End-of-year checklist for Payroll and taxes (2021)

To help you wrap up the end of the year smoothly, we ’ve put together a checklist containing important payroll action items. Download this checklist as a PDF by clicking here.


Double-check key information

  • Make sure your company’s information is up-to-date. Verify that you ’ve entered a tax ID in payroll for every state where your employees live or work, for instance.
  • Make sure your employees’ personal information (name, address, SSN, etc.) is correct. You can generate a W-2 preview report by December 17th to review, as well.
  • Make sure your employees’ payroll data is correct. Double-check that their earnings and deductions total up to the amount you expect and that you haven’t forgotten to account for any manual or voided checks. The W-2 validation preview should help you with this, too.
  • Run a History Summary report for the year on sample employees with special circumstances as a check against the W2 Preview:
    • An executive
    • An employee with different resident and work (Location) states
    • An employee who moved during the year
    • An employee who had adjustments during the year to correct prior pay periods
    • An employee who was promoted mid-year
    • An employee who worked in multiple locations
  • To verify that your employee names and Social Security numbers (SSN) match Social Security’s record, you can: verify up to 10 names and SSNs online and receive immediate results, or submit an XLS file with your list of employees per below:


Run payroll at the right time

  • Take holidays into account. Your pay run deadline in Zenefits will update automatically, but keep in mind that you may need to run on a different day of the week than you’re used to.
  • For a check date of 12/31, run your last 2021 payroll by December 27th if you’re on four-day processing or December 29th if you’re on two-day processing. These have to be submitted by 2pm PST, once the check date changes to a 2022 date we will no longer be able to process the pay run for a 2021 check date.
  • The same goes for any bonus payrolls you’d like to pay with a 2021 check date.


Report special circumstances to us

Contact us by December 17 if any of the following apply to your company:

  • Pay runs outside the system
  • Disability payments or third-party sick pay
  • Tips
  • Fringe benefits
  • Tax modifications
  • Employee taxed in wrong state
  • Stock option events
  • Non-qualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plans
  • Move a tax jurisdiction to full service for 2021


If you have deferred tax payments due to the CARES Act, they are due by December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2022. For more information, click here.


This checklist is meant to be informative, but not necessarily exhaustive. It does not constitute legal or tax advice. Always check with a qualified legal or tax advisor for more complete guidance.


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