Plutus Payroll pays tech contractors despite ongoing Australian Taxation Office dispute

The ATO permitted the release of money from the payroll provider’s bank accounts after Labor senator Doug Cameron intervened.

Plutus Payroll has started paying tech contractors again after a dispute with the Australian Taxation Office resulted in its bank accounts being frozen.

Although the two-year old payroll provider is still caught up in the dispute, the ATO has now permitted salary payments to be made, perhaps coincidentally after Labor senator Doug Cameron started championing its customers’ cause. Cameron announced on his Facebook page that he had written to the ATO “expressing our concerns asking for them to take all necessary steps to ensure that the contractors who are owed money get paid”.

In an email sent to contractors and posted on its website, Plutus said: “We again sincerely apologise for the inconvenience which our dispute with the ATO has caused all of our valued contractors and clients. We thank the ATO for working extended hours and negotiating in good faith over the past few days.”

But the company also maintained that third parties “should not have been caused the stress and suffering that the decision to garnish the Plutus bank accounts has caused”. It likewise hoped that “this development shows you that we are not walking away from our responsibilities to you”.

But while wages may have been released, superannuation (or pension) contributions have yet to be. As such payments are made quarterly, it means they are not due for several more weeks, but their status remains uncertain.

The situation commenced on Monday 1 May when Plutus removed all content from its website and posted a single message saying its operations had been halted due to a “commercial dispute”. Between 1,000 and 2,000 workers out of a total of 4,000 were reportedly owed money.

Although the company initially refused to outline the nature of the dispute, raising speculation that it was about to go into administration, it later admitted to being in conflict with the ATO.