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REVIEW: Payroll Systems 2012

It is becoming harder to find payroll systems for accountants that are not based either online or in a service bureau. The reasons for this are obvious, in terms of efficiency and costs. Still, there are situations in which it may make more sense for an accounting firm to have a desktop-based payroll solution with which to serve clients.

The most obvious of these is shown on the news almost daily  disasters in the form of floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes. In the aftermath of a major disaster, it make take days or weeks for phone and internet connections to be restored. In the meantime, payroll will still have to be calculated to processed if businesses are to continue in operation. Nor does the disaster have to occur to the accounting firm. It is possible that the processing center or data center housing client payroll data can be affected by these crises as well.

Less obvious are the more mundane threats. If you happen to live in an area with poor Internet service, an online payroll processing system may be less attractive that one that requires only electricity and paper to use. Nor does this have to be a rural setting - there are urban areas that are poorly served by the Internet as well.

You may not want to purchase desktop software just to have on hand, but it will be helpful to know which vendors still offer stand-alone products. To that end, we have surveyed the top desktop payroll vendors of 2012for consideration.

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

Accounting CS Payroll
Accounting CS Payroll is the payroll module for Thomson-Reuters Accounting CS platform, a comprehensive suite of accounting tools designed for the needs of accounting professionals who process large volumes ofpayroll for clients.

The payroll system includes a Form & Filing Information portlet within the Home dashboard that provides instant information on payroll status, including due dates and tax information. An 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 user, there is also Remote Check Printing, Remote Payroll Data Entry, and ability to provide online portal access to the client's payroll administrator. Access to the portal features is also possible from the Apple iPad , giving employees access to electronic copies of their payroll information including paycheck stubs, W-2s, W-4s, earnings history. Employees can also enter time and make changes to their W-4s from their portals.

Accounting CS Payroll handles all federal, state and most local payroll taxes, and even selects applicable taxing authorities via a street level verification feature within Accounting CS Payroll that identifies taxes and taxing authorities associated with the company's location. This includes support for 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. Each client file may contain an unlimited number of employees, with each employee paycheck containing an unlimited number of pay rates and deduction items.

Direct deposit and impounding abilities are included in the licensing costs and includes support for an unlimited number of bank and investment accounts. Prepaid debit cards are available and may be used by employees for an additional fee arrangement through a variety of financial institutions.

Accounting CS payroll is designed to work with Accounting CS, and is able to import data from QuickBooks Pro and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. It offers powerful batch processing capabilities for accounting firms with a strong commitment to payroll services.

CMS Professional Payroll 2012

Cougar Mountain Software
Boise, Idaho
(800) 388-3038
www.cougarmtn.com Price: starts at $699 (single user); $899 (four user); $1,149 (unlimited)

CMS Professional Payroll 2012
CMS Professional Payroll 2012 is a standalone payroll solution for businesses of all types and sizes, though it has particular strength in processing large payrolls. It functions well as either a module integrated with the Cougar Mountain Point of Sale or Accounting package where all of the payroll information automatically posts to General Ledger, Accounts Payable, and other modules in the Cougar Mountain Point of Sale or Accountingpackage.

Among its key features are the ability to support an unlimited number of business units with multiple department codes, pay frequencies & job costing data, as well as custom fields; support for overtime, holiday pay, advances, draws, base pay, and miscellaneous charges; support for electronic payroll; and support for federal and state forms.

An integral part of the product redesign for accounting products from Cougar Mountain software, CMS Professional Payroll offers full support for all federal, state and local taxes. Additionally, employees may have multiple income and deduction items attached to their paychecks. Support for up to 99 items is available for pay rates, deduction, benefit and garnishment. Direct deposit capabilities are included with support for up to four bank and investment accounts.

Cougar Mountain Payroll reports include 13 standards, including those for employee earnings, taxable wages, leave and history. Reports can be sorted by name, number, department or Social Security number, or using a date range or employee status. Customize the Payroll reports with only a few clicks of the mouse, using the included R&R Report Writer® from LiveWare Publishing.

CYMA Payroll
CYMA Systems
Tempe, Ariz.
(800) 292-2962
(480) 303-2969
Price: From $1,500 to $10,000, depending on employee count and configuration.

Cyma Payroll
Cyma Payroll Software allows any organization to process payroll in-house, write payroll checks, run instant payroll reports, and calculate employee earnings, deductions, 401k, cafeteria plans and more.

It supports thousands of employees across an unlimited number of companies and integrates with other Cyma software modules to offer a total payroll accounting software solution. When integrated with the General Ledger, it provides the ability to post all payroll and employer taxes to the appropriate accounts. Cyma Payroll Software will automatically generate tax liability and benefit invoices in Accounts Payable.

Additional payroll features include EFT Direct Deposit, workers compensation categories, multi state payroll, and a wide variety of tax and earnings reports. It offers the ability to process payroll for all states, with unlimited earnings, pay times, pay frequencies, benefits and deductions. In addition, accountants may attach unlimited documents and create an unlimited number of custom fields. The current version added web-based employee self service, EEOC Reporting, benefits management, enhanced employee demographics (including I-9 information) and HR functions such as education, military service and drug test tracking.

Cyma Payroll presents a strong blend of accounting and HR capabilities in addition to payroll, making it a more flexible tool for mid-range and larger clients of accounting firms.

Intuit Enhanced Payroll For Accountants
Mountain View, Calif.
(866) 820-6382
Price: Billed annually: $395.00 for the first year (this price is for unlimited employees, the price for up to employees is $295 billed for the first year)

Intuit Enhanced Payroll For Accountants
Intuit Enhanced Payroll for Accountants is a highly flexible payroll service designed to allow accountants to process payroll for up to 50 EINs with a single subscription, and to process After-The-Fact Payroll. It also enables clients to perform their own in-house payroll using the features of Intuit Enhanced Payroll.

It 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.

The ability to perform after-the-fact payroll is a strong feature, offering a simple spreadsheet-style data entry screen and the ability to copy data from a previous paycheck into the current period.

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.

Sage Abra Payroll
Sage Software
St. Petersburg, Fla.
(727) 579-1111
Price: Starts at $1650.

Sage Abra Payroll
Sage HRMS Payroll is designed to be a cost-effective solution for in-house management of payroll, offering the ability to run payrolls from the desktop, with the ability to assign an unlimited number of deductions per employee and deposit to an unlimited number of financial institutions.

The payroll information can be integrated with leading financial accounting packages, including Sage 100 ERP and Sage 100 Fund Accounting. Paychecks can be created, voided and reissued on demand, including employee earnings, deductions, tax withholdings and employer tax liability. Seamless integration with HRMS HR eliminates duplicate data entry, simplifies reporting, and automatically links benefit plans in HR to deductions in payroll. HRMS Payroll also interfaces with most major accounting packages and most time clock systems.

The software produces over 100 standard reports, including payroll deposit requirements, workers compensation costs, and unemployment/disability wages. It also integrates smoothly with Crystal Reports, providing another 120 more complex customized reports.

For U.S. companies (Sage HRMS Suite - U.S. Edition), HRMS Payroll offers a full range of tax management capabilities, including all standard tax tables, compatibility with Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), and electronic media reporting for all states.
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.

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