QuickBooks Payroll Review 2023: Pros, Cons, Alternatives

This cloud-based payroll software from one of the most trusted names in accounting comes with automatic payroll, abundant reports and fast direct deposits.
Lisa Anthony
Hillary Crawford
By Hillary Crawford and  Lisa Anthony 
Edited by Christine Aebischer

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4.5

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QuickBooks Payroll is a great choice if you already use QuickBooks Online and are looking for payroll software that will make your life just a little easier. Although it’s designed for businesses with up to 50 employees or contractors, it can accommodate up to 150 workers. The software integrates directly with QuickBooks Online, can run payroll automatically and offers same-day or next-day direct deposits. Three plan offerings mean 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.

Pros

Cons

  • Benefits administration at all levels.

  • 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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Deciding factors

Pricing

Starts at $45 per month plus $5 per employee per month. No annual contract is required. Get either 50% off the monthly base price for three months or 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. Premium and Elite plans also handle local payroll taxes.

Ability to manage employee benefits

Good. QuickBooks Payroll partners with SimplyInsured to offer medical, dental and vision insurance, and with Guideline to offer 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 callback 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.

Pricing

Plan

Pricing

Features

Core

$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 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.

Premium

$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. GPS tracking of employee locations when they're clocked in.

Elite

$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.

  • Callback 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 means you don’t have to export payroll info manually and risk making mistakes in the process. You can tack QuickBooks Online plans onto any QuickBooks Payroll plan and vice versa.

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 pay 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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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 support and other Intuit products. But beyond that, choices are limited for exploring other add-ons. That’s part of the reason why pairing QuickBooks Payroll with QuickBooks Online makes such a difference: The accounting software integrates with hundreds of other business apps that open up more time-tracking, analytics and customer relationship management options.

Alternatives

Gusto

Starting at $40 per month plus $6 per person per month, Gusto stands out as payroll software that puts an emphasis on HR and employees. All Gusto plans include full-service payroll plus health insurance administration, offer letter templates, employee self-onboarding and tools for remote teams. Additional HR features such as document e-signing, applicant tracking, employee surveys and performance reviews are available at higher-tier levels.Unlike QuickBooks Payroll, Gusto allows for several third-party integrations and doesn’t charge extra fees for out-of-state employees. While Gusto offers a wide variety of features, the highest-tier Premium plan is only available at quote-based pricing.

Gusto Payroll

Get 25% off the Plus plan for a limited time

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Paychex

Paychex Flex Essentials, the lowest-tier plan, starts at $39 per month plus $5 per employee per month. The higher-tier plans are typically quote-based. Depending on their plan, Paychex subscribers get access to some 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. However, if you need to pay employees within the next day or two, the Paychex Flex plans might not cut it. There is also no free trial available.

Paychex

Paychex
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RUN Powered by ADP

RUN Powered by ADP offers custom pricing based on the business’s size and desired features with rates starting at $79 per month plus $4 per employee. Compared to QuickBooks Payroll, it 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. Keep in mind that it’s difficult to compare ADP payroll software plans against other companies because it doesn’t provide prices upfront.

RUN Powered by ADP®

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