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Great look at the terms involved in payroll from a video as part of an online accounting course. If you ignore the parts about homework help, there's some good definitions and explanations of how things work in here.
To locate a complete payroll solution, you really need to decide what kind of money you want to pay and how much you want to fool around with it. If you don't want to fool around at all (or very little), then your best bet is probably to hire an accountant. If you have a lot of employees, that might be an on-site accountant.
If your goal is to try to balance cheap/easy with expensive/custom, then you probably want to buy an accounting package and have somebody at your shop run it for you. Maybe you could do it yourself. In this case you need to start shopping for software.
The first decision to make in shopping for software is deciding whether to purchase something to run on your own computer or use something online. While everybody is different, most companies now are using online payroll software. You don't have to do anything to set it up or keep it updated, and you can use it anywhere you have an internet connection.
There are a couple of things you need to think about when buying software: what does it cost, how many other people use it, and how difficult will it be to get help if you need it?
Go for software lots of other people use. That way you can search online using Google to find help if you need it. Cost is not as much a factor as you might think. Sometimes the software that costs the least has all this other stuff you have to do in order to get your taxes done correctly. Make sure that your package will complete your tax forms! If not, you could be in for a really bad surprise. After you select only those that handle the tax filing, only then does it make sense to start comparing costs.
I've found that two of the leaders in the field, Intuit and Paychex, do a great job of taking care of you while not charging an arm and a leg. If you find others that you are happy with, please drop us a line. We'd love to be able to tell others.
As it turns out, direct deposit is a bear if you're working on your own without software. There are a lot of forms to fill out. If, however, you're using a professional or a professional accounting package, they can handle all of that for you. Usually you'll need to have a business checking account for them to take the money from. You'll also need the checking account information from your employees. It's all very easy if you have the right software!