Dentist Payroll 101 For New Office Managers

When you’re the new office manager for a dentist, payroll is a task you’ll need to manage right away

Congratulations! You just secured a job as the new office manager at a prestigious dental practice. Now what? There’s a lot to take in, for sure, but for this dentist, payroll is something you’ll need to tackle right away.

Whether you’re figuring out the details in a small office or running payroll for a multi-office practice, here’s how to get organized.

Okay, to be fair, you have a lot of new systems to learn or restructure with your new office management role for this dentist. Payroll just happens to be the one that everyone will notice immediately if you don’t get it right.

There’s good news, though. Dental practice software (like Umbie) is designed to help you navigate the maze of employee data. Another piece of good news? Most of the staff will be willing to work with you when you want to talk to them about payday!

Let’s start at the beginning.

Don’t make assumptions

From the front office staff to the dentist, payroll status isn’t something you just want to assume is correct. Tax statuses change, life circumstances change, and that W4 that got filled out five years ago might be completely outdated and incorrect.

When you come in as a new office manager, it’s prime time to check in with everyone (yes, everyone) about their W4 status. In fact, it isn’t a bad idea to get everyone to fill out a new one. This guarantees that you’re starting off on the right foot.

01-Dentist Payroll 101For New Office Managers-01Review taxes

Hot on the heels of that new W4 is tax withholdings. Federal and state income tax, social security, unemployment, and disability withholdings all need to be accounted for. In fact, you’re skirting some serious trouble from the IRS if you don’t take care of these correctly.

Verify benefits

Of course, for any dentist, payroll goes far beyond a salary and vacation days. Health and dental benefits, vision, life insurance, and a 401k are all part of the overall salary package. Take some time to verify and correct any inconsistencies with these. Again, most people won’t mind that you’re taking the time to verify this information with them. While health insurance benefits are generally reviewed yearly, life insurance and retirement can often go for years without seeing the light of day. A lot can change in that time.

02-Dentist Payroll 101For New Office Managers-01Track vacation

Everyone loves a vacation. As the new office manager, it will be your job to ensure that everyone on the team has the correct amount of vacation time. And really, this is just an extension of running payroll. Again, you’ll have a learning curve on any new job, but one of the best ways to make enemies is to accidentally take away a hard-earned vacation day or two! (Umbie can help you track this, too, by the way).

Identify contractors

Does your dental practice work with any contractors, even on an occasional basis? Check IRS regulations to make sure your office is in compliance with Federal guidelines for contract workers. There is a fine line between a contractor and an employee, but the difference in reporting for the two is enormous.

03-Dentist Payroll 101For New Office Managers-01Keep careful records

Why should you keep meticulous records for payroll? There are several reasons, not the least of which is that it is required by the IRS. W4s must be on file for every current employee and for four years after employment. In fact, the IRS specifically states that you should “keep all records of employment taxes for at least four years.” That doesn’t leave much room for questions.

The good news, though, is that you can probably dispose of the employee records from the hygienist who left the practice eight years ago to join the circus.

Dentist payroll doesn’t need to be complicated

It’s true. When you’re the new office manager for a dentist, payroll is just one of many responsibilities you accept. Fortunately, Umbie practice management software integrates easily with most payroll software such as Quickbooks. If your office is already using Umbie, you’re a few steps ahead in the game.

If your dental practice doesn’t use Umbie yet, contact us to find out how we can make your job easier, and help your practice increase revenue.

What do you think? Are there tips you can add for a new dental office manager on running payroll? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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