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.
Put simply, STP requires employers (or their registered 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 payment date.
Starting July 1, 2019, all employers must be STP compliant.
You can check the ATO's website for additional information.
We’ve prepared this guide to help you get everything ready to start reporting for STP. This includes changes to existing settings, new settings, how to create pay events and lodging pay events.
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 the order.
- Enable STP: Instructions on how to do this can be found here.
- Update the payment summary classifications: Instructions on how to do this can be found here
- If required add the user who will be approving the pay events, see Managing users in QuickBooks Payroll
Creating & Lodging Events
There are two types of events that can be lodged with the ATO:
- a Pay Event
- an Update Event
A summary of all events can be found in Single Touch Payroll (Located in the Reports tab). Learn more about the Single Touch Payroll screen
Whenever you create a pay run to an employee that is subject to withholding, they are required to lodge a pay event with the ATO on or before the date the 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, the following article covers the process to
Looking to finalise payroll and make adjustments for EOFY? Have you recently transferred your payroll data from another software looking to update the details of a pay event previously reported to the ATO? If so you’ll need to create an update event.
For detailed information on Update Events, including how to create and lodge them, refer to
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 successfully lodged.
Additionally, the Pay Runs tab includes icon indicators to detail the status of each pay run event, as follows:
- Grey Cloud with tick: Pay run has successfully been lodged with the ATO
- Orange Cloud up-arrow: Pay run has successfully been lodged with the ATO but contains some errors
- Red Cloud with up-arrow: Pay run lodgement with the ATO has failed
There may be times when lodgements don't go 100% smoothly and an error may occur. We have started compiling a troubleshooting guide in case this does occur.
Managing Failed or Partially Successful Lodgements
The ATO states that:
- An employer needs to report data fixes within 14 days from when the issue is detected; or
- An employer may choose to report a fix in the next pay event for an employee where this is later than 14 days from when the error is detected. Additional time will be allowed to the next regular pay cycle for the employee. For example, monthly pay cycle; or
- An employer may report a fix in an update event.
End of year processes and lodging finalisation events
We’ve put together a comprehensive year-end of year guide, including instructions on how to lodge finalisation events.
- 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.
- Employers who report and finalise employee payments (and amounts withheld from them) throughout the year in line with their payroll process, will not need to provide payment summaries to employees or a payment summary annual report to the ATO.
- The ATO have reported that users 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 and 2019–20 financial years. You will, however, need to start reporting these payments through STP from 1 July 2020.