[IMGCAP(1)] I’m a Payroll Betty and I’m proud.  

What does that mean exactly?

It means I’ve built my firm with payroll. The result has been very rewarding.

However, not surprisingly, I’ve run into an accountant or two that looks down on payroll. They don’t want to be bothered with such “low level” work.

Not me; I love payroll.   

Our firm has embraced online payroll for almost 10 years now. It is one of the most profitable and value-added services our firm provides. Not only do we make money, but also it keeps us connected to our customers all year long. It takes us minutes and it gives us ongoing regular communication with our customers making them extremely sticky.

And everyone loves sticky customers.  

However, this past week there was a lot of drama happening in the world of online payroll.

ZenPayroll rebranded itself as Gusto and is expanding its service line to include health benefits and workers’ compensation. 

There was also some intel on BuzzFeed (payroll has made it to BuzzFeed! Now, that’s saying something, wow!) that Zenefits will be adding payroll to its benefits platform.

A little healthy competition never hurt anyone!

I sometimes forget that payroll is a billion dollar industry and “rich and famous” VCs fund both of these start-ups.

I’m happy there is competition in the online payroll space and I’m thrilled services are expanding into the benefits arena. 

This could be a potential win/win for small business and the accountants that serve them.

However, I do have concerns.

They are the compliance experts. Their software knows how to populate forms and make tax payments, not the CPAs who use payroll tax planning as a tool within their income tax practices. These experts don’t always realize why a CPA would want access to a certain area of their software to make a judgment-related adjustment.   

My hope for the compliance experts is that they remember the critical tax- planning role that CPAs perform using payroll as part of comprehensive small business accounting, budgeting, and tax planning. They need to remember to give CPAs access and respect to do their jobs with the help of their software. 

Software, as far as it’s come, still can’t make judgment calls. 

So, please don’t make that assumption.

Jody Padar, CPA, MST, is the chief executive officer and principal at New Vision CPA Group and the author of The Radical CPA (www.theradicalcpa.com).