How to Maneuver Through Tax Compliance Complexities
One of the most challenging aspects of my payroll career spanning more than 35 years has always been tax compliance. If payroll professionals can rely on anything being consistent, it is the ever “changing” tax laws.
Sometimes, these changes are advantageous to our profession. Other times, they are a pain in the neck. Either way, navigating all of this is a fact of life in the career of a payroll professional. First, you have to realize that you are not alone.
Seek Out Sources
So how do you keep up on all the tax changes? I rely first on the experts to guide and assist me. I cannot be an expert on everything, and neither can you, so, you need to go to the sources who dedicate their time and energy to interpreting, guiding, and explaining what is going on with the tax law and regulation changes.
One concept to keep in mind: Congress writes our laws, not the IRS, SSA, or any other governmental agency. Those governmental agencies respond to, interpret, and implement the laws, often by issuing regulations and other guidance. The IRS, for example, is the agency that administers and enforces the Internal Revenue Code, and has formulated many regulations to help it in its mission. Many times, government agencies are under a tremendous amount of pressure to respond quickly to new laws.
Once the governmental agencies have issued regulations or provided guidance, the experts jump in to assist us in implementing these changes into our payroll departments so we can be in compliance. I rely on several sources, but mainly, I rely on the APA and their staff members. There are any number of resources available to APA members, but my favorite is The Payroll Source®.
I would like to take just a few words to acknowledge the tremendous amount of talent and knowledge that is shared with us through APA’s publications. APA staff is committed to making our professional lives much simpler through their dedication. Additionally, I read PAYTECH magazine, APA’s Compliance Updates, Payroll Currently, PayState Update, and any and all Pay News Now news releases that come out—offered for free with a subscription.
There are other resources you can access on the APA website. The Compliance Calendar contains important payroll filing dates and information every payroll professional needs to know during the current calendar year. APA continually updates its Resource Library to provide access to the latest IRS forms and publications, plus government forms and annual updates.
I also subscribe to several email notifications from both the IRS and the SSA (there are also state and local email subscriptions as well). Simply go to IRS.gov and type in the search “Payroll Professionals Tax Center.” You will find a plethora of information there.
Attend Classes and Webinars
I also try to attend (or teach) the Payroll Tax Forum (mid-year) and the Preparing for Year-End seminars or webinars. The APA shares so much information that is helpful not only to you as a payroll professional but also information we should be sharing with HR, benefits, finance, and so many other departments. Check out the “Free Webinars” link on the APA website so you can take advantage of webinars given at no cost to APA members.
The bottom line is this: To be a truly successful payroll professional, tax compliance must be the No. 1 priority. Network with other payroll professionals to help you be a stronger asset to your company and yourself.
Andrew “Andy” Garboden, CPP, is Senior Human Capital Management Consultant for ClearSource Consulting. He is a volunteer on the APA’s Board of Contributing Writers, the Government Relations Task Force (GRTF) Child Support Subcommittee, National Speakers Bureau, and the Strategic Payroll Leadership Task Force (SPLTF) Emerging Technologies Subcommittee. He is also a member of the APA’s Rainier Chapter.