28 Jan New Employers: Avoid The Top 3 Payroll Mistakes
Owning a business after being an employee can be very satisfying. You are the captain of the ship and can chart your course without having to answer to anyone else. When you get to the point where you need employees, however, it’s vital to realize that being an employer can be complicated when it comes to payroll. To ensure the best chance of success, make sure you avoid three typical payroll mistakes:
1. Failing to Pay Payroll Taxes
We list this one first because there are forceful penalties attached. Brand-new small business owners may mistakenly think that failing to pay payroll taxes is akin to not paying personal income taxes. This is a dangerous fallacy. If you get in a cash pinch, DO NOT delay paying your payroll taxes as a stopgap measure.
This is what the Department of Justice has to say about withholding payroll taxes (trust fund money) and not turning it over to the IRS:
“An individual’s failure to comply with employment-tax obligations is not simply a civil matter. Employers who view amounts withheld from employee wages as a personal slush fund, treat withheld employment taxes as a loan from the government that can be repaid if and when they see fit, or whose business model is based on a continued failure to pay employment tax, are engaging in criminal conduct and face prosecution, imprisonment, monetary fines and restitution. According to statistics provided by IRS Criminal Investigation, in the 2015 fiscal year, individuals convicted of employment tax crimes were sentenced to an average of 24 months in prison.” https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-reminds-employers-their-employment-tax-responsibilities.
2. Inaccurate Time Cards
Manual timekeeping processes that call for employees to enter hours on a paper time sheet are prone to errors that are both willful and inadvertent. Employees often enter their prescribed starting time even when arriving late and do the opposite when leaving early. Even your most reliable worker can have trouble accurately recalling hours when filling out a time card several days later. Erroneous time cards increase costs of labor unnecessarily and burden your HR staff (which may just be you) who have to gather information to correct the time cards.
Paying employees a few minutes here and there for time not worked can really add up. Consider the following example. If you have 25 employees who guesstimate their hours with an extra 8 minutes of time each day for which they were not on the job, you will overpay:
- $184 weekly
- $367 bi-weekly
- $794 monthly
3. Misclassifying Employees
It is tempting for an employer to define an employee as an independent contractor. In most cases, employers are not legally obligated to withhold and pay Social Security, unemployment, and Medicare taxes for money paid to workers classified as independent contractors. Moreover, employee classification impacts a host of other things including benefits eligibility, minimum wage provisions, overtime pay eligibility, and workers’ comp eligibility. Employers who misclassify are in danger of state and federal penalties and should consult the comprehensive DOL guidance on the issue to be safe. The nature of an employer-employee relationship can also evolve over time and sling the classification. It’s essential to review the relationships periodically.
Payroll Partners serves hundreds of organizations like yours and can help you avoid these typical pitfalls. Call us today at 817 226-8111.
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