How Business Owners Get Paid
At first glance, this article topic might seem too simple. After all, to get paid, don’t you just take money out of your business? Well, yes, but there is much more to it in the long run as well as from an accounting side. Let’s take a look.
The Traditional Paycheck
If you’ve ever worked for someone else, you probably received a paycheck every few weeks. It took care of three major things:
- Your regular pay that you live off of from day to day
- Taxes you owe to the federal and state government
- Benefits. Depending on the employer, you might have received health care, retirement contributions, and vacation and holiday pay.
The employer took care of the needs you have today as well as some of your future needs.
Your Business Pay
Now that you’re the employer – of yourself, your business has to cover all of the items mentioned above. How it does that depends on the type of entity you chose when your business was formed.
If you are doing business as a sole proprietor, you take draws from your business instead of paychecks. A draw is simply a cash withdrawal that reduces the ownership investment you have made in your company. The draws do not include any kind of taxes, including self-employment taxes; these need to be deposited separately, usually through quarterly estimated tax deposits to the IRS and to any relevant state agency.
As a sole proprietor, you’ll likely need to find your own health insurance. And the most important thing you’ll need to do is plan for your retirement by investing in IRAs or otherwise saving money that is earmarked for your retirement.
From an accounting standpoint, owner’s draws are shown in the equity portion of the balance sheet as a reduction to the owner’s capital account.
If your business is formed as a C Corporation or an S Corporation, you will most likely receive a paycheck just like you did when you were employed by someone else. You will also be responsible for making the payroll tax deposit, funding the retirement plan, and paying for health care insurance.
Owners can also take money out of the business over and above their paychecks.
From an accounting standpoint, corporate payroll, taxes, and benefits are all considered expenses and are shown on the income statement. Any money taken out additionally is a reduction to the owner’s capital account, and this is shown in the equity section of the balance sheet.
If your business is formed as a partnership, each partner will be paid distributions based on the partnership agreement. Typically, that means receiving a base salary and a portion of the profits. You can also take money out of the partnership. Taxes are not included; you are responsible for making your quarterly estimated payments. Plus, you will also be responsible for paying self-employment taxes.
For benefits like retirement plans, partners can be eligible, but the tax treatment of these and other benefits is not necessarily the same as it is for a W-2 employee. The rules are complex for deductibility, so it’s best to contact a tax professional to find out more.
Evaluating Company Profits
It’s critical to understand where your wages show up on your books so that you can truly understand your business’s profitability. With corporations, the salaries are included in the expenses, so net income is after, or net of, salaries and payroll taxes.
With sole proprietors and partnerships, the net income figure on the income statement does not include owner salaries because there aren’t any. Instead, only the equity section is impacted. Net income for partnerships and sole proprietors should always be high enough to at least “cover” an amount equivalent to a “so-called salary” for all of the active, participating owners.
If you have questions or need help understanding how business owners get paid, please feel free to reach out any time.
For business owners with employers, payroll is a necessary task that can slow your day and tie you down if you let it. If you’re looking for a way to make payroll less time-consuming, here are five ideas you can put to good use:
- Employee Onboarding
If you hire a lot, empower your new hires by letting them do their paperwork for you. A good payroll system allows employees to “onboard” themselves, completing the I-9, W-4, and direct deposit authorizations electronically, even before they show up for their first day. You’ll still need to ask for ID on their first working day, but at least you won’t have to do their paperwork for them.
- Integrate Employee Benefits
Rather than hire several separate companies to handle benefits, some payroll systems allow you to integrate benefits solutions right in their dashboard. That way, you won’t have to re-enter employee data in multiple systems, which often gets out of sync. Deductions and payments can also be integrated to save accounting time.
- Delegate Timesheet Entry
Require non-exempt employees to enter their own time; all you should have to do is approve it. The right timesheet application can take care of that, and a great timesheet application will allow employees to enter time from multiple options, including timecard, cell phone, and others.
- Eliminate the Annual Worker’s Compensation Audit
Tie your worker’s compensation vendor to your accounting system, and you’ll be able to avoid that time-consuming annual reconciliation report required by your worker’s compensation insurance company. You can also avoid the large annual payment because the insurance will be taken out each payroll cycle.
- Reduce the Frequency of Payroll
It’s not always possible, but if you can pay employees less frequently, you might be able to cut your payroll time in half. Pay weekly employees every two weeks or pay bi-weekly employees monthly. Reducing payroll frequency boosts cash flow as well.
Try one of these five ideas to streamline your payroll time and costs in your business. And as always, let us know if we can help.
Do the New Overtime Rules Affect You?
Effective December 1, 2016, federal overtime regulations will change and may affect how you are paying your employees. These overtime updates will affect 4.2 million workers across the country.
The new rules will raise the salary overtime-eligibility threshold from $455/week to $913 ($47,476 per year). This new threshold will increase every three years. Salaried workers already entitled to overtime will get increased protection.
Employers have a choice of three actions they can take to employees who become eligible for overtime that weren’t before.
- Pay time-and-a-half for overtime work.
- Raise worker’s salaries above the new threshold.
- Limit worker’s hours to 40 per week.
Let’s say you have an employee that earns $500 per week and works 50 hours a week. Previously, you didn’t pay overtime, but beginning December 1, 2016, you will need to. At $12.50 per hour, you would owe them the regular $500 plus 10 hours of overtime at $187.50.
Let’s say you have an employee earning $800 per week and they work 50 hours. Previously, you didn’t pay overtime, but now you will need to consider it. You could pay them overtime, which works out to a weekly pay of $1100. Or you can choose to give them a raise to $913 per week – the new threshold – and continue to exempt them from overtime. The latter is the lowest cost alternative.
In both cases above, it may be cheaper to hire an additional part-time worker to work the 10 extra hours per week.
You can find more about the new overtime law here:
And if you have any questions about your payroll, feel free to reach out anytime.