This article is part of a larger series on How to Do Payroll.
Doing payroll in Maryland requires knowing local laws, such as the $13.25 state minimum wage, and keeping track of state and local income tax withholding schedules. Maryland has more nuances than the average state—for instance, there are 23 counties that charge local tax.
QuickBooks Payroll is great for processing payments for all types of employees due to its versatility, ease of use, and wide variety of features.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Doing Payroll in Maryland
Step 1: Set up your business as an employer. Get your company’s Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). If your company is brand-new, you may need to apply for a FEIN. This is a simple process that can be completed online via the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). Meanwhile, if you work for a company that already has one, keep the FEIN handy. The FEIN is required to pay federal taxes.
Step 2: Register with Maryland. Register with the state within 20 days of doing business by sending a Combined Registration Application to the Maryland Department of Labor. Alternatively, you may fill out the application online. You will also need to apply for a BEACON account for paying State Unemployment Tax Act (SUTA) taxes.
Step 3: Create your payroll process. You may have inherited a payroll process if you work for an established business. However, if your company is new, you may need to establish your own. Decide how often you’ll be paying employees, when you’ll pay them, and how you’ll track and calculate hourly employees’ work time. You can opt to do payroll yourself by hand, set up an Excel payroll template, or sign up for a payroll service to help you handle your Maryland payroll.
Step 4: Have employees fill out relevant forms. New employees should submit certain documentation, including payroll forms, during onboarding. All employees must complete I-9 verification no later than their third day on the job. Every employee must also have a completed W-4 on file. For Maryland, you’ll also need the Form MW507, Maryland’s state withholding form. Note that Maryland has a Form W-4, but this is only used for employees of the state. If you choose to pay your employees using direct deposit, make sure to collect direct deposit information, as well.
Step 5: Collect, review, and approve time sheets. This step is one you’ll repeat as you do payroll each period. Keeping track of employees’ hours is essential for ensuring accurate payroll. Whether you use paper time sheets, time and attendance software, or a payroll service with a time and attendance system, ensure that you review time sheets for accuracy and discuss any errors or issues with employees right away. Having employees sign their time sheets is a good idea, whether they do so electronically or by pen on paper.
Step 6: Calculate payroll and pay employees. Use a standard process to calculate payroll; take note that using payroll software will reduce errors. Don’t forget to calculate withholdings for non-residents unless you have a bona fide business location in their state. Most companies today use direct deposit to pay their employees, but cash (not the best way) and paper check are also options. You can pay your federal and state taxes online. If you use a benefits provider, it should work with you to make deductions simple, automatic, and electronic.
Step 7: File payroll taxes with the federal government. Federal tax payments must be made via EFTPS. You’ll need to deposit federal income tax withheld, as well as both employer and employee Social Security and Medicare taxes based on the schedule assigned (either monthly or every other week) to your business by the IRS.
- Monthly depositors are required to deposit employment taxes on payments made during a month by the 15th day of the following month.
- Every other week, depositors are required to deposit employment taxes for payments made Wednesday, Thursday, and/or Friday by the following Wednesday. Taxes on payments made Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and/or Tuesday are due by the following Friday.
It’s important to note that the schedules for depositing and reporting taxes are different. Employers who deposit both monthly and semiweekly should only report their taxes quarterly or annually by filing Form 941 or Form 944.
Step 8: File payroll taxes with the state of Maryland. File and pay these online via bFile Maryland. You can also bulk upload W-2s. Ensure that you withhold by the following schedule:
If you paid:
You must pay:
Over $15,000 in the preceding calendar year and have $700+ accumulated withholding
Within 3 days of payroll date
Less than $700 withholding per quarter
Quarterly (April 15, July 15, Oct. 15, Jan. 15)
More than $700 in a quarter
Monthly (15th of the following month)
Less than $250 in a calendar year
Annually (Jan. 31 of the following year)
- SUTA: Pay your SUTA by automated clearing house (ACH) or credit card via BEACON. State unemployment insurance (UI) tax reports and payments are due by the following dates:
For Wages Paid During
Calendar Quarter Ends
Must be Filed & Paid By
Jan, Feb, Mar
Apr, May, Jun
Jul, Aug, Sep
Oct, Nov, Dec
If the due date for a report or tax payment falls Saturday or Sunday, reports and payments are due the following business day.
Step 9. Document and store your payroll records. In Maryland, you’re required to keep your payroll documents for at least three years. For complete information, read our article on what payroll documents to keep or check out Maryland’s recordkeeping requirements.
Step 10: Complete year-end payroll reports. At the end of the year, you will need to first complete all W-2 forms for your employees and 1099 forms for your independent contractors. These forms must be provided to employees and contractors no later than Jan. 31 of the following year.
Use this guide to make sure you follow every step when doing Maryland payroll:
For a more general walkthrough of doing payroll according to federal law, check out our guide on how to do payroll.
Maryland Payroll Laws, Taxes & Regulations
Begin by following federal law for income taxes, Social Security, Medicare, and Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) taxes.
Social Security and Medicare are called Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes and are withheld from each employee’s paycheck at respective rates of 6.2% and 1.45%; you’ll also pay a matching amount out of your bank account.
Want to calculate your employee’s gross pay, plus the FICA and FUTA taxes due?
Maryland has state and local taxes, making it more complicated to manage. You’ll need to know where each employee lives so that you’re aware of which tax agencies you’re responsible for paying.
State Income Taxes
Maryland has a graduated income tax rate of a flat amount plus a percentage over a specific income, with 13 tax brackets for 2023. You can find the tax tables on the Maryland Taxes website to help you determine how much you should withhold.
You need to withhold taxes for all employees except the following:
- Those making less than $5,000 annually
- Domestic workers in a private home, college club, fraternity, or sorority
- Nonresident maritime workers
- Certain other nonresidents
- Single and student employees with total income less than specific amounts, such as $234.62 weekly or $12,200 annually. See the chart on Page 9 of the Maryland Withholding Guide for a full list.
- Military spouses claiming exemption under the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act (be sure they fill out a Form MW507M).
Local Income Taxes
In addition, Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City also levy local income taxes; rates range between 0.0225 and 0.0320 (2.25%–3.2%). There are taxes for nonresidents as well.
The latest rates by county are below:
Maryland Resident Employees Who Work in Delaware & Reciprocity
If you have offices in Delaware, your employees who are Maryland residents are taxed at different rates. Find the rates table on Page 10 of the Maryland Withholding Guide.
Maryland has income tax reciprocity agreements with Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. This means your employees may only need to pay income tax in their resident state if they live in one of those neighboring states.
Unemployment Insurance (UI)
Maryland charges SUTA taxes, which are based on a taxable wage base of $8,500. The standard rate for new employers is 2.3% (which has not changed since 2021). New employers in the construction industry and those headquartered in another state pay an initial rate of 5.10%. Rates range from 2.0% to 10.5% for experienced employers and are noted in Rate Table C.
An employer’s UI benefit ratio is computed by dividing their experience rate by the amount of taxable wages paid to employees in the prior three fiscal years ending June 30. The experience rate is the dollar amount of UI benefits paid to former employees.
The following employee types are exempt from UI coverage in certain conditions, which you can find in the Maryland Employer’s Quick Reference Guide:
- Taxicab drivers
- Owner-operated tractor drivers in certain E & F classifications
- Maritime employment
- Election workers
- Church employees and clergy
- Railroad employment
- Newspaper delivery
- Insurance and real estate sales
- Messenger service
- Direct sellers
- Foreign employment
- Work-relief and work-training
- Family members
- Hospital patients
- Student nurses or interns
- Yacht salespersons who work for a licensed trader on solely a commission basis
- Services of aliens who are students, scholars, trainees, teachers, etc., who enter the US solely to pursue a full course of study at certain vocational and other non-academic institutions
- Recreational sports officials
- Home workers
- Casual labor, such as yardwork
Did you Know?
When you pay SUTA taxes, you may qualify for up to a 5.4% discount on your FUTA taxes.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Employers who have one or more employees, full- or part-time, must provide workers’ compensation insurance. You can purchase it from a licensed insurance company or the Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company, which is Maryland’s state-operated fund.
Minimum Wage Laws in Maryland
The Maryland minimum wage applies to workers 18 and older. Employees under 18 must earn at least 85% of the minimum wage. Maryland is gradually increasing its minimum wage to $15. These are the current published rates:
Employers with 15+ employees
Employers with 14 or fewer employees
$13.25 per hour
$12.80 per hour
$14.00 per hour
$13.40 per hour
The following exemptions apply:
- Immediate family
- Certain agricultural employees
- Executive, administrative, and professional employees
- Outside sales agents
- Commissioned employees
- Employees who are trainees in a public school special education program
- Non-administrative camp employees
- Restaurants and bars earning less than $400,000 gross annually
- Drive-in theaters
- Food canning establishments
If an employee earns more than $30 per month in tips, they must be paid the state minimum wage. Tips can count for all but $3.63 per hour.
Please note: Montgomery County has its own minimum wage statute, which requires $16.70 for large employers (those with more than 50 employees), $15.00 for midsize employers (between 11 and 50 employees), and $14.50 for small employers (those with 10 or fewer employees).
Maryland Overtime Regulations
Employees in Maryland must be paid 1.5 times their hourly rate if they work over 40 hours in a workweek, which mirrors federal overtime rules.
The following exemptions apply:
- Cab drivers
- Agricultural workers (60 hours allowed)
- Bowling establishments (48 hours allowed)
- On-premise care (other than hospitals) for sick, aged, or disabled (48 hours allowed)
- Auto sales and repair establishments
- Nonprofit concert promoters, theaters, or music festivals
- Seasonal amusement and recreational establishments
Different Ways to Pay Employees
You can pay employees by cash, check, or direct deposit. However, you cannot require an employee to use direct deposit. This means you’ll need to offer at least two payment options if direct deposit is one payment method you plan to use.
Maryland Pay Stub Laws
Maryland requires that you provide employees with a pay stub each pay period with the following information:
- Gross earnings
- How wages are earned (salary, hourly, or commission)
- Net wages
- Piece rates
- Net pay
You can learn more from the Pay Stub Transparency Act of 2016.
If you’d like a template for creating your own pay statements, then download one of our free pay stub templates. They’re already formatted, so you can print and use them today.
Minimum Pay Frequency
Employees who are not in executive, professional, or administrative roles must be paid every two weeks or twice a month. They must be paid on time; if a payday falls on a non-workday like a weekend or a holiday, they must be paid on the preceding workday, not after.
For help tracking your pay dates and periods, download one of our free payroll calendars.
Paycheck Deduction Rules
You can deduct money from an employee’s pay for the following:
- Court-ordered deductions such as child support garnishments
- Something of value an employee received, such as an advance or loan
- Something the employee had expressly agreed to, such as health benefits or to recompense for damages or theft caused by the employee
- Uniforms with the company logo
Some deductions are subtracted before taxes are calculated; this helps save your employees and you money. To learn more about how that works, check out our article on post vs pretax deductions.
Final Paycheck Laws
Final paychecks must be paid on or before the employee’s regular payday. You do not need to allow an employee to work two weeks before termination or pay them for the time they were not allowed to work. Unused PTO may or may not be paid out, depending on written company policy. Unused sick leave does not need to be paid out unless written in company policy.
If you find yourself needing to cut a check quickly, use one of our recommended tools to print paychecks for free.
Maryland HR Laws That Affect Payroll
Maryland has some state-specific HR laws—some of which affect payroll:
Maryland New Hire Reporting
You must report new hires through the Maryland New Hires Reporting portal within 20 days of their hire or rehire date. If you cannot access the portal, you can fill out the New Hires Form and mail it in.
Lunch & Other Break Time Requirements
The only break laws in Maryland apply to minors and retail workers.
- Breaks for retail workers: Retail workers must receive lunch and short breaks. This applies to stores or franchises employing over 150 people working each day in the last 20 or more calendar weeks. If an employee earns more than half their earnings from commissions, and they earn more than 1.5 times the minimum wage for each hour worked, then they are exempt from this rule.
Qualifying employees receive the following entitlements:
Break Requirements Per Hours Worked
4 to 6 consecutive hours
More than 6 consecutive hours
8 or more consecutive hours
30-minute break plus a 15-minute break for every additional 4 consecutive hours.**
*For employees working less than six consecutive hours, the 15-minute break requirement may be waived by written agreement between the employer and employee.
**An employee who is entitled to a 30-minute break is not entitled to the 15-minute break as well. The additional consecutive hours begin following the employee’s previous break. For example, if an employee works a 10-hour shift and is given a 30-minute break at hour 5, the employee would be entitled to a 15-minute break at hour 9.
- Breaks for Minors: Minors under 18 must receive a 30-minute break for every five hours worked.
Paid Time Off
Maryland does not require paid time off, vacation, or sick leave. Follow federal standards. The exception is for retail workers, who can request a religious day of rest each week, as long as they do so in writing.
Paid Sick Leave
In addition to the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, Maryland employees follow two additional laws:
- The Maryland Flexible Leave Act authorizes employees of employees with 15 or more workers to use “leave with pay” for illnesses in their immediate family.
- The Maryland Earned Sick and Safe Leave Act mandates that employers earn sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours, with a maximum of 40 in a year and an accumulation of 64 hours at any time. This leave can be used for caring for one’s own mental or physical health, preventative medical care, care of a family member, maternity/paternity leave, or handling issues due to domestic violence not perpetrated by the employee.
Eligible employees are allowed six weeks total of unpaid parental leave in a 12-month period for the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child. Any employer with 15 to 49 employees must provide this time off.
Day Off for Deployments
If you employ more than 50 people, any employee who has worked for you for at least 12 months with 1,250 hours worked in that time, is allowed a day of leave to send off or welcome a military member who is deploying on or returning from active duty outside the US. This applies only to immediate family members. It does not have to be paid leave, but you cannot require them to use accrued leave, sick, or vacation leave.
Maryland paid family leave is set to take effect June 1, 2023. In 2022, the Maryland legislature voted to override the governor’s veto of the Time to Care Act, passing the law which establishes a paid family leave fund. This program will collect contributions from both employers and employees based on wages.
Employer contributions for the paid family leave mentioned above start in 2023, but employees will not be eligible for benefits until 2025. Employees will be able to use benefits to take up to either 12 or 24 weeks of paid leave per year for the following reasons:
- To care for a child during the first year after birth or the placement of the child through foster care, kinship care, or adoption
- To care for a family member with a serious health condition
- Because the covered individual has a serious health condition that results in the covered individual being unable to perform the functions of the covered individual’s position
- To care for a service member who is the employee’s next of kin
- Because the covered individual has a qualifying exigency arising out of the deployment of a service member who is a family member of the employee
All employers in Maryland with at least one employee must participate in this program. For an employee to be eligible, they must have worked at least 680 hours in the previous 12 months.
Minors under 18 are required to have a work permit to work in Maryland. If under 14, minors cannot get work permits. Also, minors cannot work hazardous jobs as defined by federal law.
Minors aged 14 and 15 may not work:
- During school hours
- More than three hours a day or 18 hours a week when school is in session
- More than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week when school is not in session
- Work between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. (between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. from June 1 to Labor Day)
For minors 16 and 17, they must:
- Not work more than 12 hours of combined school and work in a day
- Have eight consecutive non-work/non-school hours every 24 hours
Maryland has several state-specific forms that may be applicable to your business. The state W-4 form is one all employers need; the others will depend on the type of organization you have and the type of employees.
Maryland State W-4 Form
MW507: Maryland’s state income tax withholding form. If not filled out, then you use the deductions listed in the federal W-4.
Other Maryland State Payroll and Tax Forms
- MW507M: For military spouses requesting a waiver from tax withholdings
- MW508: Annual Employer Withholding Reconciliation Form
- MW508CR: For nonprofits claiming income tax credits
- Maryland State Directory of New Hires Form: For use if you cannot report your new hire online
Federal Payroll Forms
- W-4 Form: To help employers calculate taxes to withhold from employee paychecks
- W-2 Form: Reporting total annual wages earned (one per employee)
- W-3 Form: Reports total wages and taxes for all employees
- Form 940: Reports and calculate unemployment taxes due to the IRS
- Form 941: Filing quarterly income and FICA taxes withheld from paychecks
- Form 944: Reporting annual income and FICA taxes withheld from paychecks
- 1099 Forms: Providing non-employee pay information that helps the IRS collect taxes on contract work
For a more detailed discussion of federal forms, check out our guide on federal payroll forms you may need.
Maryland Payroll Tax Resources and Sources
- Maryland Department of Labor: Information on labor laws and UI, plus access to forms
- Maryland Employment Standards Service Page: Links to notices you’re required to post for employees, plus information on minimum wage, guidelines, and questions (much is written for employees rather than employers)
- Maryland Comptroller: Information on business taxes and where you can register your business
- Employer’s Quick Reference Guide for Unemployment Insurance: Who pays, how much to pay, how to pay, and other important information about SUTA
- Maryland Withholding Guide: Maryland employer withholding forms, plus all relevant tax tables for employers
- Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission: Information about workers’ compensation, mostly from an employee POV
For more help with federal payroll regulations, check out our payroll compliance guide.
Maryland not only has state income tax but local income taxes as well. It charges unemployment taxes, has a gradually increasing minimum wage that varies based on the number of employees, and a separate minimum wage for Montgomery County. Be sure you understand the laws affecting payroll not only for the state but also for your local area.
If you need help running your Maryland payroll, consider using payroll software like QuickBooks Payroll. It files and pays your payroll taxes and covers any penalties you are charged if its reps make a mistake (it’ll also cover your mistakes if you opt for a premium plan). You can pay employees via direct deposit or check, and same-day payment options are available as well. Sign up for a free trial or discounted rate.