Operational Gaze:
How to Run Payroll in Alaska?

April 11th 2024

Managing payroll in Alaska involves the processes and legal procedures of compensating employees. These processes include calculating earnings, deductions, and complying with local payroll tax regulations. Understanding Alaska’s unique labor laws and tax regulations is crucial for efficient payroll management.

In this article, you’ll find a detailed, step-by-step guide tailored to Alaska’s payroll requirements to assist businesses in navigating each pay cycle accurately. Payroll management goes beyond issuing paychecks; it’s about taking care of your workforce and adhering to regulations, which is crucial for businesses.

The guide aims to simplify the payroll process by offering insights and instructions for businesses in Alaska, ensuring smooth and compliant payroll operations, regardless of their level of experience.

This Article Covers

Laws That Affect Payroll Procedures in Alaska
Worker Classifications in Alaska
Payroll Forms and Relevant Bodies in Alaska
Applicable Taxes in Alaska
Key Pay Elements That Impact Payroll in Alaska
Step-by-Step Guide to Payroll in Alaska

Laws That Affect Payroll Procedures in Alaska

In the space of payroll procedures, certain legal regulations govern how employees are compensated and businesses must adhere to these rules. 

Alaska Laws

  • Alaska Labor Code: The Labor and Workforce Development section in the Alaska Administrative Code addresses wage payments, sick leave, medical benefits, and workers’ compensation.
  • Overtime: Alaska overtime laws determine overtime pay by daily and weekly hours worked, as well as the total days an employee has worked. 
  • Paid Breaks or Lunch Period: Alaska labor laws, as well as federal wage and hour laws do not impose a requirement on employers to provide breaks or meal periods. However, it is common for employers to offer short rest breaks, often lasting 20 minutes or less. According to the Department of Labor (DOL), it is mandated that these brief breaks be compensated. A minor who are 18 years of age and scheduled to work six consecutive hours is entitled to a 30-minute break during the workday
  • Unemployment, Disability, and Workers’ Compensation: Alaska employers are required to participate in the state’s unemployment fund, and both disability and unemployment insurance are legally mandated by the state.
  • Minimum Wage: The minimum wage in Alaska is set at $11.73.
  • Paid Time Off and Leaves: Federal labor laws dictate rules in Alaska regarding leave pay. Employers are not obligated to provide compensation for any form of leave, including sick leave, holiday leave, jury duty leave, voting leave, or bereavement leave.
  • Payment Records: Employers in Alaska must provide pay stubs either twice a month or at the time of each wage payment. 
  • Final Paycheck: When an employee is terminated, they are entitled to receive all their wages. 

Federal Laws

Three important federal laws will influence the way you handle your payroll processing methods:

  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): FLSA sets guidelines and parameters for minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, exemption classification, and regulations pertaining to child labor in various industries. These regulations apply not only to private enterprises but also extend to federal, state, and local government bodies.
  • The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA): FICA requires both employers and employees to make contributions to Social Security and Medicare. Employers must withhold 6.2% for Social Security tax and 1.45% for Medicare tax from each employee’s earnings. Employers are also obligated to match these deductions, resulting in a total FICA payroll tax rate of 15.3% for each employee.
  • The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA): FUTA mandates that employers must make contributions to unemployment taxes, which are utilized to provide benefits to eligible employees who experience job loss. While it doesn’t directly affect employees’ paychecks, because it’s an employer obligation, FUTA contributions still need to be recorded in each payroll cycle. Typically, a 6% tax on the first $7,000 paid to an employee annually is expected, with potential exceptions based on the industry.

HR Laws

  • New Hire Reporting: An employer must notify the department within 20 days following the hiring, recall, or rehiring of any new employee. This notification must include details like the full name, address, social security number and employer name, and Federal Tax ID number.
  • Posting Requirements: The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development mandates that all businesses in Alaska with employees must conspicuously display several labor law posters within the workplace. These posters pertain to essential labor laws, including those related to minimum wage, health and safety, and other pertinent regulations.

Worker Classifications in Alaska

Employees and Independent Contractors

Proper employee classification in Alaska is vital for both employers and workers. This classification affects payroll, entitlements, and legal protections. Employees are subject to state unemployment taxes, making them eligible for unemployment benefits. Independent contractors, on the other hand, exempt employers from these taxes but lack certain legal privileges, including compliance with minimum wage, eligibility for overtime, and access to worker’s compensation benefits. It’s crucial to understand and apply the correct classification, as it has significant implications in Alaska’s employment and labor laws. To be recognized as an independent contractor in Alaska, you need to meet these criteria:

  1. Have a clear contract for your services.
  2. Work independently without strict control over how you provide those services.
  3. Cover most of the expenses related to tools, labor, and operating costs.
  4. Have the potential for both profit and loss from your work.
  5. Be able to hire and fire employees to assist you.
  6. Hold all the necessary licenses for your type of business.
  7. Follow IRS rules, including obtaining an employer ID and reporting your business income correctly.

Additionally, you must also meet two of the following:

  1. Take responsibility and have liability for the work, or carry insurance to protect employees, finances, and customers.
  2. Maintain a separate business location or mailing address.
  3. Work for two or more different customers within a year or engage in business promotion to secure new contracts.

It’s important to note that Alaska’s Workers’ Compensation Act has its own rules, which may differ from those of the IRS or other agencies. The same worker might be an independent contractor under one set of laws and an employee under another. Misclassifying employees can lead to financial risks, so it’s wise to seek legal guidance for accurate classification.

To learn more about the rights of salaried and hourly employees, you can read our guides on your rights as a salaried employee in Alaska, and your rights as an hourly employee in Alaska.

Payroll Forms and Relevant Bodies in Alaska

Managing payroll in Alaska entails adhering to a range of state and federal regulations, often involving the completion of essential payroll documentation. In this segment, we’ll explore the crucial forms and regulatory bodies in Alaska that employers need to be aware of to ensure compliance and effectively handle payroll duties. It’s important to note that, in Alaska, there is no individual income tax.

Alaska Payroll Forms

Federal Payroll Forms

  • W-4 Form: This form allows employers to determine the correct tax withholding for their employees.
  • W-2 Form: Displays the total yearly earnings of each employee.
  • W-3 Form: Summarizes the combined pay and taxes for all employees.
  • Form 940: Reports owed unemployment taxes to the IRS.
  • Form 941: This form is used to report income and FICA tax deductions from paychecks on a quarterly basis.
  • Form 944: Reports annual income and FICA taxes withheld from paychecks.
  • 1099 Forms: Provide contractors with the necessary information to calculate the taxes they owe the IRS based on their earnings.

Federal and Alaska Payroll/ Tax Bodies

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Responsible for federal income tax, Social Security, and Medicare tax collection and regulations.
  • Social Security Administration (SSA): Manages Social Security benefits and Medicare, funded through payroll taxes.
  • Alaska Department of Revenue – Tax Division: Manages state-level taxes, including the Alaska Resource Rebate, and provides guidance on local taxes.
  • Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development: Oversees labor-related matters, including wage and hour laws, unemployment compensation, and workplace safety regulations.

Applicable Taxes in Alaska

Employer Contributions

Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA): The State of Alaska is in compliance with the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) which currently sets a standard federal rate, currently 6.0% on the first $7,000 of each employee’s wages.

Withheld from Employee’s Wages

  • Alaska Income Taxes: Alaska does not impose a personal income tax. Instead, it levies a corporate income tax, which ranges from 2.0 to 9.40 percent. The state itself does not impose a sales tax, yet local jurisdictions can impose a maximum sales tax of 7.50 percent.
  • Workers’ Compensation in Alaska: Employers in Alaska are required to provide compensation for medical expenses and disability benefits to employees who sustain work-related injuries. Furthermore, in the unfortunate event of a work-related death, Workers’ Compensation mandates that the benefits of the deceased employee be given to the dependents.
  • Social Security (FICA) Withholding: Employers must adhere to Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), which requires withholding taxes for Social Security and Medicare from employees’ wages. They need to match these withholdings by contributing an equal amount for Social Security and Medicare. However, for additional Medicare tax, employers only withhold the employee’s portion without matching it themselves.

Additional Relevant Subtractions to Withhold on Behalf of Employees

In Alaska, an employer and an employee can engage in a formal written agreement to facilitate deductions for the employee’s financial obligations. It’s imperative to note that a written agreement allowing deductions becomes invalid if it results in reducing the employee’s wage below the legally mandated minimum wage or overtime rates.

Permissible deductions include the following:

  • Deductions for the benefit of a creditor, done, or third party (e.g., medical insurance, retirement plan).
  • Deductions for charges related to items benefiting employees, not sold to the public through the employer’s regular business (e.g., snacks, magazines). These deductions can be considered an advance against wages, but must be settled within the same pay period.

It’s important to note that charges spread over multiple pay periods are considered loans but cannot reduce the wage below the minimum wage or overtime rate.

Key Pay Elements That Impact Payroll in Alaska

Minimum Wage

The current minimum wage in Alaska is set at $11.73 per hour for employees. Labor laws in Alaska do not permit employers to use tips to satisfy the minimum hourly wage. Tips belong to the employee and may not be taken by the employer.


Alaska follows overtime laws established by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The general rule is that if an employee works more than 40 hours in a work week, they are entitled to receive overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly wage. In Alaska, the minimum wage is set at $11.73, which sets the overtime rate at $17.59 per hour.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Employers in Alaska must provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees if they have more than one worker on their payroll, unless the employer has received approval as a self-insurer from the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to note that there are specific exceptions to this regulation. These exceptions include:

  • Part-time babysitters.
  • Non-commercial cleaning personnel.
  • Harvest help and part-time help (specific cases should be discussed with the division).
  • Sports officials overseeing amateur events.
  • Contracted entertainers.
  • Commercial fishers.
  • Taxicab drivers operating under distinct contractual arrangements.
  • Individuals participating in the Alaska temporary assistance program.
  • Professional hockey team players and coaches if they are covered under a healthcare insurance plan.
  • Qualified real estate licensees working under specific contractual agreements.
  • Persons classified as transportation network company drivers.

Pay Stub Laws

Your employer is obligated to provide you with a pay statement during every pay period. This statement should detail the duration of your work, your earnings, and the payments you received. It is required to specify the regular and overtime hours you worked, your hourly wage, your total earnings, tax deductions, and any other authorized deductions by your consent. Additionally, the pay stub should indicate the start and end dates of the pay period.

Alaska Payday and Minimum Pay Frequency

Employers in Alaska have the choice to remunerate their staff through electronic methods, paper checks, or in cash. Alternatively, employers may also opt for alternative forms of payment like vouchers, punch cards, tickets, tokens, or similar instruments that are fully exchangeable within the United States. Nevertheless, it is crucial to guarantee that employees receive their earnings without any deductions. It is worth noting that using a payment platform that levies transaction fees on recipients is not permissible.

Wage Garnishment

Wage garnishment laws in Alaska, much like in many other places, are guided by both federal and state rules:

  • The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) places a limit on the highest percentage of a person’s income that can be taken from their wages. Usually, this limit is set at 25% of their disposable income.
  • Different kinds of debts can be subject to wage garnishment. These include child support, alimony, student loans, and unpaid taxes. However, for debts like credit card or medical bills, a court judgment is generally required before wages can be garnished.
  • In Alaska, state laws follow the federal guidelines for wage garnishment. They also provide safeguards for employees, making it illegal to terminate someone solely because their wages are being garnished once. This protection does not extend to situations where multiple garnishments are involved.
  • Before going ahead with garnishing wages, creditors must give notice to the person who owes the debt. The debtor has the right to dispute the debt or request a hearing.
  • Alaska’s state laws also specify the order in which different types of debts are handled and outline the process for garnishing wages.

Final Paycheck

When an employee decides to end their employment, the payment should be made by the employer on the next scheduled payday, provided it is at least three days after the employer receives notice of the employee’s decision to terminate their employment. If the termination is initiated by the employer, irrespective of the reason, payment must be issued within three business days following the termination date.

Step-by-Step Guide to Payroll in Alaska

Managing payroll in Alaska involves several important steps. To get started, follow this simplified breakdown:

  1. Identify Payroll Rules Applicable to Your Company: It’s vital to know, recognize, and keep up with the payroll rules that apply to your company in Alaska before you start the payroll process. These rules come from both the state and federal government. In Alaska, you’ll need to consider things like the minimum wage, overtime rules, tax withholding, and other important factors that affect payroll.
  2. Register Your Business as an Employer with the IRS: This involves obtaining your Employer Identification Number (EIN) and setting up an account within the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). For new businesses, it is important to secure an EIN before creating a customized, systematic payroll process flowchart. The EIN serves as a unique identifier utilized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to monitor a company’s tax-related operations. You can easily apply for an EIN online using Form SS-4.
  3. Registering with the State of Alaska: If your business operates in Alaska, you must register it with the state. New businesses can complete the forms for business licensing with the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. Additionally, businesses in Alaska must also register with the Alaska Department of Revenue for tax-related purposes.
  4. Classify Your Employees: If you incorrectly classify an employee as an independent contractor and fail to manage their tax obligations accurately, you, as the employer, will bear the responsibility for any unpaid taxes and penalties. In Alaska, the Economic Reality Test is employed by courts to determine an individual’s status as an independent contractor.
  5. Collect Employee Payroll Forms: Newly hired employees are required to submit certain documentation, including payroll forms, as part of their onboarding procedure. All employees are mandated to undergo I-9 verification within the first few days of employment. Furthermore, every employee should have a filled-out W-4 form in their records.
  6. Establish a Payroll Cycle: Determine the dates for employee compensation. Alaska payroll regulations require that employees are paid within standard pay periods, which should not exceed one calendar month or thirty days.
  7. Track Time and Attendance: Employees can ensure precise payroll management by taking a thorough approach to time and attendance tracking. Keep track of employee workweeks, overtime calculations, break times, paid leave, and sick leave entitlements. To make it easier to manage payroll and track time, employees may use digital tools such as timesheet software, a payroll hours tracker, or a time off tracker.
  8. File Federal Payroll Taxes in Alaska: Follow the IRS regulations for federal taxes, including unemployment tax. When submitting federal tax payments, you have two choices: If the IRS designates a monthly schedule, deposit employment taxes for payments within a calendar month by the 15th of the subsequent month. If the IRS assigns a semiweekly schedule, deposit employment taxes for payments on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday by the following Wednesday, and for payments on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, by the following Friday.
  9. Manage Payroll Records: In Alaska, it’s important to keep accurate records of your employees’ payroll, which includes things like their work hours, pay statements, tax forms, and other relevant paperwork. Federal and state laws require Alaska employers to hold onto these records for a certain period, typically at least three years. Keeping these records safe is necessary to follow audit rules and to have proof available in case there are any questions or investigations by tax authorities.
  10. File Annual Payroll Reports: Each year, you must complete government reports, including W-2 Forms and 1099 Forms. Employees should receive these forms no later than January 31 of the following year.

Final Thoughts

Managing payroll in Alaska presents its own distinct set of regulations and guidelines. Whether it’s grappling with the laws of minimum wage statutes or grasping the complex payroll tax procedures associated with the state, it is imperative to approach this undertaking with caution and precision.

Nonetheless, there is no need to tackle this endeavor in isolation. A multitude of tools and resources are available to assist you in simplifying the payroll process and optimizing your business operations. If you seek to bolster payroll efficiency, you may want to explore our compilation of the top 6 applications tailored to streamline payroll duties in the United States. Conversely, if you already have an established system in place, we have delineated ten tips to enhance your payroll procedures within the United States.

By adhering to established best practices and making effective use of the available tools, you can confidently navigate the intricacies of payroll management in Alaska.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.