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Our case study file is not a true payroll register but rather a payroll payment data file. Payroll registers contain information such as:

- Payment date

- Pay period

- Employee identification

- Name

- Daily hours worked

- Vacation hours sick hours

- Holiday hours

- Personal hours

- Overtime hours

- Total regular pay

- Reimbursements

- Gross pay

- Taxes withheld

- Mandatory government withholdings

- Health, dental, and life insurance premiums

- Pension plan contributions

- Other deductions

- Net pay

Payroll Register Tests

Ghost employee tests that can be applied to the payroll register file include:

- Low percentages between gross pay and net pay. To maximize the net pay amount of the ghost employee, a setup would be for high withholding exemption status to minimize tax withholding and minimal participation for benefits that require contributions.

- Manually processed checks that require intervention so changes may be made.

Testing the Payroll Register File against Other Data Files

- Payments made outside of the starting or ending employment date recorded in the payroll master file.

- Payments made to employees not in the payroll master file.

- Differences in pay rates between the payroll register and the payroll master file.

- Employee coded as an active employee with no payments in the payroll register. This employee account may be reserved for use for future payroll fraud.

- Payments to hourly employees who are not in the time-recording system. - Time system hours that do not match the payroll register hours.

- Payments made to employees not in system logs, such as computer logs, access card entry logs, or telephone usage logs.


There are a number of tests that can be applied against the payroll master file to detect red flags of potential fraud. Payroll master files should always be obtained. Suggested commission payment tests are also listed.

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