Transitioning to STP Phase 2 – Planning Ahead

This is the final blog in a four-part blog series about STP Phase 2. In part one of this blog series, we looked at the benefits of phase 2, then, in part two, we outlined which software providers are ready for STP 2 now. Part three in the series delved deeper into the technical side of STP Phase 2. This final blog will focus on the sorts of things employers or their bookkeepers can do now, in order to plan ahead for a smooth transition to STP Phase 2.

STP Phase 2 will require employers and/or bookkeepers to firstly understand how it will change payroll, and secondly, the specific changes they need to make to their own payroll. It can be overwhelming and confusing, to say the least! The main thing to remember is that your payroll provider will do most of the heavy lifting in terms of creating the infrastructure needed to facilitate STP 2. Your job is to understand the terminology and how the new reporting requirements apply to your payroll setup and your employees/payees. This may take some time, and thankfully, time is on your side, given the ATO has provided a blanket deferral until 1st March 2022. Also, several payroll providers have attained a much longer deferral which also covers their customers.

The best thing you can do is to start to review your current payroll setup. Check employees’ details both personal and payroll-related. I have created a spreadsheet you can use to review your current employees/payees which you can download and use as needed (see below). This spreadsheet will collate most of the information you will need in order to transition to STP 2. Start the process by completing the spreadsheet and then, when you are ready to transition, you will have most of the required information at your fingertips. 

Next, sit down with your employees/payees and explain what will happen once STP 2 begins. Tell them about how their information will be shared with the ATO and Services Australia. Explain that their payslips and income statements will look different and why. You may need to ask payees for more personal information during the setup of STP 2 – try to get ahead of the game and find out what sorts of data you don’t have and work with your payees to obtain it.

Keep an eye on your payroll provider’s pathway to STP 2. Your provider will advise you when you can transition and how it is to be done within the software itself. This may not happen for some months, but you can still prepare as per my above tips!

Lastly, think about when you would like to transition to STP 2. Yes, there are time constraints as per the ATO but they do say you can move over at any time during the year (provided you are covered by a deferral). However, you may like to put a plan in place and decide on a cutover date. That way, you can work towards the move to STP 2 in a timely manner and in a fashion that works for you and your business.

Lastly, to help you with your STP 2 plan and research, the ATO has created a set of guidelines for employers (see below). Download it and pop it away for use when you are ready to transition (or start your research now). Remember, don’t panic! There’s plenty of time and there will be a lot of help available to you when the time comes to tackle STP Phase 2!

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STP Phase 2 – Getting down and dirty

This is the third blog in a series about STP Phase 2. The first blog looked at the benefits of STP Phase 2 and the second one outlined which software providers are ready for the changes now. In this blog, we’ll get down and dirty and cover the detail behind STP Phase 2:

  • What is it?
  • When does it start?
  • What is changing?
  • How payroll is changing and what it will look like - getting technical!

What is STP Phase 2?

Basically, STP Phase 2 is the same as STP Phase 1 except that more payroll data now needs to be reported. STP 2 requires drilling down into the details about your payees, their payments, PAYG withheld, and superannuation. These extra details will be shared with the ATO and Services Australia, providing them with greater visibility about your payees and you, as an employer.

When does STP Phase start?

The start date is 1st January 2022, however, the ATO has issued a blanket deferral to all employers who may not be ready (or their software provider isn’t ready) to the 1st March 2022. See our second blog in this series to see if your software provider has a deferral in place that extends your start date beyond 1st March 2022.

What is changing?

While the overall process of transferring your payroll data to the ATO via STP is not changing, there are some specific attributes of the process that will change. These are listed below:

  • Reporting of income types and country codes - see graphic below.
  • Disaggregation of gross income - you will be required to report more detail about income including gross, allowances, paid leave, overtime, bonuses and commissions, directors' fees and salary sacrifice.
  • New fields to replace Tax File Number Declaration services - while you will still need to retain a copy of the employee's TFND, you will no longer be required to send a copy to the ATO as data relating to the TFND will be transmitted at each and every pay event.
  • Lump Sum E by financial year - If you need to make a Lump Sum E payment (back payments more than 12 months old), you won't need to provide a Lump Sum E letter to your employee as it will be included in the STP report.
  • Adding new cessation type reason - because the date and reason for employment cessation will be in the STP report, you will no longer need to complete and provide separation certificates to employees.
  • New Child Support Agency deduction and garnisheeChild Support deductions and/or garnishees will be reported via STP reducing the need for you to send separate remittance advice to the Child Support Registrar.
  • Transferring payee year-to-date amountsif you change software type or an employee's payroll ID number, this will be reported via the STP report. This will help avoid duplicate income statements appearing in employees' myGov accounts.
  • Separately reporting salary sacrifice - you will be required to report the pre-sacrificed income as well as the amount of salary sacrifice.
Income Types and Country Codes

What will payroll look like under STP Phase 2?

As you can see from the list above, the types of data you will report via STP 2 will change. Specifically, there is more data required than that reported via STP Phase 1. In order to report this extra data, your payroll needs to be set up correctly. There will be new income types (see above) and new STP codes used by the ATO to read your data. The income types (both old and new) will need to be mapped to these new STP codes. Further to this, each employee setup will require some review/checking and new fields populated, including tax treatment codes and/or country codes (see below link). (Our next blog will provide you with a spreadsheet you can use to gather the information you will need for each of your employees before you set up STP Phase 2 in your software.)

Our main message to you is “do not panic”! Your software provider will assist you with the move to STP 2 when the time comes. In the meantime, we suggest that you do some research to assist you in better understanding how your payroll will be affected by STP Phase 2. To help you with this, we have created the below table. There are links to relevant ATO web pages which will provide specific information about how STP 2 relates to your employees, their payments, and tax withheld from those payments.

About your PayeesAbout Payments to PayeesAbout PAYG WH
Commencement DateIncome Stream TypeTax Scale Category
Cessation DatePayment CategoryTax Treatment Code
Cessation ReasonPayment ClassificationAnnual Tax Offset Amount
TFN or ABN (or both)DeductionsMedicare Levy
Employment BasisChild Support
Payroll IDAllowances
Country CodesTermination Payments
Income StreamSuperannuation

In our next blog in this series, we will tell you how you can get ready for STP 2 Phase 2, even if your software provider hasn’t begun to roll it out.

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Is your software provider ready for STP Phase 2 now?

STP Phase 2 has started! It began on 1st January 2022 and if you are ready and your software is ready, you can begin to report your payroll via this next stage of STP now!

If you aren’t ready, don’t worry, the ATO has provided a blanket deferral to the 1st March 2022. This means that if your software is ready now, you have until 01/03/22 to ensure you are organised and have updated your payroll data to enable a smooth transition to STP Phase 2 reporting.

But how do you know if your software is ready? Most providers would have contacted you by now to explain their plans, but in case you missed their emails, here is a summary of the main providers and whether or not they are ready now:

Note – if your software provider has a deferral as per the above list, then you, as an employer, are covered by that deferral.

In our next blog in this series, we take a look at the technical side of STP Phase 2 and what it means for your payroll.

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STP Phase 2: what is it good for?

Have you heard? STP (Single Touch Payroll) is expanding from Phase 1 to, you guessed it, Phase 2. For those who don’t know, STP is a technology that automates the transfer of payroll data from payroll software to government departments, mainly the ATO. STP Phase 2 will see payroll data also being shared with Services Australia, the first in a long list of government departments who will eventually get to see your payroll information (in my opinion). The expansion plan also means that employers will need to update their payroll systems in order to provide much more detail about their payroll at each payroll event (more about that in coming blogs).

This compliance change is happening for better or for worse, so my question is “STP Phase 2, what is it good for?” Absolutely nothing! No, only joking! It turns out that there are quite a few benefits for both employers and employees. This blog will outline those benefits.

Benefits for Employers

  • Tax File Number Declarations - although you will need to keep copies of your employees' TFN Declarations as part of your employee records, you will no longer need to send them to the ATO. This is because the information will be sent via each pay event through STP.
  • By nominating an "income type" for employees, you can tell the ATO if you're using concessional reporting for closely held payees or inbound assignees.
  • If you need to make a Lump Sum E payment (back payments more than 12 months old), you won't need to provide a Lump Sum E letter to your employee as it will be included in the STP report.
  • If you change software type or an employee's payroll ID number, this will be reported via the STP report. This will help avoid duplicate income statements appearing in employees' myGov accounts.
  • Data will be shared about some employees with Services Australia (SA). This means that information SA requires from you will be easier to provide e.g. payslips for prior periods.
  • Because the date and reason for employment cessation will be in the STP report, you will no longer need to complete and provide separation certificates to employees.
  • Child support deductions and/or garnishees will be reported via STP reducing the need for you to send separate remittance advice to the Child Support Registrar.

Benefits for Employees

  • Income statements will become more accurate because the ATO will have better visibility of the types of income an employee receives.
  • If an employee makes an error such as failing to report that he has a study loan debt (resulting in an unwanted tax bill), the ATO will be better placed to rectify the issue sooner rather than later.
  • If employees have dealings with Services Australia (SA), they will see a more streamlined approach to data capture evolve over time, including:
  1. Prefilled details on claim forms and fewer requests for documentation;
  2. Spending less time on the phone to SA to confirm details;
  3. Receiving SMS or email advice when STP data shows their family income estimate may be too low, they have a new job or their employment details have changed in some way;
  4. Ensuring that they are paid the correct amount from SA, and
  5. Helping SA understand their financial situation if employees need to repay a debt to SA.

STP Phase 2 requires employers and bookkeepers to make major changes to payroll set up which in the interim, may seem onerous and pretty annoying. However, as can be seen above, there are many benefits for both employers and employees that will come from STP Phase 2 in the long run.

Of course, time will tell if these changes will run smoothly or have unwanted side effects. We will all have to wait and see how things play out. In the meantime, for those wanting further information about STP Phase 2, please visit the ATO STP Phase 2 resources page.

In our next blog in this series, we will review when the main software providers will be ready for STP Phase 2.

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Travel Diaries

Finally, after the dark days of COVID-19 and endless lockdowns, etc., we are now seeing glimpses of opportunities to travel again (THANK GOD!). For business owners, this means work-related travel is once more on the table. Given it’s been a while between trips, I thought it might be useful to provide a refresher on travel diaries and when they are required.


When do I need to keep a travel diary and what do I record?

When you travel for work or your business, you are sometimes required to keep a travel diary as per the ATO to assist in working out which part of your travel is tax-deductible. I have outlined the circumstances below which would dictate when you should keep such a diary:

You should include the following in the diary:

  • Your location
  • The nature of the activity e.g. a conference
  • The day/s and time/s (start and end times)
  • The length of the activity e.g. 2 days
  • When you stopped for meals
  • Travel movements and activities before the activities end, or as soon as possible afterwards
  • The entries must be in English

What can I use as my travel diary?

The ATO has said that you can use a diary or journal of your choice for the purposes of keeping a travel diary. You can also use your digital calendar as well, making sure to attach receipts/invoices to each entry.

What other records do I need to keep?

It goes without saying, that you should keep all receipts and invoices related to your travel as well as the travel diary. This will make both the bookkeeper’s and tax agent’s jobs much easier 🙂 and make the ATO very happy!


Lastly, you need to remember that if you were required to keep a travel diary and you didn’t, then you may not be able to claim the relevant travel expenses on your tax return! Speak to your tax agent for further advice if this affects you. 

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Stapled Super Funds

In an attempt to protect and improve workers’ retirement savings, the Government announced super reforms “Your Future, Your Super”. This was passed into law on the 24th of June 2021.

As part of these new laws, how you, as an employer, deal with new employees’ super funds and subsequent payment into those funds, has changed.

From 1st November 2021, when a new employee starts working for you, you must pay their super into their “Stapled Super Fund” if he/she does not provide you with a choice of fund.

What is a Stapled Super Fund (SSF)?

An SSF is an existing super account that is linked or “stapled” to an employee so that it follows him/her around when he/she changes jobs.

Why do we need Stapled Super Funds?

In the past, it was common for employees to end up with multiple super accounts, especially when employers paid super into their default super funds. Having multiple accounts means that employees are unwittingly paying fees from each account which can add up to a lot of lost retirement savings. From the ATO, “the change aims to reduce account fees by stopping new super accounts being opened each time an employee starts a new job”.

How do you know when you need to use a SSF and how do you do it?

Currently, when a new employee starts working for you, you must provide him/her with a Super Standard Choice Form to complete. The form will provide you with the employee’s super details. If the employee fails to provide these details to you, you must then find out what his/her SSF is and pay super into that fund.

A request for an SSF for your employee is done via Online services for Business (or your Tax/BAS Agent can do it for you). If you cannot access Online Services, you can ring the ATO on 13 10 20 to make the request. When you log into your online account, go to the Business tab, then Employee Super Accounts, then click on “request”. Follow the prompts and you will be provided with the SSF within minutes.

Please note, that you will not be able to make an SSF request until the ATO has confirmed that you are the employee’s employer. This is done via either them receiving the Tax File Number Declaration details or by an STP lodgement event.

How is a SSF determined by the ATO?

The ATO will find the fund that has had the most recent contribution paid into it. This will become the employee’s SSF.

What if a SSF is not provided by the ATO?

If this happens and your employee has still not provided his/her super details, you may make payments into your default super fund.

What happens if the SSF rejects the payment?

If this happens, the ATO recommends that you make another request. If the same SSF is provided, then you must call the ATO on 13 10 20 for assistance.

Is there a transition period?

Yes! The ATO is providing a transition period. This will be between 01/11/2021 and 31/10/2022. After this period has ended, the ATO may apply penalties should you fail to comply with the Stapled Super Fund rules.

Summary – see our infographic below (free to download)

  1. Stapled Super Funds begin on 1st November, 2021.
  2. Only request SSF for employees who do not provide their super details to you.
  3. SSF requests are done via Online Services for Business or your Tax/BAS Agent can make the requests on your behalf.
  4. If an SSF does not exist, you may make super payments for the employee into your default super fund.

Need more help? Here are 2 reference guides from the ATO

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Director ID

In an attempt to make it easier for external administrators and regulators to trace directors’ relationships with companies over time, the government now requires every company director to obtain a Director Identification Number or Director ID. This will also prevent fraudulent and unlawful behaviour when a company is wound up e.g. illegal phoenix activities. This will begin in November 2021.

The ID is a unique identifier that is applied for once and is owned by a director forever.

A director will need to apply for his own ID number himself – this cannot be done by someone else on his/her behalf. Application instructions can be found on the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) website.

Once the director ID is created, the director will need to share it with his/her company corporation record-holder. This may be the company secretary, another director, contact person, or an authorised agent of the company.

To find out further details about obtaining a director ID, go to the ABRS website.

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New Work Mindset

personal growth, becoming, changing-2268884.jpg

Over the last few weeks, I have completely turned my beliefs about work, upside down and inside out.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older and starting to eye-off retirement, or if it’s a side effect of living the “Covid-19 lifestyle”, but I’ve changed my mind about how a work-week should look. In short, I’ve decided that for me, the “normal” work-week no longer exists.

I have stopped believing that Monday to Friday are days for work and Saturday and Sunday are days for relaxing or play. For me, there are no longer weekdays and weekends – there are just days. Each day is mine to use as I please. Relaxing can happen on any day. Working can happen on any day. A day may involve both work and play – it’s my choice!

I no longer have set working days or hours – I work when I want to, for as long as I want to, on any day that suits me, including weekends.

I do not subscribe to the “Monday to Friday are for work and weekends are for relaxing”, concept.

How is this possible?

I am well aware that working whenever you choose, is not possible for many people, for various reasons. This is only possible for me because I am self-employed so I can call the shots. I am very lucky in that regard and am very grateful.

But I haven’t written this blog to spruik some sort of new philosophy or to convince you to try it too!

All of this, including this blog, is just for me, but I wanted to share it with you because I have found that this new mindset has made me more relaxed and more focused when I am working. I feel more in control of my work and life in general. I now have a work-life_life-work balance. Cool huh! And, hey, if you do want to give it a try, well that’s up to you, but again, this is really just something I’m doing for myself and my well-being.

personal growth, becoming, changing-2268884.jpg
How does this make me feel?

This new mindset has given me pure flexibility in my life. On any given day, if I feel like working, then I will work. If I want to take a walk, then I will walk. If I am asked to look after my grandchild, then I will happily do so.

I used to feel guilty if I tried to do something non-work-related during the week, always thinking, “I should be working right now”. Really, I was letting work control my life and my choices. Since enacting my new mindset, I no longer feel guilty. I feel like I’m in charge!

Giving myself permission to work whenever I want to or can, has somehow empowered me. And how do I feel about this? I feel happy and free. Yeah, that’s it. I feel free (even in lockdown!)


Have you made any drastic changes to the way you are working now? Has Covid-19 forced you to work differently compared to pre-Covid days? What are the pros and cons for you? I would love to read your comments – please do leave them below!

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How to check your transactions before lodging a BAS in Xero

Although there are several ways to check your transactions before you lodge your BAS in Xero, one way to do it is by using the “Detailed Account Transaction Report”.

Here are our step-by-step instructions for using this report:

  • Log into your Xero file.
  • To get to the Detailed Account Transaction Report (DATR), go to the “Accounting” tab, then “Reports”, then “Accounting”, then DATR.
  • Select “wide view”
  • Enter the date range of your BAS.
  • Sort by account code.
  • Choose “cash basis” if your BAS is cash-based.
  • Select “update”. Note that you will now see 2 columns – one for GST rate and one for GST name.
  • Export the report to Excel.
  • Sort the column for GST name by A to Z. Here is a link for how to do this if you aren’t sure.
  • Review the transactions, making note of any errors or issues.
  • Go back to Xero and amend any transactions as required.
  • Save and/or publish the report with your other BAS reports for your records. You can now complete your BAS, satisfied that the data is accurate.
  • Add the DATR to your favourites list so you can find it easily when you do your next BAS.

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Super Guarantee to increase to 10%

The minimum super guarantee (SG) percentage employers are required to pay, is set to increase to 10% on 1st July 2021. This should be considered in part, as a wage increase, and therefore an increase to the overall payroll budget.


There is a further sting in the tail to come for employers! The proportion of wages that must be contributed to employees’ superannuation, is legislated to increase half a percent a year, before reaching a final value of 12% by the 2025/26 FY. See the table below which outlines the rate increase schedule.

PERIODGENERAL SUPER GUARANTEE (%)SUPER GUARANTEE (%) FOR NORFOLK ISLAND (transitional Rate) (from 1 July 2016)
1 July 2002 – 30 June 201390
1 July 2013 – 30 June 20149.250
1 July 2014 – 30 June 20159.50
1 July 2015 – 30 June 20169.50
1 July 2016 – 30 June 20179.51
1 July 2017 – 30 June 20189.52
1 July 2018 – 30 June 20199.53
1 July 2019 – 30 June 20209.54
1 July 2020 – 30 June 20219.55
1 July 2021 – 30 June 2022106
1 July 2022 – 30 June 202310.57
1 July 2023 – 30 June 2024118
1 July 2024 – 30 June 202511.59
1 July 2025 – 30 June 20261210
1 July 2026 – 30 June 20271211
1 July 2027 – 30 June 2028 and onwards1212

What This Means for Your Small Business

  1. Your payroll budget will increase by 0.5%, per employee, every year until the 2025/26 FY.
  2. An employee on a minimum award wage cannot be paid less than the minimum rate already being paid, therefore the SG at 10% is to be calculated on top of, and without reduction to, the original base amount.
  3. Another factor to consider is if the employment agreement or other industrial relations instrument permits it, the components of an employee’s salary package can be altered to increase the SG to 10% and reduce the gross pay (before tax). This means that your employee’s take-home pay will be less than it is now and will continue to decrease each year until 2025. If this scenario affects you and your employees, we recommend that you review the appropriate agreements and seek HR advice before 1 July 2021.
  4. If you use an accounting software package, you won’t need to make any adjustments for the SG increase in your payroll – the developers will do that for you. If you process payroll manually, however, you will need to remember to change the percentage from 9.5 to 10 (and again by 0.5 % each year until you reach 12 % in 2025). Remember, if you don’t pay the correct rate of SG into your employees’ super accounts by the quarterly due date, you will have to pay the Superannuation Guarantee Charge (SGC).
  5. With regards to “when” the rate rise should be applied to your payroll, the rule is that it is applicable to any payments made on or after 1 July 2021 – this is regardless of the period in which the services were performed by the employee.

Managing your Payroll Budget & Cash Flow

Every employer’s obligation to pay superannuation will increase as of 1st July 2021 – there is no escaping this change. This is an increased cost to your business that must be considered for cash flow and budgeting purposes.

With the increases to compulsory super contributions coming out of the same business budget as wages, and all other on-costs such as workers compensation, payroll tax, PAYG, and superannuation, you need to be prepared. All future SG increases need to be built into a business budget and cash flow forecast to be considered part of wage increases over time. We recommend that you assess the total employment costs of your business and add a percentage on top of the total costs to cover not just the rise in superannuation, but also any miscellaneous expenses and unforeseen blow-outs. The best practice is that it is better to overestimate than underestimate. Accurate and up-to-date financial records will help a business manage cash flow.

By regularly reviewing your budget and cash flow forecast, you, your bookkeeper, and your Tax Agent can address financial problems immediately. By doing this, you will be empowered to make important and necessary decisions for your business when they are required.

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