Single Touch Payroll (STP) Updates
As we move closer to the ATO system readiness date of 1 July 2017, the pace of engagements has escalated to progress the design of the STP services. Finding it hard to keep track of where we are in the STP journey? ABSIA has been involved in all aspects of the STP initiative, so here is our summary to assist you:
The final version of the Pay Event Data Definitions was published on the ATO STP page on 3 March. We are very pleased that our collective efforts in the focus and design working groups has contributed to a successful outcome! An updated version of the Payroll Event Message Structure Table is now available via the Employer Obligations page on sbr.gov.au: Pay Event MST2
Authorisation and Authentication
A draft paper was issued by ATO on 10 March 2017 on the Authorisation and Authentication position for STP and is being considered by the small focus group, mainly ABSIA members, formed to provide recommendations to the Design Working Group.
The Corrections framework needed to support the operation of the STP Update service has been discussed by the small focus group, mainly ABSIA members, and is expected to result in a draft ATO position paper next week. This framework will determine how and when the update service can be used without penalty by employers.
myGov Employee Commencement
The myGov commence employment solution survey was launched to gather interest from all payroll software developers in implementing the optional myGov onboarding solution. ABSIA had requested this survey to determine if there was SWD support for this service in the proposed design timeframe. If you haven’t responded yet, please do so as soon as possible to assist ATO in prioritising STP design efforts. Make it quick, though, as the survey closes next week (24 March).
Super Payments Report
The ATO provided an update to the SuperStream Technical Working Committee on 8 March 2017, that they were exploring the possibility of having Trustees, rather than employers, submit the STP Super payment report to the ATO. This reporting service provides ATO with assurance that the employer has met their SG payments obligation. An update was provided to ABSIA yesterday, that a decision is likely to be made before the end of June on this matter, for likely service release in December 2017.
Technical Working Group
The STP Technical Working Group has responded to feedback from ABSIA on behalf of SWD on the matter of the technical file structure for the STP services. ATO is looking to adopt a more pure-XML format, rather than remain with the current XBRL-style XML structure. This will have a real and material impact on SWD efforts and costs moving forward into the STP ebMS3 space. The current XBRL-style of XML will, for the time being, continue to be available. Chris Thorne and his team are working with a small focus group, mainly ABSIA members, to scope impacts of the new file format to the SWD design and, most importantly, on the transition timeframe for STP. This proposal will be presented to the ATO Design Direction Committee for endorsement, then to the SBR board for whole of government endorsement. The new style XML specifications are planned to be available in April.
The e-Commerce team of ATO has been conducting ebMS3 training sessions across several locations. ABSIA members who have attended have provided very positive feedback on these sessions. One more round of training is set for Sydney on 24 March and you can register your attendance by emailing email@example.com. If you haven’t yet registered for SBR and been assigned an Account Manager, please register for SBR now.
The issue of certification for STP-enabled software has not yet been resolved. Some discussion has occurred to suggest use of the ABSIA Product Catalogue, but no firm decisions have yet been made.
Other Technical Issues
Broader technical issues are gaining prominence for the STP solution, as the fundamental and critical issue of data encryption and security moves into the spotlight. The issue of the overall position of the ebMS3/AS4 profile has been raised by ABSIA to ensure the ATO STP solution remains within scope of industry standards. Venturing outside this agreed standard will have significant cost and functionality impacts across the industry.
The STP Readiness Working Group has been focussing on the STP narrative, particularly for the Tax Practitioners and Intermediaries and Software Developer information packs. These are very close to being available to enable you to communicate with your customers, ensuring an accurate and consistent message across the industry. The group has also been working on strategies for supporting the transition to STP, particularly as there are many ABSIA members in this group.
STP Small Business Pilot
The small business pilot has successfully completed the first phase (non-digitally enabled) with positive feedback from small business. The second phase (digitally enabled) is now underway with SWD involvement, many of whom are ABSIA members. The third phase is tax practitioners client to client focus groups about the use of STP. The pilot is expected to be completed by the end of this month, where a draft report on the benefits to small business of STP will be submitted to Government in April, for a decision on the inclusion of small business in the STP scope.
ATO is working to respond to the issue raised by ABSIA and its members, for a central place for all of the STP files, given the rapid pace of change, version control and the many different working and focus groups. ATO are progressing with the design of a dedicated software developers page/s, supported by ATO Let’s Talk for work-in-progress documents. ABSIA has had an advanced walk through of the site/s and we are eager for it's launch: next week!
Keep Up To Date
Detailed updates on STP will be posted on ABSIA’s Online Forum for members who have requested membership to the Payroll Special Interest Group. Members of the group are listed in the Participants of the PY-SIG post. If you are an ABSIA member, but not a member of the PY-SIG, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to join the SIG. If you are not yet an ABSIA member, you can join from our new website.
Senate Inquiry into Non-Payment of SG
On another note, ABSIA was very pleased to be invited to address the Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry into the impact of non-payment of the Superannuation Guarantee (SG) in Canberra on 3 March 2017. Although we didn’t have much advance notice, we did our best to inform the committee on how the software industry may contribute to mitigating this issue. Angela Lehmann and Matthew James from ADP were also invited to present and focussed on specific issues from the tax agent and outsourced provider perspective. Together with Tracy Angwin from the Australian Payroll Association (via phone), we collectively did our best to inform the committee on the role we may play in this space.. We hope this is the start of our role in better informing government before legislation is passed. Hansard transcripts are available now.