man working at computer

The ultimate year-end payroll checklist

Year end can be hectic, but it’s a great opportunity to get your ducks in a row and dig deep into your business performance to plan for growth in the coming year.

One important step toward those goals is making sure you cover all your bases when it comes to your payroll and employee records, so we’ve built an easy-to-follow checklist that leaves no stone unturned.

Year-end checklist for U.S. businesses

North of the border? Us too! We’ve got you covered with this Canadian checklist.

If you’re paying employees and/or independent contractors in the U.S. there are some important steps you need to take to get your business and team in good shape for the new year.

Important dates for U.S. payroll tax season

  • January 1st: 1099 and W-2 forms will be available through your payroll provider.
  • January 31st: Final date to get your W-2 and 1099 tax forms over to your employees and contractors.
  • April 15th, 2019: Tax returns for C-corporations, sole proprietors, and individuals are due.

Related Posts 

Step 1: Review your workers’ wages and benefits

Check the wage and benefit information for each employee to make sure you can account for all the benefits you paid them throughout the year, leading up to the final paycheck. If any benefits aren’t accounted for, add these to their last 2018 paycheck.

Step 2: Review your employees’ and contractors’ personal information

Make sure you have the correct names, addresses, and Social Security Numbers for every employee and contractor you paid in 2018. For independent contractors, you’ll also need to check that their Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) are correct, and ensure payments are recorded for any bills that need to be included on form 1099-MISC.

Step 3: Update employee tax profiles for 2019

Remind your employees to review their withholding allowances for federal and state income taxes. Have them complete a new form W-4 (or state equivalent) by January 1, 2019 if their personal information or allowances have changed.

Don’t forget: You have to send W-2s to any employees you paid in 2018 who are no longer working for you!

Step 4: Bring everything together with reconciliation

If you pay your employees by check, perform a payroll bank reconciliation through December 31, 2018—including identifying outstanding checks—comparing state, and federal payroll tax withdrawals from your bank account to the amounts on your tax liability records.

Wave tip: Automate your payroll for 2019 by adding direct deposit to pay employees faster.

Step 5: Make sure your employer information is up-to-date.

Review your business’ legal name, address, and Employer Identification Number (EIN) to ensure they’re correct.

Step 6: Confirm your tax profile for 2019

Deposit requirements can change each year, so make sure you have the correct deposit information. If your business structure is changing in 2019, you may have been issued a new EIN. To confirm this and to check out 2019 new rates, you can review your account information with the IRS.

Step 7: Verify employer tax rates for 2019

Check your tax rates for state unemployment and disability insurance. If you’ve received a letter from any government agency with a new tax rate, update these for your 2018 taxes.

More support for tax season

You can find all business and tax information with the IRS on their website here. You can also join the Wave community to learn, connect, and get inspiration from business owners and accounting professionals.

Try Wave for 2019

Still paying your employees and contractors through manual payroll? Start your free trial of Payroll by Wave to save time, easily manage taxes, and feel confident at tax time.

This checklist covers everything you need to generate T4s and file taxes in the great white north, so you’re ready to take on 2019.


Year-end checklist for Canadian businesses

Important dates for Canadian payroll tax season

  • February 28, 2019: Deadline for employers to send employees their taxation information slips for the 2018 year (usually a T4 Statement of Remuneration Paid).
  • April 30, 2019: Deadline to submit your tax returns as an business owner.
  • June 15, 2018: This is the final date to file your Canadian income tax return, but you must still pay any income tax due by April 30 to avoid penalties!

Step 1: Review your workers’ wages and benefits

Check the wage and benefit information for each employee to make sure you can account for all the benefits you paid them throughout the year, leading up to the final paycheck. If any benefits aren’t accounted for, add these to their last 2018 paycheck.

Step 2: Review your employees’ and contractors’ personal information

Make sure you have the correct names, addresses, and Social Insurance Numbers for every employee you paid in 2018.

Step 3: Update employee tax profiles for 2019

Remind your employees to complete new federal and provincial TD1 forms for 2019 if their personal information or allowances have changed.

Don’t forget: You have to send T4s to any employees you paid in 2018 who are no longer working for you!

Step 4: Bring everything together with reconciliation

If you pay your employees by check, perform a payroll bank reconciliation through December 31, 2018—including identifying outstanding checks—comparing state, and federal payroll tax withdrawals from your bank account to the amounts on your tax liability records.

Wave tip: Automate your payroll for 2019 by adding direct deposit to pay employees faster.

Step 5: Make sure your employer information is up-to-date.

Review your business’ legal name, address, and Business Number/Payroll Account Number to ensure they’re correct.

Step 6: Confirm your tax profile for 2019

Deposit requirements can change each year, so make sure you have the correct deposit information. If your business structure is changing in 2019, you may have been issued a new CRA.

Step 7: Confirm your payroll remittances.

If you’ve paid employees this year through different providers or by cheque, you’ll need to reconcile your records through December 31, 2018—including identifying outstanding cheques—and compare payroll tax withdrawals from your bank account to the amounts on your tax liabilities records.

More support for tax season

You can find all business and tax information with the CRA on their website here. You can also join the Wave community to learn, connect, and get inspiration from business owners and accounting professionals.

Try Wave for 2019

Still paying your employees and contractors through manual payroll? Start your free trial of Payroll by Wave to save time, easily manage taxes, and feel confident at tax time.

Kristin Knapp
By Kristin Knapp
Categories:   Running a business
Disclaimer

The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.