Tips For A Stress-Free Payroll Year End Process

The payroll year end process is serious business. It’s a task that requires time, knowledge, and a lot of patience in order to accurately calculate taxes, compensation, and deductions to be withheld. Not surprisingly, it can get a little stressful. Luckily, we’ve put together a handy guide to ensure that your company’s year end payroll process is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

1. Pre-Planning

Get Strategic

It can be tempting to just dive right in, but stopping to create a strategy for tackling the payroll year end process will end up saving you even more time. You can do this by prioritizing and ranking all of your major payroll activities by risk factor. Consider assigning targets and completion dates for each activity, and then assign tasks accordingly. Remember, a well-documented and organized approach to payroll helps to keep everyone on the same page and ensures greater efficiency overall.

2. Planning

Collect The Necessary Documents

With your strategy set, it’s time to move onto the planning stage and planning is always easier with a checklist. To start, create a detailed list of all the important documents you need. If you don’t have a previous year’s list to reference, head to the CRA’s website to download the relevant employer’s guides and tax forms. Recommended forms include:

   ● Employers’ Guide – Payroll Deductions and Remittances (T4001)

   ● Employers’ Guide – Filing the T4 Slip and Summary Form (RC4120)

   ● Employers’ Guide – Taxable Benefits (T4130)

   ● Deducting Income Tax on Pension and Other Income, and Filing the T4A Slip and Summary Form (RC4157)

Get On Top Of Changing Legislation

Even if you’ve been doing payroll for years, that doesn’t mean you can complete the payroll year end process on autopilot. Federal policies are constantly changing, so it’s important to stay informed about any news related to payroll and benefits, such as changes to T4 slip deliveries, or new rates for CPP and EI premiums. Be sure to review the most up-to-date versions of employer’s guides for changes affecting year end filing, as well as any changes effective in the new year.

It can also help to put together a one-pager for your employees, summarizing all of the important changes. Bringing employees into the loop will help them plan for any changes to their pay based on the new values and can serve as a helpful reminder to complete new TD1s (federal and provincial) if their situation has changed.

Meet With Internal Stakeholders

No one likes getting a last-minute email sent just days before filing deadlines, so instead of chasing down department heads, consider holding a formal year end meeting. Set a time well in advance of your deadline and then invite HR, Finance, and any other relevant departments to go over what information you will need. Then, assign clear expectations, deliverables, and deadlines to keep all those involved accountable. From there, keep the communication flowing to ensure that no one goes off track and adjustments can be made before it’s too late.

3. Execution

Balance & Reconcile

To make the payroll year end process as smooth as possible, take the time to review these important details:

● Ensure employees’ personal information is accurate, including details such as first and last names, Social Insurance Numbers (SINs), and addresses. If you’re using an online payroll solution like Knit, you can easily access and update that information using our new Mass Changes feature.

● Verify your Business Number (BN), as all of your tax remittances are paid out to the payroll account associated with your company.

● If applicable to your company, you’ll want to review your WCB and WSIB account numbers and rates. You should also make sure that all the applicable employees are enrolled in the program from a payroll standpoint.

● Review any outstanding payroll entries dated in the calendar year (ie. manual cheques and deposits) and then make sure they have been included in the current taxation year. Additionally, ensure that all canceled payroll journals and canceled paycheques are not included in year end figures.

● Account for the accrual, carry over, or resetting of vacation time, and personal/sick days allotted to employees based on your company policies.

● Identify any discrepancies with CPP contributions and EI premiums. Doing this will give you time to make any necessary corrections to the deduction data before the final pay run is administered.

● Finally, ensure that benefits paid out are recorded as taxable benefits or non-taxable benefits according to the CRA’s benefits and allowances chart.

Prepare For T4s

Part of closing the year in payroll is beginning the process of generating T4 tax forms for your employees. Through Knit’s payroll, you can generate and submit T4s through the platform as of the first week of 2019.

Once all your T4 slips are done, you will need to process your T4SUM summary form, which reports the sum total of the amounts reported—a step that Knit automates for you.

4. Completion

Prepare For Next Year

After you’ve balanced your books and completed your year end, it can be tempting to kick back and relax. However, you can save “future-you” some time by completing a post-year end evaluation and identifying action items for next year. This can include any helpful notes or productive habits you can implement, and a review of your payroll calendar for potential payroll processing conflicts.

If you’re overwhelmed by year end payroll, don’t worry because you’re not in this alone! Payroll service providers such as Knit are up-to-date on all the latest regulatory changes and can help to assist you with any administrative issues you may encounter.

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