Operational Gaze:
How to Run Payroll in Missouri?

April 6th 2024

Ensuring proper payroll management in Missouri necessitates adherence to a set of legal guidelines and procedures when compensating employees. These processes include aspects such as compliance with payroll tax laws, calculating earnings, and abiding by rules regarding deductions. To efficiently oversee payroll, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of Missouri’s unique labor laws and tax regulations.

In this guide, you will find a comprehensive manual tailored to meet the payroll needs specific to Missouri. This guide aims to streamline the payroll process by offering insights and instructions for businesses operating in Missouri, ensuring that payroll functions smoothly and in accordance with the law, regardless of their level of experience.

This Article Covers

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

Laws That Affect Payroll Procedures in Missouri

Missouri Laws

  • Missouri Labor Regulations: The Missouri Administrative Code addresses various labor-related concerns, including wage disbursement, sick leave, medical benefits, and workers’ compensation.
  • Overtime: Missouri overtime laws dictate that overtime compensation should be calculated based on the number of hours worked within a single workweek. Employees must be remunerated at an overtime rate for any hours worked beyond 40 in a given workweek.
  • Paid Breaks or Lunch Periods: In alignment with federal wage and hour laws, Missouri does not impose laws for employers to furnish breaks or meal periods. Nevertheless, employers typically grant brief rest intervals, typically lasting no more than 20 minutes.
  • Unemployment, Disability, and Workers’ Compensation: Employers in Missouri are obligated to participate in the state’s unemployment fund, and they are legally mandated to provide both disability and unemployment insurance.
  • Minimum Wage: Employees in Missouri are entitled to receive no less than the minimum wage. Currently, the minimum wage in Missouri stands at $12.30 per hour.
  • Paid Time Off and Leaves: Compensation for leaves in Missouri is subject to federal labor regulations, meaning that employers are not compelled to offer payment for various types of leave, including sick leave, holiday leave, jury duty leave, voting leave, or bereavement leave.
  • Payment Records: Employers in Missouri are under an obligation to provide pay statements alongside each wage payment, outlining an employee’s earnings and deductions.
  • Final Paycheck: In cases where an employee’s employment is terminated in Missouri, they are entitled to expeditiously receive their final wages. These wages should encompass any accrued but unused vacation or paid time off, as stipulated by the state’s labor regulations.

Federal Laws

  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): FLSA lays down important rules regarding the lowest wage, extra payment for overtime work, keeping records, categorizing exemptions, and regulations governing child labor across various industries. These rules don’t only apply to private businesses but also cover federal, state, and local government organizations.
  • The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA): FICA necessitates both employers and employees to contribute to Social Security and Medicare. Employers must take out 6.2% for Social Security tax and 1.45% for Medicare tax from each employee’s earnings. Employers are also required to match these deductions, resulting in a combined FICA payroll tax rate of 15.3% for each employee.
  • The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA): FUTA dictates that employers must contribute to unemployment taxes, which are used to provide benefits to eligible employees who undergo job loss. Even though it doesn’t directly affect employees’ salaries since it’s the responsibility of employers, FUTA contributions must still be recorded in each payroll cycle. Typically, there’s an expectation of a 6% tax on the first $7,000 paid to an employee annually, with potential exceptions based on the industry.

HR Laws

  • Missouri New Hire Reporting: In Missouri, there are distinct regulations governing employers when hiring new staff members. Employers must report new hires within a span of 20 days after hiring. This notification must contain crucial details such as the employee’s complete name, residential address, social security number, the employer’s name, and the Federal Tax ID number.
  • Missouri Posting Requirements: The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations mandate specific rules that apply to all businesses with employees in the state concerning labor law posters. These laws mandate employers to display designated labor law posters within their workplace. These informational posters provide essential details regarding employee rights, as well as employer obligations in accordance with various labor laws.

Worker Classifications in Colorado

Employees and Independent Contractors

Employers in Missouri need to provide unemployment tax and workers’ compensation insurance for their directly hired employees. Additionally, they are required to meet minimum wage and overtime standards for employees, but these rules do not apply to contractors.

Independent contractors have fewer rights compared to employees in Missouri. Therefore, having a clear Missouri independent contractor agreement that outlines the work’s scope is crucial. Proper classification is essential to follow Missouri’s labor and tax laws because misclassifying workers can result in legal and financial problems for employers. Following guidelines from authorities and seeking professional advice in complicated cases can assist in understanding and adhering to the state’s regulations, preventing potential legal issues.

The Common Law Test

To avoid misclassification, Missouri uses the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 20-factor test and guidelines from the Missouri Department of Labor (DOL) to determine if a worker is an employee or independent contractor.

The DOL guidelines, based on common law, consider the following factors like:

  • Behavioral control, including training, instructions, and time management.
  • Financial control, such as reimbursing business expenses, payment methods, and the worker’s ability to work for other entities.
  • Relationship perception, looking at factors like intent, benefits, termination terms, and control over the worker’s hours or business.

Whether you’re a worker or employer, having an independent contractor agreement in Missouri can help clarify the work relationship and prevent misclassification. To know more about the rights of salaried and hourly employees, you can read our guides on your rights as a salaried employee in Missouri, and your rights as an hourly employee in Missouri.

Payroll Forms and Relevant Bodies in Missouri

Effectively handling payroll in Missouri required employers to follow several state and federal rules, which often include filling out necessary payroll forms. Here, we’ll have a look at the important payroll forms and the relevant authorities in Missouri.

Missouri Payroll Forms

  • MO W-4 Form (Employee’s Withholding Certificate): Employees use this form to specify their preferences for state income tax withholding.
  • MO-941 Form (Employer’s Withholding Tax Return): Employers complete this form to report state income tax withholdings regularly.
  • MO-W-3 Form (Reconciliation of Income Tax Withheld): This form consolidates the total income tax withheld from employees for reporting purposes.
  • MO-941B Form (Employer’s Withholding Tax Monthly/Quarterly Return): Employers may use this form for more frequent reporting of state income tax withholdings.
  • MO-2NR Form (Nonresident Income Allocation): This form allocates income for nonresident employees working in Missouri.

Federal Payroll Forms

  • W-4 Form: This document empowers employers to determine the precise amount of tax to be withheld for their employees.
  • W-2 Form: Provides a comprehensive overview of each employee’s total annual income.
  • W-3 Form: Consolidates the overall compensation and tax information for all employees in a concise summary.
  • Form 940: Submits a report to the IRS detailing unemployment taxes that are owed.
  • Form 941: Utilized on a quarterly basis, this form reports earnings and FICA tax deductions from paychecks.
  • Form 944: Submits an annual report detailing earnings and FICA tax withholdings from paychecks.
  • 1099 Forms: These forms are used to report annual earnings and FICA tax withholdings from paychecks.

Federal and Missouri Payroll/ Tax Bodies

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): The IRS is responsible for administering federal tax laws and regulations, encompassing income tax and Social Security contributions.
  • Social Security Administration (SSA): The SSA manages Social Security programs, including the collection of Social Security taxes.
  • Department of Labor (DOL): The DOL oversees matters related to labor, such as minimum wage and overtime regulations.
  • Missouri Department of Revenue: Manages state-level taxation, including income taxes.
  • Missouri Division of Employment Security: Deals with unemployment benefits and associated taxes.
  • Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations: The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations focuses on issues related to labor, including wage and hour regulations.

Applicable Taxes in Missouri

Employer Contributions

Unemployment Taxes in Missouri: In Missouri, the principles set forth by the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) are dutifully followed. This national statute prescribes a fixed rate of 6.0% on the first $7,000 of earnings for every employee. Employers in Missouri are required to collect and submit FUTA taxes to the federal government, playing a pivotal role in financing unemployment benefits.

Withheld from Employee’s Wages

  • Missouri State Income Taxes: Missouri imposes state income taxes on both individuals and businesses operating within its jurisdiction. The state maintains a uniform income tax rate of 2% to 4.95%, applicable to all earnings generated by individuals and businesses. It’s worth noting that Missouri does not levy a state-level sales tax; however, local jurisdictions may impose their own sales taxes, capped at a maximum of 2%.
  • Workers’ Compensation in Missouri: In compliance with Missouri state law, employers are obligated to furnish workers’ compensation coverage for their workforce. This statutory requirement ensures that employees suffering from work-related injuries or illnesses receive compensation to cover medical expenses and disability benefits. In the unfortunate event of a work-related fatality, the benefits under workers’ compensation extend to the dependents of the deceased employee.
  • Social Security (FICA) Withholding: Employers in Missouri must adhere to the provisions outlined in the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). This entails deducting contributions for Social Security and Medicare from employees’ salaries. Employers are also mandated to match these deductions for both Social Security and Medicare. It’s worth noting that, specifically for the additional Medicare tax, employers only deduct the employee’s portion without a corresponding match from the employer.

Additional Relevant Subtractions to Withhold on Behalf of Employees

In Missouri, employers can make permissible deductions from employees’ pay in accordance with state labor laws. Deductions are authorized for personal absences, sickness or disability-related leaves, jury and witness fees, and penalties for safety violations. Unpaid suspensions for disciplinary measures are also subject to deductions. Employers can deduct wages for unpaid leave under the Missouri Family and Medical Leave Act. Staying informed about the latest regulations by consulting state agencies and tax authorities in Missouri is essential, as employment laws and tax regulations may change.

Key Pay Elements That Impact Payroll in Missouri

Minimum Wage

Currently standing at $12.30 per hour, Missouri’s minimum wage is the baseline for employee compensation, and employers cannot factor in tips to meet this hourly minimum. It’s crucial for employers to stay abreast of any adjustments to minimum wage laws as they may evolve over time, impacting wage regulations.


In adherence to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Missouri adheres to overtime regulations. Employees clocking in more than 40 hours in a workweek are entitled to compensation at 1.5 times their regular hourly wage. With Missouri’s minimum wage at $12.30, this translates to an overtime rate of $18.45 per hour. Employers must familiarize themselves with these guidelines to ensure compliance and equitable compensation for their workforce.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Missouri upholds a legal mandate requiring employers with two or more employees to furnish workers’ compensation coverage. Some specialized roles may be exempt from this provision. Employers also have the option to secure approval for self-insurance through the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Commission, granting them the ability to directly oversee workers’ compensation claims.

Pay Stub Laws

Missouri mandates that employers furnish employees with a comprehensive pay statement during each pay cycle. This statement should encompass details regarding the duration of the employee’s work, earnings, and any received payments. It must delineate regular and overtime hours, hourly wages, total earnings, tax deductions, and authorized deductions. Additionally, the pay stub should transparently indicate the pay period’s start and end dates, promoting clarity in compensation.

Wage Garnishment

Aligning with federal guidelines, Missouri’s wage garnishment laws safeguard employees. Dismissing an employee solely due to wage garnishment is prohibited, except in instances involving multiple garnishments. Creditors must furnish notice to debtors before commencing wage garnishment, and debtors retain the right to dispute the debt or request a hearing. State laws in Missouri prescribe the order in which different debts are addressed and detail the wage garnishment process, ensuring fairness and due process for all parties involved.

Final Paycheck

Upon termination of employment, Missouri mandates that employees receive complete payment for the wages earned before termination. This payment must be released at the time of the employee’s dismissal.

Step-by-Step Guide to Payroll in Missouri

  • Understanding Payroll Regulations: Before you start handling payroll in Missouri, it’s vital to gain an understanding of Missouri labor laws that apply to your business. These rules can vary based on your industry, the number of employees, and the type of workers you have. Take some time to learn about Missouri labor laws and federal payroll regulations that affect your business.
  • Register Your Business as an Employer with the IRS: This step involves getting your Employer Identification Number (EIN) and creating an account with the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). If you’re a new business, make sure to get an EIN before you begin setting up a custom payroll process. The EIN, which has nine digits, is a unique identifier used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to track your tax-related activities. You can easily apply for an EIN online using Form SS-4.
  • Registering with the State of Missouri: If your business operates in Missouri, it’s necessary to register it with the state. New businesses can complete this registration process on the Missouri Secretary of State’s official website. Additionally, any business that pays employees in Missouri must also register with the Missouri Department of Revenue.
  • Determining Employee Classification: Accurately classify your workers as employees or independent contractors. This classification is crucial because it affects tax and wage reporting. Misclassifying employees can lead to legal issues and costly fines. 
  • Collecting Employee Payroll Forms: When you hire employees in Missouri, make sure they fill out specific forms during the onboarding process. Employees should complete the I-9 verification and the state’s version of the W-4, known as the Employee’s Withholding Tax Exemption Certificate.
  • Tracking Time and Attendance: Set up a thorough system for keeping track of employee work hours and attendance. This system should cover workweeks, overtime calculations, break times, and leave entitlements. You can use digital tools like time and attendance software to improve accuracy.
  • Establishing a Payroll Cycle: Create regular pay periods and ensure that employee paychecks are given out within these periods, following state rules.
  • Filing Federal Payroll Taxes: Follow IRS guidelines for federal taxes, including unemployment tax. Deposit employment taxes on your designated schedule, either monthly or semiweekly, as determined by the IRS.
  • Maintaining and Archiving Payroll Records: It’s important to keep records for all employees, even those who are no longer with your company, for an extended period, as required by federal guidelines.
  • Processing Annual Payroll Reports: Every year, complete payroll reports, including W-2 Forms and 1099 Forms. Give these forms to employees no later than January 31 of the following year.

Final Thoughts

Managing payroll in Missouri may seem like a complex task. To manage payroll effectively, 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.