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Payroll Management

Ineffective payroll management and shoddy payroll systems can result in personal liability (including JAIL TIME) for non-compliance.

Business Management Daily helps our readers with information on payroll processing and tips on timesheets that will help you to implement payroll programs that pay off.

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State laws usually require that employee participation in direct deposit or paycard programs must be voluntary. States may also allow paycard vendors to charge employees fees, beginning with the second transaction. This chart summarizes the states’ direct deposit/paycard rules. “Mandatory” means that a state allows you to make e-payment a condition of employment, if you choose. States that don’t have laws aren’t included. In all cases, contact your state labor department for the full story.
To encourage employees to sign up for checkless paydays, the federal government declared May direct deposit month. As government declarations go, it’s been a success—most employees do have their pay deposited directly into their bank accounts. Most isn’t all, however.
Forget the overdone hamburgers and warm soda. Payroll problems can arise even around the most hallowed of institutions, the annual company picnic.
Employees looking for a place to park their youngsters during the summer should consider day camp, including speciality camps. Tax break: Parents may defray day camp expenses through the company’s dependent care assistance program, up to the $5,000 annual limit.
As you gear up for employees’ summer vacation requests, remember that the FLSA has a lot to say about working hours, calculating overtime when employees take a day off during the week, and uniform policies. Here’s help navigating these choppy waters.

Employees' pay and taxable fringe benefits are subject to federal income tax withholding, FICA withholding and state income tax withholding. Employers pay a matching share of FICA taxes; only employers pay federal unemployment taxes, or FUTA. 

Question: Included in our new employee handbook is a standard payroll deduction agreement, which employees must sign and return to Payroll. There’s a clause in the agreement that says employees’ consent to payroll deductions includes, but isn’t limited to, miscellaneous deductions—faxes, phone calls and so forth. HR has told employees that if they don’t sign the agreement, then no deductions can be made. What does Payroll tell employees?
Q. Some of our Illinois employees have taken out payday loans and now expect the Payroll department to set up a payroll deduction to repay the loans ... We’d like to discourage this behavior by charging these employees a fee for servicing these loans. Can we?
All new hires must provide the Payroll department with Forms W-4. The amount of employees' federal income tax withholding, and, often, state income tax withholding, is determined by entries on this form. Forms must be signed under penalties of perjury. The IRS updates this form every year.
Clean breaks are always the best. You don’t want any pay problems lingering after an employee terminates. What you must pay a terminating employee, in addition to any final wages, is determined under state law. And mistakes can be expensive. Two recent cases illustrate.
Federal taxes withheld from employees' pay, the employer's share of FICA, and the employer's FUTA payment must be timely deposited, by cash, check or electronically with an authorized federal depositary institution.  Income and FICA taxes are deposited on a monthly or semiweekly schedule, depending on a look-back rule ...
A federal appeals court has ruled that an employee whose wages were subject to a federal tax levy can’t sue his employer for violations of his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights or for theft of money under state law.

Under the IRS’ Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP), you may change workers’ status from independent contractors to employees for future tax periods on favorable tax terms, without in­­curring penalties or interest. Now, however, new questions have arisen. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers.

The IRS keeps track of your company’s tax liabilities as separate modules in its Business Master File. If, say, your corporate income tax module is short, the IRS can offset that shortfall with an overdeposit from your payroll module. Worse: The IRS can make these offsets without telling you.
To speed the processing of child support with­holding orders, the federal Office of Child Sup­port Enforcement is encouraging employers to sign up for its electronic Income Withholding Order, or e-IWO. Cur­­rently, 23 states use e-IWOs.
Final IRS regulations exclude from taxpayers’ gross income damage awards for personal physical injuries or illness received from a lawsuit or in settlement of legal claims. The regs delete the requirement that to qualify for the tax exclusion, damages must be based on a tort or tort-type right.
Time clocks, time cards and time sheets are basic necessities for payroll purposes, workplace recordkeeping, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) tracking, etc. But legal disputes under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) can arise over whether managers are allowed to alter time sheets; whether exempts may have their employment status altered by having to fill out time cards; and methods to prevent employees from falsifying their time records.
Q. Employees who don’t use all of their paid time off (PTO) lose it at the end of the company’s fiscal year. Management wants to amend this policy to give employees the option of selling back their unused PTO days to the company at their current pay rates or rolling over the PTO days into the next year. Before Payroll gives its final OK to this plan, we’d like to know if we’re missing anything.

The IRS recently announced that it has begun conducting correspondence audits of employers that took the 6.2% Social Security tax credit authorized by the 2010 Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has concluded that the audit program remains error-prone, and that those errors affect taxpayers’ rights.

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