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REVIEW: Online Payroll Systems 2014

payrollPayroll systems have become a focal point for change in the accounting industry, as rapidly escalating requirements for regulatory compliance, management of the Affordable Care Act and other initiatives, and the move to more tightly integrate mobile platforms have converged to substantively alter how payroll is done.

 "Many small businesses are moving to a more flexible workforce and electing to use 1099 contractors instead of W2 employees," says Laura Carruthers, Group Marketing Manager at Intuit. "This creates additional compliance requirements, including correctly classifying workers, keeping accurate records, and handling end-of-year tax forms filings."

Mobility applications, once a novelty class of software, is rapidly moving into the payroll mainstream.

"We see that tax preparation for individuals is declining, as more individuals do their own," says Chandra Bhansali, CEO of AccountantsWorld. "We are seeing more accounting firms take up that slack by adding payroll services, particularly with the Internet making it easier for accountants to do payroll on their own terms and their own schedules. The mechanics of payroll have become more straightforward."

"Payroll has become more mobile over the past three years," say Jim Paille, director of operations for Thomson Reuters' myPay Solutions,. "Almost everyone is now looking for instant access to payroll input records and reports. In the future, payroll will become even more paperless. Old-style paper checks and delivered reports will become a thing of the past. Seamless time and attendance integration between payroll and human resources will become the norm even for small businesses, due partly to new government reporting requirements."

For 2014, we've surveyed the leading payroll packages that are meeting these new requirements for flexibility, compliance and mobility.

Payroll Relief
Hauppauge, N.Y.
(888) 999-1366
Price: Unlimited number of payrolls for one year for just $997. After the first year, pay per payroll and pay per paycheck options are available for high-volume users.

Payroll Relief
In Payroll Relief, 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. It is offered either as a stand-alone-product or as part of the company's Power Practice suite.

Payroll Relief has been completely rewritten in the past year, with more capabilities and flexibility in system design and user-interface. Payroll Relief is now compatible with all browsers and reconfigures itself to display well on all form factors including tablets and smartphones. It features a streamlined user interface; unlimited, fully customizable pay types and allowances; reminders; new management tools and integration with Write-Up CS.

Payroll Relief is one of the oldest online payroll services, with 13 years of experience as part of AccountantsWorld. It 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.

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

Accounting CS Payroll
Accounting CS Payroll, designed to enhance collaboration with staff and clients, streamline data entry, provides advanced features such as time clock and employee data input, implement both traditional and paperless payment systems, and provide expanded reporting and billing features. It is part of the Accounting CS platform, which unifies core accounting functions into a single online platform.

Recent enhancements include new bi-directional integration with Time Rack software, a new Complete Payroll Output feature that automates payroll output for multiple clients, and improved filtering and reporting capabilities.

Perhaps most critical to accountants is the batch processing capability for both the payroll itself and for myriad state and federal forms including W-2, W-2C, 940, 941, 941-X, 943, 943-X, 944, 944-X, 945, 945-X, 1099, 1099 Corrected, state payroll tax forms, and certain local payroll tax forms (Alabama, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia) using a streamlined process, including e-filing capability and EFTPS processing.

Recent enhancements to the system include bi-directional integration with Time Rack time, attendance, and human resources software; the ability to filter payroll tax forms by "processed" or "unprocessed" status; a new Reprint Payroll Checks feature; a pay items special type for service charges; and new reporting capabilities for the Affordable Care Act.

Intuit Online Payroll for Accounting Professionals
Mountain View, Calif.
(866) 4-INTUIT
Price: Wholesale pricing starts at $19.99 per month.

Intuit Online Payroll 
Intuit's Online Payroll for Accounting Professionals, a fully mobile solution, enables either payroll services under the accounting firm's own banner with a customized client portal; or an option to set up clients to handle their own payroll with the accounting firm retaining remote access to the client data.

It handles 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, Sage 50 (Peachtree), the ATX accounting suite or CCH ProSystem fx Write-Up.

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 and 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 online payroll provides an economical solution designed to help enhance both services and profitability, particularly for the mid-range accounting firm. It offers versions designed for use with iOS and Android mobile devices for maximum mobility.

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

Price: Reseller discounts range from 15 percent to 30 percent. Standard pricing for a weekly payroll is $12.95 per payroll plus $1.99 per check/direct deposit. Wholesale pricing starts at $54.95 and allows for an unlimited number of payroll to be processed each month for up to 10 employees.

SurePayroll for Accountants
SurePayroll for Accountants is an economical, full-featured system for payroll, benefits, HR compliance and payroll support. Oriented toward accountants serving the small businesses with 1-100 employees, this product offers accountants an online dashboard tool providing (with client permission) view access to their clients' payroll reports.

Accountants can also refer clients to SurePayroll, retaining access to the client data online. Or accountants can resell a comprehensive online payroll program with a simple to use online hub built specifically for accountants who provide and want to grow their payroll service offering. The reseller program allows accountant partners to fully brand the online product and market it under the accountant's name. Whether the accountant refers or resells, the payroll 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 new co-marketing portal for Reseller partners to brand ready-made email templates, sell sheets, banner and print ads to help better market their business. Coming in 2015, look for SurePayroll to launch its next generation user-interface making processing payroll and running reports even more intuitive and easier than ever before.

Run Powered by ADP Payroll for Partners
Florham Park, N.J.
(855) 408-3751
Price: $22 to $100 per month (volume discounts apply).

Run Powered by ADP Payroll for Partners
Run Powered by ADP Payroll for Partners is a cloud-based solution that offers a small business payroll solution designed by accountants. It features signature-ready forms and e-filing and e-deposit options, which are valuable for Accountants who want a "no tax service," and want to do it themselves. ADP's Run solution for partners provides the option for ADP to print checks and other documents so that firms and clients don't have to.

The Run payroll platform offers partners various levels of service, with role-based security access via multiple access points either online or via a mobile device. ADP's Run solution for partners easily integrates with leading cloud-based accounting providers, as well as other ADP small business services, including HR features, workers' compensation premium payment plans, retirement services plans and a time and attendance solution—a particularly useful tool in light of the employee tracking requirements of the Affordable Care Act. In addition, a GL export function allows data to be easily transferred to popular accounting software solutions, including Xero and QuickBooks.

Recent enhancements include a new Accountant Portal to better serve accountants, with features that include updated tools and resources, complimentary CPE courses and many ways accountants can work with ADP; enhanced Health Care Reform tools that include an ACA Dashboard, Health Care Tax Credit Assist report, and healthcare reform library; an enhanced mobile solutions platform; and enhanced report filter options.

Paychex Online Payroll
Rochester, N.Y.
(800) 322-7292
Price: Available as reselling or full-service options through Paychex Online Payroll (around $100 a month.)

Paychex Online Payroll
The Paychex Online Payroll platform offers a single sign-on to access Paychex services that include payroll, retirement, health insurance, human resource services, reporting, and more from one spot. Intuitive app for smartphones for employees and their employers to easily access relevant information

It includes a powerful reporting engine called Report Center with over 140 reports, many of which can be customized by date range, type of employee, etc. and exported into a spreadsheet. Additionally, Report Writer allows a client with more specific needs to create their own custom reports using their data. The platform features multiple rates of pay, complex deductions, integrated 401(k) benefits support and workers' compensation. It integrates with a number of other accounting applications, and can now automatically transmit payroll data into a client's Intacct account via web services.

Recent enhancements include integration of data between the payroll and time and attendance system, called Time and Labor Online, and the Human Resources Online system; migration of clients to the new single sign-on platform, delivering the latest capabilities such as mobility apps and intuitive online portal; launch of Paychex Accounting Online, a new cloud platform for small businesses; and enhancements to support the Affordable Care Act.

Paychex is the preferred payroll and retirement plan services provider of the AICPA Trusted Business Advisor Program, as well as the chosen provider of the AICPA Firm-Based Member Retirement Program.

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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