Bookkeeping Basics: Payroll and Paying People

EOFY is nearly here — can you manage payroll?

woman studying myob payroll xero payroll quickbooks payroll online training courseIN OUR FREE, EDUCATIONAL GUIDE, Bookkeeping Basics, we feature a section that briefly discusses payroll, which we thought was worthy of being expanded upon on here. You might also like to go back and revisit our other blog post that complements the guide, Bookkeeping Basics: Cash vs. Accrual Systems, if you haven’t already.

Paying your employees

Before you employ staff, you need to determine how they will be employed. Are you going to use casual or permanent employees? If you’re employing the latter, will they be employed on a full-time or part-time basis? As the business owner and employer, you must also ensure that you’re paying your staff the correct rate of pay, as well as any entitlements — such as, sick leave, annual leave, overtime, etc — that may be owed to them.

This blog post isn’t going to go into the intricacies of how to work out what you should pay your employees, nor will the Bookkeeping Basics guide, as it generally falls outside the scope of the role of a bookkeeper, however, you can use the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) Pay Calculator to work out the following:

  • Base pay rates
  • Allowances
  • Overtime and penalty rates
  • Pay rates per hour
  • Pay rates per shift
  • An employee’s employment status (i.e., full time, part time, casual).

Record keeping

If you employ staff under a modern award or agreement (virtually all Australian businesses do), you have a legal requirement to keep accurate and correct time and wage records, in addition to issuing payslips to all of your staff — failure to issue pay slips incurs harsh penalties if it comes to the attention of the Fair Work Ombudsman. You must also keep your each staff member’s time and wage records for, at least, seven years and make sure they’re stored somewhere that’s always accessible, should they ever need to be inspected.

Although you don’t have to keep all employee records, it’s best practice to keep the following records for seven years, even after the employee has left the business, in case they ever file a complaint with the Ombudsman or the Tax Office ever does an audit:

  • Employee resume and application details
  • Employee workplace performance records
  • Employee trade certificates or registration certificates.

For tax purposes, all employee and contractor records must be kept for five years, but most businesses keep them for seven years, in case an enquiry is made by the FWO.

Deducting tax from an employee’s pay

Under the Pay As You Go (PAYG) withholding rules, you are legally obliged to collect tax from employee payments so they can meet their end-of-year tax liabilities. In order to do so, you must first register with the ATO for PAYG withholding, which you can do online, over the phone or through your BAS or tax agent.

You must also provide your employees with a tax file declaration form, which you can also obtain from the ATO, and must be completed by an employee if they want to:

  • Claim an entitlement to tax offsets by having a reduced amount withheld from payments made to them
  • Advise you of changes to their:
    • tax-free threshold
    • residency status
    • HELP, Trade Support Loan or Financial Supplement debt.

You must then determine how much to withhold your employee’s pay, which you can do by referring to the ATO’s Tax Tables or the Tax Withheld Calculator.

If you have staff that are under 18 years of age

You do not have to withhold amounts from payments to employees under 18 years of age if those amounts are not more than:

  • $350 per week
  • $700 per fortnight
  • $1,517 per month.

Employees with HELP, TSL or Financial Supplement debts

If an employee has indicated they have a HELP, TSL or Financial Supplement debt, you should use the HELP/TSL or Student Financial Supplement Scheme tax table on the ATO website to work out how much extra to withhold for these debts. Add this to the amount withheld shown in the relevant tax table.

Your superannuation obligations

As an employer, you also have an obligation to make super contributions for each of your employees. You must also ensure that you:

  • Offer eligible employees a choice of super fund (temporary residents are eligible to choose)
  • Pay the minimum amount, called the super guarantee (SG), which is currently 9.5 per cent of ordinary time earnings
  • Make your super contributions on the required dates as set by the ATO.

If you don’t pay the super guarantee for your employees, you will have to pay the super guarantee charge, which is not tax deductible.

Which employees are eligible for the SG?

Generally speaking, all employees are eligible if they are paid $450 or more (before tax) in any calendar month. You must pay super for all employees who:

  • Are full-time, part-time or casual
  • Receive a super pension or annuity while still working — including those who qualify for the transition-to-retirement measure
  • Are a temporary resident — when they leave Australia, they can claim the payments you made through a ‘departing Australia superannuation payment’
  • Are a company director
  • Are a family member working in your business — provided they are eligible for SG
  • Are over 70 years of age
  • Some contractors, even if they quote an ABN — visit the FWO website for more information.

Final things to consider

Not all bookkeepers offer payroll services, because it can be time consuming and it’s always in flux (new software enters the fray, employees come and go, and each time that occurs, it results in more work). Additionally, the minimum wage is regularly reviewed and increased, which is something that needs to be monitored to ensure your employees continue to be paid correctly. If you decide to hire a bookkeeper to manage your accounting, and you’d also like them to handle your payroll, be sure to clarify how they’ll bill for payroll services and what your obligations are to ensure you’re not paying too much.

We provide online training courses in Payroll for MYOB, Xero Payroll and Quickbooks. Find out more about our industry-endorsed online training courses and videos.

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Need help managing your bookkeeping system?

the perfect administrative executive assistant office manager learn online courses trainingIf you’re looking for a reliable bookkeeper to manage your bookkeeping system, who also specialises in payroll services, is highly qualified, or even a registered BAS agent?

See our bookkeeping directory, National Bookkeeping, for more information on the hundreds of bookkeepers listed who are available to work all around Australia. 


Remember, you can download our educational guide, Bookkeeping Basics, for free from the EzyLearn website.


Online bookkeeping accounting training courses for CPD points

Find out more about Continuing Professional Development with EzyLearn


 

 

 

 

Paying Several Employees With One Payroll Payment

MYOB and Xero now make payroll easier to manage

myob and xero online payroll management
Struggling to manage your online payroll management? Our Xero and MYOB courses will help you get the most out of this software so you can manage payroll in house.

MANY COMPANIES OUTSOURCE PAYROLL because it contains many moving parts. For instance, there’s the payment of wages each week or fortnight or month, sure. But there’s also superannuation contributions, PAYG obligations, annual and sick leave accrual. 

Fortunately, most accounting apps like Xero and MYOB have made payroll easier to manage, particularly if you only have a handful of employees.

Superannuation clearing houses

Nearly every major cloud accounting package has a connected superannuation clearing house within its payroll package. Xero and MYOB are both SuperStream compliant, a government initiative to help business owners tell which accounting software apps will let them make electronic superannuation payments. And QuickBooks uses a partner payroll system which is also SuperStream compliant.

Batch wage payments

Electronic superannuation payments are one way that paying staff is made easier, but paying a dozen or so employees individually each week or fortnight can be tedious. Fortunately, both Xero and MYOB have a ‘pay run’ function that lets you make batch wage payments. This eliminates the tedium of paying employees individually, as well as the potential for error.

Accounting software calculates entitlements

MYOB, Xero and QuickBooks, if you’ve set up your employees correctly and have the appropriate payroll subscription, will also calculate your employees’ sick and annual leave entitlements, also reducing the time it takes to process payroll and the potential for error.

Our MYOB training courses and our Xero training courses both cover payroll, where you’ll learn how to set up employees correctly, process wage payments and more. Using a cloud accounting program for payroll, saves time and reduces errors. Visit our website for more information.

EzyLearn courses now include real life case studies

managing ad hoc payrollAt EzyLearn we are constantly refreshing the content of our online training courses. Relevant to those of you doing Payroll, might be our Excel Ad Hoc Payroll case study which is part of our Intermediate Excel Online Training Courses. Where possible, we draw on real-life case studies as examples, to help you learn, and apply your skills, in a relevant way that makes sense. Visit our Micro Courses page to learn more.


 

Turn Your Wage Payments into a Business Loan

Only Managing Payroll on an Ad Hoc Basis? We Show You How

managing ad hoc payroll
If you know that you can’t quite make payroll, a short-term business loan may see you through and avoid penalties.

WE’VE RECENTLY UPDATED THE course content in our Intermediate Microsoft Excel training courses to include a workbook and spreadsheet (that you can use in your own business) showing you how to manage ad hoc payroll using Microsoft Excel. This will enable you to calculate your PAYG and superannuation obligations in Excel.

Using Excel to work out your PAYG and super obligations is a great way for small businesses, with a small number of employees, to save money. It saves you having to purchase this extra module in MYOB or Xero, for instance, when you may rarely use it. Saving money for small business is crucial as often it’s these same small businesses that have trouble making payroll payments each week, fortnight or month — and then wind up incurring further fees from the ATO when they’re late with their reporting and payments. It’s a vicious cycle.

When you can’t make payroll

If you’re finding it a stretch to make payroll payments, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Lots of business owners have trouble making payroll. But there are things you can do about it. We find that it frequently comes down to poor credit management processes or perhaps a downward trend in a business’ cycle that’s been missed due to poor or inefficient accounting processes. All of these can be rectified.

If the reason your business can’t make payroll is due to one or more shortcomings in your business’ operations, remedy the problems now. Similarly, if credit management is the issue, and late-paying clients are partially to blame, then tighten up or implement a credit management process. If it’s the result of bookkeeping that’s not up-to-date, find a bookkeeper to manage this for you.

How you can make payroll when cash is tight

Get financing. There are lots of ways to do this, but a common method, particularly if you need access to funds quickly, is to get a short-term business loan. Many short-term business loans don’t require businesses to have a great credit score, and will offer funding of as little as $5,000 right up to $500,000.

You’d have between 3 and 36 months to pay back the loan, but you need to be aware — the annual percentage rates (APR) are usually high. Most lenders require the business to have been active for a minimum of 9 months, and have revenue of more than $75,000 per annum. However, if paid off quickly, these can be an alternative to incurring penalties — it will obviously depend on your business’ individual circumstances.

Keep on top of bookkeeping

If you stay on top of your bookkeeping, you’ll either reduce the likelihood that you won’t make payroll, or as a worst case scenario, be able to foresee the periods when you won’t be able to, and be able to arrange finance in time to cover it.

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Use the Ad Hoc Payroll Guide included in our Intermediate Microsoft Excel training courses to determine the rate of PAYG tax to withhold — and the required super contribution amounts in Excel. Visit our website for more information on our entire suite of Excel training courses.


Xero online training course

At EzyLearn we offer online training courses to help you up-skill and find employment. Choose from our range of cloud-based online accounting software courses, to business start up and management courses, to marketing and sales courses, or update and further your skills in a range of Microsoft Office programs (ExcelPowerPointWord) or social media and WordPress web design). 

All of our online training courses can also be counted towards Continuing Professional Development points.


 

Calculating PAYG Obligations Without a Payroll System

Third Quarter is Looming; Are You Up to Date with Payroll?

ad hoc payroll payments ExcelMost businesses using an accounting program like MYOB or Xero will use the included payroll package to manage their employees’ payroll. For businesses with only a few employees, however, the additional payroll function is an unnecessary expense.

In our recently updated Advanced Microsoft Excel training courses, we have included a micro course on ‘Ad Hoc Payroll’, featuring a detailed spreadsheet for calculating PAYG and superannuation obligations. In this instance, our micro course is a detailed spreadsheet based on a case study, so it’s relevant and applicable to real life.

PAYG and the businesses it applies to

Every Australian business with employees who are each paid more than the tax-free threshold has a legal obligation to withhold tax on their employees’ behalf. This is known as the PAYG System (or Pay As You Go), where amounts of tax are withheld from each employee’s wage payments.

Businesses that withhold up to $25,000 each year only need to make payments to the ATO each quarter; businesses withholding amounts greater than $25,001 may have to make payments to the ATO each month or as regularly as each week.

At the time of writing, the tax-free threshold is currently $18,200, which is equivalent to:

  • $350 a week
  • $700 a fortnight
  • $1,517 a month

Superannuation contributions

Again, any business that pays its employees more than $450 each month must also make regular superannuation contributions on their employees’ behalf. We’ve written in the past about the government’s clearing house called SuperStream, which allows you to easily make super contributions — for free.

But first, you need to work out how much super you need to contribute for your employees. The superannuation guarantee is currently 9.5 percent of your employees’ gross wages, which is payable on top of their wages — not deducted out of.

Using tax tables to calculate wages

Each year, the ATO produces a range of tax tables to help you work out how much to withhold from payments you make to your employees. In our Ad Hoc Payroll Micro Course, we’ve already added the most current tax tables to the accompanying payroll spreadsheet, as well as the superannuation guarantee tables.

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We feature a number of real-life case studies, which we have turned into micro courses. You can use the Ad Hoc Payroll Micro Course to determine the rate of PAYG tax to withhold and the required super contribution amounts in Excel, rather than paying to access the payroll functions of MYOB or Xero. Our Intermediate Microsoft Excel training courses will also teach you how to create a payroll spreadsheet from scratch to suit your own business. Visit our website for more information on all of our Excel training courses.

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online bookkeeping courses to earn cpd points

 

EzyLearn Excel, MYOB and Xero online training courses count towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for bookkeepers and accountants. We’ve been an accredited training provider of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers ever since the organisation started in Australia. Find out how CPD points can be of benefit to you.

 

 

 

 

 

Superannuation News: What is the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House?

Allocating everyone's super into different super funds can be taxing! Now the government's stepping in to help.
Allocating everyone’s super into different super funds can be taxing! Now the government’s stepping in to help.

One of the modules we cover in our MYOB course is the tricky business of payroll, which includes the even trickier business of superannuation. Over the last 12 months there’s been a raft of changes to the superannuation guarantee, including its gradual increase to 12 percent, which came into effect this July. But super just got easier.

Super: Confusing and Consuming

Many small business owners find managing the day to day items confusing enough without having to look after payroll — a complex, but all-important aspect of any business. Fortunately, the Australian Government has recognised that the superannuation requirements are making payroll and increasingly complicated business that many small business owners struggle with.

Making super contributions for your employees is not just complicated — it’s also time-consuming. Under the current tax laws, each of your employees have the option of selecting their own super fund, which means you can be making super contributions into different super funds for each of your employees. With the Government’s new initiative The Small Business Superannuation Clearing House, those days are over.

The Small Business Superannuation Clearing House

Every small business with 19 or fewer employees is eligible for this free service that enables you to make just one secure superannuation payment to The Super Clearing House, which is then distributed among your employees to their nominated super funds.

The Super Clearing House minimises the paper work and red tape associated with superannuation for small businesses and also allows you to nominate a regular contribution amount for each of your employees, so you can easily meet the superannuation guarantee obligations.

Using The Super Clearing House won’t affect the rest of your payroll requirements in MYOB — though it does look like it’s a direct competitor for MYOB’s M-Powered Superannuation — and once you register for The Super Clearing House service online, you can access it 24/7.

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For more information on The Super Clearing House, visit their website, the Department of Human Services website or download The Small Business Superannuation Clearing House reference guide here.

Paid Parental Leave: Dads Get Paid, Too

Paid parental leave includes Dad's - and the rate has gone up again slightly this financial year.
Paid parental leave includes Dad’s – and the rate has gone up again slightly this financial year.

Perhaps you have noticed that a lot has been happening in the way of payroll lately, particularly the increase to the minimum wage, and now the changes to the Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme (PPP).

If you’ve been following our recent posts about payroll, you know it’s the payroll professional’s responsibility to make sure any mandatory changes are carried out, so we’ve put together a cheat sheet on the changes to the PPP.

Expansion of the Paid Parental Leave Scheme

On 1 January 2013, the Australian Government expanded the Paid Parental Leave scheme to include a two-week payment for working dads or partners called Dad and Partner Pay.

The Paid Parental Leave scheme, which provides a maximum of 18 weeks pay at the national minimum wage, applies to eligible primary carers of newborn or adopted children born on or after 1 January 2011.

From 1 July this year, the Paid Parental Leave scheme has also increased from $606.50 to $622.10 per week before tax, while the daily rate increases to $124.42 per day.

Because of the way paid parental leave works (the government pays the employer who then pays the employee) you need to keep thorough records of any paid parental leave in addition to your usual record-keeping requirements, such as:

  • The amounts of parental leave funding received from the Government for each employee and the period these amounts cover.
  • The date of each parental leave installment made to their employee.
  • The period the payment covers.
  • The gross amount of the payment (before tax).
  • A statement identifying that the payments are parental leave under the Australian Government Paid Parental Leave scheme.
  • If no other payments are made for the period, the net amount of the parental leave and the amount of income tax withheld from the payment.
  • If other payments (such as annual leave or employer-funded parental leave) are made for the period, the total net amount paid for the period (after tax) and total income tax withheld for the pay period.
  • The total amount of any deductions made from each parental leave installment.

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For more information about the Paid Parental Leave scheme, visit the Department of Fairwork website or Centrelink’s Dad and Partner Pay website.

Payroll Advice: The Role of the Payroll Professional

There's a lot of aspects to payroll.
Sometimes the importance of payroll is underestimated.

When the national minimum wage increased this month, it got us thinking about the role the payroll professional plays in a business. Payroll is an important and often complex aspect of every business — and a topic we cover in our MYOB training course — but it’s often the most underestimated. So we decided to take a deeper look at the role of the payroll professional.

Payroll: There’s Quite a Lot to It

Even though payroll sounds easy enough — you just pay people their wages, right? — it’s actually not as simple as it sounds. As a payroll professional, you’re entirely responsible for understanding and interpreting the ever-changing regulations and legislation relating to payroll; as well as managing the demands of both the employer and employee.

And as such, payroll is not a simple task for the uninitiated; it requires a person with solid knowledge of PAYG and superannuation, as well as an understanding of Australian tax.

For instance, how do you ensure you’re making the correct contributions to an employee’s HECS or HELP debt? Or make sure super contributions are made correctly (and to the correct fund)? Are you certain your employees are being paid according to the correct modern award? Getting these things wrong is not just time-consuming to rectify, but can also incur fines to your company!

In a recent new book by Tracey Angwin called The Payroll Revolution (which has gone on to become an Australian best seller) Angwin discusses the responsibility of the payroll professional and offers practical and guided tips on Australian payroll.

Just some of the skills that Angwin suggests the payroll professional should possess are:

  • Strong people skills
  • AIS/payroll software experience (such as MYOB)
  • General email, word and excel skills
  • Strong understanding of superannuation and PAYG
  • Good knowledge of the Fairwork Act
  • Ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
  • Strong mathematical skills
  • Strong problem solving skills.

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We cover the technical side of payroll in our MYOB training course; the Australian Payroll Association website can also give you more information on payroll practices. We also highly recommend The Payroll Revolution.

EOFY Update: Increase to the National Minimum Wage

With the new financial year, there's a new minimum wage.
With the new financial year, there’s a new minimum wage.

While you were busy with EOFY analysis — see our tips and checklists to ensure you haven’t missed anything important — you may have missed the Fair Work Commission announcing that the minimum living wage has increased by 2.6% from 1 July this year.

The New Minimum Wage

The new minimum wage for every Australian worker is $622.20 per week or $16.37 per hour and this affects all employees; even if they’re not covered by a modern award.

You’ll need to update your payroll records in MYOB to reflect this new change (we cover changes to payroll in our MYOB course if you’re not sure) so that you don’t get caught out paying your staff at the old pay rate.

If your staff are covered by a modern award and you’re not sure what their new rate of pay will be, you can check the Fair Work Award Finder on the Fair Work Commission’s website to ensure you’re paying your employees the correct rate of pay.

Effective from 1 July

As with the increase to the superannuation guarantee, the increases to the minimum wage is effective from 1 July. However, unlike the superannuation guarantee, an employee cannot receive two separate pay rates in one pay period.

This means that for businesses that pay their employees on a fortnightly or monthly basis, where part of their employees’ pay covers a week or few weeks in June and another part of their employees’ pay covers July, the employer needs to pay the old rate for that entire period and apply the new pay rate from the next full pay period commencing after 1 July.

It’s also important to keep in mind that most allowances (such as, leading-hand and industry allowances) are based on a percentage of the base rate and since this has increased, those allowances will increase, too.

If you’re unsure what these allowances will increase to, check the modern award on the Department of Fairwork’s Award Finder or register for email updates from Fairwork about how the changes apply to each particular award.

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For more information on the changes to the minimum wage, see the Department of Fairwork website.

Survive 30 June: EOFY Payroll Checklist

checklist
Make it through July with our End of Financial Year Payroll Checklist.

While everyone else is excited by the prospect of receiving a fat tax cheque from Mr Tax Man, if you’re a bookkeeper you’re probably not so much excited as you are busy. If this is your first time looking after the EOFY analysis for your new business (or maybe you’ve just enrolled in our MYOB course and you’re wondering what you’ll be doing this time next year), we’ve put together an EOFY payroll checklist to help you make it through July.

Get Your Details Up to Speed

Before you get started, make sure you check you’ve got the correct details for each of your employees — check you have the correct addresses and TFNs for all staff.

Also check that employees who have been terminated have a termination date and check the annual leave entitlement flag has “carry remaining entitlement” in MYOB.

Now we can begin!

  1. Reconciliations: reconcile total gross wages payment register, outstanding PAYGW liability, super liability and payroll tax for the year — see the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers payroll tax resource on the ICB website
  2. Print Reports: print payment register summary and payroll entitlement balance sumarry/detail
  3. Reconcile PAYG Withholding: see Insitute of Certified Bookkeepers payroll checklist resource
  4. Prepare Payment Summaries: remember salary sacrifice and ensure you send magnetic media form and EMPDUPE file to the ATO by 14 August
  5. Rollover Payroll Year: backup payroll file and store in payroll folder, rollover year to the next payroll year and load new tax tables
  6. Superannuation: don’t forget that the superannuation guarantee increased to 9.25% from July 1 2013.

For more tips to help you through EOFY analysis, see our EOFY checklist or visit the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers website. Happy EOFY!

What is a PAYG tax table and how does it work?

ATO 2013 tax tables for online MYOB payroll training courseWe recently announced our updated MYOB Payroll Course videos and training workbook and were asked to explain PAYG tax tables in a bit more detail. We’ll explain tax tables using the data from the ATO website relating to tax tables for the 2013 financial year.

We recently witness a federal budget and there are usually some changes in each budget that relate to tax tables or tax thresholds. These tax tables simply define how much tax you pay for each threshold and the simplest way to describe it is to define the first category. This category is called the tax-free threshold and it is the level at which you don’t pay any tax. The annual pay for this level will be $18,200 from 1st July 2012 (the beginning of the next financial year). Any money you earn up to this level you don’t pay any income tax on.

Any money you earn over this tax-free threshold amount but less than $37,000 will be taxed at 19c per dollar.

The most important thing to note is that just because you earn $50,000 doesn’t mean you will be taxed at 32.5c in every dollar you earn. You’ll be charged

  1. zero for the first $18,200, 
  2. 19% from $18,200 to $37,000 and then 
  3. 32.50% for each dollar over $37,000.
Stay tuned for more bite size chunks of knowledge in the coming weeks as we evolve our MYOB Payroll training course. Make sure you subscribe to receive these posts via email.

Need help with Payroll and MYOB?

help with MYOB Payroll and Superannuation SG online training course and supportWe use the EzyLearn blog to inform new and existing students about new course content, tips and tricks and free training that we make available from time to time. Today we are announcing the completion of the workbook and training videos for our online MYOB training courses.

Our MYOB Payroll course has been created and you’ll soon be able to learn how to create employee cards, setup the payroll tax tables, choose wage categories, pay benefits, superannuation information, perform a payroll run, send pay slips, generate payroll advice reports, pay your SG liabilities, reconcile your super and wages payments and print out payment summaries.

Although the course has been created we are finalising the knowledge review questions that are used as part of our assessments for students who want a certificate after they complete their MYOB training course.

Did you know that our LIFETIME student membership entitles you to review the training material (including videos and workbooks) for the rest of your working life? This includes new content, so enrol now at today’s prices and have access to MYOB training course content for life!

Stay tuned for more updates in the coming week! IF you are not a subscriber, subscribe here.