Estimated reading time: 11 minutes, 28 seconds

dollar sign redA dozen years after the first SaaS versions of payroll software were introduced, it is no longer a question of why you would use them, but rather why any accounting practice would not. Hey:  Fast, scalable and designed to meet the needs of accounting professionals and their clients in a mobile world, online payroll has four primary advantages over desktop versions of the same software system:
• Payroll data can be input and updated by the client and recipient, reducing workflow for the accountant.

• Payroll data is stored at a safe remote location, with appropriate redundancy and backup.
• The software is always up to date, as are tax tables.
• Payroll can be performed at any time, from any place.

For all of these advantages, though, there remain two situations in which an online solution may not be appropriate. The first of these is when the firm's payroll business model calls for outsourced payroll through a third party. The second situation is when the firm is located in an area with poor or unreliable Internet connectivity.

These aside, the 2012 roundup of online payroll offers a mature line of exceptional solutions from major accounting software vendors.

Payroll Relief

Hauppauge, N.Y. 
(888) 999-1366
Price: Unlimited number of payrolls for one year, $997. No additional charges. Pay per payroll and pay per paycheck options also available.

Payroll Relief
Payroll Relief, a professional payroll system from AccountantsWorld, offers an accountant-centric model for payroll processing  with features that include a client portal and data-entry access, support for any number of clients and employees, direct deposit, electronic payment and reporting.

The most significant recent enhancement to Payroll Relief was its inclusion in the Power Practice platform last year, pulling together eight core accounting functions into a single, integrated Power Practice System.

Within that system or as a stand-alone solution, a re-designed Payroll Relief program provides fast and economical services that are scalable for each client, from a single employee to more than a thousand. The program is available in per-payroll and per-paycheck options, as well as an all-inclusive unlimited model. Payroll Relief combines a highly intuitive interface with user-friendly screens to guide the payroll process, with a comprehensive set of tools to review every aspect of the payroll practice. Each client is provided with permissions for functions they may access, and the system assigns clients to perform selected tasks based on their needs and abilities.

Payroll Relief offers several dat- entry methods, including client data entry from any location; a spreadsheet format for multiple employees, payroll data worksheets; and import from time and attendance programs. Electronic filing is available for all federal and state compliance forms. There is an extensive library of reports, plus and archive of tax forms, reports and paychecks via the CyberCabinet document management system. And the payroll module integrates seamlessly with Accounting Relief, QuickBooks, Peachtree and other accounting programs.

Accounting CS Payroll
Thomson Reuters
Dexter, Mich.
(800) 968-8900
Price: Starts at $1,800.

Accounting CS Payroll

Accounting CS Payroll is an online payroll module designed to enhance collaboration with staff and clients; streamline data entry; enable advanced features such as time clock and employee data input; implement both traditional and paperless payment systems; and expand the reporting and billing features. It is part of the year-old Accounting CS platform, which unified core accounting functions into a single online platform.

Recent enhancements include a Payroll Form & Filing Information portlet within the Home dashboard that provides instant information on payroll status, including due dates and tax information. A new Edit Multiple Employees wizard makes it possible to update multiple employee records simultaneously. Variable commission rates, pay schedules and tipping structures are supported. For the more advanced mobile accountant, there is also access to the portal via an iPad app or other mobile device.

Perhaps most critical to accountants is the batch processing capability for both the payroll itself and for the myriad of state and federal forms, including the W-2, W-2C 940, 941, 941-X, 943, 943-X, 944, 944-X, 945, 945-X, 1099, state payroll tax forms and certain local payroll tax forms (CO , KY, MI, MO, NJ, OH, PA) using a streamlined process, with either paper or electronic filing.

Intuit Enhanced Payroll For Accountants

Mountain View, Calif.
(866) 820-6382
Price: Billed annually: $374 first year.

Intuit Enhanced Payroll For Accountants

Intuit's online payroll for accounting professionals offers federal and state tax payments and filings; unlimited payroll runs; free direct deposit; and the ability to download both payroll and tax information to QuickBooks, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks for Mac, Quicken, PeachTree, the ATX accounting suite or CCH ProSystem fx Write-Up.

Because it is an online service, Intuit Online Payroll requires no desktop software but does offer accountants the choice of either running payroll under their own banner and providing a client portal with the accounting firm's brand; or an option to set up clients to handle their own payroll with the accounting firm retaining remote access to the client data.

An enhanced reporting capability includes details of payroll expense items for a given pay period, providing a by-employee view of earnings, employee-paid taxes, and any additions/deductions (401-K, insurance and company-paid taxes & contributions). Other services that are available for an additional fee include Intuit Online Time Tracking, the ability to file 1099-Misc. forms electronically, and to pay Worker's Comp insurance payments with each payroll.

Intuit's enhanced online payroll product for accountants is part of a family of client and professional payroll products that combine effective management of client information and payroll with accounting-centric functions that include ATF payroll. It is an economical solution designed to help enhance both services and profitability, particularly for the mid-range accounting firm.

SurePayroll for Accountants

Glenview, Ill.
(877) 954-7873
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Price: Standard pricing: $18.95 per payroll plus $1.50 per employee for weekly payroll; $30.95 per payroll plus $1.85 per employee for biweekly or semimonthly payroll;
$44.95 per payroll plus $185 per employee for monthly payroll Accountants who resell services receive discounts rrnaging from 10 percent to 25 percent off.

SurePayroll for Accountants
SurePayroll for Accountants is an economical, full-featured system for payroll, benefits, HR compliance and payroll support that provides exceptional service to accountants serving the small to mid-sized markets. It is a branded extension of SurePayroll's online payroll service that allows an accountant to manage, build and scale a payroll business with a simple online hub.

SurePayroll for Accountants offers the option of having an accountant refer clients to SurePayroll, retaining access to the client data online. Or accountants can resell SurePayroll, using SurePayroll's Web-based payroll service that is branded and sold under the accountant's name. In both cases, the service includes direct deposit, all tax filing and tax payments (federal, state and local), unlimited customer service and employee self-service functionality.

Recent enhancements to SurePayroll's service include a mobile payroll application for the iPhone/iPad for the client and employees, as well as integration with time clock systems.

CompuPay Xpress Payroll

Miramar, Fla.
(877) 729-6299
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price: $35 per month (monthly processing). $55 per month (biweekly or semimonthly processing);. $80 per month (weekly processing);. $41.50 year-end fee plus $5.00 per W-2.

CompuPay Xpress Payroll
CompuPay Xpress Payroll is a fast and intuitive online system geared to the needs of small businesses, typically those with 10 or fewer employees. It reflects the company's quarter-century of experience as a back office/service bureau for payroll, and provides substantial benefits - particularly for small business clients -- and is designed to produce payroll documents and reports with a minimum amount of work. For accountants whose clients fall in the mid-range (up to 150 employees), it offers an easy migration path to the more powerful PowerPayroll from CompuPay, with similar screens but an expanded feature set.

CompuPay released significant enhancements to XpressPayroll in 2010 that included a new look and feel to the application, an ability to track accruals on a monthly basis, additional security features for multi-user and accountant access to payroll reports, the ability to pay and print 1099s, the ability to produce a 401(k) file, and the ability to record hours for salaried employees. XpressPayroll also now supports a workers' compensation insurance program that calculates premiums using actual payroll information and pays the correct premiums for each pay period automatically.

Cobranding for accounting professionals is available, as well as the use of a partner portal to manage multiple accounts. The options are extensive for accountants, including a referral relationship, hosting or back-office solutions or payroll acquisitions

RUN powered by ADP

Automatic Data Processing
Roseland, N.J.
(800) CALL-ADP (225-5237)
Price: $45 to $65 per month.

RUN powered by ADP
RUN Powered by ADP Payroll for Accountants is a designed specifically for accounting professionals looking for a better way to process payroll for their current payroll clients or for those wanting to increase revenues and deepen their client relationships through offering payroll processing services.

In addition to its direct-to-business service model, ADP also offers a system designed for professionals managing the payroll and compliance needs for multiple client businesses. And it offers a variety of additional small business services, including HR, workers' compensation premium payment plans, and a time and attendance system. A GL export function puts data into formats that can be imported by QuickBooks, Sage Peachtree and other accounting package.

The system works through the IE browser, opening into a firm view that defaults to a searchable and sortable client list with basic contact information and status, along with the date of the next check run. A menu offers access to firm-specific tasks, such as billing reports, logos, adding clients, security settings and groups. Most features of the program are available within client files, which open into a tabbed screen with multiple panels. Options include online payroll information, messages, tasks and the Payroll Cycle, a graphical workflow design that serves as a menu for running payroll, printing checks, printing reports and compliance functions.

Paychex Online
Rochester, N.Y
(800) 322-7292
Price: Average cost $50.50 per month for a weekly payroll scenario with 10 employees.Payroll Processing Services Package includes Paychex Online Payroll, Taxpay, Employee Pay, New Hire, 401(k) Report, General Ledger Report, Online Reports, Check Logo, HR & Benefits Essentials Website, Labor Compliance Poster Kit and Employee Access.

Paychex Online
The preferred payroll provider for the AICPA business partner program, Paychex Online Payroll offers a simple and secure payroll system that allows accountants to keep pace with the needs of clients without having to physically perform the payroll functions.

It features multiple rates of pay, complex deductions, integrated 401(k) benefits support and workers' compensation. It integrates well with a number of other accounting applications, including an interface to post payroll data into nearly all of the popular general ledger programs.

Recent enhancements to the service include an expanded array of reports, including on-demand reports for a specific point in time, and a "favorites" list of the most frequently used reports for fast access. The Paychex Online Reports Service is free to accounting professionals and offers numerous customizable reports with real-time data available about two hours after payroll processing. Reporting options include earnings statement, gross-to-net, summary overviews on a variety of periods, cash requirements, time sheet, new hires, and employee earnings records.

Client employees may access their information online to make adjustments to high-level personal and demographic information. And the system now offers the ability to import payroll data from a time clock or other third-party application. It allows for both gross-to-net and net-to-gross calculations; the ability to immediately calculate payroll cash flow requirements; and the automatic calculation of the payroll with just two mouse clicks.

Dave McClure

David P. McClure is a technologist and business consultant whose career has included eight years with the NASA Space Shuttle Program and assignments in marketing, environmental services, software publishing and broadband.  He founded the US Internet Industry Association, the nation's primary trade association for Internet and broadband companies.  In 2004 he was awarded a Cornerstone Award for leadership in the broadband industry.  In the same year, he was named to the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Administrative Corporation, the non-profit corporation that oversees the nation's $8 billion universal service telecommunications fund.  His areas of expertise include software management, strategic and market planning, global technology policy and technology audits.  He is the author of more than 100 white papers on business management, technology, customer service and strategic planning.

Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2013
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