This month, we interview Payroll Tax Accountant Stephanie May who loves the challenge of a new initiative and celebrates two years at Carolina this month. Find out how her love for data translates to time and money savings for campus.
What is a typical day like in your job?
Generally, I’m looking at tax data from about 50 different angles. This might include running reports or queries, researching specific employee tax issues, working on reconciliation spreadsheets, tracking tax variances payroll to payroll, or exploring regulations about a particular type of tax. I also work with technical staff on process improvements and testing software updates that impact payroll taxes. And I work with Accounting Services to make sure tax payments are made timely. All these efforts go into making sure tax data is accurate and compliant with federal, state and local tax laws.
How does your job support Carolina’s mission?
Having accurate and compliant payroll taxes is good for the employee and the University. When the employee’s payroll taxes and W-2 are accurate, it makes their filing season smoother and helps support their individual tax compliance. Also, ensuring that the University’s payroll tax payments and filings are made timely keeps us in good standing with the taxing authorities and keeps costs down so the University doesn’t have to pay penalties and interest. If certain tax payments are late by just one day, it can easily cost us several tens of thousands of dollars. So that definitely has to be kept under control.
What payroll tax projects are happening now?
This is the first year that employees can opt out of receiving a paper W-2 form, and this is a good step forward for everyone. The initiative gives employees the option to go paperless, which many people prefer nowadays. You don’t really want your social security number and personal income data floating around through the mail. Going green is also good for the environment and will help save the University costs on associated resources that go into getting that piece of paper printed and delivered. Even though W-2s have been available electronically for years, this option to go completely paperless for 2018 and years to come is a modern step that will save resources and enable employees to keep their W-2 data more secure.
What do you like most about your work?
I’m kind of a nerd about numbers, and I like magnitude of what I’m dealing with here. While many hands go into payroll tax data, from department reps to OSR to Payroll Services employees, I’m one of the last stops in the process. In a given year, we’ll pay around 30,000 employees. For each employee, they could have anywhere from 2 to 14 different taxes on each paycheck and may get paid 12 to 26 times a year. Do the math and you’ve got a lot of tax transactions! I like coming to the conclusion of a quarter, year or particular project and having all the numbers tie out balanced, nice and neat!
What’s something people probably wouldn’t know about you?
One of my top values in life is learning, and I hope to keep learning as long as I live. Learning is such an important thing in life, even if it’s for fun. Therefore, I love working for an educational institution where so many people come together for study, research, teaching or sharing knowledge. And I love that my job is constantly offering up new ways to learn and allows me to continually grow.