Payroll Services Payroll Services Newsletter - March 2004

Name Changes for F-1 and J-1 Visa Holders:

Payroll Services is the department to visit whenever an employee or student has a name change. To maintain compliance with the SEVIS System, international students and scholars who have an F-1 or J-1 visa must update the name on their passport and present it to Payroll Services before the name change can be accepted. The Name Change Form has been modified to include this new procedure and information about name change processing is available at this link: namechgs.htm

Final Payments on Behalf of Deceased Employees:

Engrossed House Bill 1726, which passed during the 2003 Legislative Session, and the new procedures written by the Office of Financial Management (OFM) have caused a number of changes to be made in the procedures and forms WSU must follow when making payments once an employee is deceased. Some of the changes are 1) that Payroll Services will need a certified copy of the death certificate; 2) some forms are no longer required to be notarized; and 3) in some cases proof of relationship may be required. To read the new procedures and view the various forms, click on this link: finPmtDecEmp.htm

We Have a Direct Deposit Program for You:

You’ve been asking for it and now you have it. Travel Services now offers Direct Deposit for travel reimbursements for employees and students. This makes the third direct deposit program offered within Business Services and it’s very important that you recognize they each operate a little bit differently. Payroll Services offers direct deposit to either a checking or savings account while Travel Services and Student Accounts limit participation to checking accounts only. Please assist us by informing your new employees that three direct deposit programs exist. Listed below are links to each of the enrollment procedures:

Payroll Services: directdep.htm

Student Accounts:

Travel Services:

Recovery of Salary/Wage Overpayments:

Substitute House Bill 1738, which passed during the 2003 Legislative Session, became effective January 1, 2004 with the publishing of procedures and rules by the Office of Financial Management (OFM). Some state agencies (not higher ed) suggested to OFM staff that their agencies lacked sufficient administrative power to demand repayment of salaries or wages when overpayments were discovered. The new legislation significantly expands the methods of recovery and defines the term “overpayment”.

RCW 49.48.210 defines “overpayment” as a payment of salaries or wages for a pay period that is greater than the amount earned for a pay period. This is the same definition Payroll Services has always followed. This is consistent with the Washington State Constitution Article VIII Section 5, “The credit of the state shall not, in any manner be given or loaned to, or in aid of, any individual, association, company or corporation”, which has been cited by the State Auditor’s Office when alleging overpayments. Retaining an overpayment may also violate the state ethics laws. It is not appropriate for the Employing Department to suggest that an employee who has been overpaid gets to keep the money. (Employing Departments do have the right to correct time report/leave reports which may reverse original pay-affecting results.) For these reasons it continues to be the policy of Payroll Services to aggressively recover overpayments as quickly as possible while working with employees and their departments. The methods of recovery are:

  • Write WSU a check – The easiest and most simple recovery method is for the individual to write a check payable to WSU for the net amount of the overpayment. Payroll staff will determine the exact amount of the recovery. Checks should be submitted promptly to Carol Pettibone, Payroll Manager, Payroll Services, PO Box 641024, Pullman, WA 99164-1024. The amount of the recovery will be processed through our payroll system to reduce the individual’s year-to-date earnings and appropriate deductions and contributions.
  • Bring the paycheck back – If the individual is not on direct deposit and received a paycheck and knows they have been overpaid, we encourage them to bring the check back to Payroll Services. A new check will be prepared immediately for the proper amount.
  • Another method of recovery would be to deduct the amount of the overpayment from the next paycheck. Employees who agree to this recovery method will sign an authorization form provided by Payroll Services. Department personnel will be encouraged to retain a copy of the recovery authorization form so they can ensure the adjustment is reflected on the next Payroll Expenditure Audit Report (PEAR).
  • The remaining recovery methods provided in the new legislation would only be used in extreme situations where the overpaid individual contested or disputed the overpayment, or the method of recovery. Facts and circumstances of the particular situation will determine which of the following will be used.
    • Payroll Services may agree to voluntary wage deductions over an extended period of time.
    • Payroll Services may invoke an involuntary wage deduction recovering the overpayment from future paychecks.
    • The debt may be submitted to a collection agency.
    • Lastly, Washington State University may be required to bring an action against the employee in court.

Each of the last four recovery methods are problematic in one too many ways but what is important to realize is that the legislature took action to increase the employers’ recovery options as a way to reinforce the importance of recovery efforts in the first place. All of the above reinforces the importance of the timely review of the Payroll Expenditure Audit Reports in order to determine if anyone has been over or underpaid or not paid at all.

RCW 49.48.200 provides that any overpaid amount still outstanding at termination shall be deducted from the earnings of the final pay period which may lower the annual leave, sick leave and/or compensatory time payoff amount.

W-4 Forms for Non-Resident Aliens:

The following provides a clarification about how W-4 Forms should be prepared for non-resident aliens. If the employee is a non-resident alien, excluding a student (not a scholar) from India, all W-4 Forms must include the additional semi-monthly dollar amount of $16.60 on Line 7. An employee can be a non-resident alien, but for tax purposes file taxes as a permanent resident. An example might be a student who has exceeded the five-year exemption from the substantial presence test. Most F-1 visa holders will not be permanent residents. Permanent Residents are not required to record the additional dollar amount of $16.60 on their W-4 Form. The web page of instructions about W-4 Forms has been completely redone and can be accessed at this link: nonUS-howtoW4.htm

Social Security Numbers for Students and Scholars:

In order to provide exemplary customary service, it has been our practice to provide an international student or scholar, who has evidence that they applied for a social security number, with what is commonly referred to as a “dummy” social security number (usually starting with the digits 365). “Dummy” numbers are for internal WSU purposes only such as to assist in securing a network ID and to get the individual paid timely. “Dummy” numbers are temporary numbers and under no circumstances are they to be reported to anyone not connected with WSU. The “365” number should never be written as part of an employment verification nor should that number be provided as part of any financial University reporting, such as W-2, 1099, 1098T or 1042S.

International students and scholars who receive a “365” number need to be reminded to bring in their actual social security card when it is received so a copy can be provided to Payroll Services and the administrative systems can then be updated with the assigned number. We recently received correspondence from the Internal Revenue Service ‘reminding’ us that W-4 Forms with “365” dummy numbers are ‘invalid’ withholding certificates and ‘reminding’ us to get a new W-4 Form for our files that displays the assigned social security number for that individual. If one of your responsibilities is to work with international new hires, please be aware we need a W-4 Form which accurately reflects the official assigned number.

State Auditor Comments from 2003 Fiscal Year:

In the area of payroll, the State Auditor’s Office made a couple of comments at the end of the last audit period. The Auditors have a concern about the lack of internal control when the signature stamp of the employing official is used on pay-affecting documents. The State Auditors recommended that stamps not be used on time or leave reports or on Daily Activity Reports and the BPPM has been updated to reinforce our current practice of not using signature stamps on these documents.

Another recommendation that the State Auditors made was to remind departments that the PEAR’s are required to be retained at the department level in the non-manipulative format for two years, whereby the downloaded file type equals “document” and the record format equals “PEAR data with comments”. This is the version of the payroll expenses where the values cannot be changed.

Four Payroll Reports in Business Objects:

A really big thank you to Marilyn Burns (and others) who created four payroll reports found in the Corporate Documents in Business Objects. If you prepare the payroll for your area, these reports may be of significant benefit for you. Fashioned after a previous report known as the “Stop Date Report”, these reports inform you of upcoming pay-affecting end dates affecting employees’ pay on appointments, TEMP’s appointments, assignments and accounts. Every pay cycle we have employees who do not get paid because their end date expired during the pay cycle and no action was taken to renew their funding or appointment. On the January first half pay cycle, one department did not pay 13 of their employees because of this situation. The monitoring of end dates is a departmental function. You may want to begin running these reports on a regular basis. The report names are:

Payroll Funding Alert – Appointments Ending
Payroll Funding Alert – TEMPS Appointments Ending
Payroll Funding Alert – Assignments Ending
Payroll Funding Alert – Accounts Ending

If you have questions about this newsletter, e-mail or
call (509) 335-1277.