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.
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.
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.
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.
Third Quarter is Looming; Are You Up to Date with Payroll?
Most 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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
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
zero for the first $18,200,
19% from $18,200 to $37,000 and then
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.
We 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.