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Deafening silence from the ATO about Single Touch Payroll assurance.

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Deafening silence from the ATO about an Assurance solution when reporting Single Touch Payroll data.

With the ever-expanding Single Touch Payroll data set and the sheer volume of information currently being reported, the need for Assurance is paramount, and yet, there is still no framework in place or even on the radar.

The Budget Paper No. 2, Budget Measures 2019-20 has an allocation of 16 Million for the expansion of Single Touch Payroll. *Source: Budget Measures Budget Paper No. 2 2019-20 (Page 170)

There is more than enough funds allocated in the 2019-2020 Budget to ensure that an Assurance framework can be created that is so desperately needed.

What is the difference between Conformance, Validations, and Assurance?

Conformance and Validations are a given because they are required to check the technical integrity of the file, whereas Assurance is a framework that protects against GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) within the system.

An Assurance framework assures what is sent is being reported correctly.

Presently there is no way for a Digital Service Provider (DSP) (or to put another way, the people who build Payroll Solutions) to be completely certain current reporting to the ATO is correct.

What is the state of the data that is currently being reported to the ATO using Single Touch Payroll?

IT'S NOT GOOD! Why, because there is not a standard set of test scenarios for DSP's to consume, ensuring correct reporting. Every DSP can and will make mistakes. With the complexity of payroll rules, they are easily misinterpreted, resulting in outcomes that were not as originally intended. Employers need assurance that no matter what payroll solution they use the output is going to be the same.

So what is the fix for the current situation of questionable data being reported to the ATO using Single Touch Payroll?

We must have a system where the ATO supplies a standard set of Test Scenarios. These crosschecks get entered into Payroll solutions and the resulting data reported to the ATO; data sent, data received (where it went), does it match, yes or no and if not, a return message detailing what it should have been. By doing this simple procedure, a DSP then has the opportunity to proactively correct any issues which will address the current GIGO problem.

Testing environments are already available within the ATO. Assurance could be leveraged from this existing framework, therefore, producing a complete system of checks and balances.

This post is an update to my previous post, The ATO taking the lead on Payroll Assurance is a 'must-have' with Single Touch Payroll except with more desperation brought on by the inaction of the ATO on this incredibly important issue resulting in not the best standard of data currently being reported.


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