2009 Product Reviews: ATX Payroll and TaxWise Payroll by CCH

These CCH Small Firm offerings are separately labeled versions of the same application. Both have a list price of $520 and allow practitioners to offer full-service payroll offerings to their clients. Both ATX Payroll and TaxWise Payroll can be purchased as standalone products, or as part of the ATX and TaxWise Client Write-Up Suites, respectively. Both Client Write-Up Suites have a retail price of $984 each, which includes a mandatory $89 online training session.

ATX/TaxWise Payroll handles the payroll basics with ease, such as calculating payroll, printing checks, and processing direct deposits. However, these applications also allow you to do much more:
·         MICR check printing means you'll never have to change out check stock in your printer when you move from one client's payroll to another.
·         The Attendance Import feature allows you to import employee hours in ASCII or CSV format, and use either the Payroll employee code or an employee's Social Security number as the unique identifier.
·         Numerous reports allow you and your clients to track every aspect of the payroll process.
·         You can combine employee records (helpful when an employee has been set up twice in error)
·         You can print blank MICR checks or payroll tax return forms on demand, which can then be completed by hand.
·         Withholdings can be calculated at federal, state, and municipal levels, along with any sort of deduction or employer contribution.
·         Garnishment processing includes generating checks to the appropriate governmental entity.
·         Detailed workers' compensation calculations are available.
·         Standardized employee job titles simplify the employee set-up process.
·         Craft Code tracking streamlines Equal Employment Opportunity surveys.
·         You can reconcile payroll bank accounts from within the payroll module, as well as generate checks to vendors for payroll-related obligations.
·         A Gross-Up Calculator allows users to specify a desired net pay to determine the corresponding gross pay, which can be helpful for year-end bonuses
·         The Third-Party Sick Pay Tracking feature is useful in reporting Social Security and Medicare withholding on long-term disability payments.
·         The Tip Allocation feature makes it easy to allocate tips based on gross receipts or hours worked, and allows for indirect tips.
·         State and Federal tax return processing is included, including magnetic filing for Federal returns and over 30 states.
·         Client payroll data is stored in a Microsoft Access database, which means you can optionally link payroll data to Excel spreadsheets or other applications.
The comprehensive online help file is well organized, and clearly explains every feature of the program. Firms with multiple offices can "check-out" a client's data for use at another office, and then "check-in" the data when it's been returned.
You can extend the functionality of both ATX Payroll and Tax Wise payroll:
·         An online W-2/1099 filing add-on is available for $160, which enables you to electronically file quarterly Form 941 and annual Forms 940 and 944, as well as Forms 1099, 1098, and 5498. This module also allows you to verify W-2 information using the Social Security Administration's AccuWage program. A diagnostic feature checks for invalid Social Security or Employer Identification Numbers, as well as appropriate withholding amounts. Further, you can import employee wage data from both QuickBooks and Peachtree Accounting.
 
·         The Payroll Compliance Reporting add-on is $290, and includes all of the features of the online W2/1099 add-on, plus the ability to prepare state and local withholding forms, as well as state unemployment forms. This module includes more than 1,800 federal, state, and local payroll forms.
Both ATX Payroll and TaxWise Payroll also offer an online solution known as PayCycle for Accounting Professionals. This solution allows you to offer web-based payroll services under your own firm's name. The "wholesale" option allows you to use PayCycle to automate the back-office work of processing payroll, while the "client retail service" enables your clients to manage their own payroll while you retain access to their information.
Both ATX Payroll and TaxWise payroll provide unlimited free support via phone, fax, and online.

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