From the Sept. 2010 Review of Payroll Systems
CCH Small Firm Services is the technology company behind the ATX and TaxWise professional tax compliance suites, which are popular with small and mid-sized practices. Under each of these brands, the vendor also offers collections of professional accounting and client service applications, including trial balance, write-up, asset management, client bookkeeping, and separate program modules designed for various areas of wage reporting, payroll processing and compliance. The ATX Payroll and TaxWise Payroll systems are designed to work as either stand-alone programs or combined with each brand’s write-up program, and both generally offer the same functionality and pricing. For this review, these two payroll systems fit into our “Practitioner/Multiple Employer” category, which means they are designed specifically for professional accountants who manage payroll functions for many of their small business clients, and the firm directly handles all wage and compliance reporting, recipient copies, EFT functions and payments.
BASIC SYSTEM FUNCTIONS
The ATX and TaxWise programs are designed for tax professionals and can be used as stand-alone programs. They are distinctly separate systems from their sibling tax programs, opening into an interface that provides traditional pull-down menus for accessing key functions, with the work area defaulting to the previously used client. It also offers client and employee selection lists and management functions, and a Quick Looks menu provides access to key summaries and a gross-up calculator.
During initial setup of employer entities, the system guides users through most standard processes, including setting up company pay rates, default accruals settings, banking information, job descriptions, overtime rules and other factors. Company data screens use tabbed fields for moving between categorized information, including setup of unlimited deduction types. The programs can manage all employee types, as well as reimbursements, third-party sick pay and garnished employees along with basic options for accruals tracking. The home screen for each client offers text-based links to payday functions, employee time and data entry, posting and un-posting, reconciliation activities, and reporting.
Both the ATX Payroll and TaxWise Payroll systems can be networked and used simultaneously by multiple professionals in the same office, with the program allowing only one user in a specific client file at any time. The systems can handle any number of client employers and employees, with multi-client management functions that offer some overview capabilities. However, since they do not offer extensive automation functions for approvals and due date management, the programs are best suited to practices managing a few dozen client payrolls with generally small employee bases. Pricing is fixed, but since the payroll and compliance functions are modular, firms can purchase the particular areas of the system they need in order to service their clients.
With the inclusion of the optional Payroll Compliance Reporting program, which integrates with the payroll systems, the programs include all federal and state tax tables, along with many local forms. However, some local jurisdictions, especially those requiring coupons or added documentation, need to be manually prepared. The systems include support for multi-state taxed employees. Direct deposit is included, with the ability to disperse funds into up to four employee accounts. ATX Payroll and TaxWise Payroll include multi-employee data entry and edit screens, but the systems do not offer batch processing of multiple payrolls across multiple client employers. 4