Sarah, back from the holidays replete with many days of eating, gift opening, party going, and carrying on with friends and family, shuffles to her desk. She glances at the emails that are somehow magically pouring into her email box. All those days of anticipation, hurried last minute filings and pulled forward deadlines were definitely worth it. But was all of it done properly? Are we all set with what we need to do this month? Sarah scans down her to do list.

Did we get all the “Christmas bonus” payrolls out? She would have expected to have heard whether there was an issue even over the music at Uncle Billy’s Holiday soiree, but it appears all those with 13, 14, 15, and let’s not forget 13.92 cycles got paid. Sarah wistfully thought about those extra payments, but then remembered that those bonus are really base salary being divided into more “cycles” so it is really not a “bonus” per se, but an extra cycle to ensure employees have additional cash during the holidays (summer and winter if 13.92, 14, or 15) and holiday/winter bonus if 13. Often these “bonuses” appear to be tax-free. In essence, the other regular cycles are taxed at a higher rate each cycle and the one or two “bonus” runs appear to be delivered tax-free. Although intellectually Sarah knows that it ends up the same at the end of the year, it sure would have been nice to have that extra cash during the holidays.

Was all the payroll processing covered? Max, Bernie, and Sophie all had various overlapping schedules for vacation. So many of their non-payroll colleagues take off the full two weeks for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, and just plain holiday making activities. Thankfully, this year there were no weddings and honeymoons too. Payroll really does not take vacation and so many of the teams are trying to get in last minute changes from operations for year-end. Thankfully, it is not year-end in the UK, but France, United States, Brazil and a large majority of countries have December 31 as their year-end for payroll. That means January and February are months of reviewing payroll data, preparing and filing year-end statements. So even though the end of year crush for getting all of the final adjustments are done, so begins the start of the dash to completing year-end filings. Even though the team did a good job of staggering their days out of office, Sarah is the only one in today holding down the fort. She sighs and decides she needs a cup of coffee before jumping in to start the reconciliation process. At least Max is back tomorrow, unlike August when many of the payroll people in southern Europe take off the whole month.

Bernie is the tax expert. When he returns next week, he will be reviewing all the changes across his countries to ensure that all the all the payroll systems were updated with any new tax, legislative and filing requirements. Although he does the best he can, with the information he has, inevitably there will be countries, which will require retroactive calculations sometime during the year. It can happen anywhere, United States, Argentina, Angola and anywhere else the government decides to make a mid-year change to tax policy. Sarah silently hopes for a quiet year. Additionally there are new, more complicated filing requirements in some countries as more and more governments become more sophisticated with their technology infrastructure. Sarah looks at her checklist of to dos for 2015. The launch of E-Social in Brazil is on top of the list for 2015.

Much to do, but at least it is at a time of the year the weather outside is frightful. So might as well be in the throes of reconciliation, year-end filings, and year-start of tax updates and compliance while it is raining, or worse yet, snowing. Ah well, might as well get to it before the next long holiday season sets in for her team, February 19th – Chinese New Year.

Michele Honomichl is contributing editor for Purely Payroll’s Global emagazine. Click Here to Global emagazine