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According to the IRS, 33% of employers make payroll errors that cost billions of dollars annually. The majority of the errors result from miscalculations, incorrect withholdings, and late payments.

These errors can lead to costly penalties and fines if left unresolved, not to mention the frustration and financial strain they can cause employees. It is highly important to avoid payroll errors, as the consequences can be severe. The cost of payroll mistakes can vary from a simple fine to significant financial losses and even litigation.

To avoid payroll mistakes, it is important to ensure that payroll processes are properly managed. This includes using an up-to-date payroll system, conducting regular audits and reviews, and ensuring the timely resolution of any mistakes.

Let’s dive into some payroll error statistics to better understand the most common types of payroll errors and what you can do to avoid them.

Payroll Error Statistics 2022: The Shocking Truth

  • On average, approximately 40% of small businesses accrue $845 in IRS penalties every year due to irregularities in their payroll processes.
  • 33% of employers make payroll errors that cost billions of dollars annually, according to the IRS.
  • 25% of all workers have had paycheck errors. (Intuit)
  • 49% of all workers would start looking for a new job if they received two incorrect paychecks. (Kronos)
  • Nearly 5 million penalties were related to payroll taxes, costing 13.7 billion dollars according to the IRS.
  • Out of all the payroll activities, manual data entry results in the most errors (35%).
  • The second most common reason for payroll inquiries is related to missing pay, at 22%.

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The Top 6 Common Payroll Mistakes Businesses Make

Payroll can be a complex and daunting task for any business, big or small. And with good reason – one mistake in your payroll calculations can result in costly penalties from the IRS.

Not to mention, happy employees are key to a thriving business, and no one is happy when they’re not getting paid correctly or on time. 

So what are some of the most common payroll mistakes businesses make?

Not Keeping Accurate Records 

One of the most important aspects of payroll is keeping accurate records of employee hours worked. This includes start and end times, as well as any breaks or lunches taken. Without accurate records, it’s impossible to calculate payroll accurately. 

Miscalculating Hours Worked 

This is one of the most common payroll mistakes businesses make. When calculating hourly employees’ wages, you must take into account any overtime hours they may have worked. Failure to do so can result in underpayment – and unhappy employees. 

Failing to Withhold the Correct Taxes 

Another common mistake businesses make is failing to withhold the correct taxes from their employee’s paychecks. This can lead to problems come tax time, not to mention unhappy employees when they see their hard-earned money being taken out in taxes. 

Incorrectly Calculating Overtime 

As we mentioned before, overtime must be taken into account when calculating hourly employees’ pay. But it’s also important to note that different states have different overtime laws, so be sure you’re calculating overtime correctly according to your state’s laws. 

Not Depositing Taxes On Time 

When you withhold taxes from your employees’ paychecks, you are responsible for depositing those taxes with the government on a regular basis. Failure to do so can result in costly penalties and interest charges. 

Failing to Provide Employees With Their W-2 Forms 

Employees need their W-2 forms to file their taxes properly. So if you don’t provide them with their W-2 forms on time, they may have trouble filing their taxes – and could even end up owing money come tax time. 

The Consequences of Payroll Errors

Payroll mistakes can have serious consequences for businesses of all sizes. From disgruntled employees to legal penalties, the cost of a payroll error can be significant. Here are five of the most common consequences of payroll errors.

1. Unhappy Employees 

One of the most immediate consequences of a payroll error is an unhappy workforce. If employees are not paid on time or in the correct amount, it can lead to frustration and even anger. This can damage morale and lead to a decline in productivity. In some cases, it may even result in talented employees leaving the company in search of greener pastures. 

2. Legal Penalties 

Another consequence of payroll errors is legal penalties. The government takes payroll taxes very seriously and businesses that fail to comply can face steep fines. In addition, if your business is found to have willfully underpaid employees, you could be subject to criminal charges. 

3. Negative publicity 

Payroll errors can also lead to negative publicity for your business. If word gets out that you are having problems with your payroll, it could damage your reputation and make it difficult to attract new customers and talent. 

4. Productivity loss 

When employees are not paid correctly or on time, it can lead to a loss in productivity. This is because employees who are worried about their finances are not able to focus on their work.

In addition, if your business is facing financial penalties as a result of payroll errors, this can also lead to a loss in productivity as employees are diverted from their normal duties to deal with the fallout from the mistake. 

5. Missed opportunities 

Finally, payroll errors can also miss opportunities for your business. If you are forced to shut down operations due to non-compliance with government regulations, this can put a halt to business growth. In addition, if you are unable to attract new talent due to negative publicity, this can also impede your ability to expand your business. 

How to Avoid Costly Payroll Errors

Payroll errors can be costly for businesses of all sizes. In fact, a recent study found that payroll mistakes cost U.S. businesses an estimated $13.7 billion per year. That’s a lot of money that could be better spent elsewhere! So, how can you avoid making costly payroll errors?

1. Know the Law

The first step to avoiding payroll errors is to make sure that you are up-to-date on all relevant laws and regulations. This includes federal, state, and local laws. Staying compliant with the law will help you avoid costly penalties and fines. Not sure where to start? The U.S. Department of Labor has a handy online tool that can help you find the information you need.

2. Stay Organized

Another way to avoid payroll errors is to stay organized. This means keeping accurate records of your employees’ hours worked, vacation days are taken, etc.

Having a system in place will help ensure that everyone gets paid the correct amount—and on time! Not sure how to get started? There are many great time-tracking software programs available online (some of them are even free). Find one that works for you and your business and stick with it.

3. Communicate with Your Employees

Communication is key when it comes to avoiding payroll errors. Make sure that your employees know how often they will be paid and when payday is.

This will help prevent any misunderstandings down the road. You should also let your employees know what information they need to provide for you to process their paycheck correctly (e.g., Social Security number, bank account information, etc.). 

4. Double-Check Your Work

Last but not least, always double-check your work before processing payroll. This includes verifying the hours worked, vacation days are taken, etc. Once you have verified that everything is accurate, run a test transaction to ensure that everything is working as it should be.

Only once you have done all of this should you process payroll for your employees—this will help reduce the chances of errors being made.

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