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Thomson Reuters — Payroll CS

From the September 2009 Review of Professional Payroll Programs

Usable as either a stand-alone system or fully integrated with the CS Accounting Suite, Payroll CS provides an accounting system designed for professionals who provide live payroll services to multiple clients. The system can handle any number of employer businesses, with up to 1,000 employees each, and offers direct deposit to multiple accounts, customizable deductions management, third-party payment functions, remote data entry, remote check printing and employee self-service portals. Payroll CS pricing is based on the number of client businesses and optional modules, and starts at about $1,500. Thomson Reuters also offers an outsourced service through its myPay Solutions, and recently debuted the Service Bureau Payroll CS system, which includes features geared toward payroll firms with large client bases (see review at

Payroll CS opens within the standard home screen for the CS Professional Suite, which offers access to key system functions, recently performed tasks, update messages and the system modules the user has available. The system’s client selection list is basic, providing business name and ID only. When a client is opened, the interface changes to a work screen environment, with icons on the left for primary system functions, including payroll check entry, check printing, employee management, report options, vendor check payments, vendor management and transmittal letters. Additional menu options are available at the top of the screen.

When creating new client businesses, the program offers guided data-entry forms that ensure that at least basic information is entered, and also provides options for setting up other areas of the client’s accounting, if needed. The program provides intuitive data-entry sheets that remember previously entered information for repetitive fields like city, state and zip code, and payroll information sheets automatically populate information for salaried employees. This data can be overridden, if necessary. Payroll CS also automatically computes all withholding, including management of third-party payments, such as union dues, child support, insurance and garnishments. Staff can assign any number of traditional or custom deductions to employee pay. It includes an impounding feature to hold client funds for payment of third parties and payroll. Payroll data is entered and reviewed on separate screens for each employee, with the ability to make changes, with edits highlighted to aid in review. Payroll CS also offers a global edit function that enables users to make a change across all employees, divisions or groups of a business.

Payroll CS supports any payment frequency and multiple pay rates per employee, and offers benefits and accruals tracking, including the option to help small businesses obtain 401K programs for their employees. The system also offers remote data entry and check printing, which lets the payroll firm concentrate its efforts more on overview and reporting, rather than manual data entry. Client businesses can log in, enter employee hours and other data, and submit the information. Once the firm has approved the payroll run and processed it, the client can then print checks at their own location, which also eliminates shipping costs. Employees also have the benefit of online access to their historical pay information through Web Employee portals, which offers access to pay stubs, W-2s, W-4s and the ability to update personal information.

Payroll CS includes customizable check layouts and more than four dozen customizable reports that can be saved and grouped based on output needs. These include earnings, withholdings, deductions, taxes, departmental labor costs, check registers, payroll journal and benefits. The system also offers tables and reporting for all states, with period and year-end forms and reports quickly generated for specific clients, or in batch for all clients at period ends.

As a part of the Thomson Reuters CS Professional Suite, Payroll CS directly integrates with the programs in the product family, including GL, client base data, analysis and planning functions, and document management. Individual employee W-2s also include a barcode that makes entering their 1040 tax information as simple as a scanner swipe using UltraTax CS. Payroll CS offers import from most time clock systems and can generate reports to PDF format. It does not directly share data with other accounting systems.

As with any program in the CS Suite, one of Payroll CS’ greatest attributes is thorough integration with the suite’s other programs, helping to reduce redundant entry. The system also provides outstanding web-enabled features, most notably the remote data-entry option (available through NetClient CS) and the Web Employee portals. Both of these features can save the firm time, while providing convenience for the client and its employees.

2009 Overall Rating: 5 Stars