QuickBooks Payroll is an add-on to QuickBooks that gives you full-service payroll and multiple HR functions. It’s ideal for businesses that already use QuickBooks or want to make the move to a reliable accounting software that integrates with payroll. With next-day direct deposit, tax filing, and HR features, it’s an affordable option that works well for small businesses.
What We Recommend QuickBooks Payroll For
I’ve examined and tested scores of payroll software for multiple uses, from general business to specific industries like trucking. QuickBooks Payroll almost always makes the list because of its versatility, ease of use, and breadth of features. It’s also easily accessible through the QuickBooks Online accounting software, so it’s a simple transition for small employers that are existing QuickBooks users.
In short, QuickBooks Payroll is best for:
- QuickBooks users: If you are already comfortable using QuickBooks, then having its payroll system natively integrated makes handling your payroll a breeze; all of your payroll transactions flow to the general journal, and you don’t have to spend time on the front-end setting up and assigning accounts. In addition, the system lets you use the information in the payroll for budgeting and other analysis using QuickBooks.
- Small businesses: QuickBooks Payroll is affordable and allows you to process unlimited pay runs without paying extra. It also has several plan options you can choose from; they all provide full-service payroll processing (pays your taxes and employees). You can also add time tracking and get access to HR experts as the need arises–and still at an affordable rate compared to other providers
- Mobile businesses: If you’re out in the field often, QuickBooks Payroll’s mobile app will come in handy. In fact, it holds the #1 spot in our Best Payroll Apps buyer’s guide. You can use the app to run payroll, file taxes, and even pay employees, no matter where you are.
When QuickBooks Payroll Would Not Be a Good Fit
- Large businesses: QuickBooks Payroll is best for small and mid-sized businesses. If you are a large business or have complex payroll or HR needs, consider one of the other top HR payroll services.
- Businesses on a tight budget: QuickBooks Payroll is relatively inexpensive for what it offers, but if you need something simpler and cheaper, consider Gusto, Patriot, or Square Payroll. There are also free payroll software options that may suffice.
- Mac users: Intuit re-released QuickBooks Payroll for Mac in 2019 following a three-year hiatus, but the new version is still stand-alone vs online and is not as feature-rich as the PC version. There are better payroll software services for Mac.
- Businesses without consistent internet access: QuickBooks Payroll is an online payroll software; therefore, you will need access to stay connected. If your business is located in an area that doesn’t have reliable internet or you just don’t want a regular Wi-Fi bill, consider a QuickBooks Desktop Payroll product.
Looking for something different? Read our guide to the best payroll services for small businesses to find a service or software that’s right for your business.
QuickBooks Payroll Overview
QuickBooks Payroll Pros
QuickBooks Payroll Cons
Native integration with QuickBooks for accounting
No special contractor plan
Same- and next-day direct deposit
Does not handle local taxes
Unlimited pay runs
Basic HR features only
Integrates with many different kinds of software through QuickBooks
Mac version is limited
QuickBooks Payroll Pricing & Features
$45 + $4 per employee, per month
$75 + $8 per employee, per month
$125 + $10 per employee, per month
Full-service Payroll, Including Year-end Taxes
Phone and Chat Support
Workers’ Comp Administration
HR Support Center
Tax Penalty Protection up to $25,000/year
QuickBooks Payroll is easy to use and set up. You can input payroll information by hand or through the QuickBooks accounting software. The Premium plan offers a setup review to make sure everything is put in correctly, and if you get the Elite plan, QuickBooks will do a custom setup for you. Running payroll once setup is complete is as easy as putting in the hours and clicking a button. Check out my guide on setting up and running QuickBooks Payroll, or if you prefer a visual walk-through, explore the video instead.
With QuickBooks Payroll, employers can run unlimited pay runs each month and pay employees with a paper check or direct deposit. Since payroll processing is unlimited, you can set different schedules for different employees. Your employees can be paid quickly—QuickBooks offers next-day or same-day direct deposit vs two- to four-day like other providers. And while some services charge extra for processing deductions and garnishments, QuickBooks includes this in all plans. You can monitor PTO and integrate time-tracking as well.
QuickBooks also takes care of tax preparation and filing for federal and state taxes, including year-end tax forms, but it does not handle local taxes. In the Elite plan, there’s additional insurance against penalties of any kind up to $25,000, even if they’re your fault; plus a QuickBooks tax resolution team will represent you in resolving filing or payment issues with the IRS.
HR Administration and Support
QuickBooks files state and federal unemployment insurance and works with AP Intego for workers’ comp to get you the best price on plans. AP Intego integrates your plan directly into QuickBooks to make it easy.
It’s also partnered with Mammoth to provide HR support and administration. Mammoth has experts on HR and compliance issues for all 50 states. The HR support center comes with the Premium and Elite plans and includes customizable job descriptions, onboarding, and performance tools.
For employee health benefits, QuickBooks offers health insurance options through SimplyInsured. SimplyInsured helps small businesses find the best insurance packages for their budget. It’s a 3-step application, and you get instant quotes. If you select benefits through QuickBooks, you can easily administer them on the software.
All the payroll plans include a 401(k) program, administered by Guideline, an independent third party that handles compliance and recordkeeping at no extra cost. (There may be some 401(k) plan fees.)
The QuickBooks Payroll portal lets employees access pay stubs and W-2s as well as view PTO balances and withholdings. They can also change any details like contact information, bank accounts, and more. In addition to logging timesheets, it lets employees apply for expense reimbursements and request PTO. There’s a section for HR documents, like the employee manual, and the interface is simple. Please note that the features employees can use may vary according to your QuickBooks Payroll plan.
QuickBooks Payroll Ease of Use
- Automatic integration with QuickBooks Accounting software
- Self-service onboarding
- Intuitive interface
- Live phone and chat support
- How-to guides and videos
- Mobile app lets you run payroll and e-file taxes
QuickBooks Payroll is an easy program to use, especially if you are already familiar with QuickBooks in general. You do have to set up payroll on your own unless you get the Elite Plan, but you can contact support with questions; and with the Premier program, a representative will check your setup to ensure everything is correct before you run your first payroll. Do note, however, that once you run payroll for an employee, you can no longer add historical data, so be sure to get all the information in first.
Running payroll starts with the click of a button. QuickBooks automatically pulls up some of the information, and you can make changes before running the payroll. The interface is not complex, and there is a help button with articles and a way to contact support by chat. The hours vary depending on where you are, but the chatbot will let you know when a live person is available. We found the articles generally sufficient for most tasks.
Top QuickBooks Payroll Alternatives
4.44 out of 5 stars
4.11 out of 5 stars
4.08 out of 5 stars
Best for: Small businesses wanting easy software
Best for: Retailers and restaurants
Best for: Small businesses who want user- friendly software
Base monthly fee from: $19
Base monthly fee from: $29
Base monthly fee from: $36
Per-employee monthly fee from: $6
Per-employee fee from: $5
Per-employee fee from: $4
If you’re not sure QuickBooks Payroll is right for you, see how it compares with our top payroll services.
What Users Think About QuickBooks Payroll
QuickBooks Payroll earned an average of 4.36 out of 5 stars for user reviews on the third-party review sites we looked at—a solid but not exceptional rating. What is interesting, however, is QuickBooks’ performance in 2020. On Capterra, at least, the 5-star reviews outweigh the 2- and 1- star reviews nearly 10 to 1. With such a difficult year for business, it’s impressive to see such overwhelming satisfaction in payroll software.
Overall, customers said the interface is user-friendly and made payroll easy. In most cases, customer support likewise got high ratings. One user said it was the great customer service that kept him with QuickBooks. Difficulties arose when the payroll officer needed to do something more advanced, such as class hours to projects or operate in multiple states, or when the company got too large.
Some users said the interface was too simple and asked for additional features such as more stringent error checking. Additionally, there have been some recent complaints that QuickBooks would not pay for errors in taxes that led to penalties. However, the complaints did not state what plan they were on. QuickBooks Payroll only offers a warranty with its highest plan. Other 1- and 2-star reviews complained about the complexity of the software and problems with customer service not being helpful.
- Capterra: 4.5 out of 5 based on 568 reviews.
- G2: 4 out of 5 based on 25 reviews.
- TrustRadius: 5 out of 10 based on 37 reviews.
When reading through user reviews, I noticed some trends, such as:
Users Don’t Like:
Very easy to use
Will admit responsibility for tax errors, but is slow or will not pay the penalties
Well-organized, easy to track records
Could use more advanced payroll functions
Makes taxes a breeze
Problems contacting customer service, long hold times
If you like QuickBooks, then its payroll software is a natural choice. With seamless integration, which can also carry information from other programs into the payroll, it makes calculating payroll simple and handles the taxes for you. In addition, QuickBooks’ home company, Intuit, has partnered with several reputable companies in human resources and benefits to enable you to create and administrate HR for your employees, so you can do it all on one system. You don’t have to have QuickBooks to use QuickBooks Payroll. Sign up for a QuickBooks Payroll demo today and learn more.