Hear Me Roar!

“The Struggle is Real, but so is the Reward”

Kat Meissner, Owner of Wisconsin Pay Specialists

Kat was the guest presenter at the Marinette Menomoniee Area Chamber of Commerce this week and shared her story of the struggles and rewards we experience.  An often emotional and telling story, the program ended with everyone singing and dancing to “Roar” by Katy Perry and a quote by Saint (Mother) Teresa:

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.

Life is beauty, admire it.

Life is a dream, realize it.

Life is a duty, complete it.

Life is a game, play it.

Life is a promise, fulfill it.

Life is sorrow, overcome it.

Life is a song, sing it.

Life is a struggle, accept it.

Life is a tragedy, confront it.

Life is luck, make it.

Life is precious, do not destroy it.

Life is life.  Fight for it.

WI Pay Tip of the Day – Help Wanted? Time to Outsource!

Thirty years ago, I was managing Christopher’s Restaurant in Coleman.  My sister owned the place and we made a pretty good team if I don’t say so myself.  One day at 12:30 pm approximately 50 classic cars rolled into the parking lot for lunch!  It was an exciting afternoon to say the least.    As we were waving goodbye to our car-loving visitors, we both “remembered” that today was the day our federal tax deposit was due and we had missed the deadline.  Ugh – that feeling of impending penalty over-shadowed the elation of the day.

That was it – we needed to outsource our payroll.  We spent multiple hours each week translating timecards and then adding them and then confirming they were punched into the correct department.  It was a nightmare and we rock – paper – scissored each pay period to see who had to do it.  

The best business decision we ever made was to outsource, which is the process of shifting tasks to a third party instead of managing them yourself.  Companies who outsource don’t have to invest in recruiting and training new employees, instead, they outsource the work to professionals who already know how to do the job. 

The benefits of outsourcing include:

  • Keep up with competition – a small company can appear much bigger with a professional 3rd party managing certain projects.
  • Finding new talent – if your employees are lacking certain skills necessary for your business to grow, a 3rd party can fill that gap
  • Better technology – an outsourcing company usually has the best of the best equipment and technology
  • Professional – 3rd party companies focus on certain aspects, payroll, HR, graphic design, etc
  • Focus on other areas of business – determine whether your payroll person can take those 15 hours and use them to help the company grow instead of doing non-strategic tasks
  • Risk reduction – if you choose the right company – they will use their experience to guide your decisions and keep you compliant with the IRS, etc.

For us running the payroll wasn’t the big problem, it was the time we spent away from our customers and the inability to find employees who knew how to run payroll and keep us compliant.   We liked the idea of outsourcing payroll so much, that when my sister sold Christopher’s we called our payroll company and told them we would be interested in purchasing their company when they were ready to retire – that was 2005 and we haven’t looked back! 

WI Pay Tip Of The Day – Happy 4th of July 2021

The Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day or July 4th has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941 – the tradition of Independence Day goes back to the American Revolution.

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence and 2 days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

From 1776 to the present day, July 4th as been celebrated as the birth of American Independence with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades, concerts, gatherings and picnics.   Early on, the celebrations were usually accompanied by a public reading of the Declaration of Independence. (The Declaration of Independence: Full text (ushistory.org)

Relatively speaking, we are still a young country, still experiencing growing pains.  We are not a perfect country; but I do believe that there is no place in the world like the USA.  I am proud to be an American. I am grateful for those who gave their lives for us… and I will continue to ask God to bless America.                           

WI Pay Tip Of The Day – IRS’s Dirty Dozen Scams

Unfortunately, scams continue to be on the rise and there are no red flashing lights that precede a scam – but if you pay attention, there are clues that you are seeing a scam.

To help recognize scams, the IRS puts out a Dirty Dozen Scam Alert each year.  Following are some highlights from their 2021 Dirty Dozen. 

  1.  Telephone calls, text messages or emails are used by identity thieves to convince the person that they need to provide Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card information or passwords.  Often, criminals pose as someone the person knows.    NEVER, EVER give personal information over the phone.
  2. Phishing scams can be tricky and cleverly disguised to look like they are coming from the IRS or someone the person knows.  They may promise a big refund, a missing stimulus payment or even a tax threat.  NEVER click on or open attachments or links in these emails.
  3. Always look at the complete address.  We received an email from Kat Meissner; but the email address was kat@optimu.com – clearly not me!
  4. If you receive a phone call out of the blue, security experts recommend asking questions of the caller such as, who is your supervisor, what office are you located out of, what is your ID#; but do not give them any information.  We recommend you simply hang up – immediately!
  5. Social media scams are also on the rise as the cons may send emails, messages, etc. impersonating the victim’s family, friends and co-workers.   
  6. ALL OF YOUR INFORMATION that is on social media platforms can be collected and used against you!  One way to prevent these scams is to review your privacy settings often and limit what is publicly shared.
  7. If you do click on something and strange things start to show up on your computer screen, take a picture of the screen with your phone and unplug the computer immediately.  Do not turn it back on until you’ve taken it to an IT person to scan and remove any viruses. 

WI PAY TIP OF THE DAY – Federal Form W-4 Explained

Effective January 1, 2020, all new employees were required to complete the redesigned W-4 which was intended to be easier for employees to fill out and to accurately tell their employers how much federal income tax they want withheld from their pay. 

The old system was tied to the use of exemptions and deductions on your tax return.  When these exemptions deductions were removed in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the form W-4 no longer estimated the correct amount to be withheld as well as it used to.

So, the ITSDA implemented a change to the withholding tables that employers use along with the information on the W-4 to calculated federal income tax withholding.

The form is far from easier for employees to fill out – it is one of our most asked questions.  Many people worry when they see there is little or no federal taxes being taken out of their first few paystubs.  However, remember the formulas are estimating that the amount on the paystub is what you will be making through the end of the year. 

For year 2021 – employees can elect to withhold federal income taxes based only on marital status.  For detailed instructions, go to https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fd4.pdf

The advice from the IRS?  If you don’t feel the results are correct for your situation, make adjustments in the “other adjustments” section, submit a new Form W-4 and check the results on your paycheck after the adjustment takes effect.  …and there you have it.

WI PAY TIP OF THE DAY – FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act)

The Fair Labor Standards Act was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 25, 1938.  While there have been some changes since then, the bulk of the Act is still in effect today. 

One area that is being debated today is the federal minimum wage which has been in effect since July 24, 2009.  Many states have their own minimum wages; in those cases, the employee is entitled to the higher minimum wage.

Nonexempt employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 per workweek at a rate of not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay.  Overtime pay is not required for work on weekends, holidays, or regular days of rest unless those hours total more than 40 in the workweek.

Exempt employees include certain executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employees.  The 3 tests include a) salary level of at least $684 per week; b) salary basis is guaranteed; and c) primary job duties.

Hours worked include all the time during which an employee is required to be on the employer’s premises, on duty or at a prescribed workplace.   There also must be equal pay for equal jobs whether you are male or female, white or brown, etc.

Employers must display an official poster outlining the FLSA requirements and must also keep employee time and pay records.

Jobs considered detrimental to a child’s health or well-being are not allowed for children under the age of 18.  There is no limit on the number of hours worked for children 16 and over – however, there are many state laws that must be adhered to in this area as well.

Breaks are not required; however, for a break to NOT be paid, it must be at least 30 minutes and the employee must be free to leave the employer’s premises.

For more information, see the following link:  https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/flsa


 According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rates in the United States vary from a low in South Dakota and Utah of 3.3% to a high in California of 9.3% and Hawaii of 10.3%.  To put things in perspective, the historical low rate was Connecticut in 2000 at 2.0% and the historical high was Nevada in April 2020 at 29.5%.  Wisconsin is currently at 4.0%; with a historical low of 3.0% in 2018 and a historical high of 14.8 in April 2020.

It looks like things are looking up – that is unless you are trying to hire!   The best part of being a business owner is the employees!  The worst part of being a business owner is the employees!

Here are some suggestions for help in hiring:

  1.  Utilize Social Media – it is here to stay folks – make your presence a big one and leverage that.
  2. Online Job Boards such as Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, Indeed, or Job Monkey to  name a few provide help.
  3. LinkedIn – You can post jobs and search for people with specific experience and skills.
  4. Career Sites – Make sure your Website has a “Join Our Team” or “We are Hiring” tab and sell yourself to future employees!
  5. Temp agencies and 1099 contractors can help fill immediate needs.
  6. Take your time, resist the urge to hire quick.  In the long run it costs you much more to hire the wrong people.

Keep in mind, all new hires must be reported to the state in which they are working, and you must have an I-9 completed and saved for every employee.  For a complete list of all required paperwork for new hires, go to our website, www.wisconsinpay.com and click on Employee Services.    (Note:  We do the new hire reporting and social security number verification for our clients.)

If you are hiring, send us a summary of what you are looking for and we’ll put it on our Facebook and Linked in pages as well.  Go get ‘em!

WI PAY TIP OF THE DAY – Record Keeping


In the old days, record keeping on behalf of our payroll clients consisted of massive quantities of paper, filed alphabetically by client by year.    We would spend the first weekend in February moving files out of current year files and into boxes to be hauled to an attic or basement.  In a perfect world, that would be the last time that we would see them for seven years when we pulled them out and spent days shredding and/or burning.   
When an employer would ask for their quarterly returns from two years ago – what a disaster!  It would take hours and sometimes days to find what they needed.  Something had to give…

Enter my IT guy (also my brother)!  “We are going paperless,” he said (this was before the days of everything being online).  I panicked.  He dug in and I am happy to say that for the past three years, cleaning out our year end files was accomplished by several clicks of the mouse and we know (almost) all we have, we know where we have it and here is a reminder of how long you must keep it! 

Permanent:  Tax returns and major financial records such as payments to the government, legal filings, inheritances, etc.

3 – 7 Years:  Supporting Documentation including W-2, 1099’s, bank statements, receipts (in this case we recommend erring on the side of caution and just keep for 7 years after returns are filed).

1 Year:  Supporting Receipts, pay stubs – things to verify the accuracy of W-2’s, etc.

As a suggestion on filing procedures, we create a file at the start of each year named 2021.  Then everything that happens in 2021 that applies only to 2021 goes into that file.  We also create all the subfiles we need to keep it organized.   At the start of 2022, we will create a file named 2022 that will house all 2022 records and move 2021 to Archive (which is not online – it is backed up to an external hard drive and we are then not paying for data storage for things that never change).  We have two copies – one internal and one off-site.    

We also have a file named “Company Info” this is where we file tax returns and major financial records including powers of attorney, etc.  This file does not get archived.

Good luck and remember – Records management is knowing what you have, where you have it and how long you must keep it! 

WI PAY TIP OF THE DAY – Gratitude Attitude

Perhaps one of the most talked about self-help topics is a person’s attitude.  How does one see the world – glass half empty or half full?  Do you wake up knowing you can tackle the world, or be tackled by the world? 

In the aftermath of my daughter’s death, I heard the following words: “Look for the blessings – starting – right – now.” 

WHAT??  What blessings?? Obviously, you have never lost a child!    Those were my initial thoughts.  However, I let the words settle, mulled them over and eventually, I quietly, softly, and humbly thanked God for all three of my three daughters.   After losing a child, your remaining children become more precious (yes, it is possible).  Hmmm a blessing??  I think so.  

I am grateful that I will never again take my loved ones for granted.

After acknowledging the first blessing, I was encouraged to find more and I did – many more.  Was it smooth sailing?  No.  Not even close.  But I knew that even while navigating the waters of child loss – when my attitude was that of looking for blessings, my heart would fill with joy.  When my attitude was that of despair, I quickly sunk into darkness.   When I focused on precious memories and making more of them, I found blessings.

I keep a “Gratitude Journal.”  Very few entries are tangible things; but it is full of things like:

“The wonderful, tight hug from my granddaughter, when she whispered in my ear, “I missed you so, so much.”   “The smell of my newborn granddaughter.” “The tick-tock of my grandma’s cuckoo clock.”  “The sound of my dad’s voice when he is reciting his prayers.”  “The way I see my mom’s hands when I look at my own.”   “My husband’s love for me.”

Zig Ziglar said, “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions.  The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”  

Express your thanks and look for your blessings – starting – right – now.  

WI PAY TIP OF THE DAY – All Hallows’ Eve

All Hallows’ Eve falls on October 31, the day before All Hallows’ Day – also known as All Saints day.  The name comes from Old English “hallowed” meaning holy or sanctified and is now usually the more familiar Halloween,  While there is much discrepancy with the origin of Halloween, today it is celebrated both in the Christian and secular worlds.

New insurance deductions for 2021 will start coming our way as well as 2021 unemployment rates.  In the business world – you have two months to adjust your profit and loss.  It’s a good time to connect with your tax preparer and take a look at what your tax situation looks like for 2020.    Better to be prepared than surprised.

I like Halloween.  I do not like scary movies, or haunted houses or scary characters.  I love trick or treating,  I really LOVE trick or treating!  I love seeing the lights on people’s doors inviting little goblins up for a treat.  I love the expectant look on the kiddos faces as they hold out their bag and their adorable “thank yous.”  I love seeing the neighborhood walk the neighborhood.  I love the magic of “being” something / someone for Halloween.  I love roasted pumpkin seeds and carving pumpkins – but am so sad that I did not know until this year that you can use a drill to carve your pumpkins!  (You must try this!)

So even if you are old – take a few minutes on October 31 to dress up and pretend to be something or someone.  Spread some joy as others take delight in your costume.  Go shopping with curlers and a bathrobe – it’s ok on Halloween!  …and if you get extra peanut butter cups – I’ll trade you!!