WI PAY TIP OF THE DAY – Let’s get into the 21st Century!!

Back in “the day” payroll checks were calculated using the infamous green ledger sheets and cash or handwritten checks were delivered to the employees on payday. This was ok until you realized you had a sneaky employee who mastered “doctoring” their check and wha-la their $1000 check is now a $1800 check.

Say hello to Paymaster!

And now it’s time to get into the 21st Century with Direct Deposit.

As an employer why direct deposit?  So glad you asked!

  1.  No more checks run through the washer so no more stopping payment on checks and no more cutting replacement checks.
  2. No more “I have to leave work early so I can get my check into the bank before 2.”
  3.  Employees can log into their bank account and see their pay – usually in the wee hours of the morning of payday – even before they get to work.
  4. Funds are available immediately – employees no longer must wait for the check to clear in order to access their pay.
  5. Even if your employees are off on payday – they still get paid – with no hoops for you to jump though.
  6. Your bank account information is more secure, as pay stubs for direct deposit do not include the employer’s bank account number.
  7. Your employees can distribute funds to multiple accounts to help with their budgeting and implement a savings strategy.
  8. Entering your payroll is now done with one entry rather than entering and waiting for multiple checks to clear – saves on bookkeeping time.
  9. With direct deposit, you can also have employee self-services.  No more worries about employees seeing other employees’ checks and finally
  10. You’re helping the environment!

If you are a Wisconsin employer, you can require employees to be paid via Direct Deposit.  If you have an employee who does not have a bank account – no worries, we have Pay Cards – which are debit cards that we load their pay onto. It is time.

Through hard work and perseverance, I’ve gone from living paycheck to paycheck – to living direct deposit to direct deposit.

W I Pay Tip of the Day – Required Documentation To Claim Tax Credits for COVid19 Related Paid Leave Payments

Updated DOL/IRS Guidance on Required Documentation

To Claim Tax Credits

for COVid19 Related Paid Leave Payments

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave and paid leave under the Expanded FMLA provisions in the Families First Act established five primary “qualifying reasons” justifying up to 80 hours of Emergency Paid Sick Leave:

  1. Quarantine or isolation order by federal, state, or local authorities related to COVID-19
  2. Employee has been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider due to concerns related to COVID–19. (Note: this could include advice based solely on an employee’s high-risk status, with no exposure to an infected person or symptoms of infection.)
  3. Employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis
  4. Employee is caring for an individual who is quarantined
  5. Due to school or childcare closures, an employee is unable to work to care for children

Up to 10 weeks of Expanded FMLA Paid Leave may be taken, but only for reason No. 5 above.

Employers making payments under this Act are entitled to reimbursement in the form of quarterly tax credits on their federal payroll taxes. The Department of Labor has indicated that in order for employees to be eligible for these paid leave benefits, and for employers to be eligible for reimbursement via quarterly tax credits, employers must obtain specific documentation, established by the Internal Revenue Service, from employees requesting either type of paid leave.

The IRS released guidance last week specifying the documentation that will be needed for employers to receive these tax credits. These guidelines require that each employee seeking leave must provide written documentation containing the following information in connection with their request for Paid Sick Leave (“PSL”) or Emergency Family and Medical Leave (“EFMLA”): (1) employee’s name; (2) the date or dates for which leave is requested; (3) the “qualifying reason” for the leave; and (4) a statement that the employee is unable to work (either on-site or via telework) because of the qualified reason for leave.

Employees must also provide additional documentation depending on the reason for taking the PSL or EFMLA:

  • To take PSL because the employee is quarantined, the employee must also provide the name of the government entity that issued the quarantine or isolation order.
  • To take PSL because the employee has been told to self-quarantine, the employee must also provide the name of the health care provider who advised the employee to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  • To take PSL because the employee is caring for an individual for COVID-19 reasons, the employee must also provide either: (1) the name of the government entity that issued the quarantine or isolation order to which the individual being cared for is subject; or (2) the name of the health care provider who advised the individual being cared for to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19. The IRS Guidelines further require that the employee provide the name of the individual being cared for and his or her relation to the employee.
  • To take PSL or EFMLA to care for a son or daughter due to school or childcare closure, the employee must also provide: (1) the name and age of the son or daughter; (2) the name of the school, place of care, or child care provider that has closed or become unavailable; and (3) a representation that no other suitable person will be caring for the son or daughter during the period for which the employee takes PSL or EFMLA. Additionally, with respect to the employee’s inability to work or telework because of a need to provide care for a child older than 14 during daylight hours, the IRS requires a statement that “special circumstances” exist requiring the employee to provide care.

Additional Employer Records and Documentation Required to Obtain the Tax Credit

In addition to the information set forth above, employers must also create and maintain (for four years) records that include the following information:

  • Documentation to show how the employer determined the amount of PSL and EFML wages paid to employees that are eligible for the credit, including records of work, telework, and qualified PSL and EFML.
  • Documentation to show how the employer determined the amount of qualified health plan expenses that the employer allocated to wages.
  • Copies of any completed Forms 7200, “Advance of Employer Credits Due To COVID-19,” that the employer submitted to the IRS.
  • Copies of the completed Forms 941, “Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return,” that the employer submitted to the IRS (or, for employers that use third party payers to meet their employment tax obligations, records of information provided to the third party payer regarding the employer’s entitlement to the credit claimed on Form 941).

W I Pay Tip of the Day – CoVid19 Company Policy

CoVid19 Company Policy

For those of you who are still open or will be allowed to open in the midst of the CoVid19 Pandemic, it is highly recommended that you create a company policy to help keep you and your employees safe.   You’ll want to give a copy of this to your employees and hang a copy in a common area for all to see (typically near the timeclock or in the breakroom).

Following is some verbiage that you are welcome to use and adjust to fit your specific situation.

                                                 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Company Policy

Policy brief & purpose

This company policy includes the measures we are actively taking to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

You are kindly requested to follow all these rules diligently, to sustain a healthy and safe workplace in

this unique environment. It’s important that we all respond responsibly and transparently to these health

precautions.  We assure you that we will always treat your private health and personal data with high

confidentiality and sensitivity.

This coronavirus (COVID-19) company policy is susceptible to changes with the introduction of

additional governmental guidelines.

Scope

This coronavirus policy applies to all of our employees who physically work in our facility.

Policy elements

Here, we outline the required actions employees should take to protect themselves and their co-workers

from a potential coronavirus infection.

Sick leave arrangements:

● If you have cold symptoms, such as cough/sneezing/fever, or feel poorly, request unpaid sick

leave or work from home.

● If you have a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, you can return to the office only after you’ve fully

recovered, with a doctor’s note confirming your recovery.

● If you’ve been in close contact with someone infected by COVID-19, with high chances of being

infected yourself, request work from home/or unpaid sick work leave. You will also be asked not

to come into physical contact with any colleagues during this time.

● If you’re a parent and you have to stay at home with your children, follow up with your manager

or departmental leader to make arrangements and set expectations.

● If you need to provide care to a family member infected by COVID-19. You’ll only be permitted to

return to the office 14 calendar days after your family member has fully recovered, provided that

you’re asymptomatic or you have a doctor’s note confirming you don’t have the virus. You will

also be asked not to come into physical contact with any colleagues during this time.

Traveling measures:

● All work trips and events will be cancelled/postponed until further notice.

● In-person meetings should be done virtually where possible, especially with non-company parties

(e.g. candidate interviews and partners).

● If you are planning to travel voluntarily to a high-risk country with increased COVID-19 cases,

we’ll ask you to work from home/ work leave for 14 calendar days. You will also be asked not to

come into physical contact with any colleagues during this time.

General hygiene rules:

● Wash your hands after using the bathroom, before eating, and if you cough/sneeze into your

hands (follow the 20-second hand-washing rule).

● Cough/sneeze into your sleeve, preferably into your elbow. If you use a tissue, discard it properly

and clean/sanitize your hands immediately.

● Avoid touching your face, particularly eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands to prevent from

getting infected.

● If you find yourself coughing/sneezing on a regular basis, avoid close physical contact with your

coworkers and take extra precautionary measures (such as requesting sick leave).

● Wipe down your workstation upon arrival and before leaving for the day.

● NO unauthorized personal is allowed in the facility. All doors are posted with a call information to

control facility entry.

● Maintain a 6-foot working area and if this cannot be maintained a mask will need to be worn.

● Cleaning supplies are available in the kitchen area.

W I Pay Tip of the Day – Direct Deposit

According to the State of Wisconsin, you can require your employees to be paid via direct deposit rather than a paper check.  We strongly recommend you move in this direction, if you haven’t already done so.   

One hundred percent direct deposit is the way to go:

  1. Data entry into your bookkeeping system becomes much more streamlined.
  2. You no longer have to wait for employees to cash their checks.
  3. Your employees no longer need to wait for their checks.
  4. No more checks that went through the laundry and have to be reissued.
  5. Your employees no longer need to go to the bank to cash their checks.
  6. Your bank account information is much more secure.

We had a client who terminated an employee.  This employee decided to give herself a little severance pay by creating a new check after she had cashed her original check.  The company’s bookkeeper contacted us and asked us why we gave that employee another check.  We were able to confirm that the check did not come from us and that it was fraudulent. 

Had the company paid that employee via direct deposit, she would never have had access to the company’s checking account or the owner’s signature and this would never have happened.

Contact us to get your company set up with direct deposit for all employees.

W I Pay Tip of the Day – PPP Program

We want to check in with you again during this unique time for all of us both professionally and personally.  We have somewhat absorbed the new COVID19 legislation designed to provide small businesses with lifelines to make it through this tough time and have assisted many of you, providing reports, copies of returns and other data so you could complete your application for the PPP Loan.  Many of you have successfully completed your applications and been approved. For those not yet approved and heard that the well has run dry – stay calm – more funding is expected. When you receive your funding, breathe a sigh of relief, crack a smile and get a good night’s sleep. While you are enjoying that feeling, please start from day one to think about the next steps. 

The PPP program has a highly desirable component to it, that being the potential for the loan to be fully forgiven.  This depends on how you utilize your funds over the eight weeks starting the day you are funded.  If you get funded tomorrow, April 21st, your measurement period will end on June 16, 2020. Your use of funds during this eight-week period will determine how much, if any, of your loan will be forgiven. 

Basically, you must spend at least 75% of the funds on payroll. The remaining 25% can be used on rent and utilities. What constitutes “utilities” is still open for clarification which hopefully will come out shortly.  We obviously expect electric, water, gas, etc. to qualify, but the question is on internet, cell phones, etc. 

Our tip of the day??  KEEP ACCURATE RECORDS! 

Some banks are requiring a separate bank account to deposit the PPP funds, others not, and the funds go into your existing operating account.  Either way, you must keep extreme detail of what you use the loan funds for.  If you were required to have a new bank account and plan to just use the bank statements from that account as your back up, don’t use funds in that account to pay for things that won’t qualify for forgiveness such as, marketing, association dues, etc.  If the funds are commingled in your Operating account, somehow designate which expenses are being paid from the loan proceeds.  The more detail you put into it now, the easier it will be for you come late June, early July when you are applying for Loan Forgiveness. 

All the best to everyone.  We at WI Pay are here to help as much as we can, including tracking your payroll spending for you. 😊

New W-4 Required as of Jan 1, 2020

With companies hiring and firing and rehiring and employees filing tax returns and needing to change their federal exemptions we have been inundated with requests to “change the employee’s W-4 exemptions to Married and 2.  Sorry folks – no can do.  

For any changes to the federal W-4 the employee must complete the new form.  Following are instructions and a sample of the form. 

The form is a bit scary at first glance, but have no fear – an employee’s guide to the 2020 W-4 can be found by clicking on the following link:

https://wisconsinpay.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/2020-Form-W-4.pdf

or by going to Wisconsin Pay’s website: 

www.wisconsinpay.com

Click on Employee Services

Click on Form W-4

You’ll see detailed instructions and the actual form.

You’re welcome!

Recycling Made Easy

Among the questions we receive about payroll, bookkeeping and taxes, we also have received multiple requests regarding recycling of used electronics. After some research, we have confirmed that most municipalities have drop off locations for recyclable items.

But did you know that Best Buy is the nation’s largest retail recycle of used electronics and appliances? They’ll recycle all kinds of used technology items regardless of where you bought it or how old it is or who made it.   They also run different promotions each month.

Go to their website and find out if your item has value and trade it in for a Best Buy gift card. Please note, this recycle program is designed for residents – not businesses.

Thank you Best Buy.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

How to Grow a Successful Business in 2018

I’ve heard that determination and elbow grease are all that you need to make it big in business today. While that may be somewhat true, bringing on new business and retaining existing customers also requires knowledge, critical thinking, technology, problem solving, patience, talent and empathy. Empathy? Yes, empathy.

In the payroll world for instance, we are required to have a robust knowledge of the payroll industry and the constant changes in legislation and laws. Staying current on all these regulations is crucial to the legitimacy of our business.   We must meet all deadlines, provide accurate paychecks, file correct returns and make timely tax payments. But every payroll service must do the same or they will not be in business for long. So what can set us apart? What can set your business apart?

Empathy. The definition of empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, i.e. the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. Today more than ever, successful businesses must develop strong relationships with their customers. They must have a connection with their customers. They need to find things they have in common. They must relate.

Last week, I returned home after being with my 11-month-old granddaughter for five days. I went to a local gift shop and was chatting with the sales lady – who was gift wrapping my purchases (a service she does for free) and we got to talking about our grandchildren. As I welled up with tears because I was missing my granddaughter, she welled up with tears because 3 of her grandchildren live 3 states away and she only see them 3 times a year. Upon my leaving, she said, “you come on back if you ever need someone to cry with you over missing your grandbaby.” I sure will.

Building and maintaining relationships is the key to running a successful business. We need to build trust, listen, give and receive feedback and develop empathy. All business can “cut checks”. But business isn’t about that. It’s about people and how we can better serve them. Relationships. Trust. Integrity. Empathy.

Thinking About Outsourcing Your Payroll?

The trend to outsource payroll is definitely on the rise.

The return on investment, if done correctly, will include higher efficiency, re-engineered processes, lower costs, and less time spent managing the process. This should leave you with a leaner organization that will allow you to focus on growing your business.

There are several areas to consider when making this transition.

Price.   A cheaper price may cover basic services but then may charge for each deduction, call, email, click or quarterly returns.  As with everything else, you get what you pay for and if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Understanding services needed.  Be sure to properly define the services that you will be receiving to make sure that you get what you pay for and are not paying for something that you do not require.  Are you looking for timekeeping, HR services, tracking vacation etc.

Experience. Hiring a local CPA firm may gain you well-trained accountants but this will only benefit you if they have expertise in managing payroll processing. Many CPA firms focus on the bigger picture in accounting vs all the parts that make up the end result.

Do your homework.  Be sure to evaluate the current cost of processing your payroll. This includes salaries, benefits, payroll taxes for staff along with the overhead cost for running the department. How much time does your staff spend on answering questions from the employees?  Are you utilizing the latest technology?  Is the data secure and backed up properly?  Do you have multiple employees able to run the payroll in the event someone is out sick?  How much do you spend updating your payroll software each year?

Security and Confidentiality.  A big plus for outsourcing payroll is keeping things confidential such as rates of pay, bonuses and other benefits.  There is nothing more detrimental to staff morale than having rates of pay disclosed to employees receiving less pay.

Ask for References.  Any firm that is in the business of processing payroll should be able to provide multiple references for you to contact and find out if the provider is a good match for you and your company.

Are we building our business?

In October we spent two hours having staff pictures taken so we could update our website, the photographer’s computer was out for repairs so it took until mid-December to get the photos.  (They look great – so it was worth the wait.)

Wisconsin Pay Group

On Tuesday, I spent 4 hours updating the employee bios for the “About Us” page of the website, picking out new pictures and updating our available services.  Our web guy made all the changes and life was good again – back to working on building our business – or so I thought.

I got to the office this morning and our internet speed was brutally slow – and I mean brutal.  We pay for 20 mb and were getting less than 1.  So a call to our telephone provider ensued (who by the way is the only option we have – lucky for them).

After being on the phone for 45 minutes, I was informed that I was going to lose what little internet we had for a while – great – I was on an internet phone – and of course, the tech could not call me back because his phone only rings in.  So I called back and 20 minutes later, reached the new tech.  His first question to me was what number could I be reached at so he could call me back if we got disconnected. What?  Call me back??  Okay – whatever.

An hour later, he discovered that our “new” modem was actually a refurbished modem (which I paid full price for) and still had the old user’s name and password so was not communicating with CenturyLink for upgrades.  Another morning gone and no business building…

A CPA once told me that the people who bring their books in squeaky clean and timely are usually not as successful in their businesses as those who are a little behind and a little stressed when it comes to their books.  The reason?  Those who are under the gun have usually spent more time building their business than recording it.

One goal for us in 2018 will be to spend more time building our business than administering and recording it.  First thing on the list – make a “To Do List” to stay focused.  Let’s get building!