Patriot Payroll Software Review 2021: Benefits, Drawbacks, Alternatives

Patriot Payroll is an affordable payroll software option with an easy setup process.
Amrita JayakumarMay 26, 2021

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Patriot Payroll is a relatively affordable payroll software for small businesses, with an easy setup process and transparent pricing.

The Ohio-based company prides itself on ease of use: The average small-business user is able to run payroll in under three minutes, the company says. Its full-service plan — the more expensive of the two plans it offers — includes tax filings and deposits, making it a solid choice for small businesses that handle payroll for up to 100 employees. But unlike some competitors, it charges additional fees for certain services and doesn't offer benefits administration or customizable reports.

Deciding factors


After free 30-day trial:

Basic: $10/month plus $4/person.

Full service: $30/month plus $4/person.

Tax filing and payments

Yes, full-service option offers federal, state and local tax filings.

Offers benefit administration add-ons?

No. But customizable payroll deductions such as 401(k)s, HSAs and FSAs are available.

Employee access to portal?

Yes. Through the portal, employees can view past paychecks, edit direct deposit information, view time-off history and download W-2s.

Live support?

Yes, by phone, chat or email, weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern.

Easy to use?

Yes. It has a simple, intuitive interface and easy-to-follow training materials.

How does Patriot’s payroll software work?

Patriot offers a free demo on its website as well as a 30-day trial period of its payroll software. It has two pricing tiers: basic and full service.

After picking a service and signing up, users receive a welcome call and email, and a representative guides them through setup options. Patriot can take care of the payroll setup process for free if provided with the relevant information. It also has a tool, called the payroll startup wizard, that walks users through the process and provides instructional videos.

Payroll is run in three steps:

  1. Enter payroll information for employees and contractors.

  2. Approve payroll.

  3. Issue pay via direct deposit or print out paper checks.

Payroll should be run three days before payday (by noon Eastern time) when using direct deposit. If your company has a good transaction history with Patriot, it can be considered for faster timing, says Michele Bossart, Patriot’s marketing manager.

patriot payroll - enter payroll information

The funds are debited from a business bank account after running payroll (Patriot doesn't allow funds to be sent from a personal account). Both basic and full-service options allow payments to employees as well as contractors on different schedules, including biweekly, semi-monthly or monthly.

How much does Patriot’s payroll software cost?

Patriot has two pricing tiers:

  • Run payroll in all 50 states.

  • Paid time-off policies.

  • Integrates with Patriot’s own accounting software or other software, including QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop.

  • Import time-tracking data from Patriot Time and Attendance software or QuickBooks Time.

  • Free integration with workers’ compensation insurance.

  • Employee dashboard.

  • Ability to classify employee payroll by groups and generate reports on payroll costs by team.

  • 1099 e-filing option comes with an additional fee: $20 for fewer than five contractors, $2 for every additional 1099 filing, for up to 35 people.

  • All basic services.

  • Federal, state and local tax filings and deposits plus coverage for any penalties or interest. Additional state tax filings cost $12 per month, per state.

In both the basic and full-service versions, businesses can purchase Patriot’s own time-tracking or HR software for an extra cost starting at $6 per month plus $2 per person. The company also offers accounting software starting at $15 per month.

Benefits of Patriot payroll

Affordable and does the job

At $30 per month, Patriot’s full-service plan is one of the more affordable options that NerdWallet has reviewed. It comes with all the basic features of payroll software, such as unlimited payroll runs, the ability to pay employees and contractors across multiple states and tax-filing services. It can also support up to 100 employees, unlike some lower-cost options that come with lower limits.

patriot payroll - approve payroll

Transparent costs

With Patriot Payroll, costs and features are presented in a transparent manner, which isn't true for all payroll software companies. For example, ADP and Paychex don't publish prices online; instead, businesses have to request quotes.

Comprehensive resources

Patriot’s demo software, articles and training videos are comprehensive and easy to follow. The payroll setup process is also relatively straightforward. The company handles the process with the free payroll setup option, or the payroll startup wizard lets you do it yourself.

Drawbacks of Patriot payroll

Additional fees

With Patriot’s basic payroll software, users have to pay a fee for e-filing 1099 forms. For five or fewer contractors, it's a flat $20 fee for e-filing. For six to 35 contractors, the cost is an additional $2 for every 1099 filing; additional charges don't apply for those with 36 or more contractors. Payroll4Free, priced in the same range as Patriot, includes this feature for free.

For small businesses that file taxes in multiple states, additional state tax filings cost $12 per month, per state. Wave Payroll and OnPay don't charge for multiple state tax filings.

No benefits administration or free HR services

Companies like Gusto and OnPay throw in HR services such as employee onboarding documents or offer letters with the basic versions of their payroll software. Patriot doesn't; an HR add-on has to be purchased separately. On the benefits front, Patriot doesn't handle the administration of employee benefits with external providers, such as a health insurance company or 401(k) provider.

Employee paycheck deductions and contributions can be set up using Patriot, but it cannot send money to providers on your behalf. Patriot also doesn't send payments for insurance, garnishments or child support. Gusto and OnPay, priced slightly higher than Patriot, both offer health benefit administration services through partners for an additional fee. Gusto also sends child support and garnishment funds to the appropriate agencies.

No customizable reports

Patriot’s basic and full-service options include a suite of built-in payroll reports, which may work fine for basic needs. For those who want the ability to generate custom reports, Paychex Flex and OnPay give them the power to do that for a higher price.

Alternatives to Patriot payroll

With the basic or full-service option, Patriot carries an affordable price tag and many of the features users would want in payroll software. Roll by ADP, Payroll4Free and Wave Payroll are similarly priced options worth considering for a small business's payroll needs. Here’s how they stack up against each other:


How it's different from Patriot Payroll

Tax filing availability

Roll by ADP

Limited-time: $17 per month and $5 per person per month and up. (Typically $29 per month.)

  • Chat-based mobile payroll software app.

  • Next-day direct deposit available.

Federal, state and local tax filing included.

  • Free option meant for businesses with up to 25 employees (additional cost for more).

  • No fee for e-filing 1099s.

Tax filing options available for $15 per month.

$20 per month and $6 per person per month and up.

  • No extra charge for filing taxes in multiple states.

Tax filing available only in 14 states.

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