QuickBooks’ payroll reports can answer a lot of questions quickly.

If you process your own payroll, then you don’t need us to tell you that it’s a challenge. Pay rates and hours worked, benefits and other withholding, payroll taxes – they all must be absolutely accurate if you don’t want to face frustrated employees, unhappy benefits providers, or IRS penalties.

QuickBooks simplifies this process. The Payroll Center and Employee Center contain the information you entered during the setup procedure (employee records, taxes and other liabilities, etc.) as well as the tools you’ll need to orchestrate pay runs and pay taxes. You can always refer to the data stored here if you need to answer a question or otherwise resolve an issue.

A faster, smarter way, though, is to run one of QuickBooks’ many payroll reports. These summarize critical elements of your payroll and provide historical information.

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Figure 1: You can find a lot of current and historical information about payroll and employees in QuickBooks’ Centers. Reports, though, are more comprehensive, convenient and customizable.

Multiple Templates

QuickBooks comes equipped with 17 pre-built but customizable payroll and employee report templates. You can also export QuickBooks data to Excel and create additional reports there, but you will probably need our help with this, especially if you don’t understand macros.

There are two ways to get to QuickBooks’ payroll report list. Either open the Reports menu and scroll down to Employees & Payroll or click on Reports | Report Center. If you’re new to accounting reports, we recommend the latter, since it provides some additional tools to help you understand each template.

Once you’re in the Report Center, click on the Employees & Payroll tab on the left side of the screen. You can scroll down to see all of the reports included there, denoted by miniature graphical representations. You can change this to a list view (pictured below) or one with an animated 3-D carousel effect by toggling between the three icons in the upper right.

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Figure 2: This is the List view of the Employees & Payroll section in the Report Center.

A vertical series of tabs for multiple viewing options runs across the top of the screen. Click on one to change the view from Standard (all reports in that category) to Memorized (reports whose content and formatting you’d like to use again) to Favorites (frequently-run reports) to Recent to Contributed (custom report templates that Intuit and other users have created for specific business situations).

Extra Help

Highlight the first report, Payroll Summary, by hovering over it. You’ll see a brief description of that report’s purpose, four icons and a drop-down list for changing the report’s date range (click the down arrow to open it).

Here’s what the labeled icons do:

  • Run. Displays that report using your own company’s data
  • Info. Opens a small window containing the description again, a miniature version of a sample report, and the three interactive icons
  • Fave. Adds that report to your list of favorites
  • Help. Opens QuickBooks Help with more information about the report

To Memorize a report and add it to the list contained under that tab in the Report Center, simply click Run in the main view and make any desired changes by clicking the Customize Report button in the toolbar (you may want our help with this option depending on how much experience you have with reports). Then click Memorize. This window will open:

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Figure 3: You can modify a report template to include the content, columns, etc., that you want, and then memorize it and add it to a Report Group.

You’ll follow these same procedures to run any of the reports in Payroll & Employees. They’re divided into three categories: Payroll (Payroll Item Detail, Payroll Liability Balances, Employee Earnings Summary, etc.), Employee (Employee Withholding, Paid Time Off List, etc.), and Workers Compensation (Workers Compensation by Code and Employee, Workers Compensation by Job Summary, etc.).

Your QuickBooks Payroll reports can be as basic or as complex as you want them to be as you zero in on the exact cross-section of data you’re looking for. As you continue to modify and run reports, you’ll be more confident about your role in this complicated process; and better able to contribute to future company financial decisions.