Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Have You Heard the Latest?

This is the information age for sure. We are all constantly bombarded with news and updates—practically 24/7. But is it useful information, that is the question. Nine times out of ten it is not. But current information is vital to today’s payroll professional. Changes occur daily, weekly, and monthly nowadays rather than just annually in January as in days gone by. With the Form 941 changing in April two years in a row, COBRA subsidy extensions coming in ad nauseum , and states changing or updating laws all year long it is surely a best practice to make sure you are getting the current information—shall I dare say “currently”.

But what is current in this electronic age? Even 5 years ago getting a monthly or a biweekly newsletter was sufficient to keep the payroll professional informed. But today it is just too slow. Newsletters may come electronically but they are still composed the old fashion way. They need to be written, then edited, desktopped, then finally distributed. So by the time the newsletter lets you know that the Form 941 has been updated for the second quarter and how to handle it is coming soon, the IRS, who is working in real time, has not only posted the form, but the instructions, the FAQs, and the corrections to their website.

Don’t get me wrong, newsletters are still very valuable. They are able to give you the full story, the details that a news bulletin cannot. But that is for later, when you are studying the information, not when you need to know about it now. So how does one obtain this up-to-the-minute news? Actually by spending a little time, you can acquire it very easily.

All of the federal agencies and most of the state agencies as well, now offer free e-mail news updates along with their monthly newsletters. By taking the time to go to each website and sign up you can have this information right at your fingertips at the same time as the large payroll news services and for free to boot.

It will cost you some time to sign up, after all nothing comes without some cost. Most states have a minimum of two sites that you will need to sign up for--one for taxes and one for wage and hour law. In addition other states divide up the responsibilities for the taxes. One agency may handle income taxes while another handles unemployment insurance. But it is well worth the time you spend on this.

If you have a staff you may want them to read the updates as well. You can distribute them via e-mail of course. Some departments are actually setting up a special e-mail address for these types of updates. That keeps the updates from being caught in spaminators or getting lost in the clutter of your e-mail first thing in the morning.

Now for a commercial break! Hey it’s my blog. Those of you have been reading this blog over the last couple of months know that I don’t usually do commercials for my company. But it just so happens that I am starting a news service for payroll professionals. As I have signed up for these services that I advocate here plus I pay for several other services I am certainly on top of the breaking news. Right now I am posting a small portion of these news items on my website. However, I am setting up a brand new website starting July 1st. At that time I am offering a subscription service to the Payroll Advisor’s E-News. For a small fee you can receive the latest news from the IRS, DOL, SSA and all 50 states for wage and hour as well as SIT and SUI changes right to your designated mailbox. I have been asked to do this for years and now I finally have the means and method to do so. So visit my new website after July 1st and sign up for a 30-day free trial subscription.

If you sign up for the e-mails directly you should be aware that there will be chaff with the good stuff. Depending on how the state sets it up you may get sales tax info along with withholding. With the IRS you will get a lot of CPA type updates along with the payroll news. But again well worth the quick scan to see what you need to read further.

So whether you sign up directly or use a payroll news service keeping up-to-date on payroll news and information is definitely a best practice.

So how do you keep up to date?  Let us know.

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