Operational Gaze:
How to Run Payroll in Indiana?

April 12th 2024

Are you navigating the complexities of payroll in Indiana, either as an employer or employee? Understanding Indiana’s specific regulations and tax guidelines is pivotal for both parties. Ensuring accurate and timely compensation is a shared goal. This article will guide you through the essential steps and legal nuances of Indiana payroll, making the process clear and manageable for everyone involved. So, without further ado, let’s demystify it together.

This Article Covers

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

Laws That Affect Payroll Procedures in Indiana

Indiana Laws

Here are some of the key laws and regulations that affect employers and employees in Indiana:

  • Minimum Wage Law: Indiana adheres to the federal minimum wage rate. As of the last update available, the minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour. Employers are required to pay this rate to non-exempt employees unless the employee qualifies for a specific exemption.
  • Wage Payment Statutes: The Indiana Wage Payment Statute mandates how often employees should be paid. Generally, employers must pay the employees at regular intervals not exceeding 31 days. Salaries, wages, or amounts due upon separation must be paid by the next payday.
  • Overtime Laws: In line with federal standards, Indiana overtime laws require employers to pay non-exempt employees 1.5 the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a standard workweek.
  • Child Labor Laws: Indiana has specific provisions concerning minors in the workplace. Minors under 14 are generally prohibited from employment, while those between 14-18 have specific restrictions regarding the type of work they can do and the hours they can work.
  • Deduction from Wages: Indiana law limits the amount of deductions employers can take from an employee’s wages. Only legally authorized deductions, such as taxes or court-ordered garnishments, and deductions agreed upon in writing by the employee can be made.
  • Final Paycheck Laws: If an employee quits or is terminated, the employer must provide the final paycheck by the next regular payday via payment channels or mail (if requested).

Federal Laws

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): The FLSA is a federal law that governs overtime regulations, wage, and employment standards, covering areas like child labor, employee categorization, minimum wage requirements, and accurate record-keeping of work hours.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA sets out provisions for leave entitlement. Eligible employees have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for events such as childbirth, adoption, or the care of a family member with a serious health condition.
  • Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) Tax: FICA taxes are mandatory for both employers and employees in the U.S. Contributions amount to 6.2 percent of earnings up to $132,900 for Social Security tax and 1.45 percent of annual income for Medicare tax. These rates can change annually per IRS guidelines, so staying informed and updated is crucial.

HR Laws

  • Indiana Civil Rights Law: Indiana Civil Rights Law is a state-specific regulation that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin, or ancestry. This law ensures equal employment opportunities and extends to various HR procedures, including hiring, training, and compensation.
  • Worker’s Compensation Act: Indiana requires most employers to maintain workers’ compensation insurance. This provides coverage for employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses, ensuring they receive necessary medical treatment and compensation for lost wages.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act: Employers in Indiana are prohibited from discriminating against employees due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions. This includes any aspect of employment, from hiring practices to determining pay, benefits, and promotion eligibility.
  • Indiana New Hire Reporting: Employers are mandated to report all hired and re-hired employees to the Indiana New Hire Reporting Center to locate child support.
  • Employee Privacy Laws: In Indiana, employers must respect the privacy rights of all employees. This includes restrictions on monitoring personal phone calls, emails, or internet usage without proper consent and ensuring the confidentiality of employee records.
  • Unemployment Compensation Law: Employers in Indiana are legally required to pay into the state’s unemployment insurance fund. In case of job loss not attributed to the employee’s fault, the affected worker may be eligible for unemployment benefits and financial support.

Worker Classifications in Indiana

Employees and Independent Contractors

In Indiana, the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor holds significant implications, particularly when it comes to tax obligations, benefits, and labor rights. Both employers and employees need a clear understanding of their status to ensure compliance with state regulations and to understand their respective rights and responsibilities.

The ABC Test

In Indiana, the ABC Test is a vital assessment tool for employers to determine if a worker qualifies as an independent contractor, as mandated by many states and the United States Department of Labor (DOL). Basically, it consists of three key criteria that employers need to satisfy thoroughly to classify a worker as an independent contractor. Simply having a written contract is not enough; employers must demonstrate and adhere to the following:

First and foremost, the individual has full autonomy and control over how they carry out the respected services, both in the contract and in the day-to-day practice of the work schedule. 

The service provided, although important, is not directly tied to or related to the core business operations or specific locations of the companies for which it is duly performed.

The service offered is consistently part of a self-established trade, occupation, profession, or business that operates independently and is similar to the contracted service.

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

Payroll Forms and Relevant Bodies in Indiana

Indiana Payroll Forms

  • WH-4 (Indiana State Withholding Form): The WH-4 Form, known as the Indiana State Withholding Form, is a crucial document for all employees in Indiana. Upon being hired, each employee completes this form to determine the amount of state income tax that should be withheld from their regular paychecks. The form allows for the declaration of tax allowances, exemptions, and any additional withholdings the employee might require. Additionally, it provides a mechanism for employees to ensure their withholding aligns with their specific financial and personal circumstances, thus ensuring accuracy in their state tax deductions.
  • WH-3 (Annual Reconciliation Form): Employers in Indiana utilize the WH-3 Form, officially termed the Annual Reconciliation Form, to report the state and county income tax amounts they’ve withheld over the fiscal year. This form serves as a report, reconciling the amounts the employer withheld from each employee with the total remitted to the state. By submitting this form, employers provide the Indiana Department of Revenue with an overview of yearly payroll tax obligations, making it a vital component in tax compliance processes.

Federal Payroll Forms

  • Form W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Certificate): The Form W-4, or Employee’s Withholding Certificate, is a federal document that employees across the United States fill out to inform employers about how much federal income tax should be withheld from their wages. The Form W-4 takes into account various factors like marital status, dependents, and additional income to tailor the withholding to the employee’s unique tax situation. With periodic updates, especially after major life events or changes in financial circumstances, the W-4 ensures that employees neither overpay nor underpay the federal income taxes throughout the year.
  • Form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement): Employers use the Form W-2, known as the Wage and Tax Statement, to report the annual wages paid to each of their employees and the specific amount of taxes withheld. This federal form, issued to every employee before the end of January each year, is vital for individuals when preparing their personal income tax returns. For the employee, it offers a clear summary of their earnings and tax withholdings, while for the IRS, it serves as a record of the individual’s employment-related earnings and tax obligations.
  • Form 940 (Federal Unemployment Tax Act Return): Form 940 is a federal form that employers utilize to report the annual Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) tax. This tax provides funds for state unemployment agencies and supports unemployed workers. The form calculates the employer’s federal unemployment tax liability, considering any state unemployment tax they’ve already paid. By accurately completing and submitting this form, employers contribute to a system that offers financial support to individuals during periods of joblessness.
  • Form 941 (Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return): Used by employers, Form 941, titled the Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, reports the wages they’ve paid and the corresponding taxes withheld every quarter. It captures details related to federal income tax, Social Security, and Medicare withholdings. By submitting this form quarterly, employers maintain a consistent record with the IRS, ensuring they meet tax obligations as required.

Federal and Indiana Payroll/Tax Bodies

  • Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR): The DOR serves as the chief state agency in Indiana, overseeing tax-related matters. Their jurisdiction extends to the formulation, interpretation, and enforcement of tax laws, including payroll-associated regulations. For Indiana employers and employees, the DOR provides essential guidelines, ensuring correct tax practices and aiding in maintaining fiscal compliance within the state’s stipulated framework.
  • Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD): The DWD focuses on unemployment insurance and workforce-related programs in Indiana. Beyond unemployment benefits, this department also emphasizes workforce training, job placements, and other initiatives to support Indiana’s labor market. The DWD’s efforts aim to bridge employment gaps, ensure worker rights, and maintain a workforce to meet the state’s economic needs.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): The IRS stands as the United States’ primary federal tax authority. Its mandate covers the vast spectrum of federal tax matters, inclusive of payroll taxes. By providing regulatory guidelines, tax codes, and essential resources, the IRS facilitates nationwide tax compliance. It is important to note that both employers and employees rely on the IRS’s directives to understand their federal tax obligations and ensure adherence.
  • U.S. Department of Labor (DOL): Believe it or not, the U.S. DOL has a broad role, impacting various facets of employment across the nation. Among its chief responsibilities are the formulation and enforcement of wage and hour standards. The DOL ensures fair labor practices, safeguards employee rights, and fosters a balanced work environment. This guidance assists employers in aligning their operations with federal employment norms and standards.

Applicable Taxes in Indiana

Employer Contributions

In Indiana, employers have certain tax responsibilities that they must directly pay rather than deduct from an employee’s wages. The most notable is the State Unemployment Tax Act (SUTA), which diligently funds the unemployment benefits pool. The rate for this tax can vary based on an employer’s history of former employees claiming unemployment benefits and the duration of the business operations. Regular contributions ensure a robust, functioning unemployment system to support workers during challenging periods of involuntary job loss.

Withheld from Employee’s Wages

The state of Indiana mandates employers to withhold certain taxes directly from an employee’s paycheck. The primary tax is the Indiana state income tax, which is calculated based on the allowances and exemptions indicated by the employee on the WH-4 form. Additionally, there are specific local county income taxes county-wise (rates may vary). Employers must stay updated on these rates to ensure correct and accurate withholding. The withheld amounts are then remitted to the respective tax authorities on behalf of the dedicated employees.

Additional Relevant Subtractions to Withhold on Behalf of Employees

In Indiana, beyond the standard state and county taxes, there might be additional subtractions employers need to make from employees’ salaries based on specific scenarios or benefits:

  • Retirement Contributions: If an employee opts to participate in a sponsored retirement plan, the chosen contributions are deducted pre-tax from the paycheck of the employee.
  • Health Insurance Premiums: For employers offering health insurance, employees’ share of monthly premiums is typically withheld from the weekly/monthly wages respectively.
  • Garnishments: In situations where an employee owes a debt to the company, and a court mandates a garnishment, employers are required to withhold the specified amount from the employee’s paycheck and immediately remit it to the owed party for settlement.

All these aforementioned deductions play a role in the net amount an employee receives, and employers should ensure timely processing to maintain compliance and support employees.

Key Pay Elements That Impact Payroll in Indiana

Minimum Wage

In Indiana, the minimum wage is firmly set at $7.25 per hour, which perfectly aligns with the federal minimum wage level. Employers and employees alike should be keenly aware that this rate is subject to potential change, so it’s absolutely essential to stay diligently informed about any forthcoming updates from the Indiana Department of Labor.


Under Indiana law, employees are typically entitled to receive overtime pay if they work more than a rigorous 40 hours in a week. The overtime rate is precisely 1.5 times the regular hourly wage. It’s crucial for both employers and employees to consistently track hours accurately and ensure that overtime compensation is paid promptly when due.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

In Indiana, employers must have workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees in case of work-related injuries or illnesses. This insurance provides wage replacement and essential medical benefits to those who get injured while working. Employers are legally obligated to provide this crucial coverage, and employees have the undeniable right to claim benefits without fear of any retaliation.

Pay Stub Laws

In Indiana, employers are required to provide employees with a statement of wages (pay stub) each time they are paid. This pay stub should detail gross wages, deductions, and net wages. Additionally, it should provide essential information about the pay period, hours worked, and any overtime earned. The consistent provision of pay stubs ensures total transparency between employers and employees regarding accurate wage calculations.

Wage Garnishment

Indiana law permits wage garnishment, a process in which a portion of an employee’s wages is withheld by employers to satisfy a debt. Employers may be served with a garnishment order by a court, and they are then required to withhold a specified amount from the employee’s paycheck. The garnishment amounts and processes are subject to detailed regulations, ensuring that employees retain a significant portion of their hard-earned wages.

Final Paycheck

When an employment relationship ends in Indiana, employers are obligated to provide the departing employee with the final paycheck on or before the next regular payday. This paycheck should include all earned wages and compensations up to the last day of work. If an employee is terminated, the employer must deliver the final paycheck immediately.

Step-by-Step Guide to Payroll in Indiana

  • Business Registration: Before you can legally employ anyone in Indiana, you must register your business. This involves deciding on a business structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation) and then following the specific registration process for that structure with the Indiana Secretary of State. Additionally, ensure you have all required licenses or permits.
  • Obtain Employer Identification Numbers: The EIN is like a Social Security number but for businesses. The IRS uses it to identify taxpayers who are required to file various business tax returns. You can apply for an EIN online through the IRS website. Once you have your federal EIN, register with the Indiana Department of Revenue to obtain a state tax ID number. This ID allows you to withhold state income tax from your employee’s wages and remit it to the state.
  • Establish a Payroll System: Decide how you’ll manage payroll. There are many software solutions available that can help automate the process, handle intricate tax calculations, and generate pay stubs. Alternatively, consider hiring a dedicated payroll service provider to handle these complex tasks, especially if you’re not confident in managing them yourself.
  • Set Up Employee Records: For every new hire, you’ll need to diligently collect vital information such as their full name, address, Social Security number, and banking information (if using direct deposit). They’ll also need to promptly complete federal W-4 and Indiana WH-4 forms. These crucial forms help determine the exact amount of tax to withhold from the paycheck. It’s essential to store these records securely due to their sensitive nature.
  • Determine Compensation: Establish a clear compensation structure. This involves deciding on hourly rates or salaries, considering bonuses or commissions if applicable, and ensuring all compensation meets or exceeds the state minimum wage. Also, determine which benefits (like health insurance, retirement plans, or paid time off) you’ll offer and how they’ll impact payroll.
  • Establish Payroll Schedule: You must decide the frequency with which you’ll pay your employees (salaried/hourly). The choice might depend on industry standards, cash flow, or employee preferences. Ensure that whatever schedule you pick, you adhere to it consistently.
  • Calculate Gross Pay: Gross pay is the total amount of money an employee earns before any deductions. For hourly employees, this is calculated by multiplying the hourly rate by the hours worked. For salaried employees, you’ll divide yearly salary by the number of pay periods.
  • Deductions and Withholdings: Deductions can be mandatory or voluntary. For instance, mandatory deductions include federal and state taxes, Social Security, and Medicare. The amounts are determined by the information provided in the W-4 and WH-4 forms. On the other hand, voluntary deductions could be things like health insurance premiums or retirement fund contributions. Ensure you have a clear understanding of each employee’s deductions.
  • Include Overtime Provisions: In Indiana, employees working more than 40 hours in a week are entitled to overtime pay at 1.5 times the standard hourly rate. You must track hours consistently to ensure that eligible employees receive their rightfully due overtime.
  • Process Payroll: This involves the actual disbursement of funds to employees. Today, many businesses opt for direct deposit because of its convenience, but some still use checks. Along with the payment, provide a pay stub that breaks down earnings, deductions, and net pay.
  • Remit Taxes: Withholding taxes from employees’ wages is only half the job. You also need to remit these funds to the appropriate tax agencies. This involves regular payments, often monthly or quarterly, to both federal IRS and state (Indiana Department of Revenue) entities.
  • Recordkeeping: Indiana law mandates that businesses maintain detailed payroll records for several years. This includes information on wage rates, hours worked, pay periods, and various deductions. Proper record-keeping not only ensures compliance with strict state regulations but also provides a reliable reference in case of potential disputes or in-depth audits by authorities.
  • End-of-Year Procedures: As the fiscal year winds down, employers are obligated to provide employees with W-2 forms. These forms give a yearly summary of an employee’s earnings and deductions. Moreover, businesses need to meticulously file particular forms with tax agencies, offering a concise breakdown and summarizing their payroll activities for the entire year.
  • Review and Stay Updated: Labor laws, tax rates, and other regulations affecting payroll can change frequently. It’s crucial to periodically review these changes, attend relevant workshops, or consult with HR and financial professionals to ensure ongoing compliance and accuracy.

Final Thoughts

Managing payroll in Indiana can be a particularly challenging task. Employees must ensure they diligently adhere to Indiana’s strict payroll regulations. To simplify the often complex process of managing payroll, consider exploring our comprehensive list of the top 6 applications tailored to streamline payroll responsibilities in the United States. If you’ve already established a payroll system, we’ve provided ten tips to enhance your payroll procedure 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.