Your Ultimate 2023 Year-End Payroll, Tax, & HR Checklist

Like most businesses, your company is probably focused on closing out 2023 strong. Whether this means running some last-minute promotions or launching a marketing campaign, you have a ton on your plate. 

While it would be nice to devote all of your energy toward meeting your revenue goals, you also have to deal with an entirely different challenge — year-end payroll and HR responsibilities.  

Between prepping end-of-year tax documents, and closing out your payroll, the entire process can easily become overwhelming. Fortunately, you can streamline this historically frustrating process by following this year-end checklist. 

Payroll and Tax

As you prepare to close out the year, sorting out payroll and tax documents should be at the top of your priority list. 

Update Company Data

Each year, you need to ensure that your company data is up-to-date. This means:

  • Verifying your company name
  • Verifying your tax ID
  • Updating any tax information with the IRS

To verify your company name and tax ID with the IRS database, check out the EIN resource page

Update Employee Data

Once you have verified company data, it is time to confirm and update employee information, such as:

  • Addresses
  • Birthdates 
  • Social Security numbers
  • Spelling of names
  • Tax ID numbers (for independent contractors)

Additionally, you will need to review and update any local tax rates and configurations if your business operates in multiple jurisdictions. 

Order Payroll Forms

The next step is to order payroll and tax forms, including these documents:

  • W-2s
  • 1099s
  • New labor compliance posters

The latter is particularly important, as failing to do so could cause your business to fall out of compliance or incur fines.

Tie Up Loose Ends

As you prepare to file your tax forms and finalize payroll, make sure to tie up any loose ends. Specifically, you should:

  • Decide whether you will issue employee bonuses
  • Withhold taxes for employee bonuses (if issued)
  • Clear or roll over paid time off according to company policy

By tying up these loose ends before submitting your documents, you can avoid any filing delays. 

Get Your Payroll Tax Forms Ready

The necessary forms will vary depending on the scope of your operations. However, some common forms include:

  • W-2s
  • W-3s
  • 1099-NEC
  • Form 1096
  • Form 940
  • Form 941
  • Form 944
  • Form 1095-B

For a list of forms specific to your business, consult with a tax and payroll professional. 

File and Deliver W-2s or 1099s

Filing and delivering W-2s or 1099s is the final step before closing out your fiscal year. Ensure that these forms are delivered to recipients in a timely manner so that they can file their individual tax returns.

Close Out the Year

As you close out your fiscal year, make sure that:

  • Quarterly payroll returns match payroll taxes
  • End-of-year payroll is documented in your accounting software
  • Your accountant is provided with the requisite data

If you are still using an antiquated time and attendance management system, you should strongly consider upgrading to a modern solution. A custom system will streamline all payroll and attendance management processes, especially end-of-year reporting.

Submit Your Tax Forms

Submitting your tax forms is one of the easiest end-of-year steps, provided that you have put in the prep work to ensure that your documents are accurate and complete. You can (and should) submit your forms electronically, as this is the most efficient approach. 

Run Year-End Payroll Reports

The last payroll-related task is generating your end-of-year reports. Reports you should run include:

  • Payroll summary
  • Retirement contribution
  • Workers’ compensation claims
  • Employee summaries
  • PTO

Cumulatively, these reports will provide insights that will help you operate more efficiently in the coming year.

HR Compliance

After you have performed all payroll- and tax-related end-of-year tasks, it is time to shift your focus to HR compliance. The tasks on your to-do list must include the following:

Review Reporting Requirements for the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

While your status under the ACA may not have changed since the previous year, reporting requirements might have. At the close of each year, review ACA reporting requirements to ensure that your business is compliant. 

Check State-by-State Minimum Wage Increases

If you operate in one of the many states that have recently passed new minimum wage legislation, you must check to see whether any new increases will come into effect. If they do, adjust your payroll budget and raise the hourly rate of any minimum wage employees so that you are in compliance. 

Perform General HR Housekeeping

The end of the year is the perfect time to conduct general HR housekeeping, such as:

  • Updating your employee handbook
  • Performing annual performance reviews
  • Reviewing and updating company policies
  • Reminding employees to update their information in your HR database
  • Encouraging your team to clean and organize their personal workspaces

By completing these tasks, you can start the new year off fresh and set the stage for a successful 2024.

Review Employee Time Off Records

When reviewing employee time off records, you should:

  • Share a 2023 paid holiday list 
  • Remind employees of any additional time they have available 
  • Ensure proper end-of-year PTO carryover

By being transparent with employees about PTO and other benefits, you can foster trust between the company and staff.

Benefits Administration

Benefits administration is a critical component of HR compliance. As part of this process, you should:

  • Remind employees of any insurance benefits changes
  • Make sure employees have new insurance cards
  • Remind employees to update their life insurance beneficiaries
  • Distribute annual notices to employees (i.e., 401K and benefits plan documents)

Keeping employees up to speed on their benefits is one of the core responsibilities of HR professionals and should always be prioritized. 


Finally, you need to perform key compliance-related tasks, such as:

  • Review exempt vs. nonexempt employee statuses
  • Audit personnel files to ensure medical and employment documents are separate
  • Verify that labor laws are properly posted
  • Prepare for OSHA filing, if required
  • Schedule 2024 trainings
  • Audit your I-9s and ensure they are properly disposed of.

That rounds out the year-end HR compliance checklist. With proper support and organization, you can simplify end-of-year reporting while avoiding fines or other penalties. 

Feeling Overwhelmed? Focus HR Can Help

A lot of work goes into preparing end-of-year payroll, tax, and HR documents. If prepping to close out 2023 has you feeling overwhelmed, there is good news. You can outsource these tedious tasks to Focus HR by taking advantage of our human resources and payrolling services

Want to learn more? We invite you to book a complimentary consultation.

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