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Archive for the Payroll Tips Category

Five Ways to Streamline Your Payroll Process

For business owners with employers, payroll is a necessary task that can slow your day and tie you down if you let it.  If you’re looking for a way to make payroll less time-consuming, here are five ideas you can put to good use:

  1. Employee Onboarding

If you hire a lot, empower your new hires by letting them do their paperwork for you.  A good payroll system allows employees to “onboard” themselves, completing the I-9, W-4, and direct deposit authorizations electronically, even before they show up for their first day. You’ll still need to ask for ID on their first working day, but at least you won’t have to do their paperwork for them.

  1. Integrate Employee Benefits

Rather than hire several separate companies to handle benefits, some payroll systems allow you to integrate benefits solutions right in their dashboard.  That way, you won’t have to re-enter employee data in multiple systems, which often gets out of sync.  Deductions and payments can also be integrated to save accounting time.

  1. Delegate Timesheet Entry

Require non-exempt employees to enter their own time; all you should have to do is approve it.  The right timesheet application can take care of that, and a great timesheet application will allow employees to enter time from multiple options, including timecard, cell phone, and others.

  1. Eliminate the Annual Worker’s Compensation Audit

Tie your worker’s compensation vendor to your accounting system, and you’ll be able to avoid that time-consuming annual reconciliation report required by your worker’s compensation insurance company.  You can also avoid the large annual payment because the insurance will be taken out each payroll cycle.

  1. Reduce the Frequency of Payroll

It’s not always possible, but if you can pay employees less frequently, you might be able to cut your payroll time in half.  Pay weekly employees every two weeks or pay bi-weekly employees monthly.  Reducing payroll frequency boosts cash flow as well.

Try one of these five ideas to streamline your payroll time and costs in your business.  And as always, let us know if we can help.

Do the New Overtime Rules Affect You?

Effective December 1, 2016, federal overtime regulations will change and may affect how you are paying your employees.  These overtime updates will affect 4.2 million workers across the country.

The new rules will raise the salary overtime-eligibility threshold from $455/week to $913 ($47,476 per year).  This new threshold will increase every three years.  Salaried workers already entitled to overtime will get increased protection.

Employers have a choice of three actions they can take to employees who become eligible for overtime that weren’t before.

  1. Pay time-and-a-half for overtime work.
  2. Raise worker’s salaries above the new threshold.
  3. Limit worker’s hours to 40 per week.

Let’s say you have an employee that earns $500 per week and works 50 hours a week.  Previously, you didn’t pay overtime, but beginning December 1, 2016, you will need to.  At $12.50 per hour, you would owe them the regular $500 plus 10 hours of overtime at $187.50.

Let’s say you have an employee earning $800 per week and they work 50 hours.  Previously, you didn’t pay overtime, but now you will need to consider it.  You could pay them overtime, which works out to a weekly pay of $1100.  Or you can choose to give them a raise to $913 per week – the new threshold – and continue to exempt them from overtime.  The latter is the lowest cost alternative.

In both cases above, it may be cheaper to hire an additional part-time worker to work the 10 extra hours per week.

You can find more about the new overtime law here:
https://www.dol.gov/featured/overtime/

And if you have any questions about your payroll, feel free to reach out anytime.

Are Your Workers Contractors or Employees?

If you have workers in your business, you likely made a decision when you hired them as to whether they should be an employee or a contractor. If all you hire are employees, then you have nothing to worry about. But if you hire contractors, there may be some financial risk you may be taking that you may not know about.

Any person that runs a business as a sole proprietor that you pay money to for services rendered is considered a contractor. One difference between an employee and a contractor is that an employee receives a W-2 and a contractor that you have paid more than $600 per year by check receives a 1099. There are many other paperwork differences, but that’s the major one.

One of the biggest mistakes when a business owner hires a worker is thinking that they can decide to classify the worker as a contractor if they simply want to. Unfortunately, it’s the IRS that decides on the classification, not the worker or the business owner.

What’s the Risk?

There is no risk from an IRS standpoint to classify a worker as an employee instead of a contractor. There is significant financial risk if you incorrectly classify a worker as a contractor when they should be classified as an employee. You may be liable for back employment taxes if the IRS re-classifies a worker from contractor to employee, and this can go back many years.

To calculate your risk, take roughly 20 percent of the payments you made to contractors. This amount plus late fees and penalties can add up to what you could owe the IRS if you are mis-classifying workers and the IRS finds out.

IRS’s Employee vs. Contractor Rules

The IRS focuses on three factors to determine whether a worker should be a contractor or an employee: behavioral control, financial control, and type of relationship.

If you control both what and how a task is to be done, you should probably classify your worker as an employee. If you can control only the results you want, you may be able to classify the worker as a contractor.

There are many other rules about this classification, so be sure to check with your tax accountant for more information. Also, for those of you that love tax research, here’s a link that gives the full details of the IRS rules: http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Independent-Contractor-Self-Employed-or-Employee

Having a successful business is all about taking calculated risks; however, you may not have known the risk you’ve been taking with contractors that you’ve employed. For the IRS, misclassifying workers is a “red flag” area, meaning they are paying extra attention to it. If you feel like you might be taking a risk that you don’t want to, please reach out and let us know how we can help you with this.


It’s Bonus Time

Year-end is a great time to think about rewarding your staff for a job well done in 2014.  Here are a couple of quick tips to help you make the most of bonuses while protecting your business and cash flow.

  1. Timing.  Would you be better off timing bonuses in this year to reduce 2014-year taxes or to wait until next year so they impact the 2015 tax year?  It’s something to consider before you dish them out.  Do what’s best for your business.
  2. The pretty holiday envelope.  It might be tempting to hand out envelopes of cash but it’s oh-so illegal.  Making payroll in cash is illegal in most states, and bonuses are part of payroll.  Stick to the payroll system to generate your bonuses even if it’s boring, and you’ll stay out of trouble.
  3. Pesky deductions.  Bonuses are subject to payroll deductions just like any other payroll check, so please don’t forget that.  If you write a check for $1,000 to an employee, you will be liable for taxes on the gross-up, and this ranges between 20% to 30%.  So that $1,000 bonus just turned into $1,200 or $1,300, which is quite generous but might not be what you really meant!
  4. Sticking around.  Bonuses are a great motivator and can help keep employees from leaving, thereby reducing your turnover costs.  If possible, announce a bonus structure ahead of time so employees will have something to work toward and “earn.”
  5. Invisible costs of bonuses.  Bonuses will drive up your workers compensation, state and federal unemployment costs, and any other costs that are related to gross wages, so do take all of that into consideration when issuing bonuses.
  6. Beyond money.   Money is a great motivator, but you may want to provide non-cash bonuses to your employees for extra special memories.  If you do, your tax accountant can help you get the transaction recorded properly.         

Bonuses are fun for everyone, and we hope these tips will help you make the most out of them in your business.

Seven Year-End Adjustments to Make to Your Books

Year-end is coming up for many businesses, and it’d be nice to know what your final revenue and profit numbers will be for the year.  Before we can calculate these key numbers, there are year-end adjustments that may need to be made to your books that will change the numbers. Here are seven common ones.

Bonuses

It’s great to give bonuses to employees at year-end, but it’s not so great to forget about the tax part of it. Bonus checks should always be run through payroll, but often are not, which requires an adjustment after the fact.

Retirement Plan Contributions

If cash is available at year-end, it’s a great idea to maximize the allowable deductions for the retirement plan you qualify for.  One example is a SEP IRA.  You can deduct up to 25% of your or your employee’s salary (up to $50,000 deduction maximum per employee for 2012, but please check with us or your tax professional for numerous exceptions and rules.

Withholding

If you are both the owner and an employee of your company and have not made enough tax payments throughout the year to account for all that money you’ve earned in 2012, you can adjust your last few paychecks to withhold the amount you need.  Sometimes, this also reduces or eliminates the penalty for underpayment of estimated taxes.   To find out more, please check with your tax professional.

Depreciation

If you have assets that will last longer than one year, such as factory equipment or a fleet of automobiles, an adjustment may need to be made to reduce the value of those assets.   This adjustment will reduce your profit and will also reduce your tax bill.

Amortization

If you have a loan of any type, the payment consists of both principal and interest.  Each time you make a payment, the principal and interest amounts can vary.  At the beginning of the loan, you pay more interest and less principal.  At the end of a loan, it’s reversed.  Each payment is different, and if they haven’t been recorded correctly each month, it’s time to make the adjustment so that the loan balance is correct.

New Acquisitions or Obligations

If you’ve made a significant acquisition, such as real estate, buildings, large equipment, or another company, and somehow the transaction did not get properly recorded on your books, then now is the time.   Similarly, if you’ve taken on new debt, the new liability needs to be put on the books.

Noncash Transactions

It’s easy to overlook transactions that do not require a cash outlay, but these need to be recorded as well.   For example, if you performed consulting services in exchange for a spa gift certificate, this transaction should be reflected in the proper revenue and expense accounts.

Year-End Profit

Once your books are adjusted for all of these changes, you’ll have all the information you need to find out how your business performed for 2012.  You can then use your 2012 revenue and profit numbers to set new goals for 2013.

Compliance Checklist: Seven Items You May Have Forgotten

Running a business is filled with regulations everywhere you turn.  These can drain precious time away from the core of your business, but if you ignore them, there could be huge financial consequences you may be risking without even realizing it.  The best way to handle them is to understand your exposure, consult with any experts you need to bring in, create a checklist, and make sure you’re in compliance.

Here’s a head start in creating that checklist.  This is by no means a comprehensive list.  These items apply to most businesses and are often overlooked.   Go through the list to make sure there aren’t any surprises for your business.  If there are, feel free to contact us, and we’ll help you find out where to get answers.

1. EIC notice to employees.

It’s now required annually to notify certain employees about the Earned Income Credit so that more people who need it can take advantage of it.   If you have employees, the next deadline for this compliance item is the first week of February 2013 and can be met if you get the right W-2 forms.  Details are in IRS Publication 15.

2. Corporate meeting minutes.

Just about the first thing the IRS will ask for in an audit is your corporate meeting minutes.  If you are incorporated as a C Corp or S Corp, you need properly formatted and executed documentation of the annual shareholders’ meeting, even if it is just you.  The risk in not having it includes a potential increase in tax liability from undocumented deductions.

3. PCI compliance. 

PCI stands for Payment Card Industry, and if you take credit cards, you may have compliance requirements under this industry standard.  The standard is designed to provide the cardholder with a minimum acceptable level of security, and your requirement is to maintain certain processes and procedures to safeguard the stored credit card data.

4. Document retention.

While it’s a great thing to go paperless, you may get caught by surprise if you are not downloading and preserving the items you used to have on paper.  The IRS and other agencies still need proof of these items in order to approve the deduction.  This includes invoices that are coming via email in PDFs, bank statements you’ve gone green on, and direct deposit payroll stubs, to name a few.

Fax copies fade after a few years and can catch you by surprise when you go to look up an old record and can no longer read it.  It’s best to scan fax receipts in so they will stay readable for the length of the retention period.

You’ll also want to keep up-to-date on how many years it’s necessary to maintain these items in the case of an audit.

5. New hire reporting.

In small business, most of us are hiring so infrequently that it’s easy to forget this one.  Most state unemployment agencies require that you report new hires within about three weeks of their start date.  The purpose of this is to track fathers who have missed child support payments.

6. Changes in state tax compliance.

As geographic borders disappear and our business expands, we need to regularly re-evaluate state requirements on income, franchise, and sales tax obligations.  It can be too easy to “do things the way we’ve always done them” and forget that as our business expands into new territories, new obligations can arise.

If we’ve hired a virtual employee in another state, we may have new obligations.  If we’ve earned money during a speaking engagement in another state, we may have income to report in that state.    And, of course, if we open new offices in another state, we have new compliance items to deal with.

7. Payroll posters.

Surprisingly, the highest payback item in this list for those of you that have employees may be posting your payroll posters.  Compliance usually costs less than $100, and the fines avoided can be as much as $17,000, a pretty big dent, no matter how big your small business is.

Small Business Compliance

Did you get caught by any surprises?  If so, let us know how we can help to bring your business into compliance and help you avoid unnecessary costly risks.

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CFO and controller services for small and mid-sized businesses in Naples, FL as well as throughout the U.S.

www.tieroneservices.net

844-884-3766 | david@tieroneservices.net

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