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Be a payroll hero to employees

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in Office Management,Payroll Management

It’s January, which means you have precious little time to spare. But spare some for your employees. A little goodwill now goes a long way toward burnishing your credibility.

Late refunds. Employees who file 1040s on which they claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the refundable portion of the child tax credit must wait a little longer for their tax refunds. Reason: Last year’s tax extender’s bill holds up these refunds until Feb. 15. Informing all employees of this new deadline will relieve the anxieties of those who are expecting early refunds.

Borrowed Social Security numbers. Beginning this month, the IRS is notifying employees whose Social Security numbers (SSNs) have been used by someone else to get a job. Some employees may be aware that their SSNs have been borrowed, but it’s a safe bet that this will be unwelcome news to many employees.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) credits employees’ wages to their accounts based on their names and SSNs, so an SSN used by someone else to get a job may cause the SSA to shuffle an employee’s wages into its suspense account. Tell employees: They should go to a local SSA office to clear up any discrepancy. They can also check their annual earnings by setting up a “my Social Security account” online. More information about that service is available at www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.

PAYROLL PRACTICE TIP: Incorrect name/SSN combos are bad news for you, too. You can use the SSA’s Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) to ensure that all employees’ names/SSNs match. See www.ssa.gov/employer/verifySSN.htm for more information on SSNVS.

Beware fake IRS websites. Tax season is perfect bait for phishers, who set up websites that appear identical to that of the IRS, but which entice employees to divulge personal information, including, crucially, their SSNs. Tell employees to watch for: misspellings or grammatically challenged text on these websites or emails, invitations to click through or to provide SSNs, aggressive language regarding collection activities and URLs that end in .com, .org or .net.

NO LOVE FOR .GOV: Unfortunately, not even a .gov suffix means that you’ve reached the IRS. Warn employees not to Google the IRS website. Those who want to track their refunds online can go to www.irs.gov/Refunds. Also, remind employees that the IRS never contacts taxpayers by phone, email, text or social media and never asks them to disclose personal information or to pay delinquent taxes with iTunes cards. Finally, report suspected phishing attempts to the IRS at www.irs.gov/uac/Report-Phishing.

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