Businesses warned to repay unpaid super now or face tougher penalties


Employers will now be able to avoid fines for unpaid super under the amnesty but will still have to repay the superannuation owed to their employees and a 10 per cent interest fee either upfront or through a payment plan.

The administration fee of $20 a quarter for each employee will also be waived and payments will be tax deductible.

ATO deputy commissioner James O’Halloran.Credit:Wayne Taylor

About 7000 businesses came forward after the amnesty was announced in May 2018, ahead of the law passing, and another 7000 are expected to put their hands up during the next few months. In the past five years on average 17,000 employers annually disclosed unpaid super.

“If people just apply for the amnesty but don’t repay it, they will be disqualified,” Mr O’Halloran said.

“We appreciate there can be a range of reasons as to why or why not [a business] is paying the super guarantee,” he said, adding cash flow can be a problem but the super guarantee affected employees’ future and was mandatory.

The total amount of unpaid super is estimated by the ATO to be in the order of $2.3 billion.

“This amnesty has a place [in repaying these funds]. After the amnesty there’s an expectation people will have had more than enough warning,” he said, noting penalties were “likely to be further increased”.

He also warned advancements in payroll technology and reporting meant the ATO was getting more information about who had and had not paid the super guarantee to staff.

“We’ve never had that visibility before and we will continue to ramp that up.”

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He encouraged all businesses to review their records and come forward to disclose any unpaid amounts with audits continuing to take place. If an audit is started before a business comes forward during the amnesty, they will not be eligible to have penalties waived.

He said people would be contacted if there was superannuation money they were owed or it would be deposited into their fund.

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