QuickBooks Payroll Review: Pros, Cons, Alternatives

This cloud-based payroll software from one of the most trusted names in accounting comes with fast direct deposits.
Feb 28, 2022

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QuickBooks Payroll is an outstanding choice if you already use QuickBooks Online and are looking for payroll software that will make your life just a little easier. Designed for businesses between one and 50 employees, it integrates directly with QuickBooks Online, can run payroll automatically and offers same-day or next-day direct deposits. It comes with three plans, and businesses can upgrade as they grow and require more services. Health benefits and retirement plans can be incorporated with any subscription.

However, if you use accounting software other than QuickBooks Online or have employees in multiple states, it’s worth taking a closer look at the competition. QuickBooks Online is the only accounting software QuickBooks Payroll integrates with, and if you have employees in more than one state, you may have to pay extra monthly tax filing fees.



  • QuickBooks Online integration.

  • Next-day or same-day direct deposit.

  • Additional tax penalty protection with Elite plan.

  • User-friendly.

  • Additional filing fees for Core and Premium plans.

  • Limited integrations without QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Payroll

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on QuickBooks' website

Deciding factors


$45 per month plus $4 per employee per month and up. No annual contract is required. Get either 50% off the monthly base price for three months or get a 30-day free trial.

Tax filing and payments?

Yes. For all three plan tiers, federal and state payroll taxes are calculated, filed and paid automatically. This includes year-end filings, too.

Ability to manage employee benefits

Good. QuickBooks Payroll partners with SimplyInsured and Guideline to offer benefits. Through SimplyInsured, it offers medical, dental and vision insurance, and through Guideline, it offers 401(k) plans.

Employee access to portal

Excellent. Employees can securely access their pay stubs, W-2s, paid time-off balances and bank information for direct deposit through the Workforce portal.

Live support

Excellent. All plans come with 24/7 chat support and phone support 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT on Saturday. The Elite plan includes a call back option to minimize wait times.

Ease of use

Excellent. Its user interface is intuitive and user-friendly. It walks users through each step of the setup and provides time-saving automation options.

How does QuickBooks Payroll work?

QuickBooks Payroll is a cloud-based payroll software that allows businesses to pay employees, file payroll taxes and manage employee benefits and HR in one place. The software saves time by automatically calculating, filing and paying federal and state payroll taxes.

After getting set up, you can automatically run payroll for your employees. Or, if you don’t like the automated option, you can run payroll manually from your computer or through the mobile app. You can also customize reports to include deductions and contributions, multiple work sites and paid time off.






$45 per month plus $4 per employee per month.

  • Full-service payroll including automated taxes and forms.

  • Automatic payroll for salaried employees and hourly employees on default hours. Both must be paid via direct deposit.

  • Option to offer employee health benefits.

  • Option to offer 401(k) plans.

  • Unlimited 1099 e-filing.

  • 24/7 chat support; phone support Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT and Saturday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT.

  • Next-day direct deposit.


$75 per month plus $8 per employee per month.

Core plan features plus:

  • Same-day direct deposit.

  • Workers’ comp administration.

  • HR support center.

  • Expert review to ensure you didn’t make any mistakes during setup.

  • Mobile time tracking through QuickBooks Time lets employees clock in and out on their phones. The software can track their location when they're clocked in, but not after they clock out.


$125 per month plus $10 per employee per month.

Premium plan features plus:

  • Pay employees in other states at no additional cost.

  • Track projects on the go. QuickBooks Time’s geofencing feature nudges employees to clock in and out when they enter and leave an assigned job site.

  • An expert will set up QuickBooks Payroll for you, as long as you provide all of the necessary documents.

  • Personal HR advisor.

  • Call back support.

  • Tax penalty protection up to $25,000 per year.

QuickBooks Payroll benefits

Next-day or same-day direct deposit

Free next-day direct deposit makes QuickBooks Payroll’s lowest-tier Core plan stand out among competitor plans that include two-day direct deposits or slower. Upgrading to a Premium or Elite plan gets free same-day direct deposit for employees, a feature some competitors don’t offer at all. A quick direct deposit turnaround time is ideal for cash-flow management and means your small business can hold onto that cash for longer.

Automatic payroll

Every QuickBooks Payroll plan has the option to automatically run payroll for salaried employees paid via direct deposit and hourly employees with default hours paid via direct deposit. Before payroll runs each pay period, you’ll get a preview email with the opportunity to make changes. Once your employees are paid, QuickBooks Payroll will send you a confirmation text.

QuickBooks integrations


QuickBooks Payroll integrates with QuickBooks Online so that accounting records are automatically updated alongside payroll. This allows you to see exactly how much you’re paying employees versus how much money the business is making in real time. The integration also means you don’t have to export payroll info manually and risk making mistakes in the process. You can tack QuickBooks Online plans (from Simple Start to Plus) onto any QuickBooks Payroll plan and vice versa.

Time tracking

QuickBooks Payroll Premium and Elite plans come with QuickBooks Time, which lets employees clock in and out on their smartphones. The Elite plan also includes a geofencing feature that notifies employees to clock in and out based on when they arrive and leave a job site. The feature can help with job costing for project-based businesses like landscaping companies, where employees work in different locations depending on the project.

Accuracy guarantee

All QuickBooks Payroll plans come with an accuracy guarantee. If a user provides accurate information on time and something still goes wrong, QuickBooks will deal with the payroll tax penalties.

The Elite plan goes a step further and covers up to $25,000 per year in payroll tax penalties resulting from mistakes an employer might have made. In other words, you’re covered even if QuickBooks isn’t responsible for the error.

QuickBooks Payroll

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on QuickBooks' website

QuickBooks Payroll drawbacks

Some features available only on higher-tier plans

If you have employees in different states, you’ll incur additional charges unless you have the highest-tier Elite plan. QuickBooks Payroll has a $12 monthly fee for every filing obligation outside of the primary state. For businesses with remote employees, these multiple-state-filing fees could really add up.

QuickBooks Payroll also requires a higher subscription tier for payroll setup services, unlike some other options. Its Elite plan will assign an expert to get it done, as long as you give them the required documents beforehand. And if you want reassurance that everything has been set up correctly, the middle-tier Premium plan comes with an expert review to catch any mistakes you might have made in the setup process.

Limited integrations without QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Payroll integrates with SimplyInsured for health insurance, Guideline for retirement plans, Mineral, Inc. for HR and other Intuit products. But beyond that, choices are limited for exploring other outside add-ons. That’s part of the reason why pairing QuickBooks Payroll with QuickBooks Online makes such a difference. The accounting software integrates with over 650 other business apps that open up more time-tracking, analytics, employee benefit and customer relationship management (or CRM) options.



Pricing: Starts at $40 per month plus $6 per person per month.

Pros: For payroll software that puts emphasis on HR and employees, Gusto covers the bases. Gusto’s Premium plan includes an employee handbook builder, along with templates for job descriptions, HR guides and policies. Those features aren't part of the middle-tier Plus plan, but it does offer access to employee surveys, coworker directories and time tracking. Unlike QuickBooks Payroll, Gusto allows for several third-party integrations and doesn’t charge extra fees for out-of-state employees.

Cons: While Gusto offers a wide variety of features, the highest-tier Premium plan is only available at quote-based pricing. Even so, Gusto’s Plus plan still includes hiring and onboarding tools.

Gusto Payroll

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on Gusto's website


Pricing: Paychex Flex Essentials is $39 per month plus $5 per employee per month. The higher-tier plans, Paychex Flex Select and Paychex Flex Pro, are custom-priced.

Pros: Depending on their plan, Paychex subscribers get access to some neat features not commonly seen from competitors, including QuickBooks Payroll. These include e-learning courses, employment verification services, an employee financial wellness program and pay cards.

Cons: If you need to pay employees within the next day or two, the Paychex Flex plans might not cut it. Though it’s nice to have an expert set up your account and walk you through it, the process can take 48 hours or longer. There is also no free trial available.


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on Paychex's website

RUN Powered by ADP

Pricing: Custom pricing based on the business’s size and desired features; rates start at $59 per month plus $4 per employee.

Pros: Compared to QuickBooks Payroll, RUN Powered by ADP integrates with a wider variety of HR solutions, accounting software and enterprise resource-planning options. The lowest-tier Essential plan also includes new hire onboarding, as well as the option to add time and attendance tracking, retirement plans, workers’ compensation, health insurance and marketing assistance.

Cons: It’s difficult to compare ADP payroll software plans against other companies because it doesn’t provide prices upfront. You also have to opt for the second-highest of four plans if you want basic HR support.

RUN Powered by ADP®

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on ADP's website


Pricing: $37 per month plus $4 per employee per month for the Full Service Payroll plan.

Pros: Patriot’s full-service payroll plan is significantly less expensive than QuickBooks Payroll. It also offers similar features like guaranteed tax filing accuracy, HR options, time-tracking integration, optional 1099 e-filing and unlimited payrolls. This plan also includes free setup, a feature that only comes with QuickBooks Payroll’s $125-per-month Elite plan.

Cons: Standard direct deposit is four days as opposed to next-day and same-day with QuickBooks Payroll. And there’s still a $12-per-month fee for filing payroll taxes in a different state.

Patriot Payroll

Patriot Software
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on Patriot Software's website