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'Paid in full': ATO to send 860,000 warning letters this week

Lucy Dean
·3-min read
Pictured: Australian CBD, Australian cash. Images: Getty
Will you receive a letter from the ATO? Images: Getty

Australia’s businesses have until 7 September 2020 to pay previously unpaid superannuation or face harsh penalties, the Australian Tax Office is warning.

Around 860,000 businesses are expected to receive letters from the tax man this week reminding them of their superannuation obligations to both current and former staff.

If they choose to take up the amnesty, they will need to pay all of the previously unpaid super or agree to a payment plan. The ATO estimates workers are owed $2.3 billion in unpaid super.

“Super is a form of deferred wages and every bit as important to be paid, and paid in full,” said Assistant Minister for Superannuation Jane Hume.

“The super guarantee amnesty allows employers a one-off opportunity to come forward, pay or put a plan in place to pay, and set things right without facing financial penalties from the tax office.

“If you are in any doubt, it is vitally important that you talk to your tax agent or the ATO today; the amnesty expires in a month and it will take time to verify the amount of any unpaid super and pay it or put a payment plan in place.”

Businesses that don’t take up the amnesty will still need to pay the entire amount with 10 per cent interest, along with a $20 administration fee per employee per quarter, and they are also unable to deduct any of the payments. On top of that, they face a maximum penalty of up to 200 per cent of the amount owed.

“To qualify for the amnesty, employers have to come forward voluntarily, without direct prompting from the ATO and agree to pay all employee entitlements plus interest,” Australian Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell said.

“Most small businesses already do the right thing, with 95 per cent complying.”

According to Industry Super Australia, one-in-three workers, or around 2.85 million Australians are being ripped off by nearly $6 billion in super.

Industry Super said it’s easy for workers to miss superannuation payments as they’re only required to be paid every quarter.

“The only way to stop a third of Australia’s workforce having their super stolen is for the Parliament to change the law and make super payable on payday,” Industry Super chief executive Bernie Dean said last year.

“Australians rightly expect to be paid their legal super entitlement. The fact that one in three workers are being robbed of their super each year in this day and age is extraordinary and must be fixed.”

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