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Accounting & Tax Management | Certified Public Accountant | Payroll Management

Payroll Accounting: A Complete Guide to Payroll

This comprehensive and practical textbook covers the entire payroll process, step-by-step. The text provides an overview of governmental procedures and regulations, and two unique chapters offer a managerial perspective on internal control and cost-saving measures. An ongoing case and continuing case problem illustrate the steps of the payroll cycle at realistic manufacturing and service companies.

Resource Specification
Category: Payroll Management
Title: Payroll Accounting: A Complete Guide to Payroll
Released Date: January 1, 2001
Cost: $66.36
Pages: 287 pages
Edition: Paperback
ISBN: 0395959977
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company; 2001 ed. edition
Author: Frank C. Giove
Keywords: payroll, accounting
Description / Comment: This fine volume appropriately begins with the laws governing the administration of a payroll, the myriad Byzantine rules and regulations for calculating an employee's pay, withholding proper amounts of federal, state, local and FICA taxes, and accommodating all the other income-confiscation programs which are operated via the payroll function.

One sees in the resulting model a system that is deceivingly complex, overwhelmingly important and required to be accurate to the penny. In theory, it all falls together quite well.

What the author doesn't explore, though, is the way payroll people are treated like dirt at most companies. Their function, one of the most important administrative jobs performed in any company, is considered a "necessary evil," and typically receives the least possible resource support. While everyone's paycheck must be absolutely perfect and issued exactly on time, no one honors the Payroll Department's deadlines, schedules and cutoffs. Human Resources representatives might be told, for instance, that salary actions are due at 0800 Monday, because the payroll runs at 1200 Monday. In someone trots, however, at 1130, with a raise that simply MUST be included with the current payroll. Given such circumstances, it's often the case that the only thing more difficult for Payroll than processing the update is NOT processing it... thus everything grinds to a halt, so that some sloppy H.R. rep's late request can be accommodated.

Payroll must withhold funds from paychecks for child support, and for such unpleasant things as IRS levies. You can imagine how some tax-delinquent fellow responds, when you follow the IRS instructions and his take-home pay is suddenly just $3.00 -- he bursts into the office and angrily insists you have fouled up, and he wants his pay NOW. Additionally, Payroll must implement all sorts of idiotic compensation concoctions that management cavalierly declares from time to time -- special pays, retention bonuses, tax-protection gross-up schemes... and the input is typically never submitted on time, leaving everyone in Payroll struggling to all hours. Payroll often becomes responsible for collecting debts to the company from employees who have left the company, with one or another pay scheme receivable still outstanding.... a loan for a car, for home purchase, an up-front cash bonus paid for some critical skill, to be forgiven over a specified time during which the employee must remain with the company (but does not). Payroll then must prepare/submit input for the tax (W-2) implications of such things, frequently a daunting task.

And guess who administers the fine programs for the credit union, for charity contributions, for other paycheck-driven activities: Payroll. (One of my favorite Payroll experiences came when the company had a huge contest to prompt donations to a giant charitable {ha!} organization whose name you would recognize. Your prize eligibility depended on your contribution level, the greatest prize being one free week of vacation. Many, many people pledged, in order to enter the contest, and payroll deductions were set up for everyone. A few weeks after the winners were announced, though, an unbelievable number of employees quietly cancelled their charitable contribution deductions, not willing to pay their full pledges since they had not won any of the prizes. THAT is the sort of sleazy thing you see in Payroll Accounting.)

Read this book for a fine look at the LETTER of the law, for operating a Payroll. Talk to some of the poor minions in the Payroll trenches, however, if you want an idea of the SPIRIT.

Payroll Accountants deserve far, far more compensation and recognition than any company ever extends to them, but it's never going to happen. That is truly a shame.


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