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The “Devil” in Certified Payroll


Certified payroll reports are special payroll reports that contractors who work on public works or government funded construction projects must file on a weekly basis — one of the “devils” is knowing if you must file the Federal WH-347 form, a state specific report, or submit them electronically using an online compliance monitoring unit, and what information is required.

Time tracking and payroll solution for construction

Creating and submitting a certified payroll report can be a devilish problem that contractors who work on public works projects or government funded construction projects face when using QuickBooks. Here are some common misconceptions:

  • Some people mistakenly think that in order to complete and submit a certified payroll report — that they must be a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) and pass some sort of exam; that's not true.
  • That one form or format will meet the requirements of all 50 states ‐ not true, some states have multiple forms and electronic filing requirements.
  • That the built–in QuickBooks certified payroll report provides you with all the necessary information — not true.

What makes the report “certified” is a signed Statement of Compliance indicating that the payrolls are correct and complete and that each employee has been paid not less than the proper Davis–Bacon prevailing wage rate for the work performed. When a company owner or payroll clerk puts their written signature on the Statement of Compliance, they are doing so with the understanding that the willful falsification of any of the above statements (found on the actual sign–off sheet) may subject the contractor or subcontractor to civil or criminal prosecution — that's the other “devil.”

Anyone can learn how to complete the report, after all, the report doesn't ask you for any information that you don't already have:

  • Who works for you (your employees)
  • What type of work they are doing on the construction project (Work or Trade classification)
  • How many hours they worked
  • What you paid them
  • How much they earned — gross wages on this job and for the week
  • What was taken out of their paychecks — taxes, child support, garnishments, union dues, etc.
  • The net amount they took home for the week — gross wages all jobs MINUS taxes and other deductions

The problem is gathering the data and completing the form — the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that it will take 55 minutes to gather and compile the information for 8 employees on a single report — not bad if you only have 8 employees and work on one job as that's roughly an hour a week that you'll have to spend in addition to generating the actual becomes more time consuming with the more employees that you have and/or the more jobs that you work on that require this type of reporting. It's also highly error–prone if you are creating them manually.

Want to learn more about certified payroll? For more information and to sign–up for a 2–hour webinar with a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor who specializes in payroll and time tracking for contractors.

About the Author:

Nancy Smyth has supported Intuit products and end users since 1986, with her primary focus being commercial/government construction contractors who utilize QuickBooks Financial Software for their accounting needs. She has been a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor since the inception of the program in 1999; and as President of Sunburst Software Solutions, Inc., she is a key player in the development of several QuickBooks Add–Ons for the construction industry. She is also the author of the QuickBooks for Contractors blog and the Learn to use QuickBooks in your construction business website. To learn more about automating certified payroll, AIA Billing and Payroll Wage Management, visit

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