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How to conduct a payroll audit

Your payroll process might be straightforward or complex, and challenging, depending on the size of your company and how quickly it is developing. In any case, a payroll audit is required.

Time can pass without significant efforts to ensure that payroll is done accurately, which is a regular occurrence in many firms.

An auditor’s goal is to ensure that your financial statements are a true and accurate representation of your company’s performance during the fiscal year.

The Basics of a Payroll Audit

The complexity of your payroll primarily drives the level of difficulty and time required for a payroll audit. A small company with, say, five employees working in one location can be pretty straightforward.

A multi-branch business that employs independent contractors or seasonal labor, for example, and has multiple locations, including other states, can be a huge undertaking. The essential phases of a simple payroll audit are outlined here.

Check the List of Employees on Your Payroll

Examine the people listed on your payroll. Check that the list of employees on your payroll corresponds to your employment records, and remove any employees you no longer employ.

Because employee attrition and turnover can occur at any moment during the year, it’s critical to guarantee that everyone who received a payment worked during that pay period.

You should confirm the contract length for independent contractors or external suppliers if your organization uses them for particular services.

Analyze Payroll Data

Check that each employee’s pay rates are proper in your company’s current payroll system. It covers the base salary, overtime rates, tax deductions, withholding, and so on for each employee.

Verify that the pay rates are correspond to the employee’s records. Verify that the pay rate was updated on the corresponding date if any employees got a raise or promotion during the audit period.

Check that the time categories are correct

Paid leave, sick time, and other types of payroll time are standard in most businesses. Depending on the payroll time labels you use, these hours must be labeled as vacation, sick leave, bereavement leave, and so on.

Verifying and comparing pay rates with employee attendance data is crucial. During an audit, examine each employee’s record for extra hours, sick leave, and vacation days to confirm that they have not been over or under-rewarded on their paychecks.

Your Payroll Records Should Be Reconciled

Begin by comparing your payroll records to the general ledger of your organization. The payroll expenses in your public log should correspond to the conclusions of your payroll audit.

In addition, you’ll have to reconcile payroll records with bank statements as part of your audit. A separate payroll bank account, which makes bank records reconciliation easier, is one way to ease this stage.

Check that the totals in your company’s bank account match those in your internal ledgers and that any adjustments are reflected both internally and with your bank’s records.

Verify that your tax withholding and remittance are correct

Make sure your employment taxes are correct. It is a crucial step that might help you avoid hefty penalties and fees.

Make sure you withhold the correct amount of income taxes, and statutory compliance contributions from each employee’s paycheck.

You may be compelled to withhold state and local income taxes as well. Examine your payroll reports for correctness. Your payroll reports should match your payroll records for all wages and tax withholding amounts.


Internal payroll auditing should be done regularly to verify that your payroll records are correct and updated and discover concerns before they become problems.

Having a well-established process for a yearly or semi-annual payroll audit can make this much easier.

Whether you delegate it to specific payroll workers or outsource it to a third-party service provider, creating an audit plan and procedure will ensure that they are completed.



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