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2013 Review of CCH Small Firm Services Payroll


From the Oct. 2013 issue.

CCH Small Firms Services has recently streamlined the payroll compliance options previously co-branded as solutions from ATX and TaxWise. Now only one product, Payroll, is provided and provides full integration with both product lineups. Several new features have been introduced in the current edition including automatic system updates and downloads and enhanced data import options.

Basic System Functions: 5 Stars

Payroll is the new streamlined product offering from CCH Small Firm Services and is installed as a desktop or server based solution. Data entry screens are easy and intuitive to navigate and all payroll client data may be accessed from one user login. An unlimited number of users is supported within the system and each user may be restricted through security user groups which control access to client data and program functions.

Though intended to process small business payroll, Payroll allows unlimited payroll companies, each with unlimited employees. The Employee Express Setup feature enables fast setup of basic employee information. The program handles any number of earnings, deductions, benefits and special items, such as tips or reimbursements. Vacation, holiday and other time accruals are automatically tracked inside the system and each employee may be assigned to multiple states.

Unlimited payroll runs may be processed within the system and each payroll run may be processed individually by employee or through batches. Departments may be assigned to employees and paychecks may be allocated across multiple departments based on percentage. As payroll is processed, the program calculates appropriate withholding amounts to help ensure accuracy. Net bonus check processing is provided through a gross-up calculation tool provided with the system.

The program supports MICR printing for checks. Direct deposit is supported for up to four separate bank accounts for each employee. Processing of all direct deposits is done outside of Payroll but bank upload files may be generated to assist the process.

Reporting & Monitoring: 4.25 Stars

Payroll includes tax tables for federal and all states with a payroll compliance requirement. Local taxes are supported but will require users to set up and maintain the fields and forms for each payroll client. Federal forms 940 and 941 may be electronically filed using a separate program, Payroll Compliance Reporting . Through this program, full processing capabilities for W-2s and 1099s is supported as is electronic filing of Form W-3 with the Social Security Administration. Paper filing of all compliance reports is natively supported with the system and does not require a separately licensed module.

A fixed number of reports are provided with the system and a few basic filter options are provided with many of the reports. Currently no custom report generation tools are provided, though users may export reports to Excel for further formatting and analysis. All reports may be printed to paper or to PDF formats.

Integration/Import/Export: 4 Stars

CCH Small Firm Services offers a suite of products that integrate tightly with each other. Payroll directly integrates with the available Client Accounting Suite, which is a full featured accounting and bookkeeping solution. Integration points are also provided to an available document storage solution. A premier edition of Payroll is provided and, when paired with Client Accounting Suite Premier, adds direct integration points for ProSystem fx Practice Management.

Payroll directly converts client data from Sage 50 US (formerly Peachtree). QuickBooks and other small business accounting solutions achieve import through a generic conversion utility included with the system. Time data may be imported directly from ProSystem fx Practice Management through licensing of the premiere edition of Payroll. Third-party timekeeping solutions may be imported through text import data mapping.

Help/Support: 4.75 Stars

New for the current release is an automatic notification of program and tax table updates. Previously, users were required to visit the CCH Small Firms Services website to obtain all updates. Users are now provided an automatic download of these updates. All updates are released on an as needed basis and are included with the annual licensing fees.

Payroll includes a drop down help menu in the navigation bar that provides dedicated access to a variety of help options. A searchable help is provided for users to find specific information on data entry screens and reports. A PDF user guide noting detailed use of the product is included on the help menu and all program updates are captured in a PDF release note summary. Unlimited US-based telephone, fax, email and online support are also included with the annual licensing fees. Self-guided and web based training options are available from CCH Small Firm Services for additional pricing.

Client Self-Service Features – NA

CCH Small Firm Services recently introduced their web-based portal solution, PortalSafe.   Additional per month charges apply for PortalSafe licensing. Due to the current intent of this product offering, ratings were not considered for this section.

Summary & Pricing

Payroll is a payroll system designed for simple data entry and easy processing of multiple small business payroll clients. The solution may be purchased as a standalone product or through the available Client Accounting Suite for a comprehensive accounting system. Pricing for Payroll is currently set at $399 per year and includes all features and support options noted. The Client Accounting Suite with Payroll solution is currently priced at $1,009 and includes all accounting modules as well as a webinar training session.

Best Firm Fit: Accounting professionals processing a large number of small business payrolls


  • Cost effective method of processing multiple payroll clients
  • Unlimited support included with license cost
  • Unlimited processing of payroll clients and employees

Potential Limitations

  • No web-based portal for employees to access paystubs
  • Limited report options

2013 Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars