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Thomson Tax & Accounting — Payroll CS

From the Sept. 2007 Review of Payroll

Payroll CS is offered as part of the Thomson Tax & Accounting CS Professional
Suite (formerly Creative Solutions), which offers a comprehensive collection
of completely integrated professional accounting software, online applications,
electronic document management utilities and secure client collaboration portals.
The payroll system can also be used independently of the suite, but with a loss
of the benefits that its integration offers.

Payroll CS provides support for all states; any number of active employees;
unlimited deductions; multiple pay types, rates and frequencies; benefits and
accruals management; reporting compliance; and payment of tax liabilities and
third-party funds. An optional direct deposit module is available, as well.
Payroll CS also offers remote access capabilities for professionals, as well
as online client access functions for entering employee pay data. Employees
can also be granted online access to their payroll-related information. Pricing
for Payroll CS starts at $1,500 for management of up to 20 client payrolls.

The Payroll CS module initially opens into the CS Accounting Suite interface
(which was still branded with the Creative Solutions name at the time of this
review), a well-designed user-customizable screen that includes mostly text-based
links to the suite’s primary features and frequently performed tasks.
Through the File pull-down menu, users can open existing clients or create new
client companies. The client selection screen includes only name and ID displayed
alphabetically, with no search or filtering options. When entering the Payroll
module, the screen provides a left-hand menu for tasks including Payroll Check
Entry, Check Printing, Employees, reporting options, vendor management, vendor
payments and transmittal letters. The system’s traditional pull-down menus
also remain at the top of the screen.

New company and employee setup functions, as well as other tasks, are aided
by checklists that guide users through information entry for chart of accounts,
checkbook and banking information, employee templates, payroll departments,
employees, vendors and calculation profiles. Payroll CS also allows users to
create templates from existing clients and employees.

Informational data entry is performed on tabbed screens that include popup
calendars and selection lists that are automatically populated with GL accounts,
banking information, cities and other data. Data-entry screens are customizable,
with the ability to add user-defined fields or turn off standard fields depending
upon the needs of the company or professional. Payroll data entry is performed
one employee at a time, with a spreadsheet view that allows rapid entry of hours,
vacation, sick leave and other data, while displaying real-time payroll calculations
including payroll withholding items, benefits and deductions. Employee hours
can also be imported from many time clock applications and from Microsoft Excel.

FEATURES – 5 Stars
As previously noted, Payroll CS provides tax tables and compliance for federal
and all 50 states and allows unlimited companies, departments and employees,
with any number of pay rates, types and deductions each. The program also simplifies
management of employees with multiple taxing states, has state-specific minimum
wage functions, and includes benefits and accruals management features, including
retirement accounts with matching contributions, union dues, child support,
garnishments, insurance, flexible spending accounts and an unlimited number
of customized deductions per employee.

Payroll CS includes global edit functions that allow changes on an employee
record to be transferred to other groups of employees or all for that company.
Users can set up “ticklers” in the Status Event feature to alert
them of nearing due dates and other tasks that need to be performed. Simple
gross-up calculations are provided, along with support for weighted average
overtime calculations.

Payroll CS offers e-filing capabilities for forms 940, 941, 944 and many states,
along with the ability to make electronic EFTPS payments for federal and many
state liabilities, as well as electronic payments of child support, vendors
and other third parties. Magnetic media functions are also included. Employees
can have an unlimited number of direct deposit accounts and can be paid in combinations
of check and direct deposit. As well, users have access to the ARNE2 online
user support community, which provides excellent peer support.

With the addition of NetClient CS portals and remote payroll check printing,
clients can enter their employee data into the system through a secure online
interface and, after processing and approval by the accounting firm, can print
payroll checks and process direct deposits from their own business location,
thereby removing the cost delays associated with delivery. Thomson Tax &
Accounting also offers a Web Employee module that allows client employees to
have online access to payroll information including check stubs, W-2s, W-4s
and personal earnings histories.

Reporting options are easily accessible and include nearly 50 standard reports,
including earnings, benefits, deductions, check register, payroll journals,
departmental summaries, payroll tax summaries, state withholding, SUTA worksheets,
deposit reports, new hires, and tip analysis. Report groups can be created on
a per-client basis. Payroll CS also includes batch processing functions that
allow professionals to prepare forms W-2, 1099, 940, 941, 943, 944, 945 and
state payroll tax forms for groups of clients or all clients at one time. The
system includes MICR check printing capabilities with support for printing to
blank or pre-printed check stock that can be customized using the Check Layout
Editor to include client logos and digital signatures. An unlimited number of
paychecks can be processed per employee per pay period. The system includes
electronic filing and payment options for federal and many states, as well as
for child support and third parties.

Payroll CS can be used as a completely integrated component of the CS Professional
Suite of accounting applications, which allows data to flow throughout, including
direct posting of transactions to GL accounts, bank reconciliation functions,
and integration with UltraTax CS for both client business taxes and their employees’
individual returns. Payroll CS users also benefit from integration with the
FileCabinet CS paperless document management solution. The program can import
time data from leading time clock systems or from Excel spreadsheets and can
export reports to PDF. Data export functionality to other accounting applications
via reports is available in an ASCII format.

Payroll CS provides a comprehensive payroll processing and compliance solution
that provides excellent flexibility and customization options, with support
for an unlimited number of clients, departments, employees, deductions, rates
and benefits. Employees can have multiple direct deposit accounts, and electronic
filing and payment of tax liabilities and other parties, including child support,
is included. Additional notable benefits are available through add-on functions,
including NetClient CS portals and Web Employee, which allow clients to input
data or print their own checks while granting employees the ability to access
prior pay stubs, W-2s and other personal information. Payroll CS can be used
as a stand-alone application, but practices already using the CS Professional
Suite will realize the greatest benefit from the system through excellent integration
of client and employee data. Payroll tax tables are included in the annual cost
and renewal costs of the program. Technical support is available through subscriptions.

2007 Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars