Best Payroll Software for Your Business: 2020 Edition

We have carefully compiled a list of payroll service providers that we feel provide the best value for your money in 2020. You can read more about our review methodology by clicking on the link below. There is also a section where you can directly compare our top picks for payroll providers. Without further ado, let’s get started.

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1. Gusto

  • Excellent payroll calculations
  • Intuitive interface
  • Great tax filing system

Gusto is a first-rate payroll system offering enough options to satisfy businesses of any size. It performs error-free payroll calculations and has an intuitive interface that makes running small and medium-sized businesses easy.

read full review

Price:

Starting at $39 + $6 per employee

Platform:

Browser-based, plus mobile apps for iOS and Android

Tax filing:

Automated tax filing available in all plans

Customer support:

Phone, email and live chat

  • Excellent payroll calculations
  • Intuitive interface
  • Great tax filing system

Gusto is a first-rate payroll system offering enough options to satisfy businesses of any size. It performs error-free payroll calculations and has an intuitive interface that makes running small and medium-sized businesses easy. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Price:

Starting at $39 + $6 per employee

Platform:

Browser-based, plus mobile apps for iOS and Android

Tax filing:

Automated tax filing available in all plans

Customer support:

Phone, email and live chat

  • Excellent payroll calculations
  • Intuitive interface
  • Great tax filing system

2. Patriot

  • Very affordable base package
  • Excellent customer support
  • Helpful setup wizard

Patriot is a robust, highly capable payroll solution for people who don’t mind filing their own taxes. It offers excellent customer support and a lot of payroll features for the price, but HR and tax filing services may rack up the costs if you have to pay for them from another provider.

read full review

Price:

Starting at $10 + $4 per employee per month

Platform:

Browser-based, optimized for mobile devices

Tax filing:

None in the basic package, available at extra charge

Customer support:

Phone, email and live chat

  • Very affordable base package
  • Excellent customer support
  • Helpful setup wizard

Patriot is a robust, highly capable payroll solution for people who don’t mind filing their own taxes. It offers excellent customer support and a lot of payroll features for the price, but HR and tax filing services may rack up the costs if you have to pay for them from another provider. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Price:

Starting at $10 + $4 per employee per month

Platform:

Browser-based, optimized for mobile devices

Tax filing:

None in the basic package, available at extra charge

Customer support:

Phone, email and live chat

  • Very affordable base package
  • Excellent customer support
  • Helpful setup wizard

3. Zenefits

  • Excellent UI and usability
  • Comprehensive HR platform
  • Very good tax filing system

Zenefits is a fantastic HR and benefits administration platform that offers excellent payroll processing as an additional service. It offers monthly and yearly pricing plans. Zenefits has a five-employee minimum payroll cost to subscribe.

read full review

Price:

Starting at $14 per month per employee, with a five-employee minimum

Platform:

Browser-based; app is for employees, not employers

Tax filing:

Automated tax filing available with optional payroll module

Customer support:

Email and phone support

  • Excellent UI and usability
  • Comprehensive HR platform
  • Very good tax filing system

Zenefits is a fantastic HR and benefits administration platform that offers excellent payroll processing as an additional service. It offers monthly and yearly pricing plans. Zenefits has a five-employee minimum payroll cost to subscribe. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Price:

Starting at $14 per month per employee, with a five-employee minimum

Platform:

Browser-based; app is for employees, not employers

Tax filing:

Automated tax filing available with optional payroll module

Customer support:

Email and phone support

  • Excellent UI and usability
  • Comprehensive HR platform
  • Very good tax filing system

4. Intuit Quickbooks

  • Best for larger businesses
  • Excellent usability features
  • Integration with industry-leading apps

Quickbooks is a well-established brand in the world of payroll processing. It’s a solid and well-designed platform that becomes more affordable the more employees you have on your payroll.

read full review

Price:

$25 for the HR system; $35 + $4 per employee per month for self-service payroll

Platform:

Browser-based, iOS and Android apps

Tax filing:

Not included unless you pay $80 + $4 per employee per month for the full payroll service

Customer support:

Phone and email support

  • Best for larger businesses
  • Excellent usability features
  • Integration with industry-leading apps

Quickbooks is a well-established brand in the world of payroll processing. It’s a solid and well-designed platform that becomes more affordable the more employees you have on your payroll. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Price:

$25 for the HR system; $35 + $4 per employee per month for self-service payroll

Platform:

Browser-based, iOS and Android apps

Tax filing:

Not included unless you pay $80 + $4 per employee per month for the full payroll service

Customer support:

Phone and email support

  • Best for larger businesses
  • Excellent usability features
  • Integration with industry-leading apps

5. Square Payroll

  • Best customer support
  • Very good tax filing system
  • Affordable prices

Square is one of the online payroll services that offer a budget alternative to Patriot for people who dislike filing their own taxes. It is one of two affordable software solutions on our list that provide automatic tax filing. It also features excellent customer support, but the UI could use some work.

read full review

Price:

Starting at $29 + $5 per employee per month

Platform:

Browser based, iOS and Android apps

Tax filing:

Automated tax filing for both employees and 1099 contractors

Customer support:

Phone and email support

  • Best customer support
  • Very good tax filing system
  • Affordable prices

Square is one of the online payroll services that offer a budget alternative to Patriot for people who dislike filing their own taxes. It is one of two affordable software solutions on our list that provide automatic tax filing. It also features excellent customer support, but the UI could use some work. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Price:

Starting at $29 + $5 per employee per month

Platform:

Browser based, iOS and Android apps

Tax filing:

Automated tax filing for both employees and 1099 contractors

Customer support:

Phone and email support

  • Best customer support
  • Very good tax filing system
  • Affordable prices

6. Rippling

  • Best tax filing system
  • Great payroll management
  • Excellent HR platform

Rippling is a competitively priced solution with great tax and payroll management features integrated into a first-class HR platform. Customer support is reachable only via email and the mobile app is missing some features from the desktop version, but the software is otherwise very good.

read full review

Price:

$35 + $7 per employee per month

Platform:

Browser-based, iOS and Android apps

Tax filing:

Automatic tax filing for all types of employees and contractors

Customer support:

Email only

  • Best tax filing system
  • Great payroll management
  • Excellent HR platform

Rippling is a competitively priced solution with great tax and payroll management features integrated into a first-class HR platform. Customer support is reachable only via email and the mobile app is missing some features from the desktop version, but the software is otherwise very good. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Price:

$35 + $7 per employee per month

Platform:

Browser-based, iOS and Android apps

Tax filing:

Automatic tax filing for all types of employees and contractors

Customer support:

Email only

  • Best tax filing system
  • Great payroll management
  • Excellent HR platform

7. SurePayroll

  • Best for small businesses
  • Fantastic mobile apps
  • Great payroll and tax filing system

SurePayroll is great payroll software for people on a budget who hate filing their own taxes. It has fantastic mobile apps for both employees and employers, plus a very good payroll and tax filing system. The website and customer support could be faster.

read full review

Price:

$29.99 per month + $4 per employee per month

Platform:

Browser based, iOS and Android apps

Tax filing:

Automatic tax filing, but there are fees for W-2s and 1099s

Customer support:

Phone and live chat

  • Best for small businesses
  • Fantastic mobile apps
  • Great payroll and tax filing system

SurePayroll is great payroll software for people on a budget who hate filing their own taxes. It has fantastic mobile apps for both employees and employers, plus a very good payroll and tax filing system. The website and customer support could be faster. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Price:

$29.99 per month + $4 per employee per month

Platform:

Browser based, iOS and Android apps

Tax filing:

Automatic tax filing, but there are fees for W-2s and 1099s

Customer support:

Phone and live chat

  • Best for small businesses
  • Fantastic mobile apps
  • Great payroll and tax filing system

Best of the Best

Our Methodology

Decisions. Life is full of them. Researchers at Cornell University estimate we make 226.7 decisions every day on food alone, about 35,000 in total. From the moment we decide whether to hit the snooze button or start the day, we’re making decisions.

Clearly, some decisions are more important than others. Payroll, for example. Employees have an annoying habit of wanting to get paid properly and in a timely way. Deciding to meet their expectations is pretty smart. And it won’t be hard to do if you make the right decision about payroll software.

We’ve compiled a list of the best payroll software for your business in 2020. Some of the solutions on our list are cheap, some are expensive. Some are best suited to small teams, others for large corporations. But all of them do one thing very well - take the tedium and time out of managing payroll so you can focus on managing your business.

Before we tell you about our picks, let’s take a look at our selection criteria so you can see how we chose our favorites.

Price

When looking for a program to manage their payroll, most people consider price first. There are many options to consider based on your budget and company size. A cheap payroll service provider might be able to provide everything that a small business needs, but larger enterprises may need the options that only more expensive payroll programs can provide.

Fees range from as little as $25 to as much as $200 per month, so it’s important to gauge the best options at each price point. This category also notes whether there are free trial options available and what you can learn from them.

Usability

The idea of automated payroll systems comes from a desire to make the process as quick and easy as possible. Ease of use is the primary concern here. Your online payroll software needs to be intuitive and easy to understand, otherwise it can create more problems than it solves.

This evaluation criterion focuses on the overall usability of the payroll service, the UI layout, and how well all of the available options are explained to the user.

Platform and Compatibility

The most intuitive payroll app in the world is of little use if it doesn’t run on your company’s systems. These days many businesses are looking for solutions on the go, so mobile platforms are gaining in popularity. The best payroll service providers offer support for multiple desktop operating systems such as Windows and Linux as well as the leading mobile platforms, Android and iOS. We determine which operating systems each payroll system is built for and whether it offers good mobile support.

Payroll Calculation and Benefits

Perhaps the most important consideration when it comes to a payroll program is what features it offers users. Good payroll apps can calculate an employee’s gross pay each pay cycle based on salary or hours worked. Some can automatically calculate the bonuses, commissions, and so on. The best payroll software on the market is able to extrapolate net wages after processing deductibles such as payroll taxes, healthcare, insurance premiums, and other deductions. This category considers how many options are available and what benefits (healthcare, insurance, and so on) are tracked.

Tax Filing

Employers need to create and print end-of-year reports for employees - especially tax reports. Tax filing is one of the most arduous and time consuming processes so payroll processing companies generally try to have it integrated into their payroll services. This category is all about the tax filing options that the software provides and the extent to which it automates the process.

Customer Support

The last consideration when evaluating software of any kind is customer support. Ideally, things should work without hitches. In reality, you are going to have questions about software functionality and compatibility.

The best payroll services include a robust client support system. They should also have easily reachable and knowledgeable staff who can help you with problems.

This category rates payroll providers on the number and quality of support channels such as email, live chat, and telephone.

Best Payroll Software Solutions

  • 1. Gusto
  • 2. Patriot
  • 3. Zenefits
  • 4. Intuit Quickbooks
  • 5. Square Payroll
  • 6. Rippling
  • 7. SurePayroll

Payroll Software Reviews

Key Features
  • Price - medium
  • Usability - excellent
  • Platform and Compatibility - Good
  • Payroll Calculation - Excellent
  • Tax Filing - Excellent
  • Customer Support - Good
Additional Features
  • Intuitive interface
  • Phone, email and live chat support
  • No annual contracts
  • App integration with Xero and Quickbooks

Established as ZenPayroll in 2011, Gusto has been one of the top payroll companies in the US ever since. Gusto Software provides cloud-based payroll, benefits, and human resource management for businesses in all 50 states.

Price

Gusto pricing is simple and transparent. The base cost for the cheapest option, Core, costs $39 per month plus $6 per employee. The company also offers Gusto Complete ($12 per employee) and Gusto Concierge ($149 plus $12 per employee per month). These offer added benefits such as PTO approvals and tracking, dedicated customer support, onboarding, admin access, and a dedicated HR center. When it comes to online payroll services for small business owners, the Core option provides more than enough features at a very reasonable price. There is also a 30-day free trial available, so you can effectively get one month’s payroll for free while checking out Gusto’s services. There are no hidden fees, and the company doesn’t require you to sign annual contracts.

Usability

Gusto payroll reviews often stress how intuitive and well-designed the software is. Gusto’s customer support team guides you step-by-step through the setup process, so getting started is a breeze. One feature worth mentioning is the ability to get your employees to fill out their own personal information. That way they can provide their Social Security numbers and contact details. They can also specify tax-withholding preferences. Gusto lets employees e-sign and file their own government documents too. In terms of automation, it’s possibly the best payroll software for accountants, as once everything is set up it can be automated very easily. Gusto will process payments and deposits automatically, and you only need to make changes when employee data changes (unpaid leaves, commission rates, and so on).

Platform and Compatibility

The Gusto payroll app is really just a mobile version of the desktop site. However, it integrates with popular third-party accounting apps such as Xero and Quickbooks. It also works very well with timekeeping software Homebase, which lets you juggle employee shifts easily. Employees just need to type their available or preferred hours into the app and get them approved by management. Gusto does the scheduling with a single button-press. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.

Payroll Calculation and Benefits

When making an online payroll services comparison, one of the key concerns is what services you get for your money. Whether you are doing your payroll online or offline, Gusto can manage a variety of tasks through its benefits administration software. There’s support for your company’s health insurance, 401(k) retirement plans (an added $8 per employee), 529 (tuition saving plans, for another $6 per month per employee), commuter benefits, workers’ compensation insurance, employment tax reporting, new employee reports, and even detailed budget plans.

This is ideal payroll software for accountants. There is a large variety of reporting options and you can sort the reports using date ranges, employee names, departments, or states where your offices are located. Payment calculation is very robust, with gross and net pay as well as taxes, bonuses, vacations, and sick days accounted for. Gusto also offers support for popular accounting apps such as Quickbooks and Xero. Overall, it’s one of the most comprehensive systems on our list.

Tax Filing

Like other leading payroll service companies, Gusto takes care of all your basic tax-compliance needs. It calculates deductions and net salaries while remitting taxes per local state and federal tax regulations. It can also take care of new employee tax reports and give you all the forms you need to fill out to comply with state and federal law. Gusto HR’s self-service portal allows you to communicate with new and old hires and get them to file their tax documents electronically.

Customer Support

Both large and small business payroll services need a good customer support platform. Whether you require some help with the software or simply have some questions about how to do your payroll, Gusto’s team has you covered – as long as that question comes within their working time of 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time, Monday to Friday. There are telephone, email, and live chat options available, and wait times are a reasonable five to 10 minutes. Online reviews are generally pleased with the service, but 24/7 support would be a welcome addition.

Summary

Overall, Gusto is first-class payroll software for small business. It provides a lot of features for a reasonable price, and it makes running a small to medium-size business a breeze. As for the cons, it relies on you to print checks for your employees through its online payroll system rather than doing it automatically as some of its competitors do. And if you don’t mind doing your own taxes, there are cheaper options out there.

Key Features
  • Price - Cheap basic payroll services
  • Usability - Fair
  • Platform and Compatibility - Good
  • Payroll Calculation - Good
  • Tax Filing - Costs extra
  • Customer Support - Excellent
Additional Features
  • Setup wizard
  • Website optimized for mobile devices
  • Robust client support system

Patriot Software’s story began in a humble Ohio factory basement in 1986. Thanks largely to its competitive pricing model, it has become one of the preferred small business payroll software solutions on the market.

Price

The basic Patriot package starts at just $10 and $4 per employee. This gets you essential payroll features similar to Gusto’s – except that you have to file your own taxes. A timekeeping module will set you back another $5 per employee per month. At this price point you are not getting fancy features like onboarding, electronic signatures, or cloud-based file storage. Patriot’s HR module provides online storage at an added $4 + $1 per employee per month. If you want to make use of Patriot’s payroll tax software, the base price rises to $30 a month.

Usability

Patriot payroll software is not the quickest or simplest package to set up, but the company’s excellent customer service and setup wizard can help with the process. There are a lot of steps to complete, such as entering employee payment history and finding out your state’s tax rates. The software is also a bit dated compared to payroll websites like Gusto. However, the wizard is very helpful. It can point you to useful information, such as how to get your state unemployment number.

Platform and Compatibility

Patriot’s software works equally well on PC and Linux platforms. Patriot doesn’t have a dedicated app, but the website is optimized for mobile devices and features full desktop payroll software functionality.

Payroll Calculation and Benefits

Due to the very low base cost, many features are hidden behind extra costs. You can create user names and passwords for your employees so they can view their pay stubs. Once everything has been set up, you can view gross and net pay totals. Extra features, such as attendance and time tracking are charged separately, and are fairly basic compared to what you can get from Patriot’s competitors. The payroll calculation system is the best part of Patriot’s package. For a small business owner the salary calculator is an excellent tool, providing you are willing to invest the time in setting everything up properly.

Tax Filing

With a base price of just $10 + $4 per employee, Patriot Software is definitely the cheapest payroll service on our list. At this price, you are not getting any tax filing options. The payroll system will calculate federal and state tax liabilities, but you have to either file them yourself or pony up an additional $20 per month to have Patriot do it for you. This is still cheaper than Gusto Core, but it also comes without any extra HR features. If you need 1099 reporting, you have to use the entirely separate 1099 module.

Customer Support

Patriot software reviews often mention the quality of customer service. The company has live chat, email. and phone support. It is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday to Friday. The company also has a robust help center and embedded helpful videos in each menu.

Summary

Patriot is a fantastic option for very small businesses and people who are experienced with filing their own taxes. It offers all the basic features you need to get started for a very competitive price. Customer service is excellent. Patriot software could be easier to set up and tax filing/HR feature charges can pile up. However, it’s still cheaper than Quickbooks when you take everything into account.

Key Features
  • Price - Moderate
  • Usability - Excellent
  • Platform and Compatibility - Good (Fair on mobile)
  • Payroll Calculation - Excellent
  • Tax Filing - Excellent
  • Customer Support - Good
Additional Features
  • Integrates with ADP workforce, Lever, Slack, and Expensify
  • Comprehensive HR platform
  • Automated tax filing available

Zenefits was formed in 2013 and has its headquarters in San Francisco. It also has offices in a few major US cities such as Chicago and Charlotte, as well as in Vancouver and Bangalore. It’s one of the newest payroll solutions on our list.

Price

Zenefits pricing plans are a little complicated. The base options are actually HR plans, with payroll capabilities costing extra.

The Essentials bundle can be paid on a monthly ($10) or yearly ($80) per employee, with a minimum of five employees even if you don’t have that many in your company. Small business payroll services often don’t have this restriction, but only the smallest of start ups and family-run businesses are realistically going to be affected by this limit.

The Essentials package provides basic HR features, time and attendance, compliance, PTO tracking, mobile access, and app integration with numerous productivity apps.

The Growth plan ($18 per month or $168 per year per employee) adds compensation and performance management. Finally, the most expensive Zen level ($27 per month or $252 per year per employee) adds multiple ways to assess, track, and improve your employee’s health and well-being.

The payroll system costs an additional $6 per month per active employee, providing you use Zenefits’ inhouse benefits broker. Otherwise it’s $11. Under the company’s payroll services pricing plans, the minimum cost for the HR and payroll bundle is $70 per month for the minimum five employees, providing you pay on a yearly basis.

Usability

Whether a company’s software is for small business owners or aimed at larger businesses, ease of use plays a large role in how popular it is going to be. The Zenefits UI is one of the best looking and most well-thought-out on our list. It has a clean and well organized layout and provides step-by-step instructions for completing common HR tasks. It’s also easy to connect with apps like ADP workforce, Lever, Slack, and Expensify. There is even a self-service benefits portal for employees where they can view and update their personal and medical data and print medical insurance cards.

Platform and Compatibility

More and more people want to do their accounting on the go. Therefore, payroll software reviews these days stress the importance of good mobile device optimization. Zenefits software works flawlessly on PCs for payroll and HR purposes. However, the mobile app is mostly designed for employees. It works on both Android and iOS, and it allows employees to communicate with each other, clock in their hours, request time off, review their paystubs, and see insurance details.

Payroll Calculation and Benefits

Once you’ve set up your payroll system, you can see your upcoming payments as drafts in your payroll app. Here you can see your employees’ contract type, payment methods, gross pay, estimated taxes, and net pay. To see more details – bonuses, vacations, and so on – you simply click on the employee’s name, which opens a separate menu that looks like a traditional paystub. The system is fairly intuitive and easy to navigate.

Tax Filing

The best payroll software takes care of your taxes as well as your payroll. When you run payroll, the funds you deposit will be put into Zenefits’ clearing house bank account. After a short processing period, reimbursements and direct deposit funds are transferred into your employees’ bank accounts.

The tax amounts stay in the Zenefits bank until the date that taxes are due. You can set schedules for states individually, or let Zenefits handle it automatically using Tax IDs you’ve provided. When possible, they’ll even file taxes early.

Customer Support

Whether you run a payroll company for small businesses or those aimed at larger enterprises, customer support plays a key role in client satisfaction and retention. Zenefits is an easy payroll system to recommend in this regard. The company’s customer service offers a robust online help directory, email, and phone support through a toll-free number.

Summary

Overall, Zenefits is an interesting choice. Its pricing is affordable and the payroll-calculation and tax-filing systems are excellent. However, you have to pay for at least 5 employees and the mobile app is geared towards employees, not payroll management. The software has a superb user interface and the customer support is very helpful, so the overall user experience is excellent.

Key Features
  • Price - expensive
  • Usability - Excellent
  • Platform and Compatibility - Excellent
  • Payroll Calculation - Good
  • Tax Filing - None in the standard packages
  • Customer Support - Fair
Additional Features
  • Accessible on all platforms
  • Integration with industry-leading apps

Quickbooks was developed by industry giant Intuit. The company was formed in 1983 in Mountain View California. It achieved major success with Quicken, a program for individual financial management. When it became clear that companies also need an Intuit paycheck calculator, the company launched Quickbooks in 2000. While it may not be the best payroll service for small business owners today, it quickly gained popularity when it was launched, and in 2005 it had a whopping 74% market share.

Price

Quickbooks payroll cost places it at the very top of our list in terms of price. Put simply – Quickbooks is expensive. Quickbooks payroll options include Simple Start, Essentials, Plus, and Advanced plans, at $25, $40, $70 and $150. You can add $35 + $4 per employee for self-service payroll or $80 + $4 per employee for a full-service plan. There are additional charges if you have 1099 contractors. However, you can get 50% off your first three months of subscription service and there is a 30-day trial available.

When it comes to payroll systems for small businesses, the Simple Start plan is the most cost-effective option. It allows you to track income and expenses, capture and organize receipts, maximize tax deductions, invoice and accept payments, run basic reports, send estimates, and track sales and sales tax. Plans above Simple Start add time and inventory tracking, bill management, and project profitability tracking, while allowing more users access – Start is one user per account.

Self-service payroll lets you pay and file federal and state payroll taxes right from the Quickbooks payroll software and file W-2s at the end of the year. Full-service automates the process by getting experts to help set up, file, and pay payroll taxes for you.

Usability

Doing accounting and payroll is complex by nature. Quickbooks payroll services software tries to minimize frustration with a well laid-out and intuitive interface. The company also has a comprehensive knowledge base and a wealth of helpful tutorials. It’s not the most intuitive package to navigate, however. And in a Gusto vs Quickbooks payroll knockdown, Gusto wins because of its rich integration options with third-party apps. Quickbooks integrates well with other Quicken software, however, including Quickbooks Accounting – and since that software is so widely used, it may be the most important kind of integration.

Platform and Compatibility

Quickbooks payroll service is accessible on all platforms. Desktop versions are available for Mac and PC, while the mobile app works for iOS and Android. The versions work a little differently, however. The Android version allows you to access basic employee information; preview payrolls; enter hours, payment history, and taxes; and view forms that have previously been submitted. The iOS version opens up with your employee list and the four most recent payrolls. It also features a settings tab with some quality-of-life features that are still pending in the Android version.

Payroll Calculation and Benefits

There is no free payroll software as part of Quickbooks; it has to be purchased separately. The self-service option gets you access to gross and net pay totals as well as state taxes, but you have to file those yourself.

In addition to paycheck records, Intuit also provides a customer self-service option with ViewMyPaycheck, but its functionality is limited when it comes to 401(k) balances and benefits. Employees must also submit change requests to you directly for processing. Time off and sick leaves have to be managed manually – you enter time-off requests from employees each pay cycle before processing. Finally, Quickbooks isn’t a benefits provider, so you will have to get a third-party app to manage health insurance and any benefits that you offer to employees.

Tax Filing

We’ve already mentioned that payroll software from Quickbooks doesn’t file your taxes for you unless you pay a hefty $80 + $4 per employee for full-service payroll.

Quickbooks software is fairly easy and intuitive, but navigating state and federal tax laws can be a pain for inexperienced business owners. There are helpful but costly options here, too.

Poster compliance service, for example, sends you copies of all the necessary federal and state labor posters each year. However, this costs up to $88 depending on the state, and at that point you’re better off just paying Intuit staff to handle the whole process.

Customer Support

Intuit payroll service includes phone and email support. Working hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time, Monday to Friday, and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. This makes it one of the best payroll companies for people who need help outside standard working hours. They also have a huge support platform on their website. However, customer reviews of service quality are mixed, and many find the support platform a bit complicated to navigate.

Summary

Overall, Quickbooks is a serious platform from a well-established company that offers a wealth of options and high-quality products. The main problem is the price – put simply, there are cheaper options out there that get the same job done for small and medium-size businesses.

High base service fees and low per-employee costs position Quickbooks as a candidate that’s suitable for the title of best payroll software for large business owners. Those high initial costs are less of a concern for enterprises with hundreds or even thousands of employees, and it is here that Quickbooks catches up with its rivals in affordability.

Key Features
  • Price - Cheap
  • Usability - Fair
  • Platform and Compatibility - Excellent
  • Payroll Calculation - Fair
  • Tax Filing - Excellent
  • Customer Support - Excellent
Additional Features
  • Syncs with Square's POS software
  • Android and iOS app available
  • Option to pay employees through Square's online app

Square Inc. is a financial services and merchant services aggregator and mobile payment company based in San Francisco. It was formed in 2009 and made its first app the following year. While initially focused on mobile payments, these days the company has expanded into financial services. Square’s online payroll service has been in operation since 2015.

Price

Square is one of the more affordable solutions on our list. W-2 employees will set you back $29 + $5 per employee per month, while 1099 independent contractors cost only $5 per employee per month, without the $29 subscription fee. Compared to other payroll service providers, you get quite a bit for those $34 per month: payroll services, automated tax filings, the ability to track time, a way to offer your employees health benefits and provide them with online accounts, as well as the option to pay them through Square’s mobile app. Square has partnered with third-party benefits providers such as SimplyInsured, AP Intego, Guideline, and Alice. You also have the option of using your own health insurance and retirement plan companies.

Usability

Unlike other software solutions on our list, which offer separate tabs for various fields, Square payroll displays everything on one huge scrollable page – which can be a bit cumbersome to navigate. You can easily connect with Quickbooks Online. Another advantage is available to employers who already use Square’s point-of-sale software.
Employees and contractors who clock in and out through the software will automatically get synced with your software. This makes paying contractors on an hourly basis a breeze.

Platform and Compatibility

In addition to its Windows-based software, Square has recently added Android and iOS payroll apps. The payroll application for mobile devices is a little different from the desktop solution. The main overview dashboard doesn’t have links to previous payrolls and you cannot access the labor costs graph. It also splits the desktop version’s Navigation pane into three separate panels: Overview, Team, and History. You can still access all of the features of the desktop application and run payroll through your mobile app without problems. Depending on how you run your business, this can be a huge advantage compared to competitors like Zenefits payroll which offers a mobile app to employees only.

Payroll Calculation and Benefits

Square’s payroll calculation system is fairly standard but it is missing important features available from Gusto and others. It can calculate gross wages, benefits and insurance, Social Security, and state and federal taxes. You can type bonuses, commissions, and so on. The problem is that the payroll system doesn’t allow for multiple pay rates, and you can also key in paid time off or sick leave, but not both at the same time. This can prove to be a bit of a hassle if you have employees who work on different tasks that don’t have the same pay rates. There aren’t a lot of report templates, but you can export paycheck details, paystubs, and other data in CSV format.

Tax Filing

If your biggest fear when it comes to payroll is tax processing, you’ll be glad to know that Square offers a payroll management system with automated tax filing. Square’s software calculates and withholds payroll taxes each time you run payroll. It pays these taxes to your state employer tax agency and federal government when they are due, and you can see a detailed breakdown of these payments in the history panel.

Customer Support

The Square support team is available via a toll-free phone number Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time. Like other payroll providers, Square offers a comprehensive online self-help library as well as email support. Customers online generally leave favorable reviews, and we’ve also had pleasant experiences – the response times tend to be quick and the staff is knowledgeable and helpful. Top marks in this category for Square.

Summary

Overall, we were very pleased with what Square offers. Best used as a tool to manage payroll for small business organizations, Square gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

The standout features are definitely the low price, the tax filing system, and the comprehensive customer support platform. Easy integration with useful software such as Quickbooks is a welcome addition. On the other hand, the payroll calculation system could offer more options and the online payroll user interface could be cleaner and easier to navigate.

Key Features
  • Price - Moderate
  • Usability - Good
  • Platform and Compatibility - Good
  • Payroll Calculation - Excellent
  • Tax Filing - Excellent
  • Customer Support - Good, but only email-based
Additional Features
  • iOS and Android apps available
  • Automatic tax filing option
  • Integration with a number of apps and accounting software available

Rippling is a San Francisco-based company that provides cloud-based HR and IT employee-management solutions – including payroll and benefits – as well as computer and software management and security tools. Founded in 2016, it’s the newest payroll software provider on our list. As you’ll see in our review, it doesn’t lag behind its more established competitors.

Price

Like Zenefits, Rippling is an HR and BA platform first and foremost, and software for payroll processing second. The core plan has a base cost of $35 + $7 per employee per month. It offers an employee directory, onboarding automation, team task management, time-off tracking, enterprise-grade reporting, core HR integrations, electronic documents, and support for custom fields and permissions. What is a payroll program without payroll options? We’re glad you asked. You can add one for $5 per employee per month, and it provides a wealth of features, such as automatic tax filing; workers compensation; new hire reporting; direct deposit, check, and international payroll support; and an error-free guarantee. In addition to the HR and payroll software you can also choose ACA & COBRA Administration and Commuter & HSA/FSA packages, as well as a dedicated HR helpdesk package for real-time support. Benefits are a separate package that includes everything from 401(k) to health insurance.

Usability

Rippling’s home page contains most of the features found on competitor sites. A navigation tool can be found in the left vertical pane. From here you can access various panels labeled for onboarding and offboarding employees, as well as a company records directory. There are also tabs for tasks, reports, documents, and settings.

All your installed apps, including the payroll and benefit add-ons, can be found at the bottom of the page. When it comes to other HR payroll system providers, these are usually bundled together. Whether this is a pro or a con is up to you. We found it a plus, as everything looks cleaner and is more streamlined. The software also seamlessly integrates with all of your favorite apps and accounting software from QuickBooks and Xero to NetSuite and TSheets. This is a major plus for Rippling.

Platform and Compatibility

In addition to the desktop platform, Rippling offers a companion payroll app for both iOS and Android. These are very well designed and intuitive but they are not as full-featured as the online platform. After logging into the app, you can access a scrollable employee list, from which you can message, email, or call them. You can also access all of the integrated apps from here, but you cannot view benefits information as you can with Zenefits.

Also unlike most of the offerings on our list, Rippling payroll doesn’t work well in a mobile browser.

Payroll Calculation and Benefits

Rippling is similar to Zenefits in that it’s an HR platform with payroll capabilities rather than the other way around. If you want to manage your payroll with Rippling, you have to purchase the payroll module at $5 per employee per month. If you’ve set up multiple payroll entities such as employees and contractors on the same payroll you can access them as separate entities when adding or changing hours and other details. This can be helpful for companies with a large staff. It also means that Rippling might not be the best payroll software around for small business owners, as they end up spending extra time setting everything up for a few contractors or hourly employees.

Tax Filing

The tax filing system in Rippling’s payroll add-on is second to none. It handles all 50 US states and even international payments, doing filing for I-9s, W-2s, W-4s, and 1009s automatically. It also supports unlimited pay runs and provides an error-free guarantee. The web payroll site provides extensive information on taxes and how they work in each of the 50 US states. It’s a fantastic system overall and our favorite aspect of Rippling’s platform.

Customer Support

When it comes to doing business with online payroll companies, customer service is often cited as an important factor when deciding which payroll websites to trust Rippling is a bit of an oddball here – there is no live chat or phone support, which are standard with most competitors. On the other hand, email support is pretty much around the clock, and it tends to be very quick and detailed. There’s also a very thorough self-help portal on their website.

The quality of customer support is generally above average, but if you’re the type of person who needs to talk with someone right away, Rippling may not be your best option.

Summary

Rippling is one of our favorite picks on this list. The company offers world-class tax and payroll management, has a first-class HR platform, and offers unmatched integration with the most popular software solutions on the market. The cons are the email-only nature customer support policy and the fact that the mobile app is missing Rippling’s excellent benefits-administration features.

Key Features
  • Price - Cheap
  • Usability - Good
  • Platform and Compatibility - Excellent
  • Payroll Calculation - Excellent
  • Tax Filing - Excellent
  • Customer Support - Good
Additional Features
  • Integration with a number of apps and software available
  • Options for specialized businesses
  • Automated tax filing

The final pick on our list is a company that has recently revised its payroll system. Founded in 2000 in Glenview, Illinois, SurePayroll has gone through a couple of iterations. It joined Paycheck Inc. as a wholly owned subsidiary in 2011. In 2020, it offers an affordable payroll service with automated tax filing – a slightly more expensive alternative to Patriot Software for those who hate filing their own taxes.

Price

Payroll systems for small businesses tend to focus on being affordable. SurePayroll certainly fits the bill here, being the cheapest option on our list with automatic tax filing functionality. The pricing scheme has also been subject to several changes.

For $29.99 per month + $4 per employee per month, you get payroll processing, automated tax filing, online and mobile access, new hire reporting, and payroll reports. However, there are hidden fees for filing 1099 contractors and W-2 employees, which the company quotes individually and doesn’t specify on the website. Although it is usually a matter of a few extra dollars per employee, we consider this a serious drawback, as SurePayroll’s competitors typically offer this service for free. There is also a separate option for nanny payroll services and a one-month free trial option.

Usability

When it comes to UI and usability, SurePayroll’s solution sits around the middle of our pack when it comes to software for payroll processing. It’s neither as clunky as Patriot Software nor as slick as Zenefits or Gusto. Navigating the site is fairly intuitive and clear, but the website takes a while to load. SurePayrol’s home page is Dashboard. From here you can access five other tabs leading you to the site’s main sections: Payroll, Reports, Employees, Company, and Resources. Clicking on a section name brings you a drop-down menu with all the relevant options for that section. A weakness noted by a lot of people is the site’s insistence on security protocols, requiring constant revalidation when logging in, which cause people on mobile phones problems.

Platform and Compatibility

We’ve already established that SurePayroll is solid desktop payroll software for small business owners. But what about mobile platforms? You’ll be pleased to know that the company has well-designed apps for both employers and employees.

In fact, it’s one of the best options on our list, as both payroll apps have very useful features for iOS and Android users. Employers can run payroll from the app and access payroll summary reports, as well as get reminders about employee birthdays, bank holidays, and more. Employees can view contacts, paycheck details, past paycheck stubs, state and federal tax information, retirement deduction and contribution rates, and vacation and sick days. The software also supports integration with leading accounting and time-management apps, whether you run the desktop or mobile version.

Payroll Calculation and Benefits

Whether you’re dealing with a large or small company payroll, it’s important to have a well-organized and easy-to-understand payroll calculation method. It also helps if your system can help you handle benefits administration. SurePayroll provides a degree of flexibility that few of its competitors can match. There are options for many specialized businesses, from nanny and dental services to nonprofit organizations and restaurants. The site (and app) are able to calculate gross and net pay, taxes, and deductions, exporting data in PDF, Excel, RTF, and printer-friendly formats. For additional fees, SurePayroll can also handle health insurance, retirement plans, and workers compensation for you. Overall, excellent marks in this section.

Tax Filing

Small business payroll processing companies don’t often offer automated tax filing in their core plans. SurePayroll does this for you, and does it uniformly well. In addition to doing your tax filings automatically, the company offers a 100% tax filing guarantee. SurePayroll will shoulder any fines and penalties in case something goes wrong during the filing process.

The company is very transparent about what is being paid and why, and both employers and employees can preview their upcoming tax costs and deductions.

Customer Support

SurePayroll has mixed reviews when it comes to customer support. It is the only business online payroll solution besides Quickbooks that offers phone support on the weekend. Phone support hours are Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central time. Support on the toll-free telephone number is available in English and Spanish. The company also offers live chat, but there is no email option. According to reviews online, the support team is knowledgeable but a little slow to respond.

Summary

Overall, SurePayroll is a first-class payroll platform. It offers a lot of features for a very competitive price. It’s our top pick for a budget-minded software solution for people who hate filing their own taxes. Highlights include an excellent mobile platform for both employees and employers as well as first-rate payroll calculation and tax filing systems.

User experience could be better. Faster customer support response times and website page loading times would go a long way toward scoring even better marks overall.

FAQ:

What is the best payroll company?

Any of the options from our list, depending on your needs. Gusto and Rippling are our favorites for their overall price-to-performance ratio. Patriot is a solid option if you don’t mind filing your own taxes, and SurePayroll is an alternative if you do. Just be careful about the extra costs if you have 1099 contractors or W-2 employees. Quickbooks payroll is a great option if price isn’t a concern or you have a larger company.

What are the payroll softwares?

It is a web- or app-based solution that handles payroll for your company. There are many options, all suited to different business types and company sizes.

How do you calculate payroll?

You first calculate your employees’ gross pay. This is determined by multiplying the number of hours worked in a pay period by the hourly rate. You then deduct all of the state and federal taxes, as well as other deductions, such as 401(k). The best solutions handle all of these steps for you, including tax filing.

What is the best payroll software for a small business?

SurePayroll would be our pick, though Patriot is also a solid option if you don’t mind filing your own taxes. With small businesses, low initial startup costs and are key, and these two solutions are the cheapest on our list.

What is the easiest payroll software to use?

Zenefits offers an intuitive platform that we liked the best out of any package we reviewed. Other well-designed software solutions are offered by Gusto and Quickbooks.

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