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Debunking 4 January 1st Myths About Payroll Changes

September 25th, 2023 | 5 min. read

By Patrick Sanders

You've probably heard it countless times: "Let's wait until January 1st (J1) to make payroll changes." This widely accepted belief could be costing your business valuable time and resources. And it seems this “myth” has been passed down from generation to generation. 


Let's face it — managing payroll is more than just crunching numbers; it's about caring for the financial well-being of your team; the backbone of your business. PayDay HCM has been in the game for decades and navigated payroll complexities across many industries. 


We understand your payroll challenge, from compliance issues to employee satisfaction. We don't just offer solutions; we offer insight on how to make your payroll process as smooth and easy as possible, regardless of the time of year.


Get ready — because we’re going to debunk the myth. The concept of J1 being the 'magic date' for making crucial payroll changes will be a thing of the past, with our insights providing you with four major reasons why any time of the year is a good time to evaluate and adjust your payroll strategies. 

And by the end, you'll have a new appreciation for the flexibility and adaptability of proactive payroll management. Ready to be empowered to make the changes your business needs? Let's get into it:

Myth 1: Your Payroll Provider Can Only Assist You on J1

One of the biggest concerns we’ve heard is, “Well, isn’t my payroll provider only available to service my business at the beginning of the new year?” Absolutely not. This has become one of the biggest misconceptions in the business world.


A key indicator of a high-quality payroll provider is its readiness to onboard or assist your business anytime during the year. It's commonly believed that switching or starting a new payroll system must be synchronized with the calendar year, usually on J1. 


This belief could be holding your company back from optimizing its financial operations right when it needs it. Your provider must understand that business challenges and growth opportunities don't follow a calendar.


The ability to adapt to your specific needs and timing indicates exceptional service. This involves the technical capability to integrate new data and the expertise to ensure a seamless transition, regardless of when it happens. 


You can immediately acquire financial benefits, improve compliance, and enhance employee satisfaction rather than waiting for a specific date.


When working with your payroll partner, assess their willingness and ability to kick off services anytime. Their readiness can be a game-changer for you, making it easier to adapt to market conditions, comply with new regulations, or improve your payroll management practices whenever needed.

Myth 2: Payroll Providers Work Alone on J1

An aggregated approach to payroll involves far more than just issuing checks; it's about integrating a system that brings accuracy, compliance, and peace of mind. We firmly believe the implementation process should be thorough and extensive. 


It's not merely a switch to be flipped; it's an opportunity for optimization. And this is why your provider will, or should, have a dedicated implementation team ready to assist you with all the payroll “nitty gritty” at any time during the year.


Starting with an audit, your provider should dive deep into your current payroll system to identify gaps or inefficiencies. From there, they don't just set up a new system; they fortify it by integrating essential historical data like Year-to-Date (YTD) payroll balances. 


Knowing how much has already been paid out in wages and other benefits provides a vital foundation for calculating taxes, benefits, and other deductions.


Next, they will reconcile your YTD taxes already submitted to state and federal agencies. This ensures that when they take over your payroll, there's continuity and compliance and you're neither overpaying nor underpaying your tax obligations. 


For example: Imagine you've been running payroll for six months of the year before deciding to switch to a new payroll provider in January. Your new provider will start by looking at all your YTDtax submissions in-depth.


From January to June, you've submitted $10,000 in federal income tax withholdings, $6,000 in state income taxes, and $3,000 in FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare). 


The payroll provider will cross-reference these figures against their calculations based on your payroll records to ensure these numbers align correctly.


If they find any discrepancies — for instance, if their calculations suggest that you should have submitted $10,200 in federal income taxes instead of $10,000 — they'll correct these as part of the transition process. 


This ensures that your tax submissions will be accurate and compliant with state and federal requirements. It also prevents the risk of overpaying or underpaying taxes, which could result in penalties or interest charges.


This reconciliation process is important for ensuring a seamless transition and ongoing tax compliance, eliminating the financial risks that could otherwise disrupt your business operations.


Ensuring all your tax submissions are accurate and up-to-date eliminates any risk of penalties or compliance issues, making the transition seamless.


Implementation isn't just about getting you set up on a platform. It's about setting the stage for a successful partnership, starting with the confidence that all your payroll and tax data have been meticulously accounted for and integrated.


This in-depth understanding of implementation establishes a rock-solid foundation for all future payroll activities, securing your peace of mind and setting the stage for scalable growth.

Myth 3: When J1 Rolls Around, the Audit Phase Slips Through

After a careful audit phase, the real test for any competent payroll provider lies in their mastery over the tax landscape. It's not just about putting together a spreadsheet; it's about precision and compliance. Once the audit is complete, your payroll provider should clearly understand your tax obligations and be prepared to brief you.


This point right here is incredibly important. Your payroll provider should go beyond merely identifying what taxes are due; it needs to be broken down for you, agency by agency, whether federal or state. 


This is crucial because each agency may have different deadlines and rules, which can be overwhelming for most business owners. Their goal is to simplify this complexity. By providing a clear and concise report of pending tax liabilities, they’ll empower you to understand your financial commitments fully.


They’ll likely offer guidance on tax planning and minimization strategies, which can be especially valuable in reducing your overall tax burden. This isn't just a one-off briefing; it's part of an ongoing consultation to keep you ahead of the curve, avoiding last-minute scrambles and potential penalties.


Overall, their tax expertise doesn't stop at identifying what's due; it extends to offering strategic insights on managing these obligations effectively. This level of detail is designed to give you peace of mind and ensure no surprises when meeting your tax responsibilities.

Myth 4: I Shouldn’t Make Payroll Changes on J1

Feeling stuck with a payroll provider not meeting your needs is like riding in a car low on gas — you know it's time for a change, but anxiety holds you back. Whether it's concerns about the 'right' timing or the logistical nightmares around tax responsibilities. 


Many businesses hesitate to make the switch. However, with a seasoned payroll provider, those concerns disappear.


Forget the calendar — there's no 'wrong' time to demand better for your business. Whether it's mid-quarter or end-of-year, your need for efficient, accurate, and seamless payroll services is constant. So should their ability to deliver. An onboarding process is designed to be smooth and hassle-free, regardless of when you decide to switch.


Let's talk taxes — a topic that sends shivers down the spines of even the most hardened business owners. Tax obligations are a daily part of operations, not just a year-end scrabble. 


Your new or current payroll provider transitions you, taking on the immediate responsibility of ensuring all federal and state tax commitments are met and optimized. Advanced payroll systems consider your year-to-date balances, immediately updating and adjusting to ensure accurate and timely contributions.


And it's not just about paying what's due; it's about understanding it. We don't want you to feel dark about your financial obligations. Your provider will offer a comprehensive outline detailing what has been paid, what needs to be paid, and the rationale behind it.


Transparency not only keeps you in compliance but also instills confidence.


Changing your payroll provider should neither be dictated by the calendar nor complicated by tax anxieties. Your provider will handle the small details so you can focus on what you do best — running your business.

Relieving the Stress of Payroll

Now is the time to reflect on the importance of a reliable and efficient payroll service. Remember, timing shouldn't dictate the quality of service you receive. Waiting for J1 or some irrelevant date could mean lost opportunities and unnecessary stress. 


Make the resolution to empower your business today. Your payroll provider is not just a service but a partner in your success. They’re committed to easy transitions, optimized tax strategies, and the best approach to your business's needs. 

Your next step is clear: reach out to a team to discuss how they can elevate your payroll processes and let you focus on what truly matters. Need a little help to get started? Read our article on 5 Features To Look for In a Payroll Company.

Patrick Sanders

Patrick has worked for Payday HCM since 2012, with a career that has spanned multiple responsibilities in the sales arena. He now maintains a 300+ client portfolio with a 98% retention rate. Patrick works diligently to determine the optimal utilization of our software, manages ongoing quality assurance, and brings best practices to Payday HCM’s clients. Patrick graduated with a Bachelor's in Business Administration, with a concentration in Finance, from the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico. Having spent the decade since graduating meeting and partnering with entrepreneurs throughout New Mexico, Patrick firmly believes Payday HCM brings national Fortune-500 level service and technology to the New Mexico marketplace.