5 tips to avoid common payroll mistakes

21st January, 2017

Payroll mistakes can be costly to small businesses, so to help you avoid this pain here are a few tips and tricks for business owners to be aware of.

Payroll, often conducted by a payroll specialist, ensures that every employee is paid accurately and on time.

But what level of experience is needed to conduct payroll?

With a growing number of businesses adopting payroll software, it’s sometime the business owner themselves who make the pay runs.

Having said this, some business owners can be overwhelmed by the responsibilities that come with payroll and look to hiring a payroll specialist.

Among businesses hiring for a payroll specialist, 67 percent of job listings say that applicants are either required or preferred to have prior experience with specific payroll systems.

The results from this research also shows that businesses prefer candidates have experience with payroll software as part of an integrated suite over a best-of-breed payroll solution.

Examples of integrated payroll software can include MYOB Business accounting software or MYOB AccountRight.

Job listings in Australia, requires payroll within software suite experience as per research conducted by Software Advice, International Comparison Industry View, 2014.
Australia’s need for employees to have payroll  management skills within the accounting software package, as identified by Software Advice, International Comparison Industry View, 2014, is higher than other markets.

Understanding payroll 101

Pays can be made on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis, by simply calculating employee wages, withholding the correct amount of taxes and issuing their pay.

Paying payroll taxes

The ATO defines PAYG withholding as a system that collects tax from the payments made to employees including contractors and businesses who haven’t quoted their ABN.

Payroll tax is a state based tax calculated on wages paid or payable by employers.

Employers with an expected payroll above $550,000 per year should check registration requirements and payroll tax rates in their state.

Filing tax forms

If payments are made subject to withholding, business owners must:

  • Register for PAYG withholding
  • Withhold amounts from wages and other payments
  • Lodge activity statements and make payments to the ATO
  • Provide payment summaries to employees and other payees
  • Provide the ATO with a PAYG withholding payment summary annual report.

5 tips to avoid common payroll mistakes:

1. Check employee details for accuracy

Ensure the below details are up to date for employees:

  • Tax file number
  • Full name and address
  • Start date or termination date of employee
  • Date of birth
  • Pay details such as gross wage, allowances, hourly rate, employment period

2. Reporting and reconciling to improve accuracy

Annual reconciliations forms are required to be completed and submitted with the state every year, reporting the annual taxable wages and premiums paid over the year.

The Annual Reconciliation Form will help determine the tax amount.

3. Keep up to date with payroll tax changes

Tax rates change every year. From 1 July, ensure tax rates are updated in the pays.

Accounting system providers will provide tax tables which must be loaded into your accounting software before you start processing payroll for the new financial year commencing 1 July.

MYOB Business is updated automatically every time there’s a tax change to keep you up to date with the tax office.

4. Don’t miss the payroll deadlines

  • PAYG withholding
    • Due 21 January 2015, PAYG instalment activity statement for quarter 2.
  • Annual payment summaries
    • Due 14 July 2015, annual payment summaries are due to employees and to the tax office by 14 August.
  • Super reporting
    • Due 28 January 2015, super guarantee contributions for quarter 2.
  • SuperStream
    • SuperStream obligations start from 1 July 2015 and have until 30 June 2016 to meet all the requirements for businesses with less than 20 employees. SuperStream obligations start from 1 July 2014 and have until 30 June 2015 to meet all requirements for businesses with 20 or more employees.

 5. Choose payroll software carefully

Take the time to set up your payroll as it will help you run your business smoothly.

Great accounting software like MYOB Business or MYOB AccountRight can take care of payroll.

By choosing MYOB, your time will be freed up so you can focus on other aspects of your business that you love.

Subscribing or upgrading your MYOB software will ensure your business is always compliant with tax changes, including the government’s new SuperStream system for paying super contributions.

The information provided here is of a general nature for Australians and should not be your only source of information. Please consult an experienced and registered tax agent as each small business’s circumstance will vary.