Operational Gaze:
How to Run Payroll in Georgia?

April 9th 2024

Effectively handling employee payments in Georgia involves the entire process of compensating your workers. This process includes calculating how much they’ve earned, making deductions, and following Georgia’s specific rules about taxes related to payroll. It’s important to understand these unique state laws to manage payroll efficiently.

We offer a detailed, step-by-step guide designed to help Georgia businesses navigate each pay period accurately. Managing payroll isn’t just about giving employees their paychecks; it’s about taking care of your employees and following complex rules, which can be especially challenging for new businesses.

Our guide aims to make the payroll process simpler by providing helpful insights and instructions that are specific to Georgia. This ensures that your payroll runs smoothly and follows all the necessary rules, no matter how much experience you have in managing it.

This Article Covers

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

Laws That Affect Payroll Procedures in Georgia

There are certain legal regulations that govern how employees are compensated. Businesses must adhere to these rules when attending to payroll procedures. 

Georgia Laws

  • Georgia Labor Code: The Labor and Industrial Relations section within Georgia’s legal framework governs various aspects of employment, including wage payments, sick leave, and workers’ compensation.
  • Overtime Pay: In Georgia, overtime pay is determined based on the hours worked daily and weekly, as well as the total days worked during the workweek.
  • Breaks and Meal Periods: Georgia labor laws do not impose specific requirements on employers to provide breaks or meal periods. However, many employers commonly offer short rest breaks of 20 minutes or less. These short breaks, as mandated by the Department of Labor, should be compensated.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Employers in Georgia are obligated to participate in the state’s unemployment insurance program. Georgia also mandates both disability and workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Minimum Wage: Georgia employers must adhere to the federal minimum wage rate as established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The federal minimum wage rate currently stands at $7.25 per hour.
  • Paid Time Off and Leaves: Federal labor laws dictate leave pay regulations in Georgia. Employers are not required to provide compensation for various types of leave, such as sick leave, holiday leave, jury duty leave, voting leave, or bereavement leave.
  • Payroll Records: Employers in Georgia are mandated to provide pay stubs either semi-monthly or at the time of each wage payment. These pay stubs should contain essential information, including the employer’s name, address, deductions, and other legally required details.
  • Final Paycheck: When an employee in Georgia is terminated, they have the right to promptly receive their final wages, including any accrued vacation pay.

It’s worth noting that Payroll procedures are essential for ensuring accurate and timely payment to employees, as well as maintaining legal and financial compliance. Employers are at risk of suffering from penalties for breaking Georgia labor laws when they do not comply with payroll procedures.

Federal Laws

Three key federal laws that significantly impact your payroll processing procedures are as follows:

  1. The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA): FUTA mandates that employers contribute to unemployment taxes, which provide benefits to eligible employees who experience job loss. While it’s not an employee payroll deduction, FUTA contributions must be factored into every payroll cycle. Generally, this entails a 6% tax on the first $7,000 paid to each employee annually, although exceptions may apply based on the industry.
  2. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): FLSA establishes laws related to minimum wage, overtime compensation, recordkeeping, classification of exemptions, and regulations concerning child labor.
  3. The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA): Under FICA, both employers and employees share the responsibility of contributing to Social Security and Medicare. Employers are required to withhold 6.2% of Social Security tax and 1.45% of Medicare tax from each employee’s earnings. Furthermore, employers must match these deductions, resulting in a combined FICA payroll tax processing rate of 15.3% for each employee.

HR Laws

  • New Hire Reporting: Employers must promptly inform the department within a ten-day timeframe when they hire, recall, or rehire a new employee. This notification should provide comprehensive information such as the full name, address, social security number, and date of employment for each newly hired, recalled, or rehired individual. Additionally, the employer must include their own name, address, as well as state and federal identification numbers.
  • Notice Posting Requirements: All businesses operating in Georgia and employing personnel are obligated to display a set of labor law posters at their workplace. These posters cover critical topics, including minimum wage regulations, health and safety guidelines, and other fundamental labor laws that pertain to their workforce.

Worker Classifications in Georgia

Employees and Independent Contractors

Misidentifying workers as independent contractors may provide employers in Georgia with cost savings of up to 30 percent on payroll taxes and related expenses that would otherwise be incurred when employing regular workers. However, this unlawful practice denies workers essential benefits and fair compensation. When an individual is classified as an employee in Georgia, their earnings become subject to state unemployment taxes, potentially making them eligible for unemployment benefits. Conversely, if they are categorized as independent contractors, the employer is relieved from the obligation to pay state unemployment taxes on their income, and their work falls outside the realm of covered employment.

Furthermore, independent contractors do not benefit from Georgia salaried employees laws. This includes considerations such as:

  • Adherence to minimum wage requirements.
  • Entitlement to overtime pay.
  • Access to workers’ compensation benefits.

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

The “ABC Test”

Georgia employs the ABC Test to classify the employment status of a worker. This test involves considering three key factors, namely A, B, and C, for classification. To be designated as an “independent contractor” in Georgia, an individual must satisfy all three of these criteria:

  1. Factor A requires that the individual can operate independently without close oversight or control, as stipulated in their contract and practical application.
  2. The work performed should be distinct from the employer’s typical business activities or carried out away from the employer’s premises, aligning with Factor B.
  3. For Factor C, the individual typically engages in a related trade, profession, or business similar to the services they offer.

It’s important to emphasize that even if the employer possesses the right to control the work under Factor A, not exerting that right does not fulfill the requirement. Additionally, establishing a business solely in response to an independent contractor job offer might not meet the criteria for independent establishment under test C.

Payroll Forms and Relevant Bodies in Georgia

Effectively handling payroll in Georgia requires employers to follow several state and federal rules, which often include filling out necessary payroll forms. Here, we’ll look at the important forms and the relevant authorities in Georgia that employers should use to stay compliant and manage payroll responsibilities well.

Georgia Payroll Forms

  • Form G-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate: This form is used by employees to specify their state income tax withholding preferences. Employers use the information provided on this form to calculate and withhold the correct amount of state income tax from employee paychecks.
  • Form G-1003, Employer’s Quarterly Tax and Wage Report: Employers use this form to report their quarterly payroll and tax information, including details about wages, tax withholdings, and the number of employees. It is submitted to the Georgia Department of Revenue.
  • Form DOL-4, Quarterly Contribution Report: This form is used to report unemployment insurance contributions for each quarter. Employers report their total wages, and the Georgia Department of Labor uses this information to determine unemployment insurance tax liability.
  • Form WC-PMT, Workers’ Compensation Payment Form: Employers use this form to make payments for workers’ compensation insurance coverage. It is submitted to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation.

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 Georgia Payroll/ Tax Bodies

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): The IRS is the principal federal agency responsible for upholding tax laws, including federal income tax and payroll tax regulations. Employers are obligated to report and remit federal income tax, Social Security, and Medicare taxes to the IRS.
  • Social Security Administration (SSA): The SSA administers the Social Security program, which encompasses Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI), commonly known as Social Security. Employers collect and forward Social Security taxes to the SSA.
  • Georgia Department of Revenue: The Georgia Department of Revenue manages the collection of state income taxes in Georgia. Employers within Georgia are obligated to deduct and forward state income taxes to this agency.
  • Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL): The GDOL supervises labor laws and employment-related issues in Georgia. This includes matters such as unemployment insurance, job training, and workforce development programs.
  • Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC): The SBWC administers Georgia’s workers’ compensation program, ensuring that employers provide the mandated insurance coverage for workplace injuries or illnesses.
  • Georgia Department of Community Health (Medicaid): The Georgia Department of Community Health is responsible for Medicaid, a jointly funded program providing healthcare coverage to eligible low-income individuals and families in Georgia.

Applicable Taxes in Georgia

Employer Contributions

Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA): The State of Georgia complies with the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA). In Georgia, the FUTA tax is based on a taxable wage base of $9,500. Employers receive an annual Tax Rate Notice specifying their tax rate, and new employers start with a 2.70% tax rate.

Withheld from Employee’s Wages

  • Georgia Income Taxes: Georgia has a graduated individual income tax system, with rates ranging from 1.00 percent to 5.75 percent. Employers are required to withhold state income taxes from employees’ paychecks and submit these withholdings to the Georgia Department of Revenue. 
  • Workers’ Compensation in Georgia: Employers in Georgia are mandated by law to provide workers’ compensation insurance if they have at least three employees working.
  • Social Security (FICA) Withholding: Employers in Georgia must withhold and match FICA taxes for Social Security (6.2%) and Medicare (1.45%), but only on their income up to the first $137,700.

Additional Relevant Subtractions to Withhold on Behalf of Employees

In Georgia, employers may need to make various deductions on behalf of their employees, aside from the state income tax and FICA taxes. These deductions can include:

  • Benefit Deductions: Employers can deduct contributions for employee benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and other voluntary benefits based on employee elections and company programs.
  • Garnishments: Employers must comply with court-ordered wage garnishments, deducting and remitting specific amounts for things like debt repayments or child support.
  • Other Voluntary Deductions: Employees can request deductions for purposes like charitable contributions or savings plans, which employers should process as requested.

Key Pay Elements That Impact Payroll in Georgia

Minimum Wage

In Georgia, the minimum hourly wage is $5.15 which is lower than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The state minimum wage only applies to employment not covered by the federal FLSA. Under the FLSA, employees who are subject to both state and federal wage laws are entitled to the higher rate, this means the federal minimum wage supersedes the minimum wage in Georgia.


The federal overtime laws guideline dictates that when an employee works beyond 40 hours within a workweek, they are eligible for overtime compensation at a rate equivalent to 1.5 times their regular hourly wage. Applying this to the current minimum wage of $5.15 per hour translates to an overtime rate of $7.725 per hour.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

In the state of Georgia, the obligation to offer workers’ compensation insurance applies to businesses that maintain a regular workforce of three or more individuals. It’s worth noting that if your business is structured as a corporation or an LLC, the officers or members are also encompassed within the employee count.

Workers’ compensation programs play a pivotal role in safeguarding the interests of employees who encounter job-related injuries or illnesses. Furthermore, the insurance extends disability benefits to workers who become incapacitated as a result of work-related circumstances, thereby helping alleviate the financial strain when employees require time off from their duties.

Pay Stub Laws

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are obligated to maintain precise records of employees’ work hours and the compensation disbursed to them. However, the FLSA doesn’t explicitly stipulate the provision of pay stubs, which are also known as wage statements or paychecks, to employees.

The decision to furnish pay stubs or wage statements is at the discretion of employers and may be influenced by corporate policies.

Wage Garnishment

Wage garnishment laws in Georgia, as in numerous other states, are guided by a combination of federal and state statutes:

  • In accordance with federal regulations, specifically the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA), there are limits placed on the maximum amount that can be garnished from an individual’s earnings. Generally, this limit stands at 25% of their disposable income.
  • A range of debts can potentially become subject to garnishment, encompassing obligations like child support, alimony, student loans, and unpaid taxes. However, for other debts such as credit card or medical debt, garnishment typically necessitates a court judgment before enforcement.
  • Georgia’s state law aligns with the federal guidelines on wage garnishment and extends certain safeguards to employees. These protections guard against employment termination due to a single wage garnishment, although they may not apply if there are multiple garnishments.
  • Before initiating the garnishment process, creditors are mandated by law to notify the debtor. Importantly, the debtor retains the right to dispute the debt or request a hearing, ensuring a fair process.

Step-by-Step Guide to Payroll in Georgia

  • Understanding Payroll Regulations: Before delving into Georgia’s payroll process, it’s essential to have a solid understanding of the specific rules that apply to your business. These regulations can vary depending on factors like your industry, the number of employees, and the type of workers you employ. Get familiar with Georgia’s labor laws and the federal payroll regulations that impact your business operations.
  • Register Your Business as an Employer with the IRS: This includes getting your Employer Identification Number (EIN) and opening an account with the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). It’s crucial for new businesses to secure an EIN before creating a customized and systematic payroll process flowchart. The EIN allows the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to monitor a company’s tax-related activities. To apply for an EIN, you can use the Form SS-4.
  • Registering with the State of Georgia: If your business operates in Georgia, you must register it with the state. New businesses can complete the registration process on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website. Additionally, any business that pays employees in Georgia must also register with the Georgia Department of Revenue.
  • Determining Employee Classification: It’s essential to accurately classify your workers as employees or independent contractors, as this classification significantly affects tax and wage reporting. Misclassification can lead to legal complications and penalties. Consider utilizing the Common Law Test for guidance.
  • Collecting Employee Payroll Forms: When onboarding employees in Georgia, ensure that specific forms are completed. Employees should fill out the I-9 verification and Georgia’s version of the W-4, known as the Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate (Form G-4).
  • Tracking Time and Attendance: Implement a comprehensive system for tracking employee time and attendance, covering aspects such as workweeks, overtime calculations, break times, and leave entitlements. Time and attendance software can help you enhance accurate time tracking.
  • Establishing a Payroll Cycle: Set up consistent pay periods and ensure that employee paychecks are provided within these periods, in accordance with state regulations.
  • Filing Federal Payroll Taxes: Comply with IRS guidelines for federal taxes, including unemployment tax. Deposit employment taxes according to your designated schedule, either monthly or semiweekly, as determined by the IRS.
  • Maintaining and Archiving Payroll Records: Keep records for all employees, including former ones, for an extended period in accordance with federal guidelines.
  • Processing Annual Payroll Reports: Each year, complete payroll reports, including W-2 Forms and 1099 Forms. Furnish these forms to employees no later than January 31 of the following year.

Final Thoughts

Managing payroll in Georgia can be a complex task. Employees need to ensure strict compliance with the state’s minimum wage regulations, tax obligations, and labor laws. To make managing payroll smoother, take a look at our selection of the top 6 applications tailored to streamline payroll duties in the United States. If you’ve already got a system in place, we have outlined ten tips to enhance your payroll procedures within the United States.

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.