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2018 Reviews of Professional Payroll Systems

Processing payroll is not for the faint of heart. While the process may seem fairly straight-forward, a small mistake can have tremendous repercussions. No longer as simple as taking hours from a timeclock, companies today have to pay part time ...

Many of us have been there – the employee standing in our office, demanding to know why they’ve been shorted ten hours or why their health insurance was deducted twice. Then there’s the employee whose paycheck never showed up in their bank account. Or the employee who is certain that her available vacation time is too low, or his PTO total is not accurate.

Processing payroll is not for the faint of heart. While the process may seem fairly straight-forward, a small mistake can have tremendous repercussions. No longer as simple as taking hours from a timeclock, companies today have to pay part time employees, salaried employees, hourly employees, employees that work remotely, and even temporary employees. And it’s not just about the pay or the hours. Employers also have to track vacation and sick time, comp time, PTO, along with state and federal taxes, social security and Medicare deductions, insurance and other deductions, along with voluntary deductions such as 401K amounts. Those deductions then have to paid to the party that they are owed to; the insurance company, the IRS, the federal government. Processing payroll also means keeping abreast of the latest tax laws, ensuring the correct amount is taken out of employee paychecks at all times.

No, payroll is not for the faint-hearted. But the good news is that today’s payroll software programs and services have made it easier than ever before to accurately process payroll for your employees or offer those same services to your clients.  

If you’ve recently made the decision to begin offering payroll services to your clients, be sure to take a little time and look at the various payroll options available today. These options range from payroll modules designed to work with their native program, like Cougar Mountain and CYMA, to those designed specifically for accounting firms such as Payroll Relief from AccountantsWorld to Accounting CS Payroll from Thomson Reuters. There are also various options such as ADP Sure and Paychex, which are designed as a service, but offer options for accounting professionals and businesses alike.

In this issue, we took a look at 17 payroll applications that range from a do-it-yourself payroll option ideal for the small business owner, to payroll applications and services capable of handling an unlimited number of paychecks. The majority of the payroll products reviewed offer online access, though there several designed for desktop or server applications that offer limited online access.

The products included in this review are (see a comparison chart on page 8 of the digital issue):

We’ve included a chart the displays the availability of common payroll features, allowing our readers to make a rapid determination if the product in question will be able to satisfy their needs. Those looking for a payroll application will also need to determine exactly how much (or how little) they wish to be involved in payroll preparation and processing, and make a decision based on those factors.

We always encourage our readers to ask questions prior to purchasing any software product, with payroll no exception. Here are some of the questions that should be addressed prior to purchasing a payroll product:

  • What is the cost, and how is pricing structured?
  • What services are included in the cost?
  • What are payroll funding requirements?
  • Does the product handle all necessary taxes including state and federal tax payments, unemployment taxes and state unemployment insurance?
  • Can multi-state payroll, including local and state taxes be processed?
  • Does the product support direct deposit?
  • Does the product process new hires?
  • Does the product also handle year-end 1099’s and W-2’s?
  • Is there a portal where employees/clients can access their paystubs and manage their account?
  • If online, does the product offer adequate security?

Many of these questions can be answered with a simple visit to the vendor’s website, which we encourage. We also encourage those interested in a product to try it out prior to purchasing, if a demo is available.  

In the end, whether you’re looking for comprehensive payroll application for your firm or for your clients, we hope that the reviews in this issue serve as a good starting point in finding the product best suited for your needs.

See inside April 2018

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Whether you’ve provided tax and accounting services for professional athletes in the past or are just getting started, you’ll want to pay special attention to these 10 key issues that are unique to this type of client.


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