The Australian Taxation Office will increasingly use its big data capabilities to help, warn and catch small businesses that don’t meet their superannuation obligations.

The ATO said the Single Touch Payroll (STP) system had given it “an unprecedented level of visibility” over how businesses are handling their superannuation guarantee (SG) commitments.

With that in mind, the ATO plans to contact businesses that haven’t made their quarterly SG payment to staff.

“In fact, we recently piloted this approach with a small sample of 85 employers who we contacted regarding their late payment of SG. After our contact, some 50% of these employers then lodged and paid the outstanding SG to the ATO for their employees,” the tax office said.

“As our confidence in reported data grows, we’ll do more work to identify patterns of late and non-payment of SG. Our next steps will be to incrementally integrate data analytics tools into our engagement and treatment strategies to address SG non-payment.”

The ATO is able to tap into STP data to detect when small businesses and other employers are miscalculating their employees’ superannuation.

That means it can intervene before the super payment is due.

“While the immediate benefit to individuals who are being underpaid their super entitlements is apparent, this visibility and our ability to proactively engage with employers who don’t meet their obligations means we can also better ensure a level playing field for business, particularly small business,” according to the ATO.

“We recognise most employers do the right thing, but we need to ensure they’re not disadvantaged by those who don’t comply.”