From the September 2005 Review of Boutique
Work-Style Payroll Software
Advanced Micro Solutions offers A-T-F (After-the-Fact) Payroll as an add-on
to its 1099-Etc tax and information return compliance package that focuses on
1098, 1099, W-2, W-3, 940, and associated form compliance. Although named A-T-F,
the module can also be used to process “live” payroll batches on
a continuing basis, with support for all 50 states, the District of Columbia
and Puerto Rico, including federal and state versions of forms 940, 940-EZ,
941, 1040 Sch H (for household employees) and state quarterly returns. The base
price of 1099-Etc (required for the A-T-F Payroll module to function) is $75;
the A-T-F module is $105, which includes MICR printing. The laser printing module
is $75 and the magnetic media/e-filer module is $105; e-filing is based on number
of forms filed electronically. Direct Deposit is also offered through a partnership
with National Payment Corporation (www.directdeposit.com)
for an additional charge. The software can be used by any number of PC users
at a firm’s primary office location.
EASE-OF-USE/DATA ENTRY — 4.5 Stars
A-T-F Payroll opens to a small, uncluttered window that provides various drop-down
menus across the top for accessing available modules, system utilities, help
and to exit the program. The main part of this window shows program information,
such as program year, update information and setting up of multiple user controls.
Selection of the A-T-F module prompts a new subwindow for selecting the Payer,
or client employer, along with options for managing and creating new clients.
Once within a client’s files, the program defaults to a new window with
more pull-down menus and general information that most users won’t care
about: the directory of the files, the program year (again), the printer and
device. This intro screen would be much more useful with a menu of tasks or
The program is geared around the pull-down menus and sports very few graphical
displays. Although it is a true Windows program, it strongly resembles DOS programs
of yore. Data entry is performed within additional windows that pop up in place
of the prior window. As is the nature of payroll processing, most data entry
relates to employee information, accessible via A-T-F’s Input function,
which then shows a sortable and searchable spreadsheet list of all employees
of that employer. Pull-down menus specific to printing checks and employee management
are available from this list of employees.
The system provides simplified entry screens for data entry, but some screens
require hitting the “Quit” button when finished. The system even
prompts the user to do so: “Hit Quit to Save.” I’d like to
see a “save” button instead. Overall, the interface is simple enough
to learn, but navigation can be a little awkward at times.
FEATURES — 3.5 Stars
A-T-F Payroll can support up to 1,999 client employers and up to 9,999 employees
(per employer), with 30 user-definable fields for gross pay additions, deductions
and contribution plans. It offers up to eight hourly rates per employee and
also supports tipped employees. In addition to federal, the system can be set
to automatically calculate state and local withholding. A-T-F can also calculate
multiple overtime types, and track holiday, vacation and sick leave accruals.
Also, being multi-client, the program allows each client to have a password
to limit access to each client.
REPORTING CAPABILITIES — 3.5 Stars
The system includes a selection of standard reports that are available from
the Reports pull-down menu on the Payroll module’s master screen. Reports
can be printed to pre-printed stock or, with the addition of the optional Laser
module, to plain paper. A-T-F Payroll supports all 1099 versions, as well as
940, 940-EZ, 941, 941-B, 943, 1042S, 1096, W-2, W-2C, and state forms. Forms
can be printed on pre-printed stock or, with the addition of the optional Laser
module, on plain paper. Forms can be printed for multiple clients simultaneously.
Payroll checks may be printed as needed or in batches. Through the primary W-2/1099
application, a variety of other printing options is also available, including
invoices and mailing labels. All reports can be viewed prior to printing.
INTEGRATION/IMPORT & EXPORT — 3.5 Stars
A-T-F can import data from Peachtree and QuickBooks, but is not designed to
share data from the payroll module with external GL programs. However, data
can be exported to and imported from a tab-delimited text file.
TRAINING, SUPPORT & UPDATES — 4.5 Stars
AMS includes free phone, fax and e-mail-based technical support with its software,
and program updates are available from the company’s web site, along with
an online support center and FAQ section. The built-in Windows-based Help utility
offers comprehensive content as well as an electronic user’s guide.
1099-Etc A-T-F Payroll is simple to use and is a bargain at about $180 for the
base W-2/1099 program and payroll modules, but it may not be suitable for very
large-scale payroll activities (1,000 employees or more). It is best suited
for professional tax and payroll preparers with clients having needs that range
from preparing W-2s/1099s to quarterly after-the-fact payroll to live payroll.
The company notes that the product emphasis is on being a system that can span
a wide range of needs with a high level of government compliance at a reasonable
2005 Overall Rating — 4 Stars