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Technology is Changing How We Submit Certified Payroll Reports

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Technology – computers, software, and the internet – has changed how we create and submit certified payroll reports over the last decade.

typewriterFor many years a paper certified payroll report – either the Federal WH-347 or a state specific form – was what you needed; and then you dug out the typewriter and typed the information onto the form – or – you painstakingly handwrote the information onto the form.

Then along came computers and programs like LOTUS 1-2-3 and Excel and we would recreate the layout of the paper form using the program and fill it in each week – it was faster, neater, easier to correct typo’s, and we felt that we were automating the task at hand.

Then, some of the software companies created a “certified payroll report” which they claimed was a viable substitute – but they didn’t look anything like our paper forms and often times when we submitted those reports they were rejected and we had to go back to taking the information from the report provided by the software and manually put it into either the paper form or our spreadsheets – again, we felt this was automation – at least we had most of the data for each job in one place.

Fast forward to 2003 and the first of the online labor compliance programs – where you would log into a website with your username and password and then type in your certified payroll data into their program using web based forms – for certain jobs that you worked on.  Yes, you could upload you certified payroll data IF you could recreate their special machine-readable format.

submitFast forward again to the present day.  Today, there are now one or more agencies in 17 states that require certified payroll reports to be electronically submitted via numerous on-line labor compliance programs developed by companies like LCPtracker, MyLCM (TRS Consultants/Hill International), and Elation Systems; that are used nationwide; along with state or agency specific compliance programs like eMars,  Texas Department of Transportation, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation , the Alaska Department of Labor, New York Department of Transportation and more.  Again, you log in to these websites with a secure username and password and then manually input your certified payroll data – OR – you attempt to create one of their required files in a machine readable format – .txt, .csv, .xml or a specially formatted Excel file.

Manually taking your payroll information from your software and transferring it to paper forms, fillable pdf.’s, or putting it into carefully crafted Excel spreadsheets is one thing – but putting that same data into a format that is designed solely for a machine to read is quite another!  For this task, you really should rely on 3rd party software developers who have worked extensively with the agency to ensure that the payroll data you see is transferred correctly into their machine readable format; leaving you to simply login and then upload the required file in the correct format.

Is a machine readable certified payroll report really so different, you ask…..

Indeed, machine readable certified payroll reports are quite different.  Here is a simple 1 page report using the Federal WH-347 form1-05 listing 2 employees and here is that same report in electronic format (now 11 pages) that you would need to submit to Elation Systems.

Isn’t it time you started really automating your certified payroll tasks?

As a QuickBooks user, I’m certain that you’ve discovered the built-in certified payroll report has it’s drawbacks and if you need to submit your payroll data via Elation Systems, LCPtracker, or MyLCM you’ve found that you have to manually enter your data.  This is where our Certified Payroll Solution program for QuickBooks really becomes a huge timesaver; because it will generate BOTH paper and electronic versions of your certified payroll reports – here’s a link to a short video showing how easy it is to set it up.  We have been providing electronic certified payroll reporting formats for various labor compliance programs since 2003.

2 Responses to Technology is Changing How We Submit Certified Payroll Reports

  • WOW! Thanks for this information.

  • Just wanted to give notice to those planning to use emars. It is extremely difficult to use. The import function does not work with our software (Sage) so all information must be entered manually. And worst of all, it is set up for Davis Bacon jobs. Any job in a state that requires weighted average overtime calculation cannot be entered correctly. The choice is to enter incorrect information (this was the Emars representative’s recomendation) or pay the employee the wrong amount and either violate state law or pay more than required. Obviously some very serious programming issues.

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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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