10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Payroll Service Provider

As a small or startup business professional, payroll might seem like the last logistic you’d like to figure out. Your first crucial human resources investment should be in tools to get compensation right, but after that it makes sense to take a look at automating other HR processes, such as payroll. Learning how to file business taxes and payroll paperwork might not be your idea of time well spent, so hiring a payroll provider could be a strategic option.

Most providers offer relatively inexpensive services for small businesses, and make your business operations that much easier. Here are some important questions to ask your payroll service provider to gain a clear understanding of their services and costs.

1. What services are included, and what are not?

Many payroll service providers offer a variety of services besides simple payroll and tax accounting. You can outsource your entire HR department if you find that administrative work is too time-consuming for your company to do on its own. Be sure you know what specific services you are signing up for, and what they are not expected to cover for you.

2. Can I see a sample check stub?

Examining a sample check stub provided by your payroll company will help you to understand how their services stack up when it comes down to the important details. If you receive the sample stub and can’t sort out payments from deductions, for example, then you they might not be the best option for you.

3. Are reports available, and what can be included in them?

Payroll service providers often can provide you with reports about your overall payroll stats. Many reports are available electronically and can be sent in the form of an Excel spreadsheet showing you total payouts, tax deductions or company co-pay for benefits.

4. Can you process different types of taxes?

Providers are able to process traditional state and federal income tax deductions, but if you are based out of an area that has different tax regulations, be sure to ask if the payroll provider is capable of processing taxes according to those specifics. Also consider asking about tax processing for employees who may work remotely out of state.

5. What options do I have for reporting payroll data, and is my information confidential?

Submitting employee work hours and other payroll information can vary depending on the company you have doing your processing. Options like online hour submission can make your information more direct and therefore more accurate. If dealing with confidential information, be sure their processing methods are secure.

6. Can changes be made after payroll is reported? What is the timeframe for changes?

Make sure to ask what their policy is concerning mistakes or needed changes to submitted payroll data. You want to be sure there is a processing delay or timeframe that allows for changes.

7. Who can I contact in case of questions or concerns?

A good customer service center is essential for any payroll service provider. If something comes up where you need to contact the company with you questions or concerns, be sure that they can attend to your needs efficiently. When it comes to finance, you want to be sure you’re questions are going to the right people.

8. Do I have a payroll specialist assigned or will I work with a new person each time?

This goes hand in hand with the question above. If and when you have questions concerning your payroll service, knowing whether you have an account specialist assigned could be very useful for getting problems resolved quickly.

9. How is payroll delivered to me? What is the cost of delivery?

Are the checks printed and sent in the mail? If so, how is postage covered? If the payment is directly deposited electronically, are there charges attached to this service?

10. How will I be billed for the service?

Finally, you should always be aware of how you are going to be billed for using their payroll services. Usually, service providers charge in a monthly bill that can vary depending on the extent of their coverage and the quality of their service. Be sure you assess all billing reports for specific charges to be sure you aren’t paying for any services you not using.

Outsourcing your payroll duties can be a great way to cut back on paperwork and keep your payroll in line with updated tax regulations. Hiring an outside payroll service provider can be relatively inexpensive, and is a valuable option for many small and startup business owners.

Kate Webster writes for lead generation resource, www.ResourceNation.com. She focuses on a variety of topics including HR management. Follow Resource Nation on Facebook and Twitter, too!


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