The payroll was and continues to be scheduled for 1/8; they just want to date it 12/31 so that the new payroll company will not have to re-enter an already processed payroll when they take over at the next period.
I'm debating about having a friend make a big stink over it (admitedly, "sour grapes" driven) because I feel it's wrong - and they've made poor choices in getting to this point and into this mess. All of these employees think they've received all of their 2008 wages, but this little manipulation is being thrown in and will also throw off annual salaries. Looking at the constructive receipt rules, I believe this fails: the money was not available on 12/31 and was never intended to be. Furthermore, they're even paying wages on 12/31 that weren't earned until 1/1 & 1/2.
They are a semi-monthly depositor, so the tax must be called in no later than Wednesday (a day later due to the holiday), but they won't figure that out, so it will go in a week late. (Yes, again I admit my "sour grapes.")
Thanks for the validation.