Intuit Accountants News Central

What is the Best Payroll – QuickBooks® Enhanced or QuickBooks Online?

Article Post Date
May 15th 2013 by Hector Garcia

As an accountant offering Payroll Services, having a good system or software is the backbone of my payroll operation. But, I have to admit, the scope of work of this “payroll service” tends to be all over the map as the amount of attention required from be greatly varies client by client.

I have asked many of my colleagues, and they seem to agree with me that Payroll is one of the most unpredictable services they offer. Other colleagues admit to preparing any and every tax form out there, with the exception of payroll.

Payroll services can add a significant and steady (monthly/quarterly) income stream to the firm while also strengthening the relationship with the client, making the accountant even more indispensable to his or her clients. The downside is the unpredictability that may arise from issues and changes within a company’s internal payroll, potentially creating non-billable service time.

Today, I find myself working with the 3 Payroll options Intuit offers:

  1. QuickBooks® Enhanced Payroll: for clients wanted to control all aspects for their payroll, seamlessly integrated within QuickBooks not needing my accounting services periodically.
  2. QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll for Accountants: for clients that need After-The-Fact payroll services and detail payroll data must stay integrated within QuickBooks
  3. Intuit Online Payroll for Accounting Professionals: for clients that would prefer to have an online portal to generate paychecks and payroll taxes, while keeping control (as accountant) of what gets filed to IRS and States.

Being QuickBooks driven, I naturally chose QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll for Accountants (EP4A) as my system of choice to provide this service. The main features that attracted me to this choice were these:

  1. Price – it’s $429 per year (or $200 as an upgrade to the annual QuickBooks ProAdvisor® Membership)
  2. It’s ideal for the amount of clients I was managing, under 50 EINs
  3. It has seamless integration within QuickBooks
  4. After-The-Fact gave me full control of input and adjustments before filling forms or paying taxes

As my practice (and clients) grew, certain situations created some constraints on working with an After-The-Fact system:

Luckily, I did not have to look too far to find an alternative that will allow me to service these clients. The whole outlook of payroll services, as I knew it, changed when I implemented Intuit Online Payroll for Accountants (IOP4A). Some of the differences are very obvious. For example, IOP4A is completely web-based, so I did not have to be in my computer with QuickBooks and the client’s company open in order to process payroll. This gave me a new dynamic to be able to service my payroll clients from home or on the road much faster.

Clients get access, too, which allows the client and me to collaborate in payroll efforts:

  1. My client will log in to IOP4A and enter the hours and bonus for a particular employee, create the paycheck and print it, and can even create direct deposit paychecks.
  2. I can log in the system at any time and make any adjustments and/or create the tax payments.

With some clients, I have completely delegated all the payroll tasks, such as creating paychecks, adding new employees and making tax payments. I simply just e-file the tax forms. This has allowed me to maintain my “needy” clients without increasing my prices or dedicating much non-billable service time.

There are some other distinct advantages to this payroll system in comparison with EP4A:

It’s also important to identify that IOP4A will not be suitable for every client. For example, here are the reasons I may choose to keep a client on EP4A:

There are also some situations where neither solution was available, such as a client wanting to process their own payroll in its entirety. If this occurs, then I just recommend QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll and get involved with the client in support and training their staff to process it correctly.

My default service of choice is actually IOP4A, primarily because I prefer to give my clients more “control” which means less “work” for me in the long run.


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