There are no prerequisites.

Course Description

Payroll can become an all-consuming accounting exercise that demands inordinate amounts of time and effort. The existence of an efficient, cost-effective payroll system defines the well-run accounting department. In this course - a breakout of Steven M. Bragg's bestselling Accountants' Guidebook - we'll examine practices and techniques to maximize efficiency in your payroll department.

We offer this course as a convenience for those of you who are interested in studying the Essentials of Payroll Accounting as a standalone topic. Join Steven for an in-depth look at how to work within the GAAP requirements of payroll accounting and benefit from his suggestions, tips, and techniques for navigating this complex topic.

This course covers material also contained in Accountants' Guidebook.


Steven M. Bragg, CPA

Steven M. Bragg, CPA, is a full-time book and course author who has written more than 70 business books. He provides Western CPE with self-study courses in the areas of accounting and finance, with an emphasis on the practical application of accounting standards and management techniques. A sampling of his courses include the The New Controller Guidebook, The GAAP Guidebook, Accountants’ Guidebook, and Closing the Books: An Accountant’s Guide. He also manages the Accounting Best Practices podcast.

Steven has been the CFO or controller of both public and private companies and has been a consulting manager with Ernst & Young and an auditor with Deloitte & Touche. He holds an MBA from Babson College, a Master of Finance from Bentley College, and a BA from the University of Maine (summa cum laude).

Course Specifics

Sep 11, 2018
There are no prerequisites.

Compliance Information

Qualifies for CA Fraud: No

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

Chapter 1

  • Define a payroll cycle.
  • Identify when employees are paid in a biweekly payroll system and in a semimonthly payroll system and a key difference between the two systems.
  • Name a timekeeping solution for an hourly employee who nearly always works 40 hours a week.
  • Choose an action that will not help protect the confidentiality of payroll information.

Chapter 2

  • Identify a characteristic of the chart of accounts.
  • Cite why wages are accrued.
  • List a permissible way to record a commission expense.
  • Name a reason a company with few hourly staff might avoid wage accrual.
  • Specify when a bonus expense should not be accrued.
  • Cite why the accrued benefits journal entry is not commonly used.
  • Identify how to classify an employee advance and a use of a stock subscription plan.

Chapter 3

  • Specify proper accounting when stock is issued to an employee.
  • Define the reload feature and implicit service period.
  • List a characteristic of stock with a highly volatile price.
  • Name a consequence of a stock option expiring unused.
  • Cite an assumption of the lattice pricing model for stock options.
  • Identify when a stock-based compensation arrangement is likely to be classified as a liability.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 – Payroll Management

Learning Objectives


Payroll Cycle Duration

Streamlined Timekeeping

Electronic Payments

Employee Self-Service

Manager Self-Service

Transaction Error Analysis

Staff Training Program

The Payroll Calendar

Information Confidentiality


Chapter 1 – Review Questions

Chapter 2 – Accounting for Payroll

Learning Objectives


The Chart of Accounts

Types of Payroll Journal Entries

Primary Payroll Journal Entry

Accrued Wages

Accrued Bonuses

Accrued Commissions

Benefit Payments

Accrued Benefits

Stock Subscriptions

Manual Paycheck Entry

Employee Advances

Accrued Vacation Pay

Tax Deposits

Payroll Information in the Financial Statements—Wages

Payroll Information in the Financial Statements—Payroll Taxes


Chapter 2 – Review Questions

Chapter 3 – Accounting for Stock-Based Compensation

Learning Objectives


Overview of Stock Compensation

The Volatility Concept

Fair Value Calculation Alternatives

Awards Classified as Equity

Award Measurement Problems

Contingent Features

Award Modifications

Income Tax Effects

Awards Classified as Liabilities

Employee Share Purchase Plans

Stock-Based Compensation Disclosures


Chapter 3 – Review Questions

Review Question Answers and Rationales



Final Examination

Answer Sheet

Course Evaluation


Choose Your Preferred Format

Online Access

Get immediate access to a robust collection of learning and reference materials, allowing you to dive deep into the information you need. Our self-study materials are authored by top-quality, industry experts who focus on helping you grasp concepts quickly using real-life examples. Download your CPE to any device, and take it with you so you can learn when and wherever you want. Complete your CPE with an online exam, and enjoy instant grading with the option to print your certificate immediately upon passing.

online access
Hard Copy

Our self-study materials are authored by top-quality, industry experts. You’ll receive a bound notebook of all the course materials, shipped to you within one business day. In addition, you’ll also have full online access. Each self-study package includes a robust collection of learning and reference materials to help you cover the information efficiently and put it into practice immediately.

hard copy
Self-Study Video

Experience high-quality instruction with our Self-Study Videos, available to you 24/7. With more than 80+ videos currently in the Western CPE Self-Study Video library, you can see and hear our expert instructors deliver the information you need in a dynamic way that allows you to immediately apply your learning. Unlike a live course or webcast, you can complete the course on your own time, playing and pausing as needed. Self-Study Videos allow you to complete your CPE requirements on your own time.

hard copy

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