Full payroll solutions FAQ

Payroll Service FAQs

If you have any small business payroll questions that are not answered here, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Payroll Setup / Customer Service

Why do companies outsource payroll?

Convenience, save time from doing it themselves, save themselves from any hassle of dealing with IRS or State, don’t have anybody “in-house” capable of doing it themselves.

How fast can you set up payroll?

The time it takes to set up a new account varies based on several factors. How many employees do you have? How much YTD data we need to enter (if applicable)? Do we need to get any tax IDs set up?

The process can be as fast as 24 to 48 hours, to a week.

When is the best time to start payroll services?

There are a couple of answers to this question based on the timing of your business.

New Business – of course, start your payroll to coincide with the start of your new business entity.

Existing Business – due to the timing of tax payments, it is always wise to do your payroll company switch at the beginning of any quarter or beginning of the new year. That way the entity that is currently doing your payroll will report any taxes for that specific quarter. 

When switching to Pacific Payroll Group for our payroll services, please be sure to have your documentation ready so that we have all of your Tax ID numbers in order to process and make your tax payments for your company.

Note: If you have an accountant, please let us know so that we can send a copy of your quarterly and year-end documents to their attention. 

How do I choose a reputable, affordable payroll provider?

You can research online, visit our testimonial page, check out our many online reviews on Google, Yelp, and Facebook, and reach out anytime with questions. 

When choosing a payroll provider, you want to make sure they’re bonded and insured, as we are.

You want to make sure they can handle any sized business, have handled other businesses in your industry, handle your data securely, and can keep you in compliance on taxes, minimum wage, and all other related changes for your state.

How many employees do I need to have for you to run my payroll?

Pacific Payroll Group was built on being able to service small clients as well as larger business entities. We are able to provide amazing service for our clients that are paying only themselves.

We are proud to offer a wide variety of payroll services for the self-employed, family businesses, sole proprietorships, domestic workers, entrepreneurs, corporations, and small and medium sized businesses.

It is a comfort to them to know that someone is sending in all of their quarterly and year-end payroll tax data by all due dates and that their payroll is compliant with current tax laws.

Do you operate in Idaho?

Yes! We operate in Idaho and EVERY other state! If you need answers for COVID-19 regulations for your local area, please let us know.

Is there a portal for payroll and documents?

Yes; we can set you up with that access, if you want. If not, we will at least always email you or those you designate, copies of all payroll reports and tax forms once we complete them.

I do not want to write checks for taxes, file forms or deal with any of that myself because I’m traveling for work most of the time. Does Pacific Payroll Group handle all of that?

Yes, you would not need to do or file anything, or write checks.

Do you deal with workers’ compensation forms? I pay my premiums through auto debit which I don’t mind doing. I just don’t want to deal with the paperwork.

Yes; our insurance colleague assists us if we ever need to work with State Fund or any Workers’ Comp carrier on any issue that may arise.

Do you handle all the payroll deductions, quarterly reports, and year-end stuff?

Yes to all of those. We handle the employee and employer payroll deductions based on the W-4 and other factors. Including medical, 401k, garnishments.

Do you file ALL of the tax forms, withholding tax and the rest?

Yes; Anything payroll tax related. W2s, IRS and State payroll forms are filed.

If there is an issue that you caused, do you fix it or pay the penalties/interest?

Yes to both of those (fix and pay – after we request a penalty removal of course!).

Will we be assigned a payroll specialist who can answer questions?

Each client usually only speaks with the same one or two people. Pacific Payroll Group is organized to not be a large call center.

Please visit our testimonials page to read more about how we prioritize customer service.

What if I’m not happy after I try the payroll service?

We have such amazing feedback from new business clients, we offer a money back guarantee. If customers aren’t happy after trying us for one full month, we offer a full refund of one month’s payroll fees, no questions asked.


How much does it cost to outsource payroll?

You’d be surprised. Very affordable – many of our clients come to us from large payroll companies, wanting to save money while also receiving better, more personal, customer service.

Our clients usually save 20-50% on their current payroll invoice. Our prices start out at $35/month.

Business owners who want to ease their employee time tracking burden can also benefit from our secure online Payroll Time Clocks which cost just $10.00/month (minimum) plus $2.50 per employee.

To help business owners keep up to date with mandatory labor law notices, we make our All-In-One State & Federal Labor Law Posters available to you at wholesale prices. For as low as $4.40/month, you will receive a current poster plus automatic updates of any new changes.

We also offer 401k Retirement Services that sync 401k plans directly with our payroll software. Flat-fee plans start at $18/month for the self-employed, family businesses, freelancers, independent contractors, and any 1099 business. For start-ups and small businesses, plans start at $75/month.

How much time does it take to get a quote?

Less than 3 minutes! Make a quick phone call – save hours in work.

Payroll Issues

How do I get my payroll from you when I’m at a different location than your office?

Pacific Payroll Group has a few ways to service our clients:

  • We can automatically deposit your checks and mail the check stubs to you or your employees.
  • We can use courier services to either same-day or overnight your checks and reports. We do ship checks/payrolls to other states.
  • We can ship you check stock and you can print out your own checks.

Can I get my files from payroll so that I can upload into my Accounting System or send to my CPA?

Yes. Our payroll software can send you a file that you can automatically upload into various accounting software systems such as Peachtree and Quickbooks.

Your private CPA can also be added to receive an electronic version of your monthly payroll which they can use to compile your private accounting.

Why should I use a payroll service for a family business?

By using a payroll service you’re going to avoid costly errors, fines, tracking compliance and changing regulations.

In California, family members are generally treated the same as any other employee (with limited exceptions).

What if you make a mistake or don’t pay the correct taxes?

This is one of the many reasons you want to hire a payroll service that is not only insured, but bonded. We guarantee our accuracy. And if a mistake is made on our part, you are covered. We pay any fines and related interest.

I’m an owner-operated LLC with one employee. I plan to add more employees at a later date. I just need payroll and W-2s. Is it worth hiring a payroll service?

It’s really worth outsourcing payroll to a reputable agency like ours. Whether it has to do with time-tracking, taxes, workers’ comp, insurance, HR questions, or compliance, it becomes overwhelming to track everything on your own, while also running your business.

You don’t want to miss any required payroll tax payments such as unemployment insurance, state disability, or personal income tax withholdings. The interest rate charged on delinquent taxes is compounded daily.

As for just handling payroll, W-2s and payroll tax reporting, that’s our expertise and the low monthly fee more than pays for itself through the time you will save.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus Related

As an employer, what do I need to know about reopening my business during COVID?

Please visit our Coronavirus Resource page for reopening and operating guidelines. You can also download sample Cal/OSHA forms and return-to-work checklists.

The CDC has Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 here. And if you don’t see your answer, shoot us a quick email and we’ll get you an answer.

What if my employee gets COVID-19 / Coronavirus?

There is a new law called SB1159 that relates to employees who contract Coronavirus and Workers’ Comp. You can read the FAQs on SB1159.

How is paid sick leave handled as it relates to COVID-19?

JD Supra has an excellent article on the retroactive paid sick leave law: “On March 29, 2021, a new law took effect in California requiring most employers to provide supplemental paid sick leave to employees for a variety of COVID-19-related circumstances. The new law, approved by Governor Newsom on March 19th, will apply retroactively and expand upon the State’s previous supplemental paid sick leave law, which expired on December 31, 2020.”

We encourage you to read the article for more details. It goes on to state, “The new legislation extends and expands on the 2020 law, covering all public and private employers with more than 25 employees, adding permissible grounds for the use of leave, and requiring employers to provide retroactive payment for absences dating back to January 1, 2021 that would have been covered by the new legislation.

Under the new law, employees must be granted up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave (depending on full-time/part-time status)…” for certain circumstances (covered in article).

Are employees required to wear a face covering?

The safest answer is YES. And employers should provide them. But it depends on the business type and state and local regulations.

Can employers legally require their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The short answer is yes, but there are exceptions for religious and health reasons. You can read more at this USA Today article.

According to PCMA, “The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said employees could be barred from the workplace if they refuse the vaccine, but workers do have some options.” You can read the full article here – and as always, we will update this space as new guidelines are issued.

“Employers can require their employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine and prevent them from entering the workplace if they refuse, the federal government has said, but employers need to be careful about how they handle the process.”


Related, you can download free print resources for the workplace, relating to the vaccine, on the CDC website here.

What if I have questions on operating during a pandemic that I don’t see listed?

Please contact us! We’ll get you an answer personally AND we’ll add your question to this FAQ page. We also encourage you to visit the CDC’s reopening guidelines and other small business preparedness resources.

IRS and State Issues

IRS and State Payroll FAQ

How does my payroll tax information get reported to both the IRS and the State?

Both at the end of each quarter and the end of the year, we upload your payroll tax data for you. Pacific Payroll Group will also send a copy of these uploads to you and your CPA, if requested.

Do you deal with the IRS or State (Employment Development Department aka EDD) for my business if any issues or inquiries come up?

Yes. When you need our help, we’re there. Part of the setup process is adding your company access to our online portal so we can monitor the State payroll tax account and quickly spot potential issues/errors.

And part of the payroll services you sign up for is the ability to have us help deal with State and Federal payroll tax inquiries. This is one of the many reasons employers are so grateful to have Pacific Payroll Group on their team.

Do I still have to file reports with the IRS if I hire a payroll service?

We handle all the payroll taxes and filings. We fill out the forms for you and submit payments on behalf of your business.


Year-end is very hectic. How do my employees and contractors get their W-2 and 1099 forms?

Yes, January is a very busy month for payroll taxes for the prior year! We happily mail you a copy of your employee W-2 forms.

Some companies wish to send out their own W-2 forms from this information. The majority of our clients want us to produce and mail their employee W-2 forms. Pacific Payroll Group does the printing and mailing as well as upload this information to both the IRS and the State employment development departments.

My employee asked me how to fill out the W-4 – what should I advise them?

Employers should never advise or tell their employees what to mark on the form. Instead, they should ask their accountant to advise based on their specific situation.

It is safe to say that if they indicate they have more dependents, the less that will be taken out in taxes. The IRS has a withholding calculator / estimator on their Tips for taxpayers who need to file a new W-4 page.


What payroll taxes need to be deducted?

We used California for this answer, but please message us if you want to know the specific payroll tax deductions for your state.

CA State Disability (CA SDI) is required to be withheld from employees’ pay. The rate is changing for 2024, so be sure to see our payroll tax deduction blog for updated rates.

On the employer side, State Unemployment Taxes are required on applicable wages. State withholding is also required, but depending on wages and their withholding status, the tax may or may not be withheld.

Federal taxes will consist of Medicare and Social Security to be withheld (and also paid on the employer side as a penny-for-penny match).

Like with the State, Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA) on the employer side is required on applicable wages. Federal withholding is also required, but depending on wages and their withholding status, the tax may or may not be withheld.

As of Nov. 2023, we found out that in California, employers will pay up to $42.00 extra in tax per employee because the State defaulted on their loan to the IRS. You can read more about that here.

For more details on Paycheck Tax Deductions, please see our blog.

Payroll Software FAQ

Payroll Software FAQ

Can’t I just use my finance software to run payroll?

You could. A lot of our current clients used to think they could handle payroll themselves. But when they discovered the many disadvantages of payroll software they’re so glad they switched to us!

They quickly learn that using a payroll service saves them a TON of time. And hassle. And tracking the constantly changing regulations and tax law changes from the State and Feds.

They’re grateful we work with their CPA for any reports needed. We file the payroll taxes, including quarterly and year-end payroll reports.

We are experienced with dealing with the EDD and we know what questions to ask to get answers.

We deal with reports needed during the pandemic, such as payroll for subsequent years for the Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness.

We also save employers time in dealing with new hires, employee questions, time keeping, employee self-service, minimum wage changes, vacation, labor law posters, workers’ comp, and paid time off, to name a few. And we offer a wide range of other services available as businesses grow.

Wage, hour, or overtime mistakes can cost a business thousands of dollars in fines.

Using a payroll service like ours (with actual, caring, knowledgeable humans) is like having an expert at your fingertips. When you have changes or questions, we’re a phone call or email away. You’re almost never left on hold – and your messages are returned promptly.

Do you have mobile or on-line access available for my employees?

Yes. This is an option many employees appreciate. Time and attendance available 24/7. They can retrieve their wages, paystubs, and any tax deductions through this Employee Self Service portal anytime.

Can you integrate your payroll service with the software we use for our business, such as Quickbooks or Employee Time-Keeping?

Yes. We integrate with most accounting and time and attendance software programs. Everything is a breeze once you’re all set up! You’ll love how easy it is. Plus, it reduces errors and streamlines operations.

Other Services We Offer

What about retirement and 401k plans?

We handle all existing plans an employer may offer, as well as working with partner programs to set up for your company for the first time. You can visit our dedicated retirement benefits page for more information.

What about insurance benefits including Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Human Resource (HR) questions such as overtime or sexual harassment prevention training?

You guessed it, yes! We incorporate all payroll effortlessly with any insurance benefits offered by your company. As for HR, we can answer all the basic questions in-house, and happily work with dedicated HR experts if you have expanded HR needs or want a referral.

Do you offer direct deposit or payroll cards?

Yes. Direct deposit is the easiest way to pay your employee(s), but we have all options available, including paper checks.

If your employee doesn’t have a bank account, a prepaid debit card may be the best way to go. You can visit our dedicated Payroll Card page for more details.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Paycheck Protection Program FAQ

Can you help us with the Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness?

Yes, we’ve been here more than ever for our clients during the Coronavirus Pandemic, especially because of the PPP. We’re working with employers to generate all the documentation needed to apply for loan forgiveness.

Check out this helpful PPP Loan Forgiveness Factsheet (PDF).

Related to the PPP, below you will find some of the common questions we receive – and quoted from the PPP FAQ available for download on our dedicated Coronavirus page.

Question: Are payroll costs that were incurred during the Covered Period 1 or the Alternative Payroll Covered Period 2 but paid after the Covered Period or the Alternative Payroll Covered Period eligible for loan forgiveness?

Answer: Yes, if the payroll costs are paid on or before the next regular payroll date after the Covered Period or Alternative Payroll Covered Period.

Question: Are payroll costs that were incurred before the Covered Period but paid during the Covered Period eligible for loan forgiveness?

Answer: Yes.

Question: For purposes of calculating cash compensation, should borrowers use the gross amount before deductions for taxes, employee benefits payments, and similar payments, or the net amount paid to employees?

Answer: The gross amount should be used when calculating cash compensation.

Question: Are only salaries or wages covered by loan forgiveness, or can a borrower pay lost tips, lost commissions, bonuses, or other forms of incentive pay and have such costs qualify for loan forgiveness?

Answer: Payroll costs include all forms of cash compensation paid to employees, including tips, commissions, bonuses, and hazard pay. Note that forgivable cash compensation per employee is limited to $100,000 on an annualized basis.

Employers and Coronavirus

A lot of the questions we receive relate to the Coronavirus vaccine and employee requirements. We encourage you to visit this article from the California Employment Law Report that covers the most common questions employers face in terms of the vaccine and the workplace.


My business has to close due to wildfires – do I still have to pay my salaried (exempt) employees? What about my hourly (non-exempt) employees?

For California wildfires (or any natural disaster) with forced evacuations, the answer depends on how long your business was closed:

“The FLSA requires employers to pay covered, non-exempt employees no less than the federal minimum wage for each hour actually worked and overtime at one and one-half times an employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours actually worked in excess of 40 in a week. These requirements are not subject to waiver during natural disasters and recovery efforts.”

Department of Labor

For hourly (non-exempt) employees, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

“…generally applies to hours actually worked. It does not require employers who are unable to provide work to employees due to a natural disaster to pay non-exempt employees for hours the employees would have otherwise worked.”

Department of Labor

How do I hire my first employee? Do I need any extra paperwork?

It will depend on whether you have an established business with an Employer ID Number (EIN) or if you’re starting a new business from scratch. 

Some of the things to consider include finding out if you need any state or local tax IDs, obtaining a W-4 form from the new hire, establishing pay periods, holiday, vacation, and paid leave rules, and of course, payroll reporting. We will help you throughout the process.

How do I know if my worker is an employee or an Independent Contractor?

Depending on the state you’re in, that answer varies. California recently passed AB5 which makes most workers an employee unless they can pass what’s called an ABC test.

Please message us with your own unique situation so we can answer. You can also visit our Domestic Worker page for more information about teachers, nannies, gardeners and the like.

I am an employer who received a notice from the EDD that my employee is continuing to receive unemployment benefits even though my business has reopened and I requested that the employee return to work. What can I do to inform the EDD of this situation?

You can provide the EDD with this information that you requested your employee to return to work and the employee refused. The EDD will use this new information in determining whether your employee can continue to receive UI benefits. You can inform the EDD of this information in the following ways:

Employment Development Department
  • After you received a Notice of Unemployment Insurance Claim Filed (EDD DE1101CZ) – This notice was mailed to you if you were the employee’s very last employer when a claim for UI benefits was filed by your employee. It provides general information about the claim including the reason the claimant states they are no longer working.

    This was the first opportunity for you as the last employer to provide eligibility information about the claimant by responding in writing and mailing your response to the notice within 10 days of the mail date located at the top of the notice.

    Under the law, if you acquire knowledge of facts that may affect the UI eligibility of the claimant and those facts could not reasonably have been known within this initial 10-day response period, you have 10 days after acquiring that new knowledge to submit those facts to the EDD.

    Thus, within 10 days of your employee’s refusal to return to work, you may send a letter to the EDD at the address listed on the original notice that was provided when you received the Notice of Unemployment Insurance Claim Filed (EDD DE1101CZ), in order to inform the EDD of this information.
  • After you received a Notice of Wages Used for Unemployment Insurance Claim (DE 1545) – This notice was mailed to all base period employers after the first payment was made on a UI claim. It advises employers of the percentage of benefits chargeable to their employer reserve account.

    This notice provides base period employers with the opportunity to submit eligibility information about the claimant by responding in writing and mailing the response within 15 days from the mail date located at the top of the notice.

    Under the law, base period employers may also submit information about the claimant’s UI eligibility that is newly detected after the initial 15-day response period. The base period employer must respond within 15 days of identifying new eligibility information.

    Thus, within 15 days of your employee’s refusal to return to work, you may send a letter to the EDD at the address listed on the Notice of Wages Used for Unemployment Insurance Claim (DE 1545), in order to inform the EDD of this information.

Is your salaried employee really salary or should they be hourly and clocking in and out?

Together with your CPA, we can help you figure that out. Take our complimentary Wage Conversion Calculator for a spin as you explore your options – this tool can help you quickly calculate wage conversions for different time periods (hourly, daily, weekly, quarterly, annually and more).

Employers in California should know that the state minimum wage impacts the minimum salary threshold for exempt employees. Under California law, the salary threshold is twice the minimum wage. Salary exempt employees must earn a fixed monthly salary of at least double the minimum wage for full-time employment.

Businesses with 25 or fewer employees will have an extra year to comply with each increase.

For 26 or more Employees:


For example, a business with 5 employees in 2021 will have a minimum wage of $13.00 and therefore if they intend to have a salary exempt employee that person should be making at least $54,080.00 per year. Anything less and the employee should be considered hourly and may be subject to overtime.

What is the Employee Retention Credit?

“The Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act encourages businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.”

IRS FAQs and IRS Coronavirus

If we are your payroll provider and you have any questions, please reach out for any paperwork you need.

According to the IRS [source], employers should also be aware of third parties promoting improper Employee Retention Credit claims.

Didn’t see your Payroll FAQ answered? Message us.

What our clients say about us

Gordon and his team run this first class operation. Why go with the big box ADP when you can have professional, personalized services at a lower cost? It’s a no brainer.

They take care of my payroll needs for multiple locations so I can focus on growing my business. Gordon promptly responds to all my questions and concerns. He also helps me take care of additional issues like workers’ comp audits and taxes.

Julie L. via Yelp

I wish I would have known about them years ago. You call you get to talk to Gordon, you email your data into him and it gets done… like a smooth-running machine. I strongly suggest you call Gordon and start having him handle your payroll needs today.

We as business owners have enough to do without having to deal with Federal and State agencies. Put your efforts into your business that you know best, that is what makes you money.

Sharon D. via Google

We’ve been with this company for almost a year and could not be more pleased. Gordon keeps us in compliance with all of the complex employment and tax rules. He is extremely patient, committed and giving of his time and knowledge without reservation. If we need help understanding something he is always there for us.

If you’re thinking about getting someone to take over your payroll, give Gordon a call. He is more than affordable and worth every penny.

Kathleen M. via Yelp

I had stayed with a large payroll company because I thought it was difficult to change. Once my friend recommended Gordon, it was so fast and easy to switch! And my fees were cut in HALF!

And I pay nothing when they file quarterlies. And he’s a million times more responsive.

Arlene M. via Email
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