With the end of the year quickly approaching, it's time to be thinking about your business' New Year's checklist. From reporting and payroll to thinking ahead about your recruiting needs, there are numerous steps which can help keep your information organized and accurate. Here is a closer look at a high-level checklist that business owners and payroll managers can use to successfully launch for the year ahead:
- Audit your employee records and ensure that you have the latest, correct contact information including address, phone number, social security number, and updated W4 or W9 forms. A complete file can save you money: penalties can follow from inaccurate information and the wrong mailing address can make it difficult to mail out year-end forms.
- Examine your files to make sure you have updated tax details on hand for all employees.
- Clean up your employee files, noting or removing personnel that no longer are employed by your company. Update your master directory; include only employees current as of January 1 for creating a 2017 payroll framework.
- Take the time to review wage, tax, and withholding information for categories such as bonuses, other compensation, group life insurance, business expense reimbursements, taxable fringe benefits, tips, and any other benefits/compensation categories relevant to your business. If appropriate withholding has not been made, ensure it is corrected going forward.
- Review withholding for categories such as social security, Medicare, state unemployment, and other categories. Make adjustments as necessary.
- Review all year-end reporting and compliance notes. Ensure that everything for 2016 has been wrapped up. Develop a compliance and reporting timeline for 2017.
- Prepare for your Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) reporting. Gather the necessary data and verify which forms need to be completed. Consider scheduling a review to ensure you hit all deadlines.
- Revisit your benefits plans to ensure that they're competitive. Review state regulations related to unemployment insurance and disability insurance taxation rates. Plan ahead for any increases and communicate these to employees well in advance of the open enrollment timeframe in 2017.
- Verify changed contributions limits for retirement, health savings, and childcare plans. Ensure that all administration and reporting is complete.
- Schedule payroll dates, reporting, and monthly/quarterly/year-end close dates for the fiscal year ahead.
- Determine a date for open enrollment, and create a communications calendar to keep employees in-the-know.
- Consider what process you'll follow for employee evaluations and feedback, timelines, and guidance on compensation and bonuses.
- Clarify hiring activities. Ensure that timelines have been established and that new positions are reflected in the budget.
With a bit of advanced planning, your New Year activities can get off on the right foot by having a clear strategic plan for 2017 and resolving any lingering activities from 2016. It's also critical to laying the foundation for a successful upcoming year. Finally, always schedule time with your payroll provider or representative to ensure that there are no outstanding issues that need to be resolved by December 31 or put in motion for the year ahead. Getting expert advice can help you determine if your plan is comprehensive so your team can focus on its execution in the year ahead.