ATO steps up data-matching to snare late super payments

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The ATO has begun proactive action against employers who fail to pay super guarantee (SG) payments on time or lodge super guarantee charge statements as it ramps up data-matching in the wake of STP 2, according to Insyt chief executive Darren Wynen.

The technical consultant said the ATO was undertaking more audit activity over SG payments and reminding businesses to pay SG and lodge their super guarantee charge statement to tighter timeframes.

“Previously accountants would just check to see that the 11 per cent of whatever the rate is multiplied by wages had been satisfied,” said Mr Wynen.

“The ATO now have the detail to drill down and work out during the year what quarters people have been late paying their super and not lodging their super guarantee charge statements.”

The ATO recently warned it would expand its use of information reported through STP by employers and data from super funds through the Member Account Transaction Service, and improve its detection of when employers got off track with super payments.

In its 2022–23 Corporate Plan it flagged an expanded use of STP to create a view of employees’ superannuation guarantee data provided by all super funds and employers in one place. That would enable more proactive follow-up on employer non-compliance, the ATO said.

“This change will benefit your members as we can ensure employers are paying their employee’s SG contributions in full, on time and to the right fund,” it said last week.

Mr Wynen said that one potential benefit of the expanded data matching program was minimising the super guarantee charge as late payments would not accumulate for long.

“If clients have audits where they go back a number of years then effectively often what happens is the interest keeps rolling on until they get audited or until they lodge their statement,” he said.

“So, the ATO pulling them up ahead of time is probably a good thing because it will minimise the interest which will minimise the super guarantee charge.”

Mr Wynen said in many cases late payments were being driven by a lack of misunderstanding around the rules and nuances with the timing of payments.

“For example, often there’s a misunderstanding that people think that the time the payment hits the clearing house is the time the contribution is made. However, that’s only the case for the ATO’s small business clearing house.”

“So, sometimes people can contribute to the clearing house and think that they’ve met their obligations, only to find out that they haven’t because effectively the fund hasn’t allocated that money within the time frame.”

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