Getting Inside the Payroll Experience


I started my payroll life in 1983 as a part-time payroll clerk at a hotel after the clerk function moved to human resources, where I worked, from accounts payable.

Punch cards were used to record work hours and supervisors manually entered employees’ time onto large printouts. The printouts were submitted to me every Saturday morning and by Thursday I reviewed printed checks against the payroll register. When I found a mistake—and invariably I would—a process with the controller was in place to ensure the correction was made and the employee was paid.  

The rest of the paychecks I stuffed in envelopes and delivered them to supervisors or the employees. I was Mr. Popular on paydays. It was a simpler time.

Fast forward to 2016 and an event that illustrated how far the payroll profession has come—Inside Payroll, a one-day conference at Bloomberg BNA headquarters in Arlington, Va.

At the conference, Martin Armstrong, CPP, DBA, of Time Warner Cable (soon to be New Charter) adroitly blended his personal story, leadership-development tips and important aspects of the payroll function into a remarkable lesson on how to effectively manage payroll operations. Armstrong, a member of Bloomberg BNA's Payroll Library Advisory Board, showed how payroll professionals can take charge of their payroll destinies. Post-conference surveys showed his presentation to be well-received, with one participant giving Martin a 12 out of a scale of 10—Mr. Popular, indeed.

The other advisory board members sought answers to issues they have come across. Fred A. Basehore Jr., CPP, a senior manager at KPMG, wanted to find out how Pennsylvania treated employer-provided group-term life insurance for tax purposes. Patrick McKenna, CPA, tax director at Prudential Financial, wanted to know the tax requirements for New York and New York City for a New Jersey executive that spends 24 partial days in New York City a year attending meetings.

Charlotte Hodges, CPP, of Willis Towers Watson, wanted to quickly inform internal staff of overtime requirements, state tax reciprocity and the requirements for filing withholding allowance forms by state. Armstrong rejoined the discussion and said he wanted to provide his payroll team and the rest of his company with a quick way to determine whether particular incentives and benefits were taxable and how to account for them.

In each case, we walked through the resolution using Bloomberg BNA’s Payroll Library. For Basehore, the solution to his question was to access Bloomberg BNA’s State-Internal Revenue Code Conformity Chart builder. For McKenna, we went to several locations within the Payroll Library to address each of the eight issues associated with the New Jersey executive working 24 days in New York City. (And by the way, there was no tax obligation to New York City.)

Armstrong shared how the library’s Taxability of Wage and Benefits Comparison chart was key to him developing an internal taxable income guide. Hodges and I demonstrated how information in the overtime and other quick reference charts could be leveraged to create company-specific material to aid her organization and keep the firm compliant.


Michael Baer, right, a managing editor at Bloomberg BNA, and staff members at Inside Payroll.

The editors and research analysts for Bloomberg BNA’s international and domestic payroll services discussed key payroll developments and how subscribers could expect to see coverage of these issues during the year. Participants also were showed how to access the Payroll Library on mobile phones and tablet computers. 

In short, payroll has grown more complicated than when I first started. But as the Inside Payroll conference showed, the profession has become a key part of employment administration, not an afterthought. Knowing how to get answers to track a development, implement a change or develop policy is critical. Fortunately, key tools like Payroll Library are available to help payroll professionals navigate the payroll landscape. 

Take a free trial to Bloomberg BNA’s  Payroll Library , your one-stop resource for reliable, up-to-date guidance and analysis in every area of payroll administration and compliance.

Follow BBNA on Twitter  @BBNA or join the Bloomberg BNA U.S. and Global Payroll group on LinkedIn .