Owning a small business in Michigan is full of rewards, even with the challenges that come with tax season.
The government wants my money. But filing my tax forms gets harder every year. Employers have it especially tough. Lots of forms. Lots of deadlines. Everything has to be filed in a different place. And the penalties are onerous. Take the state’s unemployment insurance agency. Your tax could be $1.00. And yet they will impose a $150 penalty on that piddly amount, if you late filed the form that calculated your $1.00 tax. It is an infinite jest.
Small employers use payroll services to avoid figuring the system out. I did it, too. But one day the forms had errors. I called customer service. Getting help from Comcast would have been easier. Eventually, I was made to understand that my payroll service only provided routine, online forms and filing. I needed an accountant to fix errors, regardless of who committed the errors.
Lesson learned. The government wants my money. Payroll services want my money. Accountants want my money.
Keep in mind that all this time and expense is for me to collect a tax from my employees for the government. It is also so I can contribute to an unemployment insurance agency fund and pay my employer’s share of social security and medicare taxes.
After one year of doing my own payroll, I know one thing for sure. The payroll system is designed to mock me for my ignorance. Nobody publishes complete information all in one place. Tax forms come with instructions. But form instructions do not tell you everything you need to know. So, I went to the internet.
Second lesson learned. The internet is a difficult beast when you have a “real” problem to solve. Average people are busy. They do not post good information that other average people need to know. The internet is dominated by peddlers. I googled “Where to file my W-2s with the government,” etc. The google search produced many webpages from payroll service companies. Every page said about the same thing and none of it was new information that I needed.
Regardless, I am very persistent. I figured out what I needed to do, when I needed to do it and how to do it. I may not keep running my own payroll. But when I do hire someone else to do it, I will know enough to know if it is being done correctly… That is worth the price of the entry ticket.