Pay-Roll, Camera, Action: Setting the Stage for Payroll 2021

19th Jan 2021
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As the tax season comes to an end, many accountants are already gearing up for a hefty payroll year. With more furlough scheme changes coming to the forefront, payroll in the pandemic could be a tricky ordeal to tackle for your small business clients in the next few months.

There is one method firm owners save themselves and their in-house team from excessive stress and workload and that is planning and strategising right from the beginning.

Payroll 2019 V/S Payroll 2021

Unlike the usual payroll season, this year is even more complicated because there’s a whole list of additional things that need to be done. A few of them being ensuring registration with the Government Gateway, preparing for week 53, applying for off-payroll working (IR35), changes to employer’s allowance and tax and most importantly, keeping a track of changes in the ever-evolving Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Some new rules and changes need to be taken into account which creates a huge possibility of accountants going wrong with the estimation of time in regards to the execution of the payroll tasks and miss the deadline.

So, before delving into the planning aspect, here are some important dates to keep in mind:

  • On or before your employees’ payday: Send your final FPS payroll report of the year
  • From 6th April: Update employee payroll records
  • From 6th April: Ensure your payroll software is updated
  • By 31st May: Give your current employees a P60
  • By 6th July: Report employee expenses and benefits if they aren’t being processed through payroll
  • By 22nd July: Pay Class 1A NIC on P11D benefits

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Planning It Right for Payroll 2021

With so much to do in a limited period of time, here’s how you can get through the payroll season as quickly and efficiently as possible.

1. Assess your payroll responsibilities in advance

Different clients have different needs and it’s an accountant’s job to cater to all of them. To provide them with high-quality payroll service, an early assessment is always going to be helpful. You will understand the scope of work, analyse the underlying problems and estimate the amount of time it would finish the payroll tasks.

Pro Tip: For clients who could potentially turn up late, send them a gentle reminder to avoid end-minute hassles.

2. Devise a Payroll Strategy

Once done with the assessment bit, now it’s time to plan how you are going to fulfill those payroll requirements leaving some room for some last-minute clients. Before you start devising your strategy, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you enough team members in your accounting firm to manage all the payroll tasks?
  2. Keeping in mind the changes and challenges this year, does your in-house team have the capacity to manage all the workload?
  3. Do your resources require any training to execute the payroll tasks?
  4. Do you have the right software to manage payroll from home?

Based on the answers, devise your payroll strategy to fill the gaps that hinder efficiency and manage your payroll ensuring strict adherence to all payroll regulations.

3. Outsource for Better Results & Cost Reduction

Payroll is a resource-intensive function that demands a lot of time, money and staff to efficiently manage this function. And even then, there’s no guarantee that the results will be 100% effective.

With more calculations and complications because of the changing percentages in the furlough scheme, payroll has become trickier this year. Accountants have more workload which makes them susceptible to making errors. However, outsourcing is one magic bullet solution to tackle this problem. It helps to eliminate the risks of going wrong with payroll and it saves time as well as money. Above all, accountants get the assistance of a payroll expert who is well-acquainted with all the changes allowing you to carry out payroll successfully with zero errors.

Depending on your workload and team strength, you can choose if you want to outsource the entire gamut of payroll functions or some specific payroll tasks.

Get, Set, Payroll

Planning is equivalent to determining success. Given how challenging the past year was, accountants must be prepared with a plan of action to tackle all those unforeseen challenges of payroll this year. Maybe the situation demands a bit of tweaking in the plan. However, having the right strategy in place allows you to have a sense of discipline and order which makes your processes smoother and increases the output.

So, don’t wait for the end-moment panic to take over. Just plan, payroll and earn more profits.

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