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Wrap up 2011 year-end payroll

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It’s not quite time to declare victory over year-end 2011. By Jan. 31, employees must receive their W-2s, and the IRS must receive your fourth-quarter Form 941, and Forms 940 and 945. Here’s what you must do now:

√ If you need an extension of time to file W-2s or 1099s, file Form 8809 with the IRS now.

√ Renew third-party designee status on Forms 940 and 945.

√ Review states’ mandatory e-filing thresholds for W-2s.

√ Review wage and tax categories. Before processing W-2s and the fourth-quarter 941, verify that the general ledger employer/employee withholding liability accounts balance. Make correcting journal entries for out-of-balance situations caused by year-end adjustments.

√ Complete your fourth-quarter 941 first, then balance the 941 and W-2 totals. What must balance: Social Security and Medicare wages/taxes and federal income tax withheld.

√ Use the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) free Accuwage software to check balances before distributing W-2s. Accuwage is available at www.ssa.gov/employer/accuwage.

√ Verify data before a preliminary printing of W-2s on plain paper. Watch: Employees’ Social Security numbers; employees whose wages exceed the 2011 Social Security wage base; benefits reported in Boxes 10 and 12; check marks in Box 13; state/local totals. Match totals to a reconciliation work sheet.

√ Check that employees sign requests for duplicate or corrected W-2s and that signatures are legitimate. This ensures that ex-spouses haven’t slipped one by employees.

√ For corrected W-2s issued to employees prior to filing, check the Void Box on Copy A, and insert “Corrected” at the top of Copies B, C and 2.

√ Notify the mailroom of the date W-2s will be mailed. Remind mailroom personnel to have sufficient postage in the postage machine.

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