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QuickBooks Isn’t SuperStream Compliant, But It Doesn’t Matter!

How QuickBooks Palms Off Payroll

quickbooks superstream compliant
Quickbooks is gaining traction in the Australian marketplace.

I’m a fan of QuickBooks as the functionality is excellent and the cost of the software is still low. I’m really pleased to announce that you can now enrol in our QuickBooks Online Daily Transactions Course — but does QuickBooks fulfil Australian legal obligations to be SuperStream compliant?

The background is that from July 1 this year, all Australian businesses with fewer than 20 employees were required, by law, to be SuperStream compliant.

SuperStream is a government initiative to improve the efficiency of Australia’s superannuation system, namely by making superannuation a totally electronic process.

Most cloud-accounting packages that have been developed for the Australian market (such as major applications, like MYOB, Xero, Reckon and so forth, but not smaller apps like Zoho or QuickBooks, which can be used in Australia but don’t interface well with Australian tax procedures) are now all SuperStream compliant, with one exception: QuickBooks. Continue reading QuickBooks Isn’t SuperStream Compliant, But It Doesn’t Matter!

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If you have fewer than 19 staff you must be SuperStream Ready by June 30

Companies with over 20 employees should ALREADY be compliant

ATO SuperStream for myob and xero accounting software training coursesIn July last year, EzyLearn published a couple of posts about SuperStream, the government initiative to improve the efficiency of Australia’s superannuation system, which all businesses with 19 or fewer employees must be compliant with by June 30 this year. As we’ve now reaching June 30, it’s important to ensure that you’re fully compliant with SuperStream, the government’s electronic system for sending superannuation payments to your employees’ super funds.
Continue reading If you have fewer than 19 staff you must be SuperStream Ready by June 30

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Is Single Touch Payroll Really Dead?

For a while there it looked like the ATO would introduce single touch payroll for all Australian businesses by July 2016, but after feedback from the businesses community that original plan has been shelved – for now. With SuperStream simplifying the way businesses manage the superannuation contributions for their employees, it’s highly likely that we’ll be seeing some form of the single touch payroll model in the near future.

Single touch payroll was an initiative developed to simplify the payroll process for Australian businesses. Currently, most businesses are burdened with a number of tax and superannuation reporting obligations, which single touch payroll would have put an end to.

What exactly was single touch payroll?

Single touch payroll, like SuperStream, was a proposed interactive tool that would allow a business’s accounting software to automatically report payroll information for their employees to the the tax office, eliminating the need for businesses to report pay-as-you-go withholding (PAYGW) in their activity statements throughout the year, as well as end-of-year employee payment summaries.

There was also a proposed digital service that would have streamlined tax file number declarations and Super Choice forms, which would obviously reduce a lot of the red tape and paperwork associated with employing staff.

Single touch payroll would have integrated with nearly all accounting packages in Australia, including MYOB, Xero and Quickbooks, just as SuperStream does now, so why was it shelved by the ATO until further consultation with the business community?

Single touch could have caused cash flow problems

The main concern for many businesses was that single touch payroll would impact their cash flow by requiring employers to pay the tax withheld from wages and super guarantee payments at the same time they paid their employees’ wages. There were also concerns about whether compliance by July 2016 was realistically achievable for the majority of businesses, especially when the SuperStream changeover is still ongoing.

For businesses with a substantial number of employees, single touch payroll could have been a godsend. Unfortunately, the original proposal alienated smaller businesses by making it necessary to pay both tax and super guarantee payments at the same time as employee wages, when most employers currently make those payments to the ATO each quarter.

But that doesn’t mean the single touch payroll system has been scrapped altogether. The ATO, in consultation with industry groups and the Minister for Small Business, is working on developing another single touch payroll scheme that will make real-time payments for withholding and super guarantee payments voluntary, which will be tested with small business owners before it’s rolled out across the board.

There’s still life in single touch payroll yet

What single touch payroll really highlights is how important it is for small businesses to make sure that they’re using a current accounting software package – and there are many on the market, developed especially for small businesses – that supports SuperStream and will also support any other ATO initiatives, like single touch payroll.

If you’re not using an accounting package for your small business, it’s wise to choose one of the major accounting software providers, which Margaret Carey of Business EEz also suggested when we spoke to her not so long ago about SuperStream.

You can read more about SuperStream and the new measures the ATO has introduced to make payroll and superannuation compliance easier for small businesses by subscribing to our blog. Alternatively, if you’re a small business owner using either Xero or MYOB and you’d like to know how to properly setup and use payroll in your accounting software, enrol in one of our MYOB or Xero training courses today.

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SuperStream is good news for small businesses (and bookkeepers!)

What is SuperStream?

I recently wrote about SuperStream, the government reform introduced last year to improve the efficiency of the superannuation system, and which provides businesses with a set of standards to ensure super contributions are paid in a timely and consistent manner.

For small businesses, operating with nineteen or fewer employees, the ATO is encouraging them to take steps to become compliant with the new SuperStream measures, before the June 30 deadline in 2016, giving them twelve months to ensure compliance.

We’d heard grumbles from a few small business owners and bookkeepers who felt that SuperStream sounded like just another scheme they needed to become compliant with, which would ultimately end up creating more work for them, so we decided to speak to an expert to find out.

Why is SuperStream Good?

Xero and MYOB cloud accounting training coursesMargaret Carey is a registered BAS agent, accounting software and cloud specialist, and owner of the accounting software consultancy firm Business EEz. She’s contributed to our blog in the past regarding She agreed to answer a couple of our questions about SuperStream and what it means for small businesses and bookkeepers alike.

EzyLearn: How does SuperStream change the way small businesses make super contributions for their employees?

Margaret Carey: There are two sides to making a superannuation payment, from the perspective of the employer; firstly, they have to tell the super fund which person they’re paying the money for and the period they’re paying it for, and they have to give that information to the super fund every single time for each of their employees. The second part of the process is actually transferring the money to the super fund. What SuperStream does is it streamlines that entire procedure into a one-step process – so the information has to be provided electronically and the payments paid that way too. SuperStream cuts down the time delay, it cuts down the potential for error, and it ensures the money arrives in the employee’s super fund much more promptly, as well as being fully traceable.

EL: So with SuperStream you can virtually go in and input all of the employee information and also make the payment at the exact same time, like shopping for something online, almost?

MC: Yeah it is, but this is where accounting software really helps people because it takes care of all that for you. All of the small business account software packages are now SuperStream compliant. Just as an example, with Xero, when you set your employees up in the system, you also put in their super fund details, and then when you do your payroll, there’s just a button that you push to create the super fund report, which goes straight off to the super fund and the money goes straight out of your bank account to the super fund; it’s just so straightforward, so much easier than anything else.

EL: Wow, so really SuperStream has made the super process much, much easier?

MC: It has. It really was an administrative nightmare. But I think a lot of people don’t appreciate [SuperStream] and they think, ‘Oh god, another thing I’ve got to comply with,’ but it makes their life so much easier, so I think lots of people are unnecessarily worried about it when, in fact, it makes life easier and automates things a lot more. A lot of people, anyway, without realising are already SuperStream compliant; it’s just now that they’re being told they absolutely have to be, but I think it’s a really good initiative.

EL: So the Australian Government has also set up a Superannuation Clearing House for small businesses, how does that work – do you still use your accounting software? How does that fit into the SuperStream picture?

MC: If someone is using an up-to-date accounting software – and all accounting software has to be compliant now – then they’re probably better off just doing it through their accounting software. Each accounting package has a clearing house linked into it – Xero, for instance, uses ClickSuper – so there’s no need to use Australian Government’s clearing house. But I’ve got other clients who aren’t up-to-date with their accounting software subscriptions or they’ve got old versions of MYOB and they haven’t got the SuperStream compliance function there, so they use the clearing house. But you would only use that now, in my mind, if you were not using any payroll accounting software. Mostly, I think people would or should be looking to use their accounting software because you haven’t got to do anything extra – it’s all there; press two buttons and it’s done.

EL: What else can you tell me about SuperStream that businesses or bookkeepers should be aware of that we haven’t already discussed?

MC: There is just one slight difficulty with self-managed super funds. Because you have to send everything electronically, self-managed super funds have to have some sort of messaging service. So let’s say I have a self-managed super fund and I’m an employee, then I would give my employer all my super fund details and I would have to get a messaging service so that they could put that into their records so a message would get sent to my self-managed super fund each time they make a contribution, so that’s a bit of an overhead for people with self-managed funds. But other than that, I support it. It’s a really great initiative.

We concur and recommend the main accounting software providers

SuperStream is a great initiative that helps streamline the superannuation process for business owners and bookkeepers, providing, of course, that you have a current subscription to an accounting package that has Australian operations, such as Xero, Reckon, MYOB, Quickbooks, and Saasu. Any overseas-only based accounting packages, like Zoho, won’t be compliant with SuperStream, just as they can’t cater for BAS either, so for businesses that need an accounting package with payroll capabilities, it’s best to shop local.

To ensure you’re SuperStream compliant, you need to set up the payroll component of your accounting software. Our MYOB and Xero training courses both cover payroll, which includes how to set up an employee and their super details. Visit our website for more information or enrol in a training course today.

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What is SuperStream?

Does SuperStream streamline superannuation payments?

SuperStream Superannuation Start Dates for small businesses with under 19 employees and contractorsIf you’re a small business with nineteen or fewer employees, then come July 1 this year you’ll need to begin making superannuation contributions for your staff using SuperStream, the government reform introduced last year to improve the efficiency of Australia’s superannuation system.

The purpose of SuperStream is to ensure employer contributions are paid in a consistent and timely manner, while also setting a common standard for how super contributions should be managed, which had previously been lacking from legislation relating to superannuation contributions. Medium-large businesses with more than twenty employees have been able to use SuperStream since July 1 last year and have until June 30 this year to become compliant. From July 1 this year, small businesses with nineteen or fewer employees will until June 30 2016 to meet the SuperStream requirements for their business.

What’s the benefit to employers?

Prior to the reforms, there was no standard for making super contributions. This meant that employers could choose to make superannuation contributions as frequently or infrequently as they liked, providing they made them at some point over a the course of an employee’s employment with them. SuperStream now makes regular contributions mandatory and easy to comply with. Other benefits to employers include:

  • The opportunity to use a single channel when dealing with super funds, regardless of how many funds your employees contribute to
  • Reducing the time spent dealing with employee data issues and fund queries
  • Offering greater automation and reduced cost of processing contributions and payments
  • More timely flow of information and money in meeting your superannuation obligations.

What measures will businesses need to adopt to use SuperStream?

Businesses can use software that conforms to SuperStream requirements – MYOB released a software update for most of its products, which is SuperStream compliant, for instance – or a provider who can meet the SuperStream requirements on their behalf. The ATO recommends investigating the following options:

  • Upgrading payroll software
  • Using an outsourced payroll function or service provider
  • Using a commercial clearing house or the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House (for businesses with fewer than twenty employees).

We haven’t made any updates in our MYOB Training Payroll Course for this, but we’re keeping a watchful eye.

What if your business mainly uses contractors?

If you employ contractors to work for you, either on a one-off or ongoing basis, you will still need to make super contributions on their behalf, which means you’ll also need to make sure you’re compliant with the SuperStream requirements. You’ll need to make superannuation contributions to a contractor if they have a contract with your business where:

  • The contract is wholly for labour and skills
  • They perform the work personally
  • They are paid for the number of hours worked

In this case, they’re considered an employee for the purposes of the superannuation guarantee, so you’ll need to ensure you’re also compliant with SuperStream, even if that contractor has an ABN and invoices you.

You won’t have to pay the superannuation guarantee for a contractor if the person is hired to complete a specific task for which they are paid to complete only, and they are responsible for fixing any defects to the work.

If you hire contractors to provide mainly labour services on a regular basis, where they are paid for the time they spend working, rather than on a project basis, for the purpose of SuperStream, they will be counted as employees. If you have more than twenty contractors that fit this description, you need to ensure you’re compliant wit SuperStream by June 30 this year; if you’ve fewer than twenty, you have until June 30 2016 to become SuperStream compliant.

It’s a good idea to review the SuperStream section of the ATO’s website for more information on SuperStream or visit the section on contractors if you’re unsure whether you should be making super contribution on your contractor’s behalf.