Top 5 Ways to Prepare for Year-End as a Small Business [Checklist Included]

November 11, 2021 Laura A. Barton

The end of the year comes with a lot packed into a short timeframe — holiday shopping, quality time with loved ones, making sure you don't end up on Santa's Naughty List... When you run a small business, working on your payroll year-end is another thing you have to make time for.

The sooner you start, the better chance you have at avoiding last-minute scrambling to get all your details in order and to iron out any wrinkles. To help you get started ASAP, we put together this list of the top five (5) ways small businesses can prepare for year-end.

1. Know your key dates and deadlines.

Beginning your year-end plan with dates and deadlines helps with sussing out how to approach the year-end process overall. You'll be able to see what tasks need to be completed by which dates so that you can prioritize, check items off your list and keep things running smoothly. (Speaking of checking items off a list, keep reading to download a handy-dandy year-end checklist!)

Key dates include knowing the last date to process payroll for 2021, dates for running direct deposit over the holidays and when your year-end tax forms will be available for review. 

Stay up to date with key dates and timelines for year-end T4, T4A and RL-1 processing.

2. Know which year-end payroll forms you need.

The thing with year-end payroll forms is that there are a few of them on both the employer and employee side of the equation. Knowing which forms you need for your small business' payroll keeps you on track for the year-end season.

In a perfect world, T4s, T4As and RL-1s might all be the same, go to the same place and have the same filing needs. Just think of how quickly you could kick back and enjoy some downtime! But in reality, these forms are different, have specific purposes and have unique filing requirements. Some go to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and others to Revenu Québec (RQ). 

Getting familiar with these forms now will help you get to that downtime faster.

Get started by learning about T4s, T4As and RL-1s to simplify year-end.

3. Check and double-check.

There are a few things that are important to check and, just to be super sure, double-check, as you work through year-end. 

Company information

In your company information, you'll want to double-check that the following details are correct:

If even one piece of this information is off, filing becomes a mess because tax agencies won't be able to match what you're filing with your business. You put in all the effort to get the information together, right? Don't let something like a misspelled name or incorrect account number derail your work.

Employee information

Similarly to the company information, you’ll also need to take a closer look at employee details, such as:

  • Employee first and last name and address
  • Employee date of birth
  • Employee Social Insurance Number (SIN)
    • Especially if your employee has a temporary SIN that begins with 9. These have expiration dates!
  • Tax status and exemptions
    • Have there been changes? If so, they'll need a new TD1 form.
    • Confirm changes such as marital status, dependants, higher education, etc. and their effective dates.
    • Remind commission-based employees to file a new TD1X.
  • Check that the employee has the correct classification. Are they a regular employee or a contractor?

Review your reports and year-to-date (YTD) information

This is another good step to take right now and as you continue with pay runs up to the end of the year. Small businesses have enough on their plate. Reviewing reports and YTD details helps prevent mistakes that can take time to figure out and cause more stress as deadlines creep up. (Remember those key dates we mentioned earlier? They come up fast!)

Pay attention to details like:

4. Know how you're going to file year-end forms.

There are a couple of ways to file your year-end forms: old fashioned snail mail and filing online. T4s, T4As and RL-1s have specific timelines to be aware of, and it's also important to be mindful of how the CRA or RQ needs you to file forms. For instance, if you have over 50 employees that get T4s, you must file them electronically.

Knowing how you're going to file your year-end forms also gives you the chance to take advantage of features that can take some of the workload off of you. Wagepoint users can file their year-end forms automatically from within the product. You don't need to say abracadabra, but there is a setting you'll want to toggle.

Find out how to request automatic filing and other must-do November tasks in Wagepoint.

5. Start prepping for next year-end.

Maybe take a breather first, but once you've done that, think about how you can start in on year-end 2022.

Doing so still includes steps like making sure that your company and employee details and setup are correct. If you're manually preparing your payroll, it can mean thinking about switching to a payroll software like Wagepoint. Automation and other amazing features are ways that small businesses can get ahead of the game for the year-end season.

Read this to learn why the New Year is one of the best times to start using or switch payroll software.

Bonus #1: Use Wagepoint's handy-dandy year-end checklist.

You didn't think we forgot about this, did you? Not a chance! What kind of payroll BFF would we be?

Wagepoint's 2021 Payroll Year-End Checklist for small businesses is ready and waiting for you to download. Use it digitally, print it off and write directly on it — whatever works best for your process – it's yours.

Download your year-end checklist

Bonus #2: Keep It Together with Wagepoint's Year-End Survival KIT.

We've put together this survival KIT just for small business owners so that you can rock year-end. This survival KIT includes the essentials to help you understand year-end forms and procedures, while also including items to keep your spirits up and tickle your funny bone. Definitely worth a bookmark!

Canadian Small Business Year-End Survival KIT

We're here to help.

We know you'll be well on your way to sailing through year-end, but if you do need a hand with year-end in Wagepoint, we're here for you. Contact Wagepoint's Customer Support by submitting a ticket directly within the app, or sending us an email at support@wagepoint.com.

About the Author

Laura A. Barton

Laura is a Content Specialist with Wagepoint who has a passion for telling stories in both the fiction and non-fiction realms. She loves narratives that explore human nature and has a particular interest in mental health. Although writing takes up a good chunk of her time, she can otherwise be found immersing herself in social media, reading, or binge-watching videos online.

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