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Government and Legislation

Government and legislation overview of payroll regulation

Payroll is arguably one of the most heavily regulated parts of the Australian business landscape. There are so many stakeholders with an interest in payroll regulation, from federal and state governments to employers, industry bodies, unions and employees themselves. When you begin to look at all the legislation that applies to payroll and to someone administering payroll, the mind boggles. Look behind some of the elements of payroll, and you will uncover a complex web of legislation and government department involvement. Such elements include:

  • how much to pay
  • how much tax to deduct
  • how much superannuation to pay
  • working conditions terminations.

Some of the major government stakeholders that a payroll professional will frequently interact with include the Australian Taxation Office, the Tax Practitioners Board, the Fair Work Commission, and the relevant state revenue authority.

The Australian Taxation Office
The ATO is responsible for administering the pay as you go withholding system (PAYGW). It interacts with employers for the collection of PAYGW on behalf of employees. It also plays a strong role in the administration of superannuation reporting, the superannuation guarantee system (SG) and the superannuation guarantee charge (SGC). Website:

The Tax Practitioners Board
The TPB is responsible for the administration of the Tax Agents Services Act 2009 (TASA). This body governs the activities of people who charge clients a fee for dealing with certain taxation obligations. It seeks to protect the consumer by ensuring that only suitably qualified and experienced practitioners acting responsibly can deal with another person’s tax obligations for a fee. PAYGW and superannuation are taxation services that are covered by the TASA, so payroll practitioners charging a fee for dealing with these obligations on behalf of clients must register with and be accountable to the TPB. Website:

Fair Work Commission
The Fair Work Commission is responsible for the administration of the Fair Work Act 2009, which is a national system and has far-reaching application affecting pay rates, hours of work, leave, discrimination, dismissal, minimum wage, conditions, payslips, reporting, and much more. Its system of new national modern awards has changed pay and conditions for many, and exists side-by-side (at least in a transitional sense) with the existing state awards. Website:

Revenue Office or Office of State Revenue
State governments collect payroll tax based on wages paid in their respective states. Collected by the state or territories’ Revenue Office or Office of State Revenue, payroll tax is levied on employers with payrolls above a certain level. The states differ in their taxing rules, with respect to minimum thresholds, definitions of included wages, taxing rates, and more. Efforts by the states over recent years has seen them embark on a system of harmonisation to gain some uniform treatment across state lines to assist employers dealing with their payroll tax obligations. Website: Search 'Office of State Revenue' or 'Revenue Office' in your state or territory.

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