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5 Certified Paroll Reporting Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

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5 certified payroll reporting mistakes that will cause delayed payments – learn how to avoid them.

wh-347 certified payrollFilling out weekly certified payroll reports can be a time-consuming and frustrating task, especially if you complete them by hand or have to manipulate data in order to create them.  Transposition errors and other mistakes are bound to happen, no matter how careful you think you are being.  Making mistakes on certified payroll reports will lead to more frustration and you’ll  end up spending more time correcting the errors; mistakes will also put your company’s good standing in jeopardy with the General Contractor or Project Administrator.

Certified Payroll/Prevailing Wage reporting can be complex and varies by state.  Learning how to avoid the following mistakes and submit the reports properly the first time will benefit you and your company.

  1. Your reports are rejected as inadequate or incomplete – you may not have submitted the proper form or some of the required information is missing.  You’ve been told that you need to correct the forms and resubmit them by a new deadline or your company, and the General Contractor, will have to wait longer to receive payment.  Delayed payments have a negative affect on everyone’s cash flow.   The Labor Standards Clause of the final contract (and the bid package)  for each job usually provides you with a sample of the certified payroll reporting form that you will be required to submit; it will also inform you if you are required to file your reports electronically.
  2. You didn’t pay your employees prevailing wage and you didn’t submit certified payroll reports – you’ll need to make wage restitution to your employees to bring their rate of pay up to the prevailing wage rate required on the job and then you’ll need to submit ALL of the certified payroll reports within 30 days from the time that the General Contractor was notified.  Payments to both your company and the General Contractor can be delayed.  The requirement to pay prevailing wages and submit certified payroll reports is included and usually discussed in the Labor Standards Clause of the bid package and the final contract.
  3. You didn’t pay your employees the rate of pay listed in the Wage Decision – you’ll need to make wage restitution to your employees, provide proof of the wage restitution, and submit corrected certified payroll reports within 30 days from the time that the General Contractor was originally notified.  A Wage Decision is a listing of all the different Work/Trade Classification and minimum wage rates (base PLUS fringe) that must be paid to anyone performing work on the jobsite.  Some Wage Decisions cover several counties and/or types of construction (residential and commercial) and can be difficult to read – in instances such as this, the Contract Administrator may prepare a Project Wage Rate Sheet or issue a Wage Bulletin, which will only show the Work/Trade Classifications and wage rates for a specific project.  The Wage Decision is found in the Labor Standards Clause of the bid package and the final contract.
  4. Your employees Work Classifications do not match those listed on the Wage Decision – you’ll need to correctly classify your employees according to the Work/Trade Classification found on the Wage Decision, and quite possibly make wage restitution to your employees. You’ll need to provide proof of any wage restitution, if applicable, and provide corrected certified payroll reports within 30 days from the time that the General Contractor was originally notified.  Each employee must be classified and paid accordingly, based on the type of work they are performing.  If the Wage Decision doesn’t contain the correct Work Classification; a written request must be submitted.  The written request must identify the Work Classification that is missing, recommend a wage rate, and provide a description of the actual work being performed. This written request should be submitted/discussed at the bid qualification meeting.
  5. Your reports have incorrect computations, unclassified “Other Withholdings”, or do not indicate how the fringe benefit portion of the prevailing wage is paid – you will need to submit corrected reports within 30 days of the date that the General Contractor was originally notified.  While these items may seem trivial, they are all part of the requirements of certified payroll reporting.  Always check the “math” on the final reports before submitting them, for example, the Federal WH-347 certified payroll report should match the employees paycheck exactly for gross wages ALL jobs, withholdings and net wages paid for the week, even if you use a software program to generate your reports you should verify that these numbers match before you submit the reports.

Learning to avoid these mistakes is in your best interest because will you avoid extra paperwork and be paid in a timely manner.

If you are manually creating the reports or having to manipulate large amounts of data to generate the reports, you aren’t saving any time (or money) and need to automate the process in order to eliminate the transposition errors and save valuable time that could be better spent on other tasks.  I see many QuickBooks users discussing on the Intuit forums how they generate the built-in QuickBooks certified payroll report and either manually make corrections or print the report and then enter that data into a fillable Federal or State Specific certified payroll report on a weekly basis.

Make sure that you have thoroughly reviewed the Labor Standards Clause of the bid package AND the final contract package and provide your payroll administrators with the information that they need to correctly pay your employees.  If you continue to submit incorrect certified payroll reports you will be in violation of certified payroll reporting requirements and this can mean that you will be disbarred; not allowed to bid on or perform work on prevailing wage projects for up to 3 years.  Additionally, you may be passed over in favor of another company (even if you do top quality work) if you have a “checkered past” in meeting the reporting requirements.

Wage Restitution is the difference between what the employee should have been paid (base PLUS hourly fringe) and what they were paid.

If you are new to certified payroll reporting requirements, sign up for a 2-hour Certified Payroll Reporting Training webinar, $69.00 per person.

If you use QuickBooks and want to automate the entire certified payroll reporting process, request a Free 30-Day Trial of Certified Payroll Solution.

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About Your Host:

Nancy Smyth, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Nancy Smyth, Sunburst Software Solutions, Inc.
QuickBooks Construction & Payroll Expert


I've been using and supporting QuickBooks products since the early 1990's. I've worked with thousands of contractors, assisting them with QuickBooks setup, Certified Payroll Reporting requirements, AIA Billing and Weighted-Average Overtime.


QuickBooks is a powerful product, but learning how to use it in your construction business can be difficult. I hope you find resources available here to be helpful.

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