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Reporting Payroll Activity

Payroll reports fall mostly into two categories: management information, and reports to governments.  Employees are all familiar with W-2 forms; employers get acquainted with several more. The other payroll reports tell management where the labor costs went.  (One item not found here is Form 1099; that is a vendor report, under accounts payable.)

W-2 forms go through three basic steps: generation, review and printing. The information on these forms does not come from the year-to-date (YTD) information on the last paycheck.  The check register is scanned for all pay checks for each employee.  The information is collected from the checks, as set up in the employee payroll data and payroll items.  The information is presented in the W-2 Review window, where it may be edited. The payroll system is quite capable, but there are a few complex situations requiring hand adjustment. Most often, these involve deductions like retirement plans or cafeteria plans.  The important thing, the W-2 is the employers certificate of the employees payroll history for the year.

Reporting Payroll Information

More than one business has collapsed because management did know how much money they were spending, or why.  Within the payroll system, the reports will organize and present the information you have entered.  For this reason, try out reports at an early date.  The reporting system is capable and flexible, but does have some limitations.  A minor change in your plan of data entry may make the difference between inaccessible data and very useful reports.

The government is involved in some reports, starting with W-2, W-3, 940, 941 or 943.  Did I leave some out?  The topic here is payroll reports, and the vendor report 1099-Misc is not involved.

Changes can be expected in the government reporting forms.  Each version of QuickBooks has been set up to print the (then) current forms.  For users not buying later versions, Intuit provided updated form capability to users purchasing the tax table update service. Software publishers have no latitude in these matters.  If they print IRS-approved forms, or print onto IRS forms, they must handle the information just as the IRS requires.  The IRS instructions tell how the forms are to be completed, whether by typing, or through a program.  As the forms change, the instructions will change, so minimal instructions are provided here.

Printing of all IRS forms begins with Activities|Payroll|Process ... (the form number.)

Form 941 XE "Form 941"  is printed onto blank paper by QuickBooks 4 and later.  (Earlier versions printed reports with content for this forms.) The computer generated forms are authorized by the government.  Examination will show that the IRS scanning system will find the variable information in the same position on the QuickBooks-generated forms, as on the red government forms.

Several more dialog boxes take you through completion of Form 941.  The More button advises you to read the instructions for Form 941.  Some unique situations may require adjustments, which must be made in compliance with the instructions.

Form 940 is handled  XE "Form 940" in a similar manner.  This form includes reporting of FUTA payments. XE "Form 943"

Form W-2 preparation  XE "FormW-2" is accessed from Activities|Payroll|Process W-2s.   Note that you can select any year for which you have payroll data.  Check to the left of one or more employees, then click Review W-2, and see what is in the employees record.  QuickBooks 3.1 (and the un-numbered QuickBooks Pro) have slightly different handling, described below the discussion of the W-3s.

The W-2 form changes with time.  New versions are released late in the year. This information is not available in time for the QuickBooks Payroll tax tables released at the beginning of the year. It is included in tax table updates released late in the year.  Automated preparation of W-2s, on current forms, requires purchase of the tax table updates service.

A simile of the W-2 form is displayed. Some of the information can be amended. If the mouse pointer is on a number, it turns into the (Z) magnifying glass, and gives access to editing the number. NOTE:  Editing a W-2 does not change other QuickBooks records.  These numbers come from pay check generation, and depend directly on payroll having been set up correctly.

 

When the review is complete, click OK or Next, and the W-2 will be marked as reviewed. 

Printing W-2s  XE "Printing W-2s" requires that review be complete. Laser printer forms include the W-2s for two people on each sheet.  One sheet will be Copy 1 for two people, one will be Copy B, etc.  The various copies must be separate stacks, not collated. The set must be printed with multiple passes, copy 1 for everyone, then copy B, and so on.  Yes, you get to hand collate them when you are done. 

Dot impact printers using carbonless forms require a different procedure.  Most printers can handle four part forms.  In states where six or eight part forms are required, it is usually necessary to separate the forms into two sets of three or four, and run two passes.

Form W-3  XE "Form W-3" printing is an option after W-2s are printed.  Beginning with QuickBooks 4.0, the W-3 will summarize the numbers for all the W-2s that have been printed. Printing is initiated from the Process W-2s dialog box (above) and will summarize all W-2s with a check mark in the Printed column.

QuickBooks 3.1 (and the original un-numbered Pro) require careful handling.  The W-3 is printed immediately after printing W-2s, and summarizes the content of the set of  W-2s that were printed.  If this does not produce good results, you only need one W-3, and it may be typed.

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Last modified: May 21, 2004