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2020 dawns lean for some tribal employees


The New Year’s holiday was a little lean for some tribal employees who got their paychecks late thanks to payday falling on New Year’s Day, a bank holiday.

In a press release Tuesday, President Jonathan Nez explained that the Navajo Nation controller’s office processed payroll as usual on Wednesday, but because it was also a holiday for most banks, employees accustomed to seeing their pay directly deposited to their bank account the same day or a day or two early had to wait until Thursday, the same day the physical paychecks were released.

Dozens of tribal employees took to social media to complain about the delay, including on the Navajo Times Facebook page where one reader opined that the “paycheck fiasco of 2019” should have been on the paper’s Top 10 stories list.

“How inconvenient, especially for family members that are travelling,” groused another.

Nez stated in the press release he was told by the controller’s office that to process the paychecks early would have had “major tax implications” for employees, including:

  • W-2 forms would have had 27 pay cycles for 2019 instead of the usual 26 for a given calendar year;
  • Forms 1099 and 1098 for credit services for payroll deductions would change;
  • Employee housing and employee benefits would accelerate a payment;
  • State and federal payroll taxes would click in a day earlier.

Nez said his office “recognize(s) the inconvenience” and “will work to ensure this does not reoccur.”

He added, “Although this matter is being addressed, it also underscores the importance of financial management and planning.”

About The Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at


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