By Diane Dennis
Oh boy, certified payroll forms used to intimidate me like no other.
I was so sure that one mistake was going to have the government knocking on our door.
Once I better understood it all I became more comfortable. I can now say don't let certified payroll forms and prevailing wage, or its related forms and documents, intimidate you.
It's so easy once you understand and I'm here to help with that understanding. Soon you'll find yourself helping someone else to understand the process - maybe even your own customer(s).
Most public entities (read: Government) require contractors on the project to submit certified payroll forms that are a written record of:
Some of these prevailing wage payroll reports even require the number of the check that the employee is paid with! One more way for the government to dig into your business...
The forms are designed to track who is working on the project and that each person is being paid correctly and that taxes and other deductions are being handled properly.
These forms would be good if they could be trusted. While most contractors will be honest and pay what they're supposed to pay to the employee, unfortunately there are some contractors out there who lie on these forms.
We know of more than one occasion where the contractor paid the employee the prevailing wage rate, then when the employee cashed his check, he was required to give back to his employer the difference between his regular wage and the prevailing wage rate.
This allows the contractor to either make a killing on the project, or underbid you and win the job.
The only way to find out that a contractor has done this is for the government to get wind of it and investigate. They have to ask the employee if he was paid accurately.
How many times do you think the employee will tell the government that they weren't paid correctly?
How bad does the guy need his job?
That will determine whether or not he tells the truth, and most guys need their job so they don't turn in their employer.
And on top of everything, with all the sections of the government being so low on funds, how often do you think the accuracy and honesty of these forms are even investigated?
But, all of that being said, if the project you're working on requires the forms then you have to do them. There's no way around it.
Pretty much every state has their own version of the form (some states have several different forms, and even within each state, some jurisdictions have their own forms!), and then the Federal government has their own version.
You can fill them in with your computer and they'll do some basic calculations for you (but they don't have tax tables or prevailing wage rates built in).
The entire form, including your filled in information, will print on a plain 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper.
Some of the forms listed above come with filled-in samples, and detailed how-to instructions, and even a list of frequently asked questions (with answers of course). :o)