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What Is Payroll?

Payroll is the compensation a business must pay to its employees for a set period or on a given date. It is generally managed by the accounting or human resources department of a company. Small-business payrolls might be handled directly by the owner or an associate.

Increasingly, payroll is moved to specialized firms that handle paycheck processing, employee benefits, insurance, and accounting tasks, for example, tax withholding. Numerous payroll fintech firms, for example, Atomic, Bitwage, Finch, Pinwheel, and Wagestream, are leveraging technology to work on payroll processes. These arrangements pay employees with greater convenience and speed and furnish digital payroll-related records with innovative technology-empowered services required by the gig and outsourcing economy.

Payroll can likewise allude to the rundown of a company's employees and the amount of compensation due to every one of them. Payroll is a major expense for most businesses and is quite often deductible, meaning the expense can be deducted from gross income lowering the company's taxable income. Payroll can contrast starting with one pay period then onto the next in view of additional time, sick pay, and different factors.

Understanding Payroll

Payroll is the most common way of paying a company's employees, which includes tracking hours worked, calculating employees' pay, and distributing payments through direct deposit to employee bank accounts or with a money order. However, companies must likewise perform accounting capabilities to record payroll, taxes withheld, bonuses, extra time pay, sick time, and vacation pay. Companies must put to the side and record the amount to be paid to the government for Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment taxes.

Many companies use software answers for deal with their payroll. The employee inputs their hours through an API, and their pay is handled and deposited into their bank accounts.

Numerous medium-and huge size companies outsource payroll services to streamline the cycle. Employers track the number of hours every employee works and transfer this information to the payroll service. On payday, the payroll service ascertains the gross amount the employee is owed in view of the number of hours or weeks worked during the pay period and the pay rate. The service deducts taxes and different withholdings from earnings and afterward pays the employees.

Special Considerations

Employers with gross sales of $500,000 or more each year are subject to the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) passed in 1938. This is a U.S. law that safeguards workers from certain unfair pay practices. The FLSA sets out different labor regulations, including minimum wages, requirements for additional time pay, and limitations on child labor. For instance, FLSA rules indicate when workers are viewed as at work and when they ought to be paid extra time.

The law requires extra time — hours worked in excess of 40 hours out of each week — to be paid at one-and-a-half times the ordinary hourly rate. A few employees are exempt from the FLSA, and the Act doesn't have any significant bearing to independent contractors or volunteers since they are not viewed as employees.

A few hourly workers are not covered by the FLSA however are subject to different regulations. For instance, railroad workers are represented by the Railway Labor Act, and truck drivers fall under the purview of the Motor Carriers Act.

The FLSA likewise sets out how to treat occupations that are essentially compensated by tipping. In the case of tipped service workers, the employer must pay the minimum wage to the employee except if they routinely receive more than $30 each month from tips.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Using Professional Payroll Services

One major benefit of payroll services is their ability to deliver various reports that improve on accounting procedures and assist companies guarantee they are in compliance with legal and tax filing requirements. The payroll service may likewise maintain a record of how much vacation or personal time employees have utilized.

With respect to hindrances, when companies re-appropriate their payroll system, they must depend on individuals outside the business for accurate accounting. In the event of a blunder, the company's nearby work force must deal with upset employees. Companies could likewise face tax punishments for errors made by the payroll service.

Another detriment are that payroll services are more costly than running payroll in-house. The services might charge a set month to month fee or offer different payment structures for varying tiers of service. As a result of their cost, payroll services may not be the best option for small companies with tight operating spending plans.

As a business grows, its accounting needs become more complex. Bigger firms might have to invest in a custom enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for its accounting and payroll capabilities.

Pros of Professional Payroll Services

  • Access to a variety of reports

Simplified accounting and tax compliance

  • Record of vacation time and personal time taken by employees

Cons of Professional Payroll Services

  • Individuals outside the business are privy to financial and tax information.

Internal staff must still help employees with payroll problems.

  • The company may face tax penalties due to errors by the payroll service.

  • Payroll services can be expensive, which is a concern for small businesses.

## Payroll Software Programs

In lieu of using specialized payroll services, a few companies opt to depend on payroll software programs. When the company purchases the software, there are no extra month to month fees. Software programs generally include printable tax forms and withholding tables.

Notwithstanding financial savings, internal payroll systems assist companies with keeping confidential financial information private. However, software programs can be tedious, which can represent a problem for small companies with few staff.

Small business owners benefit from accounting software since it assists them with tracking accounts receivable and accounts payable, check their profitability, and prepare for tax season. A small business is one that can use out-of-the-case software without requiring broad customizations. As a business grows, its accounting needs become more complex, and a custom enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is frequently required.

There are various types of cloud-based accounting software accessible for small businesses. The type of industry and number of employees are two factors that will direct which accounting software is suitable. For instance, a freelancer would not require similar elements in accounting software as a restaurant owner.

How Do You Calculate Payroll Taxes?

How you ascertain payroll taxes will rely upon your business and your nearby laws. However, here are a few basic rules given by QuickBooks. The first step is to work out your employees' gross pay.

1. Ascertain your employees' gross pay

You can determine an employee's gross pay using their pay rate and your scheduled pay periods. Most businesses will pay employees weekly, at regular intervals, or month to month. To compute an hourly employee's gross pay, duplicate their hours worked in the pay period by their time-based compensation rate. The formula is as follows:

Hourly rate x total hours worked in the pay period = gross pay

To compute a salaried employee's gross pay, partition their annual salary by the number of pay periods in the year. The formula is as follows:

Yearly salary/number of pay periods in year = gross pay

For instance. An employee makes $50,000 every year. Their company pays employees like clockwork for a total of 26 pay periods. Hence, the employee's gross pay is $1,923.08.

2. Take out pre-tax deductions

Subsequent to determining gross pay, you'll have to factor out deductions. These are tax deductions, however other pre-tax deductions may likewise apply. Pre-tax deductions include:

  • 401(k) and some retirement plans
  • Medical coverage plans
  • Wellbeing Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) contributions
  • Some life insurance plans

3. Deduct taxes (FICA, unemployment, and income taxes)

Whenever you have taken out pre-tax deductions, the remaining pay is taxed. The FICA tax rate is 7.65% — 1.45% for Medicare and 6.2% for Social Security taxes. Other tax rates will be determined by Federal, state, or nearby laws and your employee's W-4.

Compute federal income taxes using IRS tax tables. Most frequently, you will pay federal taxes when you pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. Report all payments on IRS Form 941.

Deduct the 7.65% FICA tax from the employee's gross pay. You, as the employer, must match every employee's contribution. The business submits both the employee's and the company's contributions to Social Security and Medicare.

For instance, an employee acquires $1,923 in gross pay for the most recent pay period. To ascertain the employee's Social Security tax contribution, increase $1,923 by .062 to get $119.26. To work out the employee's Medicare tax contribution, duplicate $1,923 by .0145 to get $27.88. In total, the employee's FICA tax contribution is $147.14 for the pay period, which the employer must match. In this case, the employer must pay $294.28 to the IRS. Half is a direct expense to the company, and the other half is withheld from the employee's paycheck.

Employers don't match income tax deductions, yet they pay federal unemployment taxes. The IRS's Income Withholding Assistant will assist you with determining how much federal income taxes your employees owe.

4. Any voluntary deductions must be taken from the remaining wages.

These may include:

  • Roth 401(k) contributions
  • Life insurance plans
  • Long-term disability insurance plans
  • Wage garnishments
  • Union dues

After all taxes and deductions, the remaining amount is how much the employee takes home on payday.

The Bottom Line

Processing payroll is a complex and tedious undertaking that expects adherence to severe federal and state rules and regulations. It requires broad record-keeping and tender loving care. Small businesses frequently handle their own payroll using cloud-based software. Different companies decide to rethink their payroll capabilities or to invest in an integrated ERP system that deals with the overall accounting and payroll.


  • Companies can utilize professional services and reevaluate their payroll or use cloud-based software if they would rather not do it without anyone else's help.
  • Calculating payroll involves a huge number and can be complex.
  • However, companies must likewise perform accounting, record-keeping, and set to the side funds for Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment taxes.
  • The payroll interaction can include tracking hours worked for employees, calculating pay, and distributing payments through direct deposit or check.
  • Payroll is the compensation a business must pay to its employees for a set period and on a given date.


What Are Payroll Taxes?

Payroll taxes include Social Security, which takes out 6.2% of your income up to $132,900. Payroll taxes likewise pay for Medicare, which takes out 1.45% of your income. Employers additionally pay payroll taxes. They pay 6.2% of your income, so the government gets 12.4% of your total income, and your employer pays 1.45% of your income toward Medicare.

What Is a Payroll Tax Cut?

A payroll tax cut would mean that less Social Security and Medicare taxes are withheld and taken out of paychecks. The thought is that workers and businesses would take home some extra with every paycheck and that would urge them to spend more and invigorate the economy.

What Is a Payroll Tax Holiday?

A payroll tax holiday is a deferral of payroll tax assortment until a later date, at which point those taxes would become due. A payroll tax deferral is intended to give a brief financial relief to workers by briefly boosting their take-home pay.