The government is proposing to grant employers a 12-month amnesty from the late fines associated with outstanding superannuation, on the proviso that they are fully paid within the period.
In a statement on Thursday, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer announced the introduction of the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Superannuation Measures No. 1) Bill 2018 that waives penalties dealt to employers for failing to pay superannuation owed to employees.
In order to be protected by the amnesty, which will last for exactly one year from Thursday 24 May 2018 if the proposed amendment is passed, employers must pay out all outstanding superannuation “including the high rate of nominal interest”, according to the statement.
If the unpaid superannuation is not paid to employees within the year, penalties for employers caught after the amnesty period will be even more severe, typically a minimum of 50 per cent on top of the owed super.
Throughout the amnesty period, the Australian Tax Office will be continuing its “usual enforcement activity against employers for those historical obligations they don’t own up to voluntarily”.
The bill also proposes to afford the ATO with a set of new powers, one of which is to obtain court-ordered penalties where employers refuse to pay super guarantee liabilities, with a maximum jail term of 12 months for “the most egregious cases of non-payment”.
Furthermore, it proposes to allow the ATO to require super funds to report more frequently – monthly, at the minimum – on contributions received, which will allow the Office to identify and react to cases of non-compliance.
The Office may also have its “recovery powers” reinforced, such as “strengthening director penalty notices and use of security bonds for high-risk employers” to help the ATO collect and pay super to employee accounts.
Citing ATO figures, Ms O’Dwyer said $2.85 billion in superannuation payments went unpaid between 2014 and 2015.
“While this represents a 95 per cent compliance rate, any level of non-compliance is unacceptable, which is why the Turnbull Government is giving the ATO the tools it needs to enforce compliance going forward.
“We are introducing this one-off amnesty to allow employers to wipe the slate clean and pay their workers what they're owed,” Ms O’Dwyer said.
“All Australians workers should be paid the entitlements they are owed.”
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