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Click and Hack: Payroll processing tips

Click and Hack
The Computer Store

If you own a small business and find yourself struggling through payroll processing every month or maybe have instead opted to pay someone else an exorbitant fee to handle the details for you, it may be time to consider an online payroll service. There are a handful of good ones, and being a five-year user of one of the best, we can attest to their ease, affordability and accuracy.

With an online payroll service, you can easily log in at any time (even while traveling, if you must), process your weekly or bi-weekly payroll, pay payroll taxes, generate returns, W-2’s, 1099s and payroll reports and even allow employees to access their own payroll records ” all for as little as $20 per month, depending on the number of employees you have. Even better, the sites keep current on changes in tax rates and reporting requirements on the federal level so you don’t have to, and to some degree on the state level as well. It takes an hour or so to set up your account, depending on the number of employees you have and how prepared you are with account numbers, employee details, pay rate and deduction data and so on, but once in place, maintenance and use of the system is extremely easy.

Two of the better choices (according to PC Magazine) are SurePayroll and PayCycle. SurePayroll offers a clean, simple interface, generous deduction options and a six-month money-back guarantee. Learn more at http://www.surepayroll.com. We use PayCycle (www.PayCycle.com )and agree with PC Magazine ” which selected it for an Editors’ Choice award ” that it is an excellent application. The package is easy-to-use, comprehensive and backed by good support, although we’ve had a few issues with scripted responses to unique problems.

To keep you on top of things, the service provides a “to do” list on the home page and e-mail reminders of tasks that need to be completed in order to meet deadlines and stay current. Here is a sample of the services offered by PayCycle:

– Periodic payroll processing. Simply enter hours worked by employee, commissions, etc., and the system automatically processes auto-deposits, generates pay stubs and an accounting of all taxes due.

– Monthly and quarterly taxes and returns. You can arrange for forms and payments to be sent electronically.

– Annual processing and electronic filing of W-2s.

– E-mail reminders of pending tasks.

– A variety of useful reports that can be printed, or exported to Excel or QuickBooks.

– Management of contractor payments and reporting, if needed (at an additional cost).

– Employee access, if desired.

All in all, the service has more than met our expectations. The only downsides we’ve experienced have been incomplete state of Colorado details (which is to be expected), some deficiencies in e-mail support, especially when dealing with unique problems, and some less-than-perfect navigation when it comes to generating the exact report you need. Nevertheless, as compared to the expensive “we do it all for you” services, we can’t complain.


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