By Chris Hadden, CPP
Greenshades Technical Sales Manager
Year-end should be a joyous time of year, spent with family and loved ones. Instead for many of us in the Payroll and Finance department, year-end is a time of extra stress and long hours at the office. As we look ahead to the quickly approaching month of January, what can we do now to make this year-end just a little less stressful?
- Incorrect employee addresses. How large is your stack of W-2s that are returned each year due to an incorrect mailing address? While you, as the employer, may be doing your due diligence by mailing the W-2 to the most recent address on file, and keeping undeliverable copies for up to four years, is this really the most efficient way to go? What happens when the employee contacts you requesting their W-2? You are likely mailing out another copy of the W-2, which is costing you both time and money. Before printing your W-2s this year, consider verifying your employee’s mailing address through the US Postal Service. This will help catch misspelled street names or city names, as well as zip code validation. To make things, even more, automated, consider using a software program that will manage this verification for you.
- Incorrect employee names and Social Security Numbers. Is his legal name Bob or Robert? Is her legal name Amelia or Molly? How can you know? Having an incorrect social security number and name on file is not only going to lead to a delayed submission on your annual wage report, but these delays can impact your employees directly as well. To help decrease processing times at year end, the Social Security Administration offers two internet verification options via the Social Security Number Verification Service. Both options are free, and something every business should be using. https://www.socialsecurity.gov/employer/ssnv.htm. To make your year-end even easier, consider using a third party processing company, such as Greenshades Software, that will handle this verification for you automatically.
- Open enrollment for employee benefits. If year-end were not busy enough with employee tax forms and government filings, many companies are also completing their annual open enrollment around this same time. Short of changing your benefits plan year (which you may not want to completely rule out), there is no one, easy and simple answer for this challenge. However don’t lose all hope. Consider using an employee self-service benefits system. Many companies today are still doing an incredible amount of tasks on paper, and benefits enrollment are one of them. We made the plunge at Greenshades Software a number of years ago now and haven’t yet looked back. Just ensure that any system you choose to use has an integration with your payroll and HR system. By having the benefit elections update your payroll and HR system directly, you will not only cut down on human entry error (leading to incorrect paychecks and missed enrollments, which lead to unhappy employees during year-end), but you’ll also save yourself some much needed time by avoiding manual entry (don’t worry, I’m sure studying the new Affordable Care Act regulations will keep you from getting bored with all this free time).
- State unemployment insurance rates. While not all states release their SUTA and SUI rates at year end, most do. While staying on the lookout for this rate may not seem like a top priority of year-end, it’s certainly something you don’t want to forget about and is something that can often be overlooked. Because this rate varies by employer, most payroll systems do not include any SUTA rate adjustments in their annual tax changes so it’s up to you to ensure these adjustments are entered into your payroll system.
- Tedious printing of tax forms. With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act 1095-C form, employers have more tax forms than ever before to process in January. Are you still buying pre-printed, tax year specific forms each year, only to have leftovers that are worthless the next year? How many forms do you trash each year after failed alignments? Here are a few suggestions:
- W-2 printing software — consider a software add-on which will allow you to print out PDF copies onto blank, perforated forms. This eliminates alignment issues as well as the need to have tax year specific forms.
- Employee e-consents — consider using a software add-on that distributes your W-2s electronically. Per the IRS regulations, electronic consents are completely acceptable and a great way to avoid printing forms at year-end
- Outsource your mailing — do you really want to be in the business of mailing hundreds or thousands of tax forms every year? Have you ever brought in temp help at year-end just for printing out these forms? Is that actually cost effective? Consider using Greenshades Software to print and mail your forms this January. Greenshades prints over a million tax forms each January, including W-2s, 1095-Cs, 1099s, and more. And starting at $0.76 per form, including postage, can your temp really do better than that?