The Best Free Payroll Software for Small Businesses

Damjan Jugović Spajić
By Damjan Jugović Spajić
Last updated: September 7, 2020

Companies are increasingly relying on software to process employee payrolls instead of doing it by hand. Not only does payroll software automate and speed up the whole process of paying workers, but it also streamlines these tasks, especially if you have a large number of employees living across several states. In order to help you navigate this niche and choose the best payroll software for your business, we’ve compiled a list of the top nine free payroll software options.

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1. Payroll4Free.com

  • Available in all 50 states
  • Tax calculations included
  • Multiple payment options available

Payroll4Free is a great payroll software option for smaller businesses with its completely free and comprehensive payroll service. What Payroll4Free brings to the table is free payroll processing and tax calculations for businesses that have fewer than 25 employees. Payroll4Free offers completely free payroll check printing software, payroll processing, and tax calculations calibrated for US laws if you have 25 employees or fewer. This makes it a great choice when looking for small business free payroll software.

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Cost:

Free for companies with 25 employees or fewer

Payment Methods:

Direct deposits and checks

Security:

2048 bit SSL encryption, password protection

Tax Compliance:

Yes

  • Available in all 50 states
  • Tax calculations included
  • Multiple payment options available

Payroll4Free is a great payroll software option for smaller businesses with its completely free and comprehensive payroll service. What Payroll4Free brings to the table is free payroll processing and tax calculations for businesses that have fewer than 25 employees. Payroll4Free offers completely free payroll check printing software, payroll processing, and tax calculations calibrated for US laws if you have 25 employees or fewer. This makes it a great choice when looking for small business free payroll software. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Cost:

Free for companies with 25 employees or fewer

Payment Methods:

Direct deposits and checks

Security:

2048 bit SSL encryption, password protection

Tax Compliance:

Yes

  • Available in all 50 states
  • Tax calculations included
  • Multiple payment options available

2. HR.my

  • No limits on employee numbers
  • Can be used globally
  • Additional communication channels

If you’re looking for free payroll software online, consider HR.my. This adaptable app is best-suited to companies that work with freelancers and independent contractors from different countries around the world. Besides payroll processing, HR.my offers leave and attendance management, as well as inter-company communication channels. This is a terrific option for any company that hires international freelancers. It’s completely free and has no employee limit, but its lack of built-in US tax variables is a major downside for American clients.

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Cost:

Free

Payment Methods:

Cash, direct deposit, checks

Security:

SSL encryption, password protection

Tax compliance:

No

  • No limits on employee numbers
  • Can be used globally
  • Additional communication channels

If you’re looking for free payroll software online, consider HR.my. This adaptable app is best-suited to companies that work with freelancers and independent contractors from different countries around the world. Besides payroll processing, HR.my offers leave and attendance management, as well as inter-company communication channels. This is a terrific option for any company that hires international freelancers. It’s completely free and has no employee limit, but its lack of built-in US tax variables is a major downside for American clients. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Cost:

Free

Payment Methods:

Cash, direct deposit, checks

Security:

SSL encryption, password protection

Tax compliance:

No

  • No limits on employee numbers
  • Can be used globally
  • Additional communication channels

3. ExcelPayroll

  • Great for Excel users
  • Free up to 50 workers
  • Straightforward interface

For those businesses that are performing their payroll calculations in Microsoft Excel, ExcelPayroll offers payroll software for small business free of charge. ExcelPayroll is basically an Excel spreadsheet with payroll processing features. You need to input earnings and deductions, then the software will perform the calculations for you. This software will perform free calculations for up to 50 employees, but you need to add federal tax information by yourself. You can also use ExcelPayroll to print employee checks and create tax compliance reports.

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Cost:

Free for up to 50 employees

Payment methods:

Check

Security:

None, since it’s used offline

Tax compliance:

No

  • Great for Excel users
  • Free up to 50 workers
  • Straightforward interface

For those businesses that are performing their payroll calculations in Microsoft Excel, ExcelPayroll offers payroll software for small business free of charge. ExcelPayroll is basically an Excel spreadsheet with payroll processing features. You need to input earnings and deductions, then the software will perform the calculations for you. This software will perform free calculations for up to 50 employees, but you need to add federal tax information by yourself. You can also use ExcelPayroll to print employee checks and create tax compliance reports. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Cost:

Free for up to 50 employees

Payment methods:

Check

Security:

None, since it’s used offline

Tax compliance:

No

  • Great for Excel users
  • Free up to 50 workers
  • Straightforward interface

4. Rise Lite

  • Perfect for Canada-based businesses
  • Built-in tax calculator
  • Payment reminders

Rise Lite is free online payroll software, but only for Canada-based businesses with 20 employees or fewer. Besides providing a payroll calculator, this software has built-in tax calculations calibrated to comply with Canadian laws. The software also provides reminders for due payments, allows you to calculate bonuses and deductions, and gives you the option of canceling payments. If your business expands beyond the employee limit, you’ll have to switch to a paid plan.

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Cost:

Free for companies with 20 employees or fewer

Payment methods:

Direct deposit

Security:

Secured connection

Tax compliance:

Yes, for Canada

  • Perfect for Canada-based businesses
  • Built-in tax calculator
  • Payment reminders

Rise Lite is free online payroll software, but only for Canada-based businesses with 20 employees or fewer. Besides providing a payroll calculator, this software has built-in tax calculations calibrated to comply with Canadian laws. The software also provides reminders for due payments, allows you to calculate bonuses and deductions, and gives you the option of canceling payments. If your business expands beyond the employee limit, you’ll have to switch to a paid plan. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Cost:

Free for companies with 20 employees or fewer

Payment methods:

Direct deposit

Security:

Secured connection

Tax compliance:

Yes, for Canada

  • Perfect for Canada-based businesses
  • Built-in tax calculator
  • Payment reminders

5. Wave

  • Perfect for independent contractors
  • Business app integrations
  • Tax-filing service

If you’re looking for both accounting software and free payroll check writing software in one place, Wave might be just the right option for you. This company provides free accounting services and payroll processing for independent contractors (1099s). Wave also provides full-time employee payroll processing, but for a fee. Wave integrates with a huge number of other business apps and allows you to create standard tax and payroll reports. For those companies that are in need of free payroll and accounting software, Wave is one of the best options out there.

read full review

Cost:

Free for processing independent contractors’ pay

Payment methods:

Cash, check, debit, PayPal

Security:

256-bit SSL encryption

Tax compliance:

Yes, but only for certain states

  • Perfect for independent contractors
  • Business app integrations
  • Tax-filing service

If you’re looking for both accounting software and free payroll check writing software in one place, Wave might be just the right option for you. This company provides free accounting services and payroll processing for independent contractors (1099s). Wave also provides full-time employee payroll processing, but for a fee. Wave integrates with a huge number of other business apps and allows you to create standard tax and payroll reports. For those companies that are in need of free payroll and accounting software, Wave is one of the best options out there. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Cost:

Free for processing independent contractors’ pay

Payment methods:

Cash, check, debit, PayPal

Security:

256-bit SSL encryption

Tax compliance:

Yes, but only for certain states

  • Perfect for independent contractors
  • Business app integrations
  • Tax-filing service

6. TimeTrex

  • Every feature is completely free
  • Ability to create work schedules
  • Payroll deductions are calculated for you

TimeTrex is a community-run, open-source time-tracking and payroll free software program. It offers free payroll calculation services, just like Paycheck Manager or eSmart Paycheck. In addition, the free package provides attendance tracking, records how many hours employees work, and allows you to create work schedules.

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Cost:

Free

Payment methods:

Check and electronic transfer

Security:

256-bit encryption

Tax compliance:

No

  • Every feature is completely free
  • Ability to create work schedules
  • Payroll deductions are calculated for you

TimeTrex is a community-run, open-source time-tracking and payroll free software program. It offers free payroll calculation services, just like Paycheck Manager or eSmart Paycheck. In addition, the free package provides attendance tracking, records how many hours employees work, and allows you to create work schedules. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Cost:

Free

Payment methods:

Check and electronic transfer

Security:

256-bit encryption

Tax compliance:

No

  • Every feature is completely free
  • Ability to create work schedules
  • Payroll deductions are calculated for you

7. Paycheck Manager

  • Good for small companies
  • Very simple features
  • Flexible pay rates

Paycheck Manager is pretty useful if you need payroll software for free to perform simple payroll calculations for a small number of employees. If you need other services or have a larger workforce, manually entering all that data could take up too much of your time. With the free package, you’ll gain access to a payroll calculator, but you’ll need to manually input employee data and choose the appropriate state and tax year.

read full review

Cost:

Free, but only for payroll calculation

Payment methods:

Checks

Security:

Secure connection

Tax compliance:

Yes

  • Good for small companies
  • Very simple features
  • Flexible pay rates

Paycheck Manager is pretty useful if you need payroll software for free to perform simple payroll calculations for a small number of employees. If you need other services or have a larger workforce, manually entering all that data could take up too much of your time. With the free package, you’ll gain access to a payroll calculator, but you’ll need to manually input employee data and choose the appropriate state and tax year. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Cost:

Free, but only for payroll calculation

Payment methods:

Checks

Security:

Secure connection

Tax compliance:

Yes

  • Good for small companies
  • Very simple features
  • Flexible pay rates

8. eSmart Paycheck

  • Free payroll calculation
  • Completely secure
  • Several payment options

eSmart Paycheck has a similar offer to Paycheck Manager. With its payroll check software free package, you’ll only get access to a payroll calculator. This calculator is compliant with US federal tax laws, but it does require you to factor in unemployment rates, local tax, and labor laws yourself.

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Cost:

Free, but only payroll calculation

Payment methods:

Cash, check

Security:

Secure connection

Tax compliance:

Yes

  • Free payroll calculation
  • Completely secure
  • Several payment options

eSmart Paycheck has a similar offer to Paycheck Manager. With its payroll check software free package, you’ll only get access to a payroll calculator. This calculator is compliant with US federal tax laws, but it does require you to factor in unemployment rates, local tax, and labor laws yourself. Read full review

VISIT WEBSITE
Cost:

Free, but only payroll calculation

Payment methods:

Cash, check

Security:

Secure connection

Tax compliance:

Yes

  • Free payroll calculation
  • Completely secure
  • Several payment options

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Best of the Best Awards

Our Review Methodology

Cost

When making this list of the best free payroll software, we chose only those options that are truly free. There’s a lot of providers that offer month-long free trials, but we’ve omitted free trial payroll software from this particular list, as we wanted to focus on payroll software that you can use for free indefinitely.

Of course, the providers behind the software also need to earn money. They do so in several ways. The first and least-restrictive - albeit most-annoying - way is through in-software ads. While this doesn’t affect your business in any way, the ads can become irritating after a while.

The second manner in which these providers earn revenue is by placing limitations on their free software packages. This is most commonly done by limiting the number of employees for which the software will process payrolls free of charge. For each employee over the limit, you usually have to pay a fee or switch to a paid package. This is simply the price you have to pay if you want to get payroll software for free.

Another limitation of free accounts is the range of services they offer. Some providers only offer payroll calculations for free. In these cases they charge for other services, such as tax deductions.

In each of our reviews, we describe the exact pricing plan for each piece of payroll software. Assessing the needs and size of your business is crucial when looking at pricing or choosing which software to go for. If, for example, you have a smaller number of employees, you need not worry about employee caps. However, if you need to take care of taxes and follow state-specific laws, you can expect to pay extra for those services, or to choose software that might limit you in some other areas instead.

While your instinct might be to go for the free or cheapest option, we strongly suggest you take other metrics into account. Continue reading to see which other important factors we look at in our reviews of the best payroll service for small business.

Payment methods

There are several ways you can pay your workers. It’s possible that each free web based payroll software only supports one or two of these payment methods, which are: payroll checks, cash, direct deposits, and payroll cards. Writing payroll checks is one of the simpler methods, as it does not require employees to have bank accounts. However, checks can be misplaced or lost.

Paying your employees in cash is another straightforward option, especially if you need small business payroll software that’s free. However, it’s harder to keep track of cash payments, you have to be extra careful with keeping records, and it might cause tax problems. Direct deposit, where you deposit money straight to your employees’ bank accounts, is the most common way of processing payments. Payroll cards are a newer payment method; they allow you to deposit wages directly to a worker’s prepaid card.

While writing our reviews, we looked at which payment methods are supported by the reviewed payroll software. This should be a make-or-break factor for you when choosing payroll software. Unless you’re planning on changing the way you pay your employees (which might be a good idea if you’re relying on cash payments), you should choose software that supports your current method of paying wages. By reading our reviews, you can decide which free payroll software for small businesses will best suit your needs.

Security

Employee payroll and bank account information is extremely sensitive data and you’re obliged to keep it safe. Therefore, one of the metrics we looked at when writing these reviews was how secure each program’s online systems and databases are. Things to watch out for when checking out payroll software security are the levels of encryption the program uses and where it stores its data. Of course, you should also make sure security is tight on your end by restricting access to payroll information only to trusted people who actually work in that field. If you plan on using online and/or cloud free payroll processing software, make sure security is a high priority.

Tax compliance

The importance of tax compliance when running a business cannot be stressed enough. Making sure all tax deductions and state-specific requirements such as overtime and sick days are properly calculated, recorded, and paid for is not only important, but mandatory. There are important differences in the tax compliance services each of the best payroll software options offer.

Some software does not offer any tax services at all, meaning you have to calculate it all on your own, or by paying for another service. Other software might only perform tax calculations for you, but won’t actually create statements or pay taxes for you. Among those programs that does offer tax services, some might only provide tax forms for either full-time employees or independent contractors. You should keep an eye out for this specifically, as these two different employer-employee relations require different tax forms: 1099s and W-2s.

In case you’re not familiar with the terms, 1099s and W-2s are tax forms that represent two different types of workers. Independent contractors get 1099 forms, while employees get W-2s. In most cases, payroll taxes are automatically deducted from employee paychecks. Contractors, on the other hand, are usually responsible for calculating their own taxes and submitting them to the government.

When reading our reviews, make sure you check out the tax-compliance segment. This information will help you choose a program that offers the right tax service for your business. At the very least, it will let you know if the software you’ve chosen doesn’t offer tax services.

Accessibility and ease of use

Accessibility and ease of use might not seem like crucial metrics, especially compared to cost or tax compliance. In a sense this is true. However, that doesn’t mean usability isn’t important. A streamlined, user-friendly, and intuitive UI can greatly affect efficiency, while overcomplicated and convoluted interfaces can take up a lot of your time.

Since all the small business payroll programs we’ve reviewed are free, you shouldn’t expect their interfaces to be very slick or advanced. Of course, this experience may differ from software to software, but in general you can expect barebones layouts and plenty of ads. That said, most of the selected software on our list is not hard to master. Besides the UI and the software itself, we looked into software integration possibilities and whether you can use each program to create tax and payroll reports.

The 8 Best Free Payroll Software Programs

  • 1. Payroll4Free
  • 2. HR.my
  • 3. ExcelPayroll
  • 4. RiseLite
  • 5. Wave
  • 6. TimeTrex
  • 7. Paycheck Manager
  • 8. eSmart Paycheck

Payroll Software for Small Business Reviews

Key Features
  • Payroll Processing Features - Advanced
  • Security - Good
  • Customer Support - Fair
  • User Interface - Basic
Additional Features
  • Manage worker's time off
  • Unlimited customer support
  • Tax-compliance functions integrated

Overview

The first program on our list is Payroll4Free. This free payroll printing software offers payroll service for companies with 25 employees or fewer. Payroll4Free is meant for US-based businesses and is available in all 50 states. So, what does Payroll4Free offer?

Features

With the free package, you receive completely free payroll processing as long as you have 25 employees or fewer. If you have more than 25 workers, the cost is $35 per payroll run. The price scales as your number of employees grows and as you add more services.

The free package comes with state-specific tax-compliance functions integrated. However, it doesn’t include filing taxes – that service will require switching to a paid package. After you input employee attendance, deductions, and earnings, the software will automatically calculate the amount of tax you need to withhold for the specific where the worker is based. These features make Payroll4Free one of the best payroll services out there.

Besides payroll and taxes, Payroll4Free allows you to manage employees’ time off or find worker compensation policies at no extra charge. As for payment methods, Payroll4Free supports cash, direct deposits, and checks. Bank deposits, however, go into the business owner’s accounts – you’ll have to pay $12.50 per month to deposit them straight into employees’ accounts. Employees themselves gain access to a portal where they can view and print their pay stubs and W-2s.

Payroll4Free supports itself with advertising that’s embedded in the interface. As such, it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing option. On the plus side, Payroll4Free offers unlimited customer support, either via phone or email.

Summary

Payroll4Free certainly has one of the best offers among payroll check writing software free providers. It offers all the basics of payroll processing, tax compliance, and more. The only downside is the 25-employee limit. In case you have more than 25 employees and don’t want to go for a paid Payroll4Free option, check out the other software on our list.

Key Features
  • Payroll processing features - Basic
  • Security - Good
  • Customer support - None
  • User interface - Basic
Additional Features
  • Mobile app included
  • SSL protection
  • Several payment methods

Overview

HR.my is crowdfunded free HR payroll software that’s best-suited for companies that have an international, freelancer, or independent contractor workforce. As the name suggests, besides payroll processing, HR.my also offers human resources services.

Features

HR.my puts no limits on how many employees it will process payroll for. There are also no limits on in terms of location; you can process payroll for employees wherever they might be located. 

Payroll processing is completely free with HR.my. Still, the software still lacks some important features. Although it allows processing for workers anywhere, it doesn’t offer any US-specific tax-compliance features. You’ll have to input that data manually, just as you will with bank and earnings information. You should also input any state-specific laws for US workers. 

On the plus side, HR.my offers free HR services, allowing you to track overtime, attendance, sick leave, and days away from work, as well as providing communication channels for employees. It also gives employees access to their pay stubs. Payments can be set up to run on a semi-monthly, monthly, fortnightly, or weekly basis. This is a rare program that combines HR and payroll software for free.

HR.my supports all basic payment methods: cash, direct deposits, and checks. It also lets you share documents within the company, allowing you to import files like expense reports or timesheets. Online connections in HR.my are protected by the SSL protocol, ensuring the safety of transmitted information. There is, sadly, no customer support option; this crowdfunded software only comes with a help page on the website.

Summary

If you’re running a company with an international freelance workforce, HR.my is a great free downloadable payroll software. It can be accessed from anywhere in the world and comes with some neat HR features. However, if your team consists of US-based full-time workers, you should probably go with another option.

Key Features
  • Payroll processing features - Basic
  • Security - Poor
  • Customer support - Fair
  • User interface - Basic
Additional Features
  • Completely Excel-based
  • Customer support available through email
  • Easy to use

Overview

Excel Payroll is a simple but still very useful option. This 100% free software for payroll processing is suited for businesses that perform their payroll calculations in Excel or are already very familiar with the software.

Features

Excel Payroll basically provides an upgraded Excel spreadsheet in which the required payroll calculations are made. This software is completely free and comes without generous limits, but its features are fairly basic. It can calculate earnings, deductions, worker compensation reports, vacation accruals, and overtime. 

ExcelPayroll should be used perform payroll processing for up to 50 employees – if you have more, you should switch to more robust software. You will need to enter state and federal tax information manually, as well as overtime and vacation accruals. Excel Payroll allows you to print checks and generate reports on tax compliance. 

This is on-site, as opposed to cloud software, so internet security is not a concern. However, the Excel Payroll website is not secured, so downloading the software is subject to standard internet risks. Support is only available via email.

Summary

Excel Payroll is free and simple payroll software that’s ideal for companies with up to 50 workers. If you were already using Excel or you’re proficient in it, then you won’t have much trouble mastering this software. However, if you’re not too familiar with the program, need more robust payroll options (especially concerning taxes), or have a large number of employees, this might not be the best choice for you.

Key Features
  • Payroll processing features - Advanced
  • Security - Good
  • Customer support - Great
  • User interface - Basic
Additional Features
  • Mobile app included
  • You can set up custom payment cycles
  • Good for small companies

Rise Lite is a free payroll solution meant only for Canadian-based businesses. Its only other limit is on the number of employees: 20 or fewer.

Features

Rise Lite is currently the only free payroll option for Canadian businesses. This free payroll processing software is cloud-based, allowing you to access it from anywhere. Besides basic payroll processing, it comes with tax compliance for Canadian law and automates tax forms. You can set up payment cycles however you wish, allowing you to run payroll whenever you need, cancel pay runs, or give bonuses without making tax calculations. You can also create formulas for commissions, deductions, and bonuses. 

The software comes with built-in reminders so you never miss scheduled payments and enables you to create personalized reports so you can stay on top of all your payroll information. For customer support, you can reach RiseLite’s staff via email, chat, or phone.

Summary

All in all, Rise Lite provides comprehensive payroll processing options free of charge. There are only two drawbacks: it’s only for Canadian businesses and it only offers free processing for up to 20 employees.

Key Features
  • Payroll processing features - Basic
  • Security - Good
  • Customer support - Fair
  • User interface - Basic
Additional Features
  • Mobile app included
  • SSL encryption
  • Tax filing allowed for certain states

Overview

Just like HR.my combines HR and payroll services, Wave offers accounting and payroll software for free in one package. However, this free package limits you to processing payroll only for independent workers.

Features

The accounting segment is primarily meant for tracking payments to independent workers using the 1099 form. In case you want to opt in for credit card processing, payroll, and bank payments, the monthly fee is $20 plus $4 for each employee. 

Processing 1099 payrolls using Wave is extremely easy – you just punch in your employee and banking information. After that it only takes a single push of a button to process the payment, and you can easily stop payments whenever you wish. Besides offering standard payment methods – cash, direct deposit, and checks – Wave also allows for payment via PayPal. 

You can also use Wave for 1099 tax fillings, but only in the following states: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. As for labor laws, overtime, and other state-specific regulations, you’ll have to sort through them manually. 

There are only two ways to get customer support – submitting an online help form or scouring through the company’s help blog. All communication between your company, Wave, and the banks is protected by 256-bit SSL encryption. Furthermore, the connection between Wave and financial institutions is view-only, meaning no one can access your finances in any way.

Summary

Which companies should choose Wave payroll software? Those companies that need free accounting software with payroll but hire only independent workers. In case you have full-time workers or workers in states that are not covered by this software, you should perhaps consider another option.

Key Features
  • Payroll processing features - Basic
  • Security - Good
  • Customer support - None
  • User interface - Basic
Additional Features
  • Automatic payroll deductions
  • Time-tracking features
  • Mobile app included

Overview

TimeTrex offers open-source payroll time clock software free of charge, created and updated by a community of volunteers from across the world. Besides free payroll calculation, TimeTrex offers time-tracking options for employees.

Features

With the TimeTrex free community version you receive only the payroll calculation option. TimeTrex does not offer tax filing, nor does it factor in local labor laws and other regulations that may apply on the state level. However, after you add all the information, payroll deductions are automatically calculated for you. 

Time-tracking features are integrated with payroll calculation. Through a web browser extension, you can track when and how much every employee has worked during the pay cycle. You can also create weekly shift/assignment schedules. In case you’ve previously used other payroll software or plan to use other software in the future, TimeTrex can integrate seamlessly, allowing data to be updated on all of your platforms. For these reasons, TimeTrex is a great free payroll app.

As TimeTrex is a community-made program, you won’t get any dedicated customer support; instead you’ll have to rely on community forums for help. You can upgrade to a paid package that provides you with features like a mobile app, recruitment, and expense-tracking, for a starting monthly price of $30.

As is always the case when dealing with cloud-based services, security should be a top priority. However, TimeTex addresses this with end-to-end data encryption, high-security data centers, and built-in data backup and recovery.

Summary

If you’re looking for payroll management system free software and you need time-tracking features as well, TimeTrex is definitely one of the best choices for you. What TimeTrex lacks is tax filing services and dedicated support it makes up for in security and time-tracking.

Key Features
  • Payroll processing features - Basic
  • Security - Good
  • Customer support - Fair
  • User interface - Basic
Additional Features
  • Mobile app included
  • Unlimited payroll calculations
  • Free calculator included

Overview

For small businesses that need to perform payroll calculations for a small number of employees or one-time calculations, Paycheck Manager is a great free employee payroll software choice.

Features

Paycheck Manager offers free and unlimited payroll calculations. Unfortunately, though, it can only perform one-time payroll calculations. This, of course, makes running payroll calculations regularly or for a large amount of employees a very difficult and time-consuming process. 

You can find the free payroll processing function on the “Free Calculator” page on Paycheck Manager’s website. You need to input employee information, then choose a year and state for tax purposes, after which Payroll Manager will process payroll information for you. Earnings and deductions are easy to add as well. But, as we’ve already mentioned, you can only perform individual payroll processing for one employee at a time. Unless you switch to a paid plan, the payroll information you add isn’t saved and you’ll have to re-enter it each time. 

As is the case with most payroll software freeware, federal and tax compliance is calculated for you, but you’ll have to factor in labor laws and unemployment insurance yourself. Switching to a paid account will allow you to both save payroll information and generate payroll forms. The paid account will cost you $5 per employee per month if you’re filing your own taxes. If you want Paycheck Manager to file taxes for you, the price increases to $12 per month plus $2 employee and a $10 first-time setup fee. The paid version also allows you to create various reports, which are not available in the free one. If you by any chance run into any trouble using Paycheck Manager, you can reach the support team by phone, email, and fax.

Summary

For companies that need to perform payroll processing for only a few workers or for one-time payments, Paycheck Manager is a great free option. But if you need to run regular payrolls for more than a few workers, then you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Key Features
  • Payroll processing features - Basic
  • Security - Good
  • Customer support - Great
  • User interface - Advanced
Additional Features
  • Simple payroll calculations
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Free trial for the paid version of the software

Overview

The last free online payroll system we’re reviewing is eSmart Paycheck. This desktop payroll software for small business is quite similar to Paycheck Manager in its functionality and what it offers in its free package. eSmart Paycheck allows you to run free payroll calculations and has built-in US tax compliance, but anything over that will require you to switch to the paid package.

Features

Payroll calculations in eSmart Paycheck are performed the usual way: You punch in employee data and earnings, then choose the tax year and state. After that, it only takes one click to perform the calculation. This software is tax-compliant in the US, but local labor laws and unemployment taxes are not calculated – you have to add them yourself. You can run payroll calculations whenever you look and an unlimited number of times.

As with Paycheck Manager, the downside of this free payroll online service is that you have to re-enter all the information every time you process the payroll, as the program doesn’t save this data. You can avoid this by switching to the paid package, which costs around $10 per employee per year, with sight variations based on the number of employees. 

For filing tax documents, the price ranges from $2 to $25 yearly. The paid package also has a free three-month trial period so you can see whether switching to a paid option is beneficial for you. eSmart Paycheck allows you to pay employees using cash and checks (for which you’ll need a printer and check stock). There’s no direct deposit option, even with a paid account, which is a major downside. You can contact customer support via email, phone, fax, or mail.

Summary

eSmart Paycheck is very similar to Paycheck Manager in terms of functionality. If you require occasional payroll processing for a small number of employees, then look no further. If, however, you require more advanced free payroll programs for small business or you have a larger workforce, you should check out Payroll4Free or HR.my.

FAQ

Which is the best free payroll software?

When choosing the best free payroll software for your business, you should keep an eye out for several things. Ask yourself these questions: How many employees do you have, are they independent contractors or employees, and are your workers US-based or not? If you only need to perform payroll calculations from time to time and for independent contractors, you should choose Wave, Paycheck Manager, or eSmart Paycheck. On the other hand, if you need regular payroll calculations for US-based workers, you should go for one of the US tax-compliant options on our list, like Payroll4Free, HR.my, or Excel Payroll.

Is there any free payroll software?

Yes, all of the software we’ve reviewed is free. However, they usually have some limits or lack some advanced services. They might have ads that pop up in the software, limit the amount of employees you can do payroll for, or only allow you to perform calculations one at a time.

How can I get a free payroll check?

By using any of the reviewed software on our list, all of which come with free payroll calculations (although some are only for independent contractors). Input the data, then let the software perform calculations and allow you to print out checks.

How much does payroll software cost?

Although we’ve reviewed only completely free software here, the prices for paid packages usually depend on the number of employees and whether you need tax filing services. The average cost is around $10 per employee per month, plus tax filing fees.

What is the cheapest payroll service small business?

All the software on our list is free, but the software that offers the most without paying is probably Payroll4Free.

What is the best free payroll software for small business?

As we’ve mentioned, deciding which software is best for you comes down to the needs of your business. Check out our methodology and reviews to get a better sense of what to look out for when choosing the appropriate software.

Can you do payroll yourself?

Yes, but manual calculations, especially for a larger workforce, would take an absurd amount of time. It’s much better to use some of the free payroll software from our list, as it will cost you nothing and save you a lot of time.

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