Frequently Asked Questions

General Payroll
1. I would like to process payroll at Media Services. What are the first steps? What is the procedure for payroll?

First, you will need to contact your salesperson, and they will assist you in getting started, including sending you an online intake form for setting up your show with us. If you do not have a salesperson, just call 310 471 9369 or email

Once you receive start forms from your coordinator, be sure to fill them out accurately to avoid delays. That includes a complete start form with position and rate as well as complete federal forms, the W-4 and I-9. Once you have complete start forms for your crew they should also complete timecards, which the accountant on the production will break out and send to their Media Services payroll coordinator. Once in-house at Media Services, your payroll and starts will be processed and you should receive an edit from the coordinator within 24 hours. You will have an opportunity to ask questions, make changes and finally, approve the edit. At this point, the payroll will be finalized.

2. How do I make adjustments on an edit?

To make a change to your edit, contact your payroll coordinator by phone or email and give them the details of the adjustment that needs to be made.

3. Where do I get current Federal Start paperwork?

The current Federal Start paperwork is the I-9 and W-4. Both of these forms are attached.

W-9 form download Click Here
W-4 form download Click Here
I-9 form download Click Here

For Corps and LLCs a W-9 is needed to be filled out, to download Click Here

4. Do we have to provide original documents?

We accept electronic copies of documents, as the government considers these valid for purposes of record keeping. Having originals on file is always preferable in case of an audit, but electronic copies will suffice.

5. I am a current Media Services client, and I have a new show to set up. What steps should I take?

You should contact both your existing payroll coordinator and the Client Services Department.  You may email the Client Services Department at or call the toll free number at 866 429 9316.

6. Why do we need to complete all of this paperwork?

Job classification, work states, work dates and wage rates are all things that must appear on all time cards. These all fall under the Fair Labor Standards Act. As Employer-of-Record, we are required to keep accurate and detailed documents on file for all employees for whom we process payroll. Download Fact Sheet 21: Record keeping requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act Click Here.

7. Can I request special reports on my payroll, like an Ad Hoc report?

Yes. Contact your payroll coordinator to make a request for a special report.

8. I have a shoot out of the country. What is the standard procedure to process payroll for the location shoot?

As soon as you find out your crew will be traveling out of the country, contact your payroll coordinator and our workers’ comp department and let them know which region you will be shooting in, with the exact location. Please let us know as soon as you can, since there are some special circumstances in different countries. Your coordinator will be able to assist you in processing your payroll and guide you through the additional steps, depending on what country you are shooting in.

9. Do we have to indicate meal or lunch breaks on time cards?

Lunch or meal breaks should always be indicated on time cards, as certain states have labor laws regarding meal breaks. For more information please Click Here.

10. Who is responsible for unemployment claims, the production company or payroll company?

It is the payroll company that issued the payroll check, which could be for example Forward Processing CA, Inc. or Processing Payroll CA, Inc. For questions about unemployment, please call Client Services at 866 429 9316.

11. What paperwork is required for SAG payrolls?

To process payroll for a SAG performer we need: Union Start/Close form, W-4 form, I-9 form, copy of SAG performer contract, and W-9 form. We need articles for corporations; agent check authorization form and actors weekly time report. We do not require exhibit G’s.

12. Why do we have to submit start/close paperwork for employees who have been paid previously if all they are doing is moving to a new project?

For repeat clients we require only the first page of the start/close form for employees who are moving from project to project. This form is project specific, not production company specific.

13. How do you handle Escrow or Salary Advance payments?

Please keep in mind that if you are advancing salary payments, you will need to calculate Net Pay, rather than advancing Gross Pay. As Employer-of-Record, we are required to withhold payroll taxes. You can use any payroll calculator online to calculate the Net Pay for an individual; see

14. Do you pay freelancers and/or independent contractors?

We do not pay independent contractors. We only pay employees. If there are people you feel are appropriate to pay as independent contractors, you would logically pay them from your Accounts Payable and issue them 1099 forms at the end of the year. Many people confuse freelancers with independent contractors. They are not the same. An independent contractor is an unincorporated business, which has a risk of loss. Please consult a qualified CPA or tax attorney for guidance on what qualifies as an independent contractor vs an employee.

15. Do you pay guarantees?

We do not pay flat guarantees to non-exempt employees (also known as Belo contracts), but we will pay hourly guarantees provided the production establishes a regular hourly rate and pays applicable overtime according to wage and hour law.

16. Do you pay LLCs?

Yes.  Before we can issue payments to any employee who wishes to be paid under a Limited Liability Company, we first require a W-9 form, Articles of Organization, a signed LLC Indemnification letter, and copies of tax forms 8832 or 1120. See the IRS page on Limited Liability Companies for more information about what it means to organize as an LLC.

17. What types of corporations do you pay?

1. Corporations, which applies to both C corporations and S corporations.  The loan-out must provide a W-9 and copy of Articles of Incorporation.

2. General Partnership applies to general partnerships with 2 or more partners. (By definition, there is no such thing as a partnership with 1 partner.) The loan-out must provide a W-9 and copy of Statement of Partnership Authority.

3. Limited Partnership applies to limited partnerships that are formally organized. The loan-out must provide a W-9 and copy of Certificate of Limited Partnership.

4. Multi-Member Limited Liability Company applies to limited liability companies that have 2 or more members. The loan-out must provide a W-9 and copy of Articles of Organization.

5. Single-Member Limited Liability Company applies to limited liability companies that have only 1 member, but have elected to be taxed as a corporation.  The loan-out must provide a W-9, copy of Articles of Organization, and a copy of their IRS Form 8832, which is the election form, or Form 1120, which is the corporate tax return.

18. We need more blank timecards. Is there a quick way to get them?

For features payroll please contact Features Administrative Support at 310 417 9352
For commercials payroll please contact Payroll Clerical Support at 310 440 9660

19. Where are employees taxed? Work state or resident state?

Employees are taxed based on work state (if the state in which they work has a reciprocity agreement with their resident state, they will be taxed on resident state only).

20. Do you offer health insurance for production companies?

Yes, for more information please contact your payroll service representative.

21. How do we use our union deposit?

Production companies must receive written approval from union representatives, before our Business Affairs and Accounts Receivable Departments can release any portion or the entirety of their union deposits. This is not a quick process. The union will not give approval until all Pension, Health and Welfare contributions have been remitted and all wages have been paid to date.

22. What is the current mileage rate?

You can find the deductible mileage rate at the IRS website at: If it exceeds that amount it would be Taxable Mileage. The amount differs if your project is union or non-union. Some union agreements call for mileage to be paid at this rate, others at $0.30 per mile. Non-union goes by what the production has agreed to pay.

23. What is the Federal Minimum wage?

The current federal and state minimum wages can always be found Here. Remember that if a state’s minimum wage is higher than the federal, the state wage prevails.

24. What do various states require to employ minors?

Please view the table of child entertainment provisions as outlined by the Department of Labor. See table of child entertainment provisions Here.

25. What are the Federal regulations regarding overtime?

Covered employees who work overtime must be paid at a rate that is one and one-half times their regular, “straight-time” hourly rate of pay. This overtime rate applies to all time over 40 hours in a payroll week.

The overtime requirement is based on hours worked in a given payroll week. Thus, time and one-half, double-time or any amount higher than the agreed rate is not required simply because the work is performed after eight hours per day or on Saturday or Sunday.

Employees covered by a State Minimum Wage Order must be paid for the overtime hours at one and one-half times the basic minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

26. What are the California overtime regulations?

Overtime is due after 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week unless an alternative work week of no more than 4 days of 10 hours was established prior to 7/1/99. Premium day on 7th day is not required for an employee whose total weekly work hours do not exceed 30 and whose total hours in any one work day thereof do not exceed 6, in specific wage and hour orders.

27. What are the current Per Diem Rates?

Visit the US General Services Administration website Here.

28. Do you offer Direct Deposit?

Yes, it is an optional service that can be elected by the production. Direct deposit requires a 48-hour window before it can be effective. For information on setting up direct deposit for your show, contact your payroll coordinator, or call Client Services at 866 429 9316.

29. How do I get set up to pay residuals?

A separate service agreement is needed in order to have residuals processed through Media Services, whether the production did its initial payroll through Media Services or not. For further questions regarding client setup please contact the Residuals Department at 310 440 9677.

30. What is a Personnel Services Agreement (PSA)?

The PSA is the formal agreement between the client and payroll company setting forth the business relationship and the obligations of each party.  It is signed one time, prior to the start of the business relationship.  A separate agreement must be executed for each payroll company.

31. Why did I receive a Late Payroll Indemnification Letter?

A Late Payroll Letter indemnifies Media Services from any penalties associated with failing to pay an employee within the allowed time frame (whether per labor law or union rule). Such a letter will be issued for any case in which a timecard is received too late for us to generate a paycheck for the employee on time. In such cases, we will also ask the production accountant or producer the reason the timecard was sent in late, and note this for our records.

32. How do I set up a pre-tax deduction plan with Media Services, such as a 401(k), 125 Cafeteria, or a Transitchek plan?

Check with Client Services about completing all necessary agreements and addendums. Once set up for these plans, your employees must complete an Employee Deduction Form, indicating the correct amounts to be deducted and submit the form with their payroll.  We will deduct the indicated amount from the employee’s check and credit back to the production company, and then you are responsible for depositing the monies withheld from employees into the appropriate employee accounts.  Media Services does not sponsor or administer these types of plans; we only make the deductions. It is the production company’s responsibility to sponsor and administer the specific plan for your employees.

33. Why must the employee sign a Loan-Out Indemnification Agreement when being paid through their corp. or LLC?

When the employee wants to be paid through their loan-out or corp., and the payroll company is not to withhold taxes, the payroll company must be indemnified for any tax related matters that may arise between the IRS and the employee’s loan-out or corp.  Along with the signed Indemnification Agreement, employee must submit the proper backup documents relating to their corp.

35. What do I need to know about the Wage Theft Prevention Act in the states of California and New York?

The New York State Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) went into effect April 9, 2011. It requires individual notices to be provided to each employee regarding regular pay and overtime pay rates. Fines are steep for noncompliance.

Similar legislation, the California Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) went into effect January 1, 2012. It requires individual notices to be provided to each non-exempt employee regarding regular pay and overtime pay rates. Exceptions for California are non-exempt employees working under a collective bargaining agreement AND being paid at least 30% more than the state minimum wage per hour.

Media Services provides its clients preprinted form notices to issue to new hires and existing employees in both California and New York. In New York, new notices must be issued annually to existing employees before February 1 of each year. In California, they must be issued only to new hires.

 An updated list of FAQ’s from New York State’s Department of Labor can be found here:

You can download a sample CA WTPA Notice and NY WTPA Notice.

36. Will Media Services pay employees without a signed time card or start form?

No. While there is no legal requirement that employees sign time cards or other documents for the purposes of getting paid for work performed, an employer can implement a policy requiring employees to sign time cards. Media Services’ payroll companies have such policies in place. Since we are the employer of record, we require signed time cards in order to verify that the employee agrees with the work hours being submitted by the production company. If you have any specific questions about this policy, please call our Business Affairs department at 310 440 9616.