Best Payroll Software for Small Businesses

Running Your Business, Small Business
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Best Payroll Software for Small Businesses


Payroll software can make your life easier.

Payroll software allows you to onboard employees online and pay your workers via direct deposit instead of by check. Some software automatically calculates state and federal taxes while also handling your tax filings and payments. The investment can easily be worth the cost.

We have rounded up some of the best payroll software for small-business owners. In this article, we excluded basic plans that required manual filing of taxes and other tasks and instead looked at full-service plans with features that can take some of the load off, so you can focus on other aspects of running your business. Here are the best payroll software providers:

Best overall payroll software

Best low-cost payroll software

Best payroll software for quick integration

Payroll software for small business: Summary of options

Best overall payroll software: Gusto and QuickBooks

gusto
  • Price: $39 per month, plus $6 per month per employee (one month free trial available).
  • Pros: Employee self-onboarding, automatic tax payments, integrates with existing accounting software (including QuickBooks), free trial.
  • Cons: Expensive for businesses with more than 10 employees.
quickbooks
  • Price: $99 per month, plus $2 per month per employee (after the six-month trial pricing ends).
  • Pros: Payroll setup handled by experts, integrates with QuickBooks accounting software, automatic filing and payment of payroll taxes under full-service option.
  • Cons: Costly if you have 10 or fewer employees.

Gusto, formerly ZenPayroll, offers a complete array of features for payroll automation. One of the most useful and time-saving features is employee self-onboarding. New hires can log in to Gusto and enter their personal information, including bank information for direct deposit. New hires also are reported automatically to the government, and pay stubs are emailed directly to employees.

All of your business’s local, state and federal taxes are filed automatically, and Gusto offers free direct deposit. Also among Gusto’s offerings: the ability to administer health insurance and pretax employee benefits, such as 401(k) plans. Finally, the software can integrate with your existing accounting software, such as QuickBooks, FreshBooks or Xero.

Gusto serves businesses with one to 100 employees. The cost of the software is a flat $39 per month, plus $6 per month for each employee. That means the more employees you add, the pricier it gets: A small business with 10 employees would pay $99 per month, but a company with 99 employees would pay $633 a month. Gusto offers a free one-month trial.

Intuit QuickBooks Payroll is good choice for large businesses that prefer a full-service option or those that need help setting up payroll. The company will have a team walk you through setup, tax filing and tax payments. It’s a good fit for businesses that already use QuickBooks accounting software, because it integrates with your existing platform.

The full-service payroll plan takes care of tax payments and guarantees mistake-free paychecks and payroll taxes.

On the downside, QuickBooks Payroll is more expensive than other options if you have 10 or fewer employees. The service, however, becomes more affordable as you add more employees.

There’s a six-month introductory rate. For the full-service plan, it’s $64 per month, plus $2 per month per employee. In the seventh month, the price increases to $99 a month, plus $2 per month per employee. With 10 employees, you’d pay $119 monthly. If you have 100 employees, you’d pay $299 a month.

The company offers a free 30-day trial, so you can make sure you’re comfortable using the platform before making a commitment.
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Best low-cost payroll software: OnPay and Patriot Software

onpay
  • Price: $39.95 per month, plus $1 per month per employee.
  • Pros: Affordable, cloud-based platform lets you manage payroll from any device.
  • Cons: Direct deposit an added $8 per month, extra cost for printed and mailed W-2 forms.
patriot-payroll-software
  • Price: $25 per month, plus $4 per month per employee (for the full-service plan).
  • Pros: Affordable, with free setup and support, as well as a free trial.
  • Cons: Additional cost to pay contractors and vendors.

OnPay is an affordable payroll software option for businesses with up to 10 employees. Features include automatic payroll deductions and payroll tax payments, and guaranteed accurate and timely tax filings and payments. OnPay is a cloud-based platform, meaning you can manage your payroll from your laptop, desktop, smartphone or any location with an internet connection. The company offers support via phone, email or live chat.

OnPay charges $39.95 per month for a business with 10 employees, and additional employees cost $1 per month. The company also offers a 30-day free trial.

On the downside, if you plan on paying your employees via direct deposit, the cost is not included in the base price and you’ll have to pay an additional $8 per month. OnPay also charges $3.75 plus shipping for printed and mailed W-2 forms at the end of the year.

Patriot Software is an affordable payroll option for small businesses with up to 100 employees. The full-service option includes free setup and phone support; the ability to print checks or use direct deposit; automatic tax filing; guaranteed on-time payments of federal, state and local taxes; and filing of W-2 and W-3 forms.

The full-service payroll plan starts at $25 per month and $4 per employee up to five workers. Slight discounts kick in after that, so for 10 workers, the cost is $60.80 per month (use the on-site calculator to pinpoint your exact cost). Patriot Software also offers a 30-day free trial and free setup and support.

On the downside, separate software is required to pay contractors or vendors, which costs an additional $7.50 per month.
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Best payroll software for quick integration: SurePayroll

surepayroll-apc_rgb-for-web_color

  • Price: $49.99 per month, plus $5 per month per employee.
  • Pros: Fast online enrollment should take only 10 to 15 minutes to complete.
  • Cons: Extra cost for processing company filings, W-2s and 1099 forms. No free trial.

SurePayroll is an online payroll option that works well for small businesses that have fewer than 10 employees. The company offers automatic filing and payments of federal, state and local taxes, and online enrollment takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. You’ll be able to process your payroll within five business days, according to the company.

The price of SurePayroll depends on how frequently you pay your employees, and the company offers free quotes. The base price is $49.99 per month, plus $5 per employee per month. For a business with 10 or more employees, monthly fees start at $99.99, which is pricier than other options.

On the downside, although the company can process your year-end company filings, W-2s and 1099 forms for contractors, these will cost you an additional fee. SurePayroll also does not offer a free trial; however, the company says it will reimburse six months of your payroll fees and give you $100 if you aren’t satisfied with the service.
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Payroll software for small business

Payroll softwareProsConsPrice
gusto-logo_full-berry

• Employee self-onboarding.

• Integrates with accounting software.
• Expensive for businesses with more than 10 employees. • $39 per month, plus $6 per month / employee.
quickbooks-logo-preferred-rgb
• Team helps with setup and tax filings.

• Integrates with existing QuickBooks software.

• Free 30-day trial.
• Costly if you have 10 or fewer employees.
• $99 per month, plus $2 per month / employee.
logo-onpay
• Low cost.

• Cloud-based platform works on any device with an internet connection.

• Free 30-day trial.
• Direct deposit not included in price and costs an additional $8 per month.• $39.95 per month, plus $1 per month / employee.
rs10315_patriot-software-blue-lg-scr
• Low cost.

• Free 30-day trial.
• Paying contractors and vendors is an additional $7.50 per month.
• $25 per month, plus $4 per month / employee.
surepayroll-apc_rgb-for-web_color
• Fast online enrollment.


• Extra fee for year-end company filings, W-2s and 1099 forms.

• No free trial.
• $49.99 per month, plus $5 per month / employee.

Steve Nicastro is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Steven.N@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @StevenNicastro.

Updated July 26, 2017.