What is Single Touch Payroll (STP)?
Single Touch Payroll (also known as STP) is a government initiative to streamline your business reporting obligations regarding payroll.
STP requires employers (or their registered tax agent) to report payments such as salaries, wages, PAYG withholding, and superannuation information directly to the ATO from their payroll system. This must be reported after every pay run has been finalised by no later than the employee's pay date.
Each pay run that you finalise in QuickBooks Payroll will have the option to Lodge to the ATO as a Pay Event. A Pay Event contains Year-to-Date information about your employees' pay.
By the end of the financial year, you will have lodged all employee earnings for the whole year and therefore won't need to lodge payment summaries to the ATO separately.
For more information on STP, visit the ATO's website.
Turn on STP
First thing's first - you need to ensure all settings are complete before jumping ahead and lodging pay events. We recommend you complete each of the following and in order.
- Enable STP: Instructions on how to do this can be found here.
- If required, add the user who will be approving the pay events.
Creating & Lodging Events
There are two types of events that can be lodged with the ATO:
- Pay Event
- Update Event
A summary of all events can be found in Single Touch Payroll (Located in the Reports tab).
Whenever you create a pay run for an employee that is subject to withholding, you are required to lodge a pay event with the ATO on or before the date the wage expense payment is made.
A pay event reports an employee's year-to-date (YTD) gross payments, tax withheld, allowances, deductions, and superannuation liability information for each employee.
As it is tracked throughout the financial year, the pay event should include any employee that has been paid in the financial year regardless of whether or not they were paid in the most recent pay cycle.
- Made adjustments to historical pay runs in the financial year and need to bring forward the most up-to-date information to the ATO?
- Recently transferred your payroll data from another software and looking to update the details of a pay event previously reported to the ATO?
If so you’ll need to create an update event. Learn how to create and lodge an update event.
When a pay/update event is created, you may notice a Warnings tab on the screen. This indicates there are validation issues.
If the warning pertains to a business setting, this will need to be rectified before lodging the event. If the warning pertains to a specific employee, the employee will be excluded from the lodgement until the issue is fixed.
Once you have sent a client authority request and/or lodged an event with the ATO, you are free to leave the screen. Your payroll dashboard will provide updates on the status of a lodgement up until it has been successfully lodged.
Additionally, the Pay Runs tab includes icon indicators to detail the status of each pay run event, as follows:
- : Pay run has successfully been lodged with the ATO
- : Pay run has successfully been lodged with the ATO but contains some errors
- : Pay run lodgement with the ATO has failed
There may be times when lodgements don't go 100% smoothly and an error may occur. Refer to our troubleshooting guide to fix common errors.
Managing Failed or Partially Successful Lodgements
If a pay event has failed or partially failed, you will have to follow any of the below options:
- Fix this within 14 days from when the issue is detected by lodging an ad-hoc pay run or update event; or
- Fix this during the next pay event for an employee (additional time will be allowed to the next regular pay cycle, e.g. monthly).
End of year processes and lodging finalisation events
At the end of the financial year, you will have to lodge a Finalisation Event. This wraps up all figures paid to employees throughout the year and enables them to lodge their individual tax return. Learn how to lodge a finalisation event.
- STP does not remove the requirement of lodging employee tax file declarations. If you have enabled electronic lodgement, the process is very straightforward. Tax File Declaration can be found on the Reports tab under ATO Reporting.
- If you've been reporting STP throughout the financial year, you will NOT need to provide payment summaries to employees or a payment summary annual report to the ATO.
- The ATO states that advisors lodging STP reports on behalf of clients are considered to be providing a payroll service and will therefore need to be registered as an agent with the Tax Practitioner Board (TPB). For further information, visit Registered agents providing a payroll service on the ATO website.
- WPN holders are exempt from lodging STP events. If you have a WPN because you are registered for PAYG withholding and are not entitled to an ABN, you are exempt from STP reporting for the 2018–19, 2019–20, 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 financial years. You will, however, need to start reporting these payments through STP from 1 July 2023. If WPN holders want to start reporting through STP earlier, this can only be done via a registered tax/BAS agent.
Need more information on how STP works with QuickBooks Payroll? Visit our Single Touch Payroll FAQs.