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5 Common Payroll Mistakes to Avoid

Written by prositesfinancialJun 1 • 3 minute read

Effective payroll management is an essential aspect of any successful company. It is crucial to retain respected and satisfied employees, protect your company’s image, and maintain tax compliance.

Nonetheless, payroll is a complex task, and even the most minor payroll management error can jeopardize your organization’s efficiency and legal liability. Therefore, it’s a good idea to take steps to simplify your company’s payroll processes, identify inefficiencies, and avoid payroll errors.

Here are some of the most common payroll mistakes you’ll want to avoid:

1. Misclassifying Workers

One of the most prevalent payroll blunders is misclassifying employees. Depending on their needs, firms may hire new workers as full-time employees, part-time employees, independent contractors, or freelancers.

When it comes to independent contractors and full-time workers, it can be easy to mix up these two categories of employees. This can result in your accidentally paying contractors overtime payments or other unnecessary benefits. Additionally, if you mistakenly identify full-time workers as contractors, your employees may lose out on salaries and benefits they are entitled to. As a result, you could end up owing back pay to your team. Misclassifying employees may also result in you paying the government extra interest and fines.

2. Missing Payroll Tax Deadlines

Missing payroll tax deadlines can lead to serious legal issues and tarnish your company’s reputation. You may be subject to significant IRS late fees and penalties, putting you under undue financial strain. If your taxes remain unpaid, the IRS may even place a lien on your business assets. As a result, if you want to avoid potentially severe penalties, you should make every effort to meet your tax deadlines.

3. Failing to Keep Accurate Records

Failure to keep clear payroll records is one of the most potentially costly payroll mistakes. Accurate payroll management requires you to establish and keep complete employee records, but this can be a challenge, particularly for small business owners handling human resources on their own.

Incomplete or inaccurate payroll records can cause confusion in the workplace and complicate seemingly simple payroll tasks. The following are some of the most typical record-keeping mistakes made by business leaders:

  • Not collecting enough employee information at the time of hire
  • Not updating employee data when team members join, leave, or have life changes
  • Providing false employee information
  • Not maintaining payroll records for long enough (three years, per US government requirements)

4. Incorrectly Calculating Taxes

The tax rules are constantly changing, and if you conduct business in multiple countries, it can be even more challenging to keep your obligations straight. However, failing to accurately calculate your payroll taxes can attract serious fines and legal penalties. As such, it’s worth your investment to take the time—or hire a professional—to properly plan for your payroll taxes.

5. Overpaying or Underpaying Workers

You hired your team members at a given pay rate, and you intend to pay them that rate. However, a simple data entry error can easily lead to employees being underpaid or overpaid. If you underpay your employees, you may pay hefty fines on top of needing to compensate your employees. On the other hand, if you overpay your employee, you’re losing funds that could benefit other areas of your business. It’s advisable to double-check your work and develop clear, effective payroll processes to prevent these mistakes.

Final Thoughts

Your team is the backbone of your business, and you want to ensure they’re paid properly and on time. In addition, payroll mistakes can leave your company vulnerable to fines, lawsuits, and punitive actions that threaten your financial stability and long-term success. If you’re struggling to manage your business’ payroll, don’t wait until it becomes a huge problem. Consider reaching out to an accounting professional for help setting up and maintaining a payroll management system that works for your business.

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