October 16, 2023

The role of a Payroll Accountant in the Animation industry

Ever wondered what a payroll accountant does at an animation studio? Wonder no more! We talked to Carolyn Urban, a senior animation production finance executive, to get the inside scoop on this exciting job.

Carolyn has over two decades of experience in Production Finance and Production Accounting. She is the Manager of Production Finance at Cartoon Network Studios. Prior to that, she was a Production Finance Executive for Kids productions at Amazon Studios.


Role of a Payroll Accountant and the Payroll Process

Firstly, the structure of a payroll department in animation depends on your needs.

Payroll Accountants are responsible for all crew paperwork and timecard processing. Some shows are big and have a whole payroll team, and some small ones will have a production finance executive, a lead accountant, and one assistant.

1. Collect, organize, maintain  

The payroll accountant collects, organizes, and maintains all relevant employee data, including hours worked, overtime, vacation days, and any other necessary information. You start with the hired person filling out the start paperwork, and then the payroll accountant takes it over and ensures everything is completed. \

2. Onboarding accounting crew

One of the main roles of a payroll accountant is to onboard the accounting crew. The process of onboarding an accounting crew is the same as onboarding the creative crew.

Payroll accountants are the gatekeepers who ensure the employees do complete all the processes and paperwork they need so they can get paid.

If something is missing in the payroll, it will go back to the person, and the missing details, like driver's license, Social Security, etc., are added.

3. Consider legal and regulatory requirements

Such as an employees’ work eligibility (US resident, citizen, green card or visa holder, etc.)

The payroll accountant must also comply with all applicable labor laws and tax regulations, ensuring that the animation studio remains in compliance with legal requirements. They also generate payroll reports for management and accounting purposes.

4. International regulations

If the show is international, payroll accountants check all the regulatory requirements for each particular country.

5. Collaboration

Collaborating with other departments like Production, Legal, Finance, and HR, the payroll accountant ensures that payroll funds are disbursed to employees via appropriate payment methods.

6. Timecards & payroll company

Once the timecards are all ready for that week, the payroll accountant submits those to a payroll company like Revolution Entertainment Services, and we then put it into our system.

Payroll accountants are responsible for accurately calculating the wages and salaries of animation studio employees based on their hours worked, overtime, bonuses, and any other applicable factors. This requires a strong understanding of relevant labor laws, tax regulations, and company policies.

Your work week may follow a predictable rhythm in order to get everyone paid on time: me and my team ask our crew to submit timecards by Thursday so we can submit everything on Friday. The payroll company inputs it on Monday, and we get our edits on Tuesday, we review them, and if they are good, we release them, or if they need correction, you go through that process of getting them corrected on Wednesday and then get them finalized and released by Thursday.

7. Deductions  

The payroll accountant handles deductions such as taxes, insurance premiums, retirement contributions, and other benefits that employees are entitled to receive.

8. Communication and Support

The payroll accountant acts as a point of contact for employees with payroll-related inquiries; the payroll accountant provides assistance and resolves any issues that arise.

You have to run a tight ship and make sure things are going smoothly and getting done on time.  

If any problems arise you can't handle, then the payroll manager steps in and resolves that issue whether it's for the employee or payroll companies.

9. Recordkeeping

Keeping accurate and up-to-date records is crucial in payroll accounting, and the payroll accountant maintains records related to salaries, taxes, and other financial transactions. To achieve this, payroll accountants meticulously maintain detailed records of hours worked, rates, overtime, and any additional payments or deductions required.

Although the medium is animation, the importance of the product accountant is no different than in a traditional physical production environment. Whether the team is large or small, the production accountants help ensure everything goes smoothly and the show can go on!

The Revolution Team

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Have a question? You can reach us at (866) 618-9428 and info@revolutiones.com​.