How to Setup Payroll in the US, Canada, UK and Australia

As a business owner, one of my least favorite tasks is setting up payroll. Between calculating deductions, selecting a provider, and paying people on time, the whole rigmarole gives me a pounding stress headache.

But alas, payroll is a necessary evil, and employees generally frown upon being paid in chocolate, compliments, or IOUs.

Introduction to Setting Up Payroll

Setting up payroll is a thrill a minute. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of choosing a payroll provider, gathering employee info, and figuring out tax withholdings. Am I right?

Signing Your Life Away

First things first, you’ll need to select a payroll service and sign up for an account. The major players – ADP, Paychex, Gusto, etc. – will happily sign you up for a monthly fee that may or may not make your eyes water. They’ll walk you through entering your business details, adding employees, and setting pay rates and schedules.

The Tax Man Cometh

Everyone’s favorite part of payroll is figuring out deductions. You get to determine federal, state and local income tax withholdings, social security, Medicare, and any other taxes required where you operate. The payroll providers have calculators to help determine what you should withhold from each employee based on their W-4, but you may still need an accountant to ensure you’re withholding properly. No one wants the tax man knocking on their door!

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Direct Deposit or Live Checks

Next up, choose how you want to pay your employees – direct deposit to their bank account or live checks. Direct deposit is convenient but may cost extra. Checks are old school but free. Either way, you’ll need employees’ banking details or mailing addresses entered into the payroll system.


Finally, on payday, you review the payroll register, make any final adjustments, and either click “run payroll” so direct deposits are sent or print live checks. Congrats, you made it through another pay cycle! Now rinse and repeat for the next go-round. Who said running a business was easy?

Choosing a Payroll Provider in the US, Canada, UK and Australia

Choosing a payroll provider is kind of like online dating. At first, everything looks appealing until you start reading the fine print. Do they charge hidden fees? Are their platforms user-friendly or do they just say that to lure you in? Most importantly, will they ghost you when tax season comes around?

As a small business owner, I have a love-hate relationship with payroll. On the one hand, I want to compensate my employees fairly and keep the tax man happy. On the other, I don’t have time for complicated software or lengthy phone support calls. After trial-and-error with a few different services, I’ve found some general tips for navigating your options:

Look for flat-rate, all-inclusive pricing

Avoid percentage-based fees or charges for adding employees. Flat monthly rates are easier to budget and often include extra features at no cost.

Check reviews from real users

Don’t just read the glowing testimonials on the company’s website. Search for reviews from actual customers on third-party sites to get the real scoop on ease of use and customer support.

Make sure they handle taxes

The last thing you want is to be left scrambling to calculate withholdings and file returns on your own. Choose a provider that guarantees full-service tax filing and compliance for federal, state, and local taxes.

Consider add-on benefits

Some providers offer additional services like employee onboarding, time tracking, and benefits administration. If you need help in these areas too, look for a payroll company that provides an all-in-one solution.

With some upfront research into pricing, reputation, tax expertise, and extra features, you can find a payroll soulmate that won’t leave you longing for something better. Now go forth into the wild world of payrolls – your perfect match is out there!

Steps for Registering and Setting Up Payroll Accounts

Signing Your Life Away

When setting up payroll, the paperwork never ends. Honestly, I think bureaucrats stay up late at night devising new forms to torture small business owners. But I digress.

To register for payroll, you’ll need to fill out a business registration form, tax ID form, and payroll account application for your country. In the US, it’s the SS-4 for your EIN. In the UK, the P11D. The Australians have another creatively named form, the ABN. You get the picture.

Provide info like business name, address, owner’s name and SSN/SIN/etc.

Choose a tax year, accounting method, and filing frequency. I prefer a calendar tax year and accrual method because I’m a masochist.

Once approved, you’ll get an EIN/PAYE reference/ABN to use when submitting payroll taxes. So don’t lose it!

Then you set up accounts for paying liabilities like income tax withholding, Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, etc. In the US, register with the IRS, Social Security Admin, and state agencies. The UK has HMRC and Australia has the ATO. The Canadians, of course, apologize for any inconvenience.

When all that’s done, you can finally start running payroll. Just kidding! You still need to add employee info like SSN, salary, deductions, etc. to calculate withholdings. And don’t forget timekeeping to track hours. Then you can pay employees, report wages, deposit withheld taxes, and file returns. Over and over each pay period. Forever and ever. Amen.

Running a business is oh-so-glamorous, isn’t it? But take heart – if I can figure this out, so can you. The secret is coffee, persistence, and a good accountant. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more forms to fill out!

Adding Employees and Setting Up Payroll Deductions

So you’ve gone and done it—started your own business. Congratulations! Now comes the not-so-fun part: setting up payroll. I know, I know, payroll is about as exciting as a trip to the DMV. But unless you plan to pay your employees in pizza and high-fives, it’s a necessary evil.

The first step is adding your employees to the payroll system. You’ll need some basic info like their name, address, birth date, and Social Security number. Ensure you get their permission to use and store this info before collecting it. Once added, you can set their pay rate, pay schedule, deductions, direct deposit info, and anything else that impacts their paycheck.

Deductions, deductions, deductions

The government always wants their piece of the pie, so you’ll have to withhold taxes for your employees. Things like federal and state income tax, Social Security, and Medicare. Lucky you, some payroll services can automate all that. You’ll also want to set up any voluntary deductions like health insurance premiums, retirement plan contributions, or child support payments.

I know what you’re thinking: “Ugh, why do I have to deal with all these deductions?” Unless you want the IRS or your employees knocking at your door, it’s best to get them set up properly. The good news is, that once you have the deductions configured, the payroll service will automatically calculate them for each pay run.

Other fun tasks include:

  • •Setting up direct deposit so your employees get paid
  • •Issuing physical paychecks for any employees without direct deposit
  • •Paying payroll taxes and filing the necessary returns
  • •Keeping meticulous records of everything in case of an audit
  • •Reconciling your books to ensure everyone got paid correctly

I never said running a business would be easy! But with the right tools and patience, you’ll get the hang of it. Keep your head up—this too shall pass, and before you know it, payroll will just be another item to check off your to-do list. You’ve got this!

How to Setup Direct Deposit for Employee Payments

So you’ve decided to set up direct deposit for your employees. Welcome to the wild world of handling other people’s money! I figured this out through much trial and error, so listen up while I impart my hard-won wisdom.

First things first, you’ll need to gather account and routing numbers from each employee for the bank accounts they want to use. Make it very clear that they need to triple-check these numbers because if they’re entered incorrectly, their pay could end up who knows where.

Set up the Payroll Software

Next, you’ll enter all these numbers into your payroll software or service. Double-check that the account and routing numbers for each employee match what they provided. If anything looks off, clarify with the employee before proceeding. The last thing you want is an “Oops, our bad!” call to an employee who didn’t get paid on time.

You should test the direct deposit setup with a small “pre-note” transaction for each employee, usually a few business days before the official payday. This verifies the account information is correct before the actual paycheck amount is deposited. If there’s an issue, you’ll know in time to cut a physical check as a backup.

Once everything checks out, on payday the specified amounts will magically appear in your employees’ bank accounts. You did it! Now comes the real work: handling any issues that come up, like returned transactions or employees who want to change their account information. The drama never ends, my friend.

While direct deposit does make payday easier, the setup requires diligence to avoid costly errors. Take your time, check everything twice, and make sure employees do the same. Do it right the first time, and you’ll be rewarded with a smooth-running payroll—and happy, paid employees. That’s worth its weight in gold!

Payroll Tax Requirements and Filings in Different Countries

As a small business owner, dealing with payroll taxes in different countries can feel like navigating a maze blindfolded. Each country has its labyrinth of regulations, deadlines, and penalty codes to trip you up. In my experience, the key to surviving this ordeal with your sanity (and wallet) intact is to do your homework, set reminders, and try not to take the rules too personally.

The US of A

Here in the Land of the Free, the IRS dictates that we pay income taxes, Social Security, and Medicare for our employees. As the employer, I have to withhold these taxes from each paycheck, keep records of everything, and file quarterly reports. If I don’t pay on time, the fines start piling up faster than I can say “audited!” My advice? Set a recurring reminder for the 15th of April, June, September, and January.

Oh, Canada

North of the border, I deal with similar taxes but in Canadian dollars, eh? CPP (Canada Pension Plan) and EI (Employment Insurance) replace Social Security and Medicare. The tax rates and rules vary in each province, so do some Googling based on where your business operates. Don’t forget to file your T4 slips by the last day of February or face a $100 per day fine. Yikes!

Cheerio, UK!

Jolly old England also requires me to deduct income tax and National Insurance from employees’ pay and pay it over to HM Revenue & Customs. I have to register as an employer, set up a PAYE (Pay As You Earn) scheme, and file monthly or quarterly reports. If I’m late, I may have to pay penalties of up to 100% of the tax owed. Codswallop!

G’day, Australia!

Down under, I withhold income tax and pay superannuation (retirement funds) for my mates. The rules differ in each territory, so check what applies where your business is based. I submit a PAYG withholding variation application within 14 days of hiring a new employee and file activity statements each month or quarter to avoid being fined up to AUS$ 50,000! Crikey, what a hassle!

As you can see, payroll compliance is no walk in the park. But with organization, timeliness, and a sense of humor, you can navigate the requirements in each country without too much trouble. Stay on top of deadlines, read the fine print, and try not to get too bogged down in all the details. Take a deep breath – you’ve got this, mate!

Payroll Compliance Issues to Avoid

As a small business owner setting up payroll, I’ve learned a thing or two about compliance the hard way. The tax man cometh, and he doesn’t care about your excuses. To avoid unwanted attention from the authorities and penalties that make your eyes water, pay close attention to the following issues.

Withholding Taxes

Make sure you withhold the proper federal, state, and local income taxes from each employee’s paycheck. The IRS isn’t exactly known for its flexibility. And neither are most state revenue departments. Withhold too little and you’ll pay the difference. Withhold too much and your employees will not be happy campers.

Reporting Requirements

You’ll need to regularly report wages and withholdings to the IRS and state agencies. That means filing quarterly 941, 940, and state withholding tax returns. Annually, you’ll need to issue W-2s and 1099s to employees and contractors. Failure to report wages is a big no-no that can lead to penalties and interest charges. The government likes to know these things.

Depositing Taxes

Any taxes withheld from employees’ paychecks must be deposited regularly and on schedule. The deposit frequency depends on your total tax liability. Miss a deposit or pay late and you’ll face failure-to-deposit penalties of up to 15% per month. The tax man gets cranky when he doesn’t get paid on time.

Avoiding compliance issues is mostly about organization, deadlines, and learning the rules. While setting up payroll isn’t exactly fun, keep good records, use a payroll service, follow instructions carefully and you’ll avoid unwanted souvenirs from your pals at the IRS and state tax office. The alternative is rather unpleasant, so do the right thing and keep the tax man happy. Your business and employees will thank you.

Payroll Software Options for Small Businesses

As a small business owner, choosing payroll software can feel overwhelming. There are so many options out there, with different price points and features. Where do you even start? As someone who has made this mistake before, let me offer you some advice.

Don’t cheap out.

I tried using a free payroll calculator spreadsheet when I first started my business. Big mistake. Unless you have a degree in accounting and enjoy doing math for fun, this will end badly. Do yourself a favor and invest in actual payroll software. Your time and sanity are worth the cost.

Compare your options.

The major players for small business payroll are Gusto, QuickBooks Payroll, ADP, and Paychex. Check out their pricing and features to find what suits your needs. Things to consider include:

  • Employee self-service – Can employees access pay stubs, W-2s, etc. online?
  • Time tracking – Do you need tools to track employee hours and overtime?
  • Reporting – What kinds of tax and wage reports does it generate?
  • Integrations – Does it integrate with your accounting, benefits, and other software?
  • Start simple.

As a new business, you don’t need all the bells and whistles of an enterprise platform. Choose a basic, affordable option to handle your payroll, taxes, and reporting. You can always upgrade later as your business grows. Keep your options open in case you find the software isn’t the right fit. Some offer month-to-month or short-term contracts so you’re not locked in long-term.

The most important thing is just to get started. Setting up payroll can seem daunting, but with the right software, it’s very doable for a small business owner. Don’t put it off—your employees and the IRS will thank you! Take it slow, ask questions, and know that you’ve got this. Now pay your people already!

FAQ on Payroll Setup and Administration in Different Countries

Setting up payroll is no joke. There are so many rules and regulations to follow that I’m surprised I haven’t just thrown in the towel to become a beach bum. But alas, the employees need to get paid, so onward we trudge.

Do I need to withhold taxes?

Yes, unless you want the tax man coming after you. Each country has its tax laws on withholding income taxes, social security, Medicare, etc. from employees’ paychecks. Follow them closely unless you fancy hefty fines.

How do I pay my employees?

Most companies use direct deposit into employees’ bank accounts. All you need are their account numbers and bank routing info. If someone wants an old-school paper check, you can print those too through your payroll provider.

What about paying myself? Can I just write myself a big, fat check?

Sadly, no. You have to add yourself to the payroll as an employee and withhold taxes from your paycheck too. Thems the breaks, kid. If you take distributions or dividends from the business, those are taxed differently. Talk to your accountant.

Do I need payroll software or can I just wing it

Unless you’re a math whiz, use payroll software. It will make your life so much easier, ensure compliance, and calculate everything for you like withholdings, deductions, employer taxes, and tax filings. Many are cloud-based now so your data is automatically backed up.

How often do I need to run payroll?

Most companies run payroll biweekly or semimonthly. Monthly or weekly payrolls are options too. It depends on your state laws and what works for your company. The important thing is paying employees on a regular schedule so they can pay their bills.

So in summary, setting up payroll is a big responsibility but necessary to keep the lights on and the tax man at bay. My advice: take a deep breath, do your research, and consider outsourcing to an accountant or payroll service. Your beach bum dreams will have to wait!

After all that work to set up payroll, you’re probably exhausted. But don’t worry, the hard part is over. Now you can sit back, relax, and watch the money roll in as your dedicated employees get paid on time, every time. Just kidding – running a business is always hard work.

But at least you’ve conquered the necessary evil that is payroll and can now turn your attention to more interesting pursuits, like growing your business, delighting your customers, or just taking a well-deserved nap.

The life of an entrepreneur, am I right? Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some invoices to generate and a beach to lie on. The end!

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