0), Single Touch Payroll lodgements will be required to separate all earnings into the following discrete payment types:
- Salary sacrifice and deductions
- Bonuses and commissions;
- Other Payments (including termination and overtime payments);
- Paid leave;
- Directors’ Fees
Salary sacrifice and deductions
You must separately report salary sacrificed amounts.
When reporting salary sacrificed amounts, there are two new types to report:
- superannuation (salary sacrifice type S) – for superannuation to a complying fund or retirement savings account (RSA)
- other employee benefits (salary sacrifice type O) – for benefits other than super.
If your employee has an effective salary sacrifice arrangement, you have previously reported post-sacrifice amounts to us. This changes as part of STP Phase 2. You now need to report the salary sacrifice amounts and separately report the pre-sacrificed income amounts in your STP report.
Salary Sacrifice superannuation (salary sacrifice type S)
Salary sacrifice other employee benefits (salary sacrifice type O)
Please be advised the reporting of deductions will not change. There are two deduction types you can report and this will continue to be the same under STP Phase 2:
- union and professional association fees (deduction type F)
- workplace giving (deduction type W)
Child Support Reporting
You may voluntarily choose to report your Child support deductions and Child support garnishees if your solution offers this functionality.
- A child support deduction is a deduction from the employee’s pay made under a notice that is issued under section 45 of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988. It requires an employer to deduct a fixed dollar amount each pay period and is subject to a protected earnings amount. You should report these amounts in your STP report as deduction type D.
- A child support garnishee is a deduction from the employee’s pay made under a notice that is issued under section 72A of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988. It requires an employer to deduct a percentage of the employee’s income, a lump sum, or a fixed amount each pay. You should report these amounts in your STP report as deduction type G.
Bonuses and Commissions
You may pay some employees bonus and commission payments to reward their performance, service, or for meeting a specific goal. These are typically paid as a lump sum.
Only pre-sacrifice amounts that are classified as Ordinary Time Earnings should be included as bonuses and commissions.
If you are making a back payment or arrears payment, it may be included in bonuses and commissions.
The following table outlines some examples of what should and shouldn’t be included in bonuses and commission reporting.
In Phase 1 reporting, some allowances are reported separately, and some are reported as part of gross.
You will now need to report all allowances separately in your STP Phase 2 report across most income types, not just expense allowances that may have been deductible on your employee’s individual income tax return. This means that allowances previously reported as gross must now be separately itemised and reported.
- these are an amount that reimburses an expense that was (or will be) incurred by the employee in the course of their duties and can be verified by receipts
- some reimbursements may be subject to FBT.
- Fringe benefits:
- these are not amounts that you are paying to your employee
Allowances that are to be reported.
- Award transport payments (allowance type AD): This is a deductible expense allowance for the total rate specified in an industrial instrument to cover the cost of transport (excluding travel or cents per kilometre reported as other separately itemised allowances) for business purposes, as defined in section 900-220 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997.
- Cents per km (allowance type CD): This is a deductible expense allowance that defines a set rate for each kilometre travelled for business purposes that represent the vehicle running costs, including registration, fuel, servicing, insurance and depreciation account. This should not include any cents per kilometre allowances that are paid for travel between an employee’s home and place of work unless it is a home-based business and the trip was for business purposes.
- Laundry (allowance type LD): This is a deductible expense allowance for washing, drying and/or ironing uniforms required for business purposes. This allowance is typically paid as a regular rate for each week of work or services performed and cannot include dry cleaning expenses or reimbursements. Uniforms refer to the approved categories of clothing defined by the ATO.
- Overtime meal (allowance type MD): This is a deductible expense allowance defined in an industrial instrument that is in excess of the ATO reasonable amount, paid to compensate the employee for meals consumed during meal breaks connected with overtime worked.
- Qualifications/certificates (allowance type QN): This is a deductible expense allowance that is paid for maintaining a qualification that is evidenced by a certificate, licence or similar. For example, allowances to cover registration fees, insurance, licence fees, etc that are expected to be expended to maintain a requirement of the job.
- Tasks (allowance type KN): This is a service allowance that is paid to an employee to compensate for specific tasks or activities performed that involve additional responsibilities, inconvenience, or efforts above the base rate of pay. For example, higher duties allowance, confined spaces allowance, dirty work, height money, first aid, etc.
- Tool (allowance type TD): This is a deductible expense allowance to compensate an employee who is required to provide their own tools or equipment to perform work or services for the employer. For example, chef’s knives, divers’ tanks, trade tools, phone allowances.
- Domestic and Overseas travel (RD): This is a deductible expense allowance that is in excess of the ATO reasonable allowances amount (for domestic or overseas travel), undertaken for business purposes, which are intended to compensate employees who are required to sleep away from home. It is not a reimbursement of actual expenses, but a reasonable estimate to cover costs including meals, accommodation, and incidental expenses.
- Other allowances (allowance type OD): These are other allowances that are not otherwise separately itemised. These can either be deductible or non-deductible expenses. Anything you report as another allowance needs to have a description for the category of expense. These categories will help the ATO to assist each of your employees to complete their individual income tax returns.
The descriptions you can use are:
- G1 (general)
- H1 (home office)
- ND (non-deductible)
- T1 (transport/fares)
- U1 (uniform)
- V1 (private vehicle).
Other Payments (including termination and overtime payments)
- Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) payments: This relates to the wages of employees working under the CDEP scheme. The CDEP scheme has now ceased, but support arrangements are in place that requires those remaining members of the scheme to be supported for the duration of its operation. There should not, however, be any earnings reported under this payment classification in Phase 2 and will result in a validation error, preventing the lodgement of an STP event.
- ETP (Death benefit) – Code B: This is a multiple payment for a death benefit ETP code N for the same deceased person, where the later payment is paid in a subsequent financial year from the original code N payment.
- ETP (Death benefit) – Code D: This is a death benefit payment directly to a dependant of the deceased employee. A dependant may include a spouse of the deceased, a minor child, a person who had an interdependency relationship with the deceased or a person who was a dependant of the deceased just before the latter died.
- ETP (Death benefit) – Code N: This is a death benefit payment directly to a non-dependant of the deceased employee. A non-dependant is a person who is not a dependant of the deceased and not a trustee of the deceased estate.
- ETP (Death benefit) – Code T: This is a death benefit payment directly to a trustee of the deceased estate. This person may be an executor or administrator who has been granted probate or letters of administration by a court.
- ETP (Life benefit) – Code O: This is a life benefit payment as a consequence of employment, paid for reasons other than those provided in “ETP (Life benefit) – Code R”. Examples include an ex-gratia payment, gratuity, or golden handshake, non-genuine redundancy payments, payments in lieu of notice and some types of unused leave, under specific circumstances. This is the non-excluded part of the ETP.
- ETP (Life benefit) – Code R: This is a life benefit payment as a consequence of employment, paid only for reasons of genuine redundancy (ie, where the employer decides the job no longer exists), invalidity (the employee sustained a permanent disability), early retirement scheme (an ATO-approved plan that offers employees incentives to retire early or resign when the employer is rationalizing or reorganizing their business operations) or compensation for personal injury, unfair dismissal, harassment or discrimination. This is the excluded part of the ETP.
- ETP (Multiple payments) – Code P: This is a multiple payment for life benefit ETP code O for the same termination of employment, where the later payment is paid in a subsequent financial year from the original code O payment. This is the non-excluded part of the ETP.
- ETP (Multiple payments) – Code S: This is a multiple payment for life benefit ETP code R for the same termination of employment, where the later payment is paid in a subsequent financial year from the original code R payment. This is the excluded part of the ETP.
- Lump-Sum D: This represents the tax-free amount of a genuine redundancy payment or early retirement scheme payment, up to the limit, based on the employee’s years of service.
- Lump-Sum E: This represents the amount for back payment of remuneration that accrued, or was payable, more than 12 months before the date of payment and is greater than the lump sum E threshold amount, being $1,200.
- Overtime: This represents a payment made to an employee that works extra time. It can include work done beyond their ordinary hours of work, outside the agreed number of hours or outside the spread of ordinary hours (the times of the day ordinary hours can be worked).
- Return to work payment: This represents an amount paid to induce an employee to resume work, such as to end industrial action or to leave another employer. It does not matter how the payments are described or paid, or by whom they are paid.
You will now need to separately report the following leave payments made to your employees in your STP Phase 2 report:
- Leave – ancillary and defence leave (Type A): Paid leave for absences such as for Australian Defence Force, emergency leave, eligible community service and jury service.
- Leave – cash out of leave in service (Type C): Leave entitlement earnings that have been paid out in lieu of the employee taking the absence from work. This option represents Fair Work entitlements as defined in an award, enterprise agreement or contract of employment (for award and agreement free employees). When leave is cashed out, it reduces the balance of the entitlement, as occurs if the absence was taken, but on the date of payment rather than over the duration of the absence.
- Leave – paid parental leave (Type P): Some employers offer paid parental leave and the Government Paid Parental Leave (GPPL) Scheme offers eligible employees, who are the primary carer of a newborn or adopted child, up to 18 weeks’ leave, paid at the national minimum wage. Generally, GPPL is paid by Services Australia to the employer to pay the employee, but both types of paid parental leave may be paid at the same time.
- Leave – unused leave on termination (Type U): Any leave balances paid out on termination that are otherwise not deemed an ETP or lump sum payment.
- Leave – worker’s compensation (Type W): Any workers’ compensation payments received by an injured employee for the hours not worked, or not attending work as required, or if the employement has been terminated.
- Leave – other paid leave (Type O): All other paid absences not otherwise covered in the other leave payment classifications and regardless of rate of pay (full, half, reduced rate) must be reported under this payment classification. Examples include, but are not limited to: annual leave, leave loading, long service leave, personal leave, RDOs.
- Lump Sum A (Type R): All unused annual leave or annual leave loading, and that component of long service leave that accrued from 16/08/1978, that is paid out on termination only for genuine redundancy, invalidity or early retirement scheme reasons.
- Lump Sum A (Type T): Unused annual leave or annual leave loading that accrued before 17/08/1993, and long service leave accrued between 16/08/1978 and 17/08/1993, that is paid out on termination for normal termination (that is, other than for a genuine redundancy, invalidity or early retirement scheme reason).
- Lump Sum B: Long service leave that accrued prior to 16/08/1978 that is paid out on termination, regardless of the reason for such termination.
If you pay directors’ fees you must separately include these in your STP Phase 2 report.
Directors’ fees include payments to:
- the director of a company
- a person who performs the duties of a director of the company
- a member of the committee of management of the company, or as a person who performs the duties of such a member of the company is not incorporated.
Directors’ fees may include payment to cover traveling costs, costs associated with attending meetings, and other expenses incurred in the position of a company director.
Only pre-sacrifice amounts that are classified as Ordinary Time Earnings (OTE) should be included as directors’ fees.
The end of Tax File Declaration Lodgements
With STP (Phase 2), the ATO will also expect information on employee Tax Treatment at each pay run.
The ATO has said that this will mean they no longer expect employers to lodge Tax File Declarations (however the completion of a Tax File Declaration is still required by new employees).
Additional employment conditions
STP lodgements will now include information around your employee’s employment basis if they are full-time, part-time or casual. In addition, on cessation of employment, the reason for termination will also be included as part of the lodgement.
Income Types will be included with amounts paid to employees, which means it will allow the ATO to identify when an employee’s income may be taxed differently, if you have a concessional reporting arrangement, or if there are other factors influencing the amounts you are reporting.
Back payment reporting: Lump Sum E letters to your employees will not need to be provided, as you’ll have included the amount and the period it relates to.
Separation Certificates: You may no longer be required to provide a separation certificate when your employees leave, as the date and reason for cessation of employment will be included in your STP report.
Each amount you pay to an employee will now be assigned to an income type, and you can report amounts assigned to multiple income types throughout the year.
Income types that you can assign payments to are:
- SAW (salary and wages) – this is the most common income type and was formerly known as individual non-business (INB)
- CHP (closely held payees) – applies when the payee is directly related to the employer, such as family members. If you are using the concessions available to closely held payees, you must report these payments under this income type. This type of income was formerly included in SAW.
- WHM (working holiday makers) – applies to temporary visitors to Australia who hold a Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) or Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462).
- FEI (foreign employment income) – applies to assessable income paid to payees (who are Australian tax residents) that is subject to tax in another country for work performed in that country, if the qualification period is met. There are rules for reporting Foreign Employment Income.
- IAA (inbound assignees to Australia) – some multinational payers exchange, or transfer, payees between affiliated entities in different tax jurisdictions. If you are using the concessions available to inbound assignees to Australia, you must report these payments under this income type. This type of income was formerly included in SAW.
- SWP (seasonal worker programme) – applies to regional programmes for government-approved employers, administered by the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business. This type of income was formerly included in SAW. This does not include workers under the Pacific Labour Scheme which are recorded as SAW.
- JPD (joint petroleum development area) – before 1 July 2020 only.
- VOL (voluntary agreement) – applies to contractors paid under a Voluntary agreement.
- LAB (labour-hire) – applies to payments by a business that arranges for persons to perform work or services, or performances, directly for clients of the entity. Income for contractors only – does not include employees. Employees of labour-hire firms should be reported as the relevant income type, such as SAW.
- OSP (other specified payments) – this is a limited income type that only applies to specified payments by regulation 27 of the Taxation Administration Regulations 2017.
You must report a country code when you make payments to employees with the following income types:
• foreign employment income (FEI)
• inbound assignees to Australia (IAA)
• working holiday maker (WHM).
If you make a payment to an Australian resident working overseas, you must provide information about the host country.
If you make a payment to a working holidaymaker or inbound assignee, you must provide information about their home country.
When an employee leaves
You must provide information in your STP Phase 2 report when employees leave. This will reduce the need to provide them with an employment separation certificate.
What termination information needs to be reported?
- Voluntary cessation (V) – an employee resignation, retirement, domestic or pressing necessity or abandonment of employment
- Ill health (I) – an employee resignation due to a medical condition that prevents the continuation of employment, such as for illness, ill health, medical unfitness or total permanent disability
- Deceased (D) – the death of an employee
- Redundancy (R) – an employer-initiated termination of employment due to a genuine redundancy or approved early retirement scheme
- Dismissal (F) – an employer-initiated termination of employment due to dismissal, inability to perform the required work, misconduct or inefficiency
- Contract cessation (C) – the natural conclusion of a limited employment relationship due to contract/engagement duration or task completion, seasonal work completion, or to cease casuals that are no longer required
- Transfer (T) – the administrative arrangements performed to transfer employees across payroll systems, move them temporarily to another employer (machinery of government for public servants), transfer of business, move them to outsourcing arrangements, or other such technical activities.
You must report your employees’ cessation date when they leave.
If you make another payment to that employee after the cessation date (for example an ETP), you do not need to update the cessation date.
Unused leave on termination (paid leave type U)
Annual Leave or leave loading accrued Post-17 August 1993 paid on a normal termination (for example voluntary resignation, employment terminated due to inefficiency, retirement)
Long service leave accrued Post-17 August 1993 paid on a normal termination (for example voluntary resignation, employment terminated due to inefficiency, retirement)
The lump-sum type codes you can include in your report are:
Lump-sum A is for certain unused leave that is paid out on termination.
When reporting lump sum A, you need to report the lump sum type code of R or T.
Lump-sum type code R – for all unused annual leave or annual leave loading, and the component of long service leave that accrued from 16 August 1978 that is paid out on termination only for genuine redundancy, invalidity or early retirement scheme reasons.
Lump-sum type code T – for unused annual leave or annual leave loading that accrued before 17 August 1993, and long service leave that accrued between 16 August 1978 and 17 August 1993 that is paid out on termination for reasons other than genuine redundancy, invalidity, or an early retirement scheme.
Lump-sum B is for long service leave that accrued before 16 August 1978 that is paid out on termination, no matter the reason for termination.
When reporting lump sum B, you should report the whole amount even though the employee will only be taxed on 5% of it.
You cannot report lump sum B for employees whose date of birth is later than 16 August 1978.
Lump-sum D represents the tax-free amount of only a genuine redundancy payment or approved early retirement scheme payment, up to the tax-free limit, based on the employee’s complete years of service, for an employee up to their age-pension age.
You need to report lump sum D amounts even if they are the only amount you pay your employee in the financial year. This is different from STP Phase 1.
ETPs (Employment Termination Payments)
ETP types help the ATO to identify factors such as whether the ETP is a life benefit or death benefit, the reason it is being paid, and the recipient.
There are eight ETP types you can report.
- Genuine redundancy or early retirement scheme payments (ETP type R) – a life benefit paid only for reasons of
- genuine redundancy to employees under their pension age or earlier age of mandatory retirement;
- an ATO approved early retirement scheme;
- compensation for personal injury, unfair dismissal, harassment, or discrimination.
- Other reasons (ETP type O) – a life benefit paid for reasons other than for ETP type R.
- Split ETP type R (ETP type S) – multiple payments of life benefit ETP type R for the same termination of employment, where the later payment is paid in a later financial year than the original payment.
- Split ETP type O (ETP type P) – multiple payment of life benefit ETP type O for the same termination of employment, where the later payment is paid in a later financial year than the original payment.
- Dependant (ETP type D) – a death benefit payment directly to a dependant of the deceased employee.
- Non-dependent (ETP type N) – a death benefit payment directly to a non-dependant of the deceased employee.
- Split ETP type N (ETP type B) – multiple payments for a death benefit ETP type N for the same deceased person, where the later payment is paid in a later financial year than the original payment.
- Trustee of a deceased estate (ETP type T) – a death benefit payment directly to a trustee of the deceased estate.
There are special rules for reporting ETPs you pay to death beneficiaries of a deceased employee:
• the identity information you report (such as TFN, name, address or date of birth) must belong to the death beneficiary, not the deceased employee. If you do not have the death beneficiary’s TFN, use the relevant TFN exemption code
• reporting either the payroll ID of the deceased employee or a new one you have assigned to the death beneficiary in your payroll solution
• reporting a commencement date of 01/01/1800 for the death beneficiary
• reporting an employment basis code of D for the death beneficiary
• reporting a tax treatment code of DBXXXX for the death beneficiary.
If the death beneficiary is also an employee on your payroll, you should report their actual commencement date, employment basis and tax treatment code.
Outstanding salary or wages, paid leave taken, allowances, overtime, bonuses and commissions, or directors’ fees that were payable upon death of the employee, but not paid to the employee before death are not ETPs. Do not report these through STP.
When an employee transfers or is rehired
When you transfer or rehire an employee, the commencement date you report after the transfer or rehire depends on your payroll solution and the circumstances of the transfer/re-hire.
For example, if you:
- are only moving the employee to a different combination of ABN and branch, the commencement date you should report is the start of the employment relationship. If this is unavailable, report the date you recognize for prior service
- transfer the employee in your payroll solution by terminating and rehiring them and
- assigning them a different payroll ID, report the rehire commencement date
- terminate and rehire in the same pay period for the same combination of ABN and branch with the same payroll ID, you do not need to report the rehire commencement date
- terminate and rehire for a different (related) combination of ABN and branch (regardless of the pay period), your payroll solution will determine if you report the rehire commencement date or the earliest recognised date for service. Both are acceptable.
Benefits for Employers
Tax File Declarations
Tax File Declarations will no longer need to be sent to the Australian Taxation Office. Once your employees have provided it to you, this is kept with your employee records and reported via your pay event.
Lump-Sum E Payments
If you pay a Lump Sum E payment, you no longer need to provide a Lump Sum E letter to your employees. This will be reported in the pay event with the amount, and the period it relates to.
Changing Payroll Software or Payroll IDs
If your payroll system has the functionality to notify the Australian Taxation Office when you change your payroll software or an employee’s Payroll ID, this is reported in your Single Touch Payroll report. This will greatly reduce the risk of duplicate income statements for your employees in MyGov.
Income Types have been introduced to include closely held employees or inbound employees (to name a couple), so this is now reported via your pay event.
Information Sharing with Services Australia
Single Touch Payroll phase 2 also allows Services Australia to access payroll information for your employees. This includes confirmation of employment and information about your employees, such as pay details for prior periods. There is also no longer a requirement for employers to provide a separation certificate when an employee leaves, as the date and reason the employee leaves will be in your Single Touch Payroll report.
Child Support Reporting
Although not mandatory, you can voluntarily report child support deductions and/or garnishees, reducing the need for you to send separate remittance advice to the Child Support Registrar.
The Benefits for Employees
With the introduction of income types, employees will have greater visibility of the breakdown in income when they file their tax return
Information Sharing with Services Australia
Over time, Services Australia will be able to pre-fill the data received via Single Touch Payroll for employees when submitting claims and reports, which will reduce how often employees will need to be contacted by them. The information sharing between Single Touch Payroll and Services Australia will also enhance the Family Tax Benefit process, as Services Australia will be able to contact customers when Single Touch Payroll data shows the family income estimate may be too low, when individuals obtain and new job or when their employment has changed. This information sharing will also be able to use Single Touch Payroll information to ensure that Service Australia customers are paying the right amount, based on their employment and income history.
When is STP 2.0 (STP Phase 2) due to start?
The ATO has announced that STP Phase 2 reporting requirements will become mandatory on 1 January 2022 for all employers.
Would there be a deferral process?
The ATO approach to STP Phase 2 will be flexible and reasonable based on your business readiness/individual circumstances.
Payroll Providers who need more time to make the changes and update their solutions to support STP 2.0 can apply for a deferral for their customers. If your payroll software provider obtains a deferral, they will let you know.
What to do if your solution is ready by 1 January 2022?
- If your solution is ready for 1 January 2022, you should start Phase 2 reporting;
- If your solution is ready and you can start Phase 2 reporting before 1 March 2022, you’ll be considered to be reporting on time and you won’t need to apply for more time.
What if your company needs more time?
- You can apply for more time past your Payroll Provider deferral if you need to;
- You’ll be able to apply for a delayed transition from December 2021. More information will be available soon;
- There won’t be penalties for genuine mistakes for the first year of STP Phase 2 reporting until 31 December 2022. This includes employers who have already started STP Phase 2 reporting.
How to apply
You or your registered tax or BAS agent can apply for these deferral types using:
- Online services for business (employers) – select Employees then STP deferrals or exemptions
- Online services for agents – select Business then STP deferrals and exemptions.
You can also phone us on 13 28 66 if you are unable to lodge online.
About Employment Innovations
Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.
The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.
This article was originally published on 28 April 2021; updates have been made following the advice of State & Federal government authorities. Last updated on 8 December 2021.