How to Choose payroll service blog post

Whenever I mention payroll to business owners I see the telltale signs of them “checking out” mentally, and it’s not surprising!  With terms like FICA, Workers Comp, Unemployment and ObamaCare, it’s no wonder small businesses are confused and sometimes just downright disgusted by it.  In fact, we often tell clients that if they get one thing right in running their business, make sure you hire a competent payroll service!

We want to help you understand how to make the right choice in choosing a payroll service.  So let’s get into it!

Taxes

Penalties on payroll tax errors are some of the most stringent that the IRS will shell out.  So you need to get this right!  Payroll companies will work payroll taxes in one of two ways: impounding and you paying the taxes yourself.

Impounding means that the payroll company takes the taxes from your account, holds on to them, and then pays them on time to the IRS and state agencies.  Sure, they make money on holding onto your funds, but they also take full responsibility for making the payments on time.

Some providers make it pretty easy to pay the taxes yourself via ACH and electronic payments.  However, it’s up to you to press “Submit” and make them on time.

The Verdict:

Use payroll services that impound.  It’s easier to manage cash flow because the taxes are taken out right when you run payroll and the payroll company assumes the responsibility to make the payments on time.

Direct Deposit and Checks

This may seem like a pretty basic thing but did you know that you can save yourself some time and costs by ONLY offering direct deposit?  Direct Deposit is a great way to pay your employees because they get paid right into the accounts.  Checks can be used, but they also create a headache when it comes time to reconcile your bank account.  Payroll companies also charge to push that paper around.  Have employees that don’t have a bank account?  Give them a “Pay Card’ that has it’s own routing and account number and you can “load” it with their pay each pay period.

The Verdict:

Use a payroll service that focuses on direct deposit and you will most likely save money on monthly service fees, postage and mailing, and time when reconciling your bank account.

Integration with Other Apps

Do you use accounting or online scheduling software like Xero or Deputy?  Use a service that ingrates with them to eliminate data entry and make running payroll, easy.  If using online scheduling, within a few clicks you can approve timesheets and send them straight to payroll.  This alone can save you hours each pay period.

The Verdict:

Search out payroll services that are open that integrate with other apps that you use.  Who knows, you may even discover an app you can use for your business this way!

Advanced HR Features

Some businesses have 1-5 employees, some have 50.  And depending on how many you have, will determine how much help you’ll need managing them.

If you have a large staff to manage, payroll companies like ADP have robust services beyond just running payroll that offers on-site HR reps that can come out “do your dirty work” for you, a.k.a.hire and fire.  They can also help you navigate the tricky waters of the ACA (ObamaCare) and provide employee handbooks, amongst other things.

If only a few employees, then a company like Gusto is often a good choice.  While they don’t provide robust HR services, they can offer very competitive rates on Workers Comp insurance, and make managing your employees pretty easy.

The Verdict:

Make a choice based on your payroll needs and employee size.

Pricing and Cost

This is what it boils down to right?  There are two methods that payroll services use to charge their fees: a flat fee per month, or fee per pay period.

Flat fee per month gives you a predictable cost each month.  Generally, there is a base cost and then a per-employee-per-month cost.  So as long as you know how many employees you’re paying, your fee is pretty predictable.  And, these companies don’t charge for anything extra like W-2’s and quarterly reports, as long as you are a subscriber.

Per-pay-period providers charge each time your run a payroll.  For most businesses, this is twice per month.  They will also charge additional fees for W-2’s and quarterly reports.  There are also other charges for mailing checks, etc., so make sure you have the payroll service spell our EVERY thing that is going to cost before you sign up.

The Verdict:

Use a service provider that charges a flat fee per month.  There is less confusion on fees and it’s generally cheaper each month.

Make it Happen!

As you can see, there’re lots to consider when choosing the right payroll service provider for you.  We can help you make that choice and get you in touch with the people to make things happen.   Have questions, leave a comment or reach out to us on our Get In Touch page and we’ll be happy to help you make the best decision for you and your business.

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App PowerPack Post

Unless you’ve been under a rock the past 5 years, I’m sure you’ve noticed the era of cloud-based apps has far outpaced its desktop counterparts.  We like cloud-based apps a lot—for good reasons that are too many to go into here.  You can check out this BLOG POST  to see a previous post about cloud-based apps. We like them so much that we’ve completely transitioned our business to using cloud apps for us and our clients.  We spend lots of time vetting out the ever growing list of cloud-based apps, and have come to rely on 3 core apps.  These apps are our top pick to make our “PowerPack” of apps that we set up with each client.

  xeroXero – Accounting

Xero touts itself as “beautiful accounting software”, and we agree.  From the first time you log in, you can tell right away that Xero has taken design pretty serious.  But that doesn’t mean that it lacks in power and functionality.  Features include: invoicing, quotes, purchase orders, A/P (bills), document management, real-time cash flow tools, contact management, powerful reporting, and much more.  Perhaps one of it’s best features is the eco-system of software add-on’s that integrate with Xero.

hubdoc_logo_full  Hubdoc – Receipt and Statement Management

Trust us, we know how daunting it is to manage all the paper for running a business!  Hubdoc solves this issue with automation and storage.  The idea behind the system is:

  1. To be a repository for your bank and utility statements by connecting to your online accounts and pulling the statements automatically
  2. To serve as an easy way to get the information from receipts, into your accounting system.  Simply snap a pic of any receipt using the mobile app on your device, and Hubdoc will read the date, amount, and vendor.

 

By integrating with Xero, Bill.com, and Google Drive, you can have a completely paperless system that allows you to automatically keep bank, utility statements, and store digital copies of your receipts.

 

 

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Expensify – Expense Reports and Mileage Tracking

Expensify has revolutionized the way you track and submit expenses for reimbursement.  From single to a team of several employees, expense reports for mileage, personal expenses, and travel can easily be imported into Xero and even reimbursed via ACH straight from within the app.  For most of our single-owner businesses, it works perfectly for keeping track of money you spend on personal accounts.  Enabling GPS on their mobile app makes it a breeze to track your auto mileage as well.

 

 

Want to know more about these “Power Hitter” apps?  Leave a comment or reach out to see how they can benefit your business and even get them for free as part of one of our monthly service plans.

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receipts
If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard something about keeping your receipts.  And we’ve heard some good myths about when and when you don’t have to keep them.  We’re here to set the record straight and tell you exactly when you need to keep receipts.

First, let me explain that there are different suggested records for different types of transactions.  For example, what you keep to prove the purchase of inventory is different than gas for your car.  We’re going to explore two categories today: General, and Travel/Entertainment expenses. But there are many more that we’re not discussing today.

General Expenses

What are they?

General expenses are things like paper, utilities, cell phone, etc.  Those types of expenses must be be proved with a bank/credit card statement, receipt, or invoice that shows the date, amount, and busienss purpose.

How long should I keep records for?

Generally speaking, you’ll want to keep records for at least 3 years from when you claimed them on your tax return.  The good news is that you can keep them in paper form, or electronically.  We’re a big fan of using the mobile app for Xero to take a snapshot of the receipt, and recording the transaction right on the spot when it happens.  You can also use other systems like Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox and Box to store your records.  If you choose to keep paper, then have a good file system organized by year and type of expense, at the very least.

 

Travel & Entertainment Expenses

What are they?

41131785-business-team-on-the-way-to-meetingsJust as it sounds, expenses you incur to travel, take clients out to lunch.  It also covers lodging, rental cars, transportation, and a host of other things.  See IRS Publication 463 that is referenced below for more things that qualify as travel and entertainment expenses.

 

 

How should I keep records and for how long?

The trick here is to have “adequate” records.  There are 4 main points that you must prove in order to have a deemed adequate expense in this category:

  1. Amount
  2. Time (for travel)
  3. Place or Description
  4. Business Purpose

What that basically means is that you must have a receipt, log book, or some kind of record that proves those 4 main points for each expenses you deduct.  Estimates don’t count.  The long and short of this is: that you keep all receipts/invoices for each expense in this category.  There are only a few exceptions, one of them being that if your expense in under $75 (except lodging), you can simply provide bank statements to prove you expense.  Of course there are more exceptions, but we don’t have time to go into them in this post.

And like above, you should keep these records for 3 years after you file the tax return for the year you’re taking the deduction in.

 

The IRS has some pretty elaborate articles and publications on this topic.  We referenced IRS Publication 463.  Feel free to check it out if you need to dive in a bit deeper.  Or, leave a comment and reach out to us and we can help you navigate the murky waters of business deductions.

 

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