Payroll program aims to save firms from taxing problem

A LOT OF people have been paying too much income tax because of accounting errors. However, their misfortune could provide a great opportunity for Megatech Software, a firm that specialises in the accountancy field.

Spotting a gap in the market, Megatech has produced a package to simplify accurate payroll calculation and help business avoid errors in the pounds 92bn income tax and National Insurance (NI) bill it pays each year.

The system, TAS Payroll, calculates the correct payments automatically. It handles all the NI requirements and tax codes and can encompass up to five different rates of pay (basic pay and special rates, such as overtime, weekend and holiday rates) and 10 named adjustments (such as union deductions or laundry payments for clothes) per employee, for weekly, fortnightly, four-weekly or monthly processing. It can provide for payment by cash, cheque, Giro or via the bankers' automated clearing system.

TAS Payroll also helps with paperwork by printing payslips and standard forms, including P45s, P11s, year-end P14/P60s and P35s. The software can handle statutory sick pay and maternity pay, and the attachment of earnings by court order.

The package is suited to organisations with up to 1,000 employees, and costs pounds 99. A multi-user version, allowing access from a number of screens, costs pounds 199. A multi-pay package that allows several payrolls to be run costs pounds 50 and can be added to either version.

'Most organisations already have a PC, and TAS Payroll does not need any extra hardware, so it can be installed and running within minutes,' said Theo Van Dort, Megatech's chairman. 'The product is no more difficult to learn and use than a spreadsheet, so the time and effort needed to take full control of the payroll is small in comparison to the benefits.'

Megatech points out that there are savings to be made by doing the work in-house, rather than farming it out to a bureau, and that having easy access to information makes it possible to produce reports.

'It's also easy to look back on information if you've got it yourself, to see at a glance how an employee's payroll is made up and what the deductions are,' said Charles Francis, sales and marketing manager.

'People often find it difficult to understand their payslips, so it's useful, when there are queries, to be able to look back over a system and explain.

'It's not difficult to do a payroll - in fact it's terribly easy, you just follow the instructions - but if you have lots of other responsibilities it can be a nightmare job,' Mr Francis said.

'The big problem for relatively small businesses is that the person doing the payroll doesn't get enough practice.

'If you're a wages clerk in a large factory doing it every day it's easy; but if you have a small business with only a few employees and calculate the payroll once a month, it becomes an absolute chore.

'Someone who is good at running his own business may not be good at this, and can end up thinking, 'I'm going to waste the whole of Friday afternoon because I'm not familiar with the tax tables.'

'There's also a tremendous amount of legislation around payrolls. Our new package makes it all easy, because you just have to follow the prompts on the screen.

'Whatever happens, whatever might go wrong, even if production stops, you can't not pay people; it's a job that must be done, come hell or high water - so why not make it as easy as possible?' Mr Francis argued.

'The package is sold on a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there's no commitment if a small business wants to try it out and see if they like it.'

If you would like some expert advice on how to operate your payroll, you may be able to attend one of the courses run by the Inland Revenue. The Revenue suggests contacting your Paye office for advice.

Many of the local Revenue offices are even prepared to set up training sessions if at least half-a-dozen people inform them that they want to attend.