Payroll Processes
Chartered Accountants
Tax Practitioners Board
Quick Books
03 Jul 2023

Changes to PAYG Withholding Obligations & How It Affects Payroll Processes

As an employer, it’s crucial to stay up to date with the latest changes to Pay As You Go (PAYG) withholding obligations. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has recently implemented updates that impact payroll processes. In this article, our bookkeepers in Melbourne will explore the key details of the changes and provide advice on how they affect payroll processes.

Key Details of the Changes

Expanded Definition of Salary & Wages

The ATO has expanded the definition of salary and wages for PAYG withholding purposes. It now includes certain payments that were previously excluded, such as:

  • Bonuses and commissions
  • Director’s fees
  • Payments made under a labour hire arrangement
  • Unused annual leave or long service leave paid on termination

These changes require employers to withhold the appropriate amount of tax from these additional payments.

Removal of the Tax File Number (TFN) Exemption

Previously, if an employee failed to provide their TFN within 28 days, employers were required to withhold tax at the top marginal rate. However, this exemption has been removed, and employers are now obligated to withhold tax at the rate of 47% for employees who don’t provide their TFN.

Expansion of the Director Penalty Regime

The Director Penalty Regime has been expanded to include unpaid PAYG withholding amounts. Directors can now be held personally liable for unpaid PAYG withholding liabilities of their company. This change emphasises the importance of ensuring timely and accurate PAYG withholding obligations.

The Impact on Payroll Processes

Reviewing Payroll Systems

Employers need to review and update their payroll systems to accommodate the expanded definition of salary and wages. This ensures accurate calculation and withholding of tax on all relevant payments.

Documentation & Record-Keeping

It’s crucial to maintain accurate records of employee payments and withholdings, including the expanded categories of salary and wages. Proper documentation helps demonstrate compliance during ATO audits. It could be worthwhile investing in bookkeeping services for small business to ensure everything is up to date.

Employee Communications

Inform your employees about the changes to PAYG withholding obligations and how it may impact their take-home pay. Ensure they understand the reasons behind any adjustments, and provide clear explanations to address any questions or concerns they may have.

Advice for Employers

  • Stay Informed – Regularly monitor ATO updates and seek professional advice to stay informed about any changes to PAYG withholding obligations. This helps you maintain compliance and avoid any penalties or legal issues.
  • Review Employment Contracts – Review employment contracts to ensure they reflect the expanded definition of salary and wages. Update contracts to include relevant provisions regarding PAYG withholding obligations.
  • Seek Professional Advice – Consult with accounting or bookkeeping professionals who offer payroll and taxation as part of their bookkeeping services. They can provide expert guidance on adapting your payroll processes to comply with the changes and offer insights on any additional considerations specific to your business.
  • Regularly Reconcile PAYG Withholdings – Implement regular reconciliations to ensure the accuracy of PAYG withholding amounts. Regular reviews help identify and rectify any discrepancies, minimising the risk of underpayment or overpayment.


Changes to PAYG withholding obligations require employers to update their payroll processes and stay compliant with the new requirements. By understanding the key details of the changes, reviewing your payroll systems, maintaining accurate records and seeking professional advice when needed, you can ensure your payroll processes align with the updated obligations. Stay proactive, communicate with your employees and prioritise accuracy to avoid penalties and maintain a smooth payroll operation.

Disclaimer: The accounting advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should be self-verified or consulted with a qualified accountant before making any financial decisions.

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