The government has released draft legislation that will increase the Australian Taxation Office’s powers to punish employers that fail to pay their workers’ superannuation entitlements.
The exposure draft bill, titled Treasury Laws Amendment (Taxation and Superannuation Guarantee Integrity Measures) Bill 2018, proposes to extend the powers of Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
These powers include the ability to penalise unscrupulous employers to up to 12 months of imprisonment and force employers to pay unpaid superannuation, undertake training and disclose information about non-compliance to affected employees.
The ATO would also be afforded the power to extend ‘Single Touch Payroll’ to employers, call for more regular reporting from super funds, improve its operations regarding collection and compliance measures, and streamline employee commencement processes.
Commenting on the draft legislation, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer said it was unacceptable for people not to be paid the superannuation to which they are entitled.
“There will now be serious consequences for employers who break the law,” she said.
“The ATO will have a suite of enforcement and collection tools, including strengthened arrangements for director penalty notices and security deposits for superannuation and other tax-related liabilities.
“These measures provide the ATO with more timely information to support earlier detection and proactive prevention of non‑payment of superannuation that is rightfully owed to employees.”
The proposed measures were welcomed by Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) chief executive Eva Scheerlinck, who said the burden of monitoring superannuation compliance would shift from the individual to the ATO.
“Superannuation is deferred wages and, in a compulsory super system, members must receive their full entitlements. Strengthening employer penalties for non-compliance and enhancing the ATO’s power to deal with repeat offenders is needed,” Ms Scheerlinck said.
“We know that the problem of non-compliance is greatest among small businesses, so it is very important that the ATO has all the available tools at its disposal to closely monitor this sector.”
But she expressed that the package of measures was not enough, adding that further measures to recover lost or unpaid super were needed.
The ATO’s proposed powers came after recommendations made by the Superannuation Guarantee Cross-Agency Working Group that proposed removing barriers to better compliance.
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