This article is part of a larger series on Payroll Services.
Aside from being affordably priced, the best payroll software for small business users calculates employee wages and deductions accurately and pays and files payroll taxes automatically. Most offer unlimited pay runs, two-day direct deposits, employee self-service portals, and access to employee benefits.
To find the ideal payroll systems for small businesses, we evaluated more than a dozen solutions and narrowed the list down to our top 10 recommendations:
- Gusto: Best overall small business payroll software
- QuickBooks Payroll: Best for QuickBooks accounting users
- Paychex Flex: Best for solopreneurs and small companies needing a dedicated payroll specialist
- Square Payroll: Best for restaurateurs, retailers, and Square POS users
- OnPay: Best for small companies needing to delegate payroll duties
- Rippling: Best for its modular HR, payroll, and IT platform
- Paycor: Best for businesses wanting an all-in-one HR payroll solution
- ADP Run: Best for rapidly scaling startups
- Patriot Payroll: Best for mom-and-pops looking for a low-cost do-it-yourself (DIY) payroll service
- Homebase Payroll: Best for businesses with hourly workers
Best Payroll Software for Small Businesses Compared
Starter Monthly Pricing
Standard Direct Deposit
Health Benefits Covers All States
$6 per employee + $40 base fee
Limited to 39 states
$5 per employee + $45 base fee
$5 per employee + $39 base fee
$5 per employee + $35 base fee
4-day; instantly with Square Payments
$6 per employee + $40 base fee
2- or 4-day,
depends on risk assessment
$8 per employee + $35 base fee*
$5 per employee + $99 base fee
$4 per employee + $17 base fee**
$6 per employee + $39 base fee***
2-day for qualified companies
*Pricing is based on a quote we received; includes time tracking, payroll, and access to Rippling’s core workforce management platform.
**Patriot Payroll also offers a full-service payroll option with tax filing services that costs $37 plus $4 per employee monthly.
***You have to get Homebase’s main time tracking and scheduling platform (which is free for one-location businesses) before you can purchase Homebase Payroll.
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Since our last update:
Gusto has increased pricing for its contractor-only payroll plan, from $6 per worker monthly to $35 plus $6 per worker monthly. As part of a new promo, new clients who sign up for this plan will get discounted pricing of only $6 per contractor monthly (no base fee) for the first six months. After this period, you will be charged the regular monthly fee. Note that this promotion can end at any time—please check Gusto’s website for the latest promo on offer.
Gusto: Best Overall Payroll Software for Small Business Users
Gusto ranks high among its competitors as its payroll and HR features enable small businesses to operate with the amenities that some larger companies offer. Apart from running payroll automatically as scheduled, it notifies each new hire so that they can complete the required paperwork. If you’re in one of the 11 states―Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming―where it doesn’t offer insurance, consider any of the providers in this guide except Patriot Payroll and Homebase Payroll as neither offers benefits.
Scoring 4.71 out of 5 in our evaluation, Gusto earned perfect marks in pricing, reporting, and popularity among users. However, the limited coverage of its health insurance and having to subscribe to one of its higher tiers to access HR tools, such as time tracking and online PTO requests, prevented Gusto from getting a higher score.
Gusto Key Features
- Automatic and unlimited payroll runs in all 50 states: Unlike ADP and Paychex, Gusto allows you to process unlimited payroll runs, including bonus and off-cycle payments, at no extra cost. On top of that, you can even set payroll to run on autopilot.
- Automated tax payment and year-end report filing: Gusto withholds, pays, and files taxes on federal, state, and local levels automatically. It handles year-end tax reporting (W-2s and 1099s) for free, unlike ADP Run and Paychex, which charge a fee for this service.
- International contractor payments: Businesses can pay their contractors in more than 90 countries such as India, Canada, the UK, and the Philippines.
- Employee benefits: Gusto offers both standard and nonstandard benefits options, like 529 college savings accounts and Gusto Wallet—a free financial management app that even has time tracking tools. It also provides employee benefits plans in all 50 states, but its health insurance is available only in 39 (as of this writing).
- Multiple pay options: With Gusto, employees are paid through manual checks, pay cards, or direct deposits. The standard direct deposit timelines are two and four days but subscribing to Gusto’s higher tiers gets you a next-day option.
- Efficient time tracking and workforce management tools: Aside from project tracking and workforce costing tools, you can monitor your employees’ and contractors’ time through Gusto or via the Gusto Wallet. You can even create custom PTO policies and send/approve time-off requests online. However, these features are available only in Gusto’s higher tiers.
QuickBooks Payroll: Best for QuickBooks Accounting Software Users
QuickBooks Payroll is the best option for most QuickBooks accounting users. It integrates seamlessly—you access it within the same system with the click of a button—and all information flows throughout both systems (you don’t have to enter twice).
As with Gusto, it offers full-service payroll with automated tax filings (federal and state, local taxes if subscribed to the Elite plan), year-end reporting (W-2s and 1099s), and an online portal where employees can access their pay stubs, tax forms, and PTO balances. It also has fast direct deposits; its standard timeline is next-day, but it has same-day options if you get one of its higher tiers.
In our evaluation, the platform earned a 4.54 out of 5, with perfect scores in ease of use, pricing, and reporting. While all of its other ratings are 4 and above, it scored the lowest in popularity, given the limited number of user reviews (less than 500) on third-party review sites like G2 and Capterra. However, many users still appreciate its ease of use, especially its seamless integration with QuickBooks accounting. A few others complained about having experienced occasional software glitches while some said that it can be pricey for small businesses.
QuickBooks Payroll Key Features
- Automatic and unlimited payroll: You can approve and set payroll to run automatically with QuickBooks. It also lets you process payroll as many times as your business requires.
- Automated payroll tax services: Like most of the payroll providers on this list, QuickBooks Payroll handles all tax calculations, payments, and filings, including year-end reporting, for you. However, its tax filing services only cover federal and state taxes. You have to be on an Elite plan if you want automated local tax filings; otherwise, you’ll have to file local tax forms yourself.
- Fast direct deposits: Apart from next-day direct deposits, you can pay employees through same-day direct deposit at no extra cost, provided you subscribe to QuickBooks Payroll’s higher tiers. Note that most of the providers on this list have a standard two-day processing time, although Square Payroll offers instant payments if you have a Square Payments account.
- Tax penalty protection: QuickBooks will cover the penalty and interest for any payroll tax error for up to $25,000 a year, regardless of who made the mistake. Note that you must purchase its Elite plan to have your errors covered. Experts will also represent you before the IRS and concerned agencies and will assist you to resolve the problem. No other providers on our list will offer to represent you to help fix tax issues or cover mistakes you make under any circumstance.
Paychex: Best for Solopreneurs & Companies That Need Dedicated Payroll Support
Paychex has solutions suited for different business sizes. Its Paychex Solo package includes payroll, startup/incorporation services, and access to retirement plan options, making it a suitable solution for one-person businesses. It also offers Paychex Flex as its main payroll platform, which comes with several tiers flexible enough to cater to companies of different sizes (its higher plans include a dedicated payroll specialist). Unlike Gusto, which provides health insurance only in 39 states, Paychex lets you offer health insurance in all states in the United States.
The platform earned a 4.33 out of 5 in our evaluation. It scored perfect marks on HR, reporting, user popularity, and expert review criteria. However, it doesn’t have transparent pricing for all of its plans and charges extra for payroll tax administration and W-2/1099 filings, which are services that most of the providers in this guide include without additional fees.
Paychex Key Features
- Flexible plan options: Paychex offers flexible HR and payroll subscriptions that target businesses of all sizes. Its Paychex Solo plan is perfect for solopreneurs and the self-employed. Aside from running payroll, Paychex can help them set up their business as an employer and select a retirement plan. None of the other providers in this guide have this package.
- PEO services: If you ever go through a growth period in which you need an HR expert but aren’t ready to hire, Paychex has a professional employer organization (PEO) service to help you manage essential day-to-day HR processes.
- Multiple payment options: Aside from direct deposits, Paychex supports employee payments made through pay cards and paper checks. It even offers check logo and signing services. Similar to Square Payroll and QuickBooks Payroll, Paychex also has a same-day payment option but via automated clearing house (ACH) transfers—provided you get its Select plan.
- HR tools: Paychex Flex’s higher tiers not only come with payroll tools but several HR solutions as well. In addition to a library of HR documents and an online employee handbook builder, you are granted access to a learning management module to help you run e-training courses for your staff. Screening applicants and welcoming new hires will also be easy with its background checks and online onboarding solutions.
- Experienced customer service: During implementation, Paychex will assign you a representative to help you set up. Once its system is up and running, you get access to US-based support with experienced professionals you can contact 24/7 in case you need assistance. You even have the option to submit payroll via phone to your designated payroll specialist. Live chat features, in-app help options, and how-to guides are also available.
Square Payroll: Best for Restaurants & Small Retailers Using Square POS
Square Payroll is the best choice for restaurants and small retailers that are already using Square’s POS system. It enables you to pay both employees and contractors and import online timecards from Square POS and other third-party software partners into its system. It also has tip reporting features that allow you to record tip amounts, deduct taxes, and report them on your tax forms. You can run payroll as often as you need to at no extra cost (unlike some plans under big-name providers like ADP and Paychex), file quarterly and annual taxes, and sign up for pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation insurance.
In our evaluation, Square Payroll earned an overall rating of 4.28 out of 5, with a perfect score in reporting and high marks in nearly all of our criteria. It took a hit in ease of use and popularity among users because while it is easy to use, it doesn’t have a customizable interface. It also didn’t meet our subcriteria of having more than 1,000 average user reviews online. Plus, several reviewers complained of having experienced difficulties contacting its support team.
Square Payroll Key Features
- Low-cost contractor-only plan: Square Payroll has the lowest contractor-only plan among all the providers on this list. Priced at only $5 per contractor monthly, it comes with all the features of its “pay employees and contractors” plan, including unlimited pay runs.
- Square POS integration: Square Payroll seamlessly integrates with Square POS, making it easy for you to track and import employee time cards, including tips and commission data for pay processing.
- Multiple employee payment options: Aside from direct deposit, employees and contractors can be paid through manual checks or via Square’s Cash App. Square Payroll also offers next-day and instant payment options through its Instant Payments feature. You can even use its On-Demand Pay tool to allow eligible employees to get a portion of their earned salary before the pay period is over.
- Online tax filing and reporting: Square Payroll will file your quarterly and annual taxes automatically as well as prepare and file your W-2s or 1099s, whether workers are paid an hourly, salary, or custom amount. This is unlike Patriot Payroll (if you’re on the self-service plan), Paychex, and ADP, which charge fees for some of its payroll tax services. QuickBooks Payroll may not have add-on fees to file taxes for you, but you have to get its highest tier if you want automated local tax filings.
- Employee benefits: Square Payroll will provide your employees access to health insurance, pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation plans, and even retirement packages that will automatically sync with your payroll.
OnPay: Best for Small Companies That Need to Delegate Payroll Duties
If you have a limited budget, OnPay provides a reasonably priced payroll solution that comes with basic HR tools for managing PTO, employee benefits, and onboarding. While it only has a single plan ($40 plus $6 per employee monthly), it’s one of the lowest-priced full-service payroll packages on our list excluding Patriot with its DIY option. Plus, you get complete access to all of OnPay’s tools as other providers require you to upgrade to higher plans to unlock additional features. Its six-level system permissions even provide you with enough flexibility to control who has access to and visibility into payroll and HR.
For agricultural companies, OnPay handles Form 943 filings and processes payments and taxes for workers on H-2A visas. It can also handle the payroll needs of businesses in other industries such as healthcare and restaurant industries—from filing tax forms, such as forms 941, 1099, and W-2, to withholding your employees’ state and federal unemployment insurance payments and other contributions.
The platform received an overall score of 4.19 out of 5 in our evaluation. Similar to Square Payroll, it received ratings of 4 and up in almost all criteria. It didn’t rank higher on our list because while OnPay provides payroll services for different business types, it has limited third-party software integrations, customization options, and user reviews on G2 and Capterra. Those who left feedback complained about the occasional software and integration glitches. However, many users still find its online tools efficient as it helps them simplify and automate employee pay processing.
OnPay Key Features
- Unlimited payroll runs: OnPay lets you run payroll for both employees and contractors as many times as you need and want without having to pay extra. You can also generate year-end W-2s and 1099s without paying a per-employee rate (Paychex and ADP Run charge extra). For those with special tax requirements like agricultural businesses, OnPay offers automated tax payments and filings of Form 943.
- Essential HR tools: Streamline onboarding processes with OnPay’s in-app offer letters, online I-9 and W-4 forms, e-signature tool, and automated onboarding workflows. It handles state new hire reporting, plus you can create custom checklists to ensure that incoming employees complete all the new hire requirements. If you need HR guides and legal templates, OnPay has an online HR resource library that you can access.
- Employee benefits: Unlike Gusto’s health insurance, which covers only 39 states (as of this writing), OnPay’s health plans are available in all US states. Your employees are also granted access to dental, vision, disability, and retirement plans. Furthermore, OnPay can generate employee census data reports that you can use when requesting insurance quotes from carriers and benefits providers.
- Payroll support: Aside from phone, chat, and email support, OnPay can guide you through pay processing if you need help. However, if you require payroll assistance from OnPay’s support team on a weekend, you won’t be able to contact them via phone. It only offers email support on Saturdays and Sundays. ADP Run and Paychex are great choices if you require 24/7 support. Paychex even offers a dedicated payroll specialist, although this service is available only in its higher tiers.
Rippling: Best for Businesses Looking for a Modular HR, Payroll & IT Solution
What makes Rippling a good payroll option for businesses is its modular HR, payroll, and IT tools that allow you to choose only the solutions you need. While its workforce management platform is a must-purchase, the cost of adding full-service payroll is still reasonable—Rippling can even create a custom plan based on your needs. However, it isn’t as cost-effective as most of the payroll software for small business users in this guide such as Square Payroll and Patriot Payroll.
It still made our list because it is the only HR and payroll software that we reviewed that can help you manage essential IT processes such as assigning and deploying computers and business apps that employees can use. It earned a 4.13 out of 5 in our evaluation, scoring high (4 and up) in nearly all of our criteria. It posted the lowest ratings in ease of use, primarily because it lacks free phone support—you have to purchase its HR help desk add-on that includes phone and email support from HR experts.
Rippling Key Features
- Modular solutions: Rippling has a flexible workforce management platform that lets you choose the payroll, HR, and IT features that you need. You can start with its workforce management (a necessity) and full-service payroll tools, and then add more solutions like employee benefits and applicant tracking as you grow your business.
- Payroll analytics: Rippling automatically pulls your last payroll numbers when you begin processing a new payroll so you can easily compare the two. It helps you identify any obvious errors quickly to prevent you from having to backtrack to correct them later.
- Full-service payroll: With Rippling, you can run payroll with just three clicks. It automatically calculates all employee payments, taxes, and deductions. Payroll tax filings are also automatically done by Rippling. If you have employees and contractors based in satellite offices outside of the US, Rippling can help you manage international payroll processes so you can pay your workers accurately and on time.
- Robust HR tools: Rippling offers more than payroll and employee information management solutions; it also has applicant tracking, benefits administration, time and attendance, and learning management tools. However, these modules are paid add-ons to Rippling’s core workforce management platform.
- IT solutions: Rippling’s IT tools are designed to streamline and automate device and apps management processes. If you have new hires, Rippling can help you assign the computer units and identify business apps that employees have access to. For resigning employees, you can easily disable access to business apps and lock their computers on their last day. Rippling even stores your unassigned computer units in its warehouse, and you can check the inventory through its system. None of the providers we reviewed have robust IT solutions.
- Flexible PEO: Rippling offers PEO services to businesses that need help managing payroll and day-to-day HR operations. And, unlike ADP and Paychex, if you decide that you no longer need a PEO, then you can simply turn Rippling’s PEO services off from your account.
Paycor: Best for Businesses Needing an HR Payroll Solution for Handling Simple to Complex Pay Runs
For businesses looking for a cloud-based platform that comes with all of the essential tools to manage the entire employee lifecycle, Paycor is a good option. It offers a robust suite of solutions for handling basic to the most complex payroll and HR tasks. It has recruiting, onboarding, time and attendance, benefits, learning, and employee information management tools in addition to payroll and automated tax services. However, Paycor isn’t the most affordable payroll system for small businesses as its starter Basic plan costs $99 plus $5 per employee monthly, which is pricier than big-name payroll and HR providers like ADP and Paychex.
Scoring 3.86 out of 5 in our evaluation, Paycor received high marks in nearly all of our criteria with perfect scores in reporting, HR features, and popularity among users. However, its expensive pricing and limited interface customizability prevented it from ranking higher on our list.
Several users said that not being able to fully customize some of its features, such as creating special vacation accrual rules, is one of the things they like least about Paycor. Others commented that while it offers solid payroll and HR tools, its support team isn’t always responsive and can be difficult to reach at times.
Paycor Key Features
- Time and attendance: Paycor enables you to collect and monitor employee work hours, helping manage attendance and labor costs through automated and accurate processes. Its system is much more robust than Gusto’s simple time tracking tool. Employees can clock in and out, and you can use it to schedule shifts.
- All-in-one HR platform: Paycor offers an all-in-one platform that combines its payroll software with onboarding, time tracking, scheduling, performance management, employee surveys, and recruiting tools. You won’t get these robust HR features with traditional payroll software for small businesslike OnPay, Patriot Payroll, and Homebase Payroll.
- Customizable pay grids: Paycor’s payroll solution is flexible, allowing you to create intuitive workflows and build an online pay grid to fit your unique pay processing needs. You can select the pay data columns you want, remove those you don’t need, and choose whether you want the system to display the applicable hours or amount (or both) for each data type. You can even create a customized pay stub.
- Accurate payroll and tax filing: Aside from calculating employee payments and deductions, Paycor handles your quarterly tax payments and filings, including year-end reports. It also pays and files your taxes automatically at the federal and state levels on time. You can pay employees via direct deposits and manual checks. Paycor even offers check stuffing services.
ADP Run: Best for Scaling Startups That Need Flexible Plans
ADP Run is ADP’s payroll system for small businesses with up to 49 employees. It comes with all of the essential payroll and payroll tax management tools you need, plus new hire reporting, onboarding, background checks, and access to job postings (via ZipRecruiter). Its higher tiers even come with extra HR support and handholding that you don’t get with your typical small business payroll software like Square Payroll. ADP also makes it easy to transition from one plan to the next if your company scales and you need additional HR tools.
In our evaluation, ADP Run earned an overall score of 3.71 out of 5. It was rated highly in ease of use, payroll and HR features, reporting, and popularity among users. However, its setup costs and nontransparent fees contributed to its very low rating in our pricing criteria—and users even commented that it can be expensive for small businesses. However, many reviewers said they do appreciate its easy-to-use platform, adding that its payroll solution helps simplify employee pay processes.
ADP Run Key Features
- Fast and accurate payroll and tax filing: In addition to its solid payroll tools, ADP Run offers automated payroll tax payments and filings. While it also handles year-end reporting (W-2s and 1099s), ADP charges extra for this. Its built-in compliance tools also notify you of payroll errors.
- Multiple employee payment options: With ADP Run, you can pay your employees via direct deposit and paychecks and through the Wisely Direct Debit Card. It also offers secure paychecks with check signing and stuffing services. ADP will even deliver the sealed envelopes containing employee paychecks to your office so that you can distribute these to your staff.
- Flexible plan options: In addition to ADP Run’s multiple tiers with full-service payroll and access to essential HR tools, ADP has a wide range of products that can cater to midsize and large businesses. It offers a PEO option, ADP TotalSource, for companies that need to completely outsource their payroll and HR administration.
- Certified, experienced payroll professionals available 24/7: Similar to Paychex, ADP Run allows you to get in touch with payroll and HR experts whenever you need them. You also receive legal assistance on employment matters from Upnetic Legal Services—provided you subscribe to its highest tier.
- Recruitment and HR tools: ADP’s partnership with ZipRecruiter makes it possible for you to post open jobs to leading job boards. It also offers background checks, state new hire reporting, and onboarding, in addition to training tools and an online library of HR forms and documents. You won’t get this level of HR support with any other provider on our list except Paychex and Paycor. However, if you need time tracking, pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation, and benefits, these solutions are paid add-ons to ADP Run’s payroll plan.
Patriot Payroll: Best for Mom-and-Pop Businesses That Want a Low-cost DIY Option
Patriot Payroll offers a flexible option that others in this guide don’t: a choice between full-service payroll and a more affordable DIY version. Both come with unlimited payroll runs, multiple pay rates, automated PTO accrual calculations, and customizable deductions and contributions. You can pay employees through direct deposit or manual checks, and if you choose its full-service plan, Patriot will pay and file all federal, state, and local taxes. It even has payroll packages that include access to time tracking tools and an HR solution for managing employee information.
Scoring 3.69 out of 5 in our evaluation, Patriot Payroll received perfect marks in reporting, pricing, and popularity among users. It posted the lowest score in HR functionalities because it doesn’t offer new hire onboarding and employee benefits that most of the payroll software in this list provides. However, users still appreciate its reasonably priced plans and helpful support team. Others said that while it has user-friendly and efficient payroll tools, they wished Patriot Payroll offered faster direct deposits and additional integration options.
Patriot Payroll Key Features
- Self-service plan: You can save the most money if you have a couple of employees and are willing to file payroll taxes on your own using Patriot’s Basic Payroll plan. Priced at only $17 plus $4 per employee monthly, this is the most cost-efficient option among all the payroll providers in this guide.
- Flexible payroll system: In addition to unlimited pay runs, Patriot Payroll supports multiple pay rates, plus you can either use its standard deduction and contribution types or create your own to capture payroll details for garnishments, health insurance options, and retirement plans. Employees and contractor payments are made through direct deposits, but the processing time is four days. If you want fast direct deposits, consider QuickBooks Payroll (its basic Core plan comes with next-day options) and Square Payroll (its Instant Payments feature lets you pay employees instantly).
- Multiple full-service payroll packages: Aside from its standard Full Service option, Patriot has payroll packages that include time tracking and employee information management tools. All plans include one state filing, but if you need to file taxes in multiple states, each additional filing costs $12 monthly.
- Tax penalty guarantee: If you subscribe to one of its Full Payroll plans, Patriot ensures that your taxes will be calculated and filed on time. Any disputes will be resolved and paid for by Patriot for tax filing mistakes that its representatives commit. Compare this to QuickBooks—under its Elite plan, it covers the penalty and interest for any payroll tax error for up to $25,000 a year, regardless of who made the mistake.
Homebase Payroll: Best for Businesses Employing Hourly Workers
Homebase Payroll is an add-on module to Homebase, which has a suite of time tracking, hiring, and scheduling solutions. Similar to Square Payroll, it offers flat pricing for its easy-to-use pay processing solution that includes automated payroll tax payment and filing services. Its payroll platform is designed specifically for hourly teams as it comes with scheduling and time tracking solutions for managing your hourly workforce. It even offers job postings, applicant tracking, PTO management, new hire onboarding, and time clock apps.
Homebase Payroll earned an overall score of 3.64 in our rubric. Its reasonably priced plan with flat pricing and efficient HR tools contributed to its high scores (4 and up) while the lack of online reviews resulted in it getting a zero rating in our popularity criteria.
Homebase Payroll Key Features
- Robust payroll plan: Homebase Payroll is one of the payroll systems for small businesses that we reviewed that’s reasonably priced and comes with several HR features. For only $39 plus $6 per employee monthly, you get hiring, onboarding, time tracking, and scheduling tools in addition to full-service payroll and automatic tax filing services. Paycor, ADP, Paychex, and Rippling may offer similar functionalities, but you either have to pay extra or subscribe to its higher tiers to get these solutions.
- Full-service payroll: Unlike Paychex and ADP Run, Homebase Payroll offers unlimited pay runs so that you can process employee and contractor payments as many times as you need in a month. Salaries are sent to the employees’ accounts via direct deposits, although Homebase Payroll also supports payments made through printable checks. In addition to W-2 and 1099 reporting, Homebase provides automated payroll tax payments and filings.
- Early access to wages: Similar to Gusto and Square Payroll, Homebase Payroll offers an employee perk that grants your staff early access to wages. Your workers can transfer a portion of their salary to their bank account before payday to help pay for emergency expenses.
How We Chose the Top Payroll Software
We checked and compared the best payroll software for small businesses across industries; most of them offer many of the same basic payroll tools with certain nuances in features such as same-day vs two-day direct deposit or unlimited pay runs vs limited pay runs. Generally, the top payroll software offers direct deposit, tax filing, and year-end tax report preparation. Some even provide benefits and HR support.
Click through the tabs below for a more detailed breakdown of our evaluation criteria:
20% of Overall Score
We checked to see if the provider has transparent pricing, zero setup fees, and multiple plan options with unlimited pay runs. Those priced at $50 or less per employee monthly were also given extra points.
20% of Overall Score
We gave priority to those that offer multiple pay options, two-day direct deposits, tax payments and filings, year-end reporting (W-2s and 1099s), and a penalty-free tax guarantee.
20% of Overall Score
15% of Overall Score
15% of Overall Score
5% of Overall Score
We considered user reviews, including those of our competitors based on a 5-star scale; any option with an average of 4-plus stars is ideal. Also, any software with 1,000-plus reviews on any third-party site is preferred.
5% of Overall Score
Preference was given to software with built-in basic payroll reports and customization options.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does payroll software do?
A payroll system can accurately calculate employee wages, such as salaries, overtime, and deductions for required payroll taxes, and pay workers either through direct deposits, pay cards, or paychecks. Most payroll software for small business comes with workflow and compliance tools designed to automate and streamline the pay process. This enables you to manage payroll easily while ensuring that you remain compliant with federal regulations and labor laws.
Many payroll solutions also include tax payment and filing services. Others even provide access to basic HR tools like time and PTO tracking, allowing to capture employee attendance data for pay processing easily.
What is the best payroll software system for small business users?
The best payroll software for small business users should be reasonably priced and meet your budgetary needs while providing essential solutions you need to compute and process employee payments. Given that it’s important you handle payroll the right way, it should have compliance tools to ensure that you’re correctly doing payroll for different worker types, such as employees vs contractors. Plus, having a payroll provider who can remit tax payments, file tax forms, and generate W-2/1099 reports is a necessity as it will take the burden off of having to manage all these tax processes yourself.
For small businesses with unique payroll needs, such as agriculture companies with specific tax filing rules, look for providers who can handle your requirements. You should also consider the size of your business and company growth plans as payroll software with scalable plans and advanced features will be more beneficial than getting a basic payroll service that only pays employees and files taxes.
How much does payroll software cost?
A payroll software with essential pay processing tools can cost anywhere from $30 to $50 per employee monthly. You should expect to pay more if you want additional functionalities like time tracking, employee benefits, and HR advisory services.
Small businesses need reliable payroll software to save time and money. Most providers calculate wages, offer direct deposit, and pay taxes. However, you should consider your business needs and budget limitations. Small businesses can benefit from features such as automated tax payments, year-end report filing, and unlimited payroll runs.
We found that Gusto offers all of the features that most small businesses need at a very competitive price. Users find it very easy to use and navigate, and the software is widely used in different industries. Sign up for a Gusto plan today.
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