In todays economy, you need all the help you can get to save money. But for most small business entrepreneurs, taking a task like payroll in-house seems too daunting. With all the state and federal taxes and regulations to track and payroll deductions to calculate, just the thought of getting started is enough to make your head spin.
Not anymore. For 2009, PayCycle has revamped its setup tool, making it surprisingly easy to get started. This enhancement, plus a host of others, makes this class-leading online payroll application an even stronger offering. If youre still doing payroll manuallyand risking running afoul of state and federal tax lawsor paying hundreds of dollars per month to an outside service, its time to give PayCycle a look.
Were all familiar with software setup wizards, and the new setup tool in PayCycle does that concept one better. Its very similar to the question-and-answer interview format of the leading tax-prep software tools. While other payroll services present you with forms to fill out, PayCycles setup routine is much more approachable.
Broken down into four unitscompany profile, employees, taxes and historythe wizard asks you jargon-free questions to collect the pertinent information. For example, in the Employees unit, PayCycle asks you if you plan to pay your employees through direct deposit or not, if they earn paid vacation or sick time, if you pay independent contractors as part of your payroll and other questions. From your answers, PayCycle gleans how to structure your payrollinstead of you having to tell the program how to structure it.
The new interview-based setup wizard in PayCycle can get you from sign-up to running payroll in less than 30 minutes.
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At the beginning of each step the wizard makes it clear what information youll need; but even if you dont have some arcane tidbit handy, the wizard lets you fill in as much as you can and continue on instead of stopping you cold. Each screen lets you know where you are in the process and you can abandon the setup and any point and come back at a later time to pick up where you left off, which is ideal for those inevitable interruptions.
Naturally, theres a Help link on each page of the setup wizard the leads to context-sensitive help. You can look up an answer in PayCycles extensive (and searchable) knowledgebase, initiate a live chat session with a PayCycle technician or use the live phone support option (operators are available from Monday through Friday from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm). You can set up a simple company that has just a few employees in less than 15 minutesand even run payroll that same day (handy for you procrastinators out there).
Full-featured DIY Payroll
Once your company is set up, subsequent log-ins take you to a main screen with a list of to-do items and their due dates. That list plus automated e-mail alerts ensure you wont inadvertently miss a deadline. You can also access your payroll history, view tax forms (even if you submit payments electronically) and generate reports.
In addition to the super-wizard setup, other new-for-2009 features include an export manager for sending data to your QuickBooks, Peachtree or other accounting software with just one click; the ability to set up e-payments for more than one state (previously PayCycle was limited to just one); and support for up to 150 employees.
PayCycle still offers the full complement of payroll features it has accrued since it launched in 1999. With both the Plus and Basic service levels you get e-mail reminders for required actions, instant paycheck calculations and tax calculations that are guaranteed to be accurate. You can also have PayCycle automatically figure in voluntary employee deductions, such as those for retirement accounts and insurance premiums.
PayCycle supports 21 different pay types (hourly, salary, OT, commissions, bonuses and so on) and you can have it track accrued sick and vacation time. Employees can sign up for direct deposit (at no extra charge to you, unlike some other services) and see their pay stubs online, letting payday go completely paperless.
As for taxes, both levels of PayCycle calculate your federal payroll taxes and let you pay them electronically. You also get access to signature-ready federal forms. Both levels of the service let you run a range of different payroll reports, including summary information by paycheck, deduction summaries and details, tax payments and more. Plus and Basic each also support multiple users with unique log-ins, as well as online access to your payroll data for your accountant.
Stepping up to Plus lets you handle state payroll taxes (including paying electronically, where supported), and lets you calculate state withholding tax for employees that live in a state different from the one your business is based in. Plus also includes two different independent-contractor reports.
Pricing for PayCycle Basic starts at $24.99 per month, and PayCycle Plus costs $42.99 per month. The company is also offering other perqs for subscribers, such as Webinars covering various business topics (including cash flow in a down economy, marketing seminars and more) and the free Payroll for Dummies book that covers the basics of payroll.
Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with nearly 14 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.
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