This article is part of a larger series on Payroll Services.
What We Recommend QuickBooks Payroll For
We’ve examined and compared QuickBooks Payroll against several payroll software for multiple uses—from general business to specific industries like trucking—and it almost always ranks in our lists of best employee pay processing tools scoring a 4.62 out of 5 for 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 Accounting, 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 application for budgeting and other analysis using QuickBooks.
- Small businesses: Intuit’s payroll pricing is reasonable for small business owners since you can process unlimited pay runs without paying extra. QuickBooks Payroll also has several plan options you can choose from; they all provide full-service payroll processing (pays your taxes and employees). You can even 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 No. 1 spot in our best payroll apps buyer’s guide. You can use the app to run payroll, e-file taxes, and even pay employees, no matter where you are—provided an internet connection is available.
When QuickBooks Payroll Would Not Be a Good Fit
- Large businesses: QuickBooks Payroll is best for small and midsize businesses. If you are a large business or have complex payroll or HR needs, consider one of our recommended HRIS/HRMS 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 Payroll—it has a lower-cost full-service plan in addition to an even cheaper self-service plan, if you’re willing to file the taxes on your own. There are also free payroll software options that may suffice.
- Businesses without consistent internet access: QuickBooks Payroll is an online payroll software; therefore, you will need internet access to stay connected. If your business is located in an area with unreliable internet or you just don’t want a regular Wi-Fi bill, consider a QuickBooks Desktop Payroll product.
QuickBooks Payroll Overview
|Unlimited pay runs||No special contractor plan|
|Native integration with QuickBooks for accounting||Its basic Core plan doesn’t include local tax filings; you have to upgrade to its Premium or Elite tier this service|
|Same- and next-day direct deposits||Basic HR features only|
|Robust tax penalty protection; QuickBooks to cover tax penalties (up to $25,000/year) regardless of who makes the mistake (with premium plan)||Tax penalty protection is available only in the Elite plan|
QuickBooks Payroll Pricing
QuickBooks Payroll has three plans (Core, Premium, and Elite); each comes with full-service payroll, tax payments and filings, next-day direct deposits, and automatic pay runs. Intuit’s payroll pricing ranges from $45 to $125 per month plus per-employee monthly fees of $4–$10. However, you have to pay extra for some services (like multiple state filings and workers’ compensation administration), depending on your plan.
$4 per employee
$8 per employee
$10 per employee
Tax Payments and Filings
Federal and state
Federal, state, and local
Federal, state, and local
Multiple State Tax Filing
One state only; each additional state is $12 per month
One state only; each additional state is $12 per month
Access to 401(k) Plans and Health Benefits**
Workers’ Comp Administration
HR Support Center
Personal HR Advisor
Tax Penalty Protection up to $25,000/year
Setup review only
*QuickBooks offers discounts (such as its current 50% off for three months for new users) from time to time, so check its website to see the latest promotions on offer.
**Additional fees may apply, depending on the type of plan selected.
QuickBooks Payroll Features
QuickBooks Payroll is easy to use and set up. You can input payroll information by hand or, if you’re a QuickBooks user, through the QuickBooks accounting software. However, if you get the Premium plan, QuickBooks offers a setup review to make sure everything is put in correctly, while the Elite plan gives you access to custom setup services. Once setup is completed, running payroll is as easy as putting in the hours and clicking a button.
Check out our guide to setting up and running QuickBooks Payroll. It also includes a video tutorial if you prefer a visual walk-through.
With QuickBooks Payroll, you can run unlimited payroll each month and pay employees and contractors either through paper checks or direct deposits. Since payroll processing is unlimited, you can set different schedules for different employees. Your staff can also be paid quickly—QuickBooks offers next- 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.
If you’ve run payroll several times and don’t require any revisions or salary changes, QuickBooks has an auto-payroll feature that will automatically run payroll every pay period. However, this functionality is available only for those who employ salaried employees and have payments set on direct deposits with e-services enabled. Your payroll account should also be in good standing and not have been placed on hold in the six months prior to running auto-payroll.
Payroll Tax Management
QuickBooks Payroll takes care of tax payments and filings for federal and state taxes, including year-end tax forms. If you require automated local tax filings, consider either its Premium or Elite plan. For Elite subscribers, there’s additional insurance against penalties of any kind up to $25,000, even if you are at fault; a QuickBooks tax resolution team will also represent you in resolving filing or payment issues with the IRS.
For employee health benefits, QuickBooks Payroll offers health insurance options through SimplyInsured, which helps small businesses find the best insurance packages for their budget. It’s a three-step application, and you get instant quotes. If you select benefits through QuickBooks Payroll, you can easily administer them through its software.
In addition, all of QuickBooks Payroll’s plans include access to a 401(k) program. It is administered by Guideline, an independent third party that handles compliance and recordkeeping at no extra cost—although there may be some 401(k) plan fees.
Unemployment Insurance and Workers’ Comp
QuickBooks Payroll files state and federal unemployment insurance and works with AP Intego for workers’ comp to get you the best price on plans. Managing workers’ compensation is also made easy since AP Intego integrates your plan directly into QuickBooks Payroll. Note, however, that workers’ comp administration is only included in the Premium and Elite tiers. If you’re on Core, you have to pay $5 monthly for this service.
HR Administration and Support
QuickBooks Payroll has partnered with Mineral to provide HR support and administration to its clients. Available only for Premium and Elite subscribers, the HR support center grants you access to customizable job descriptions, onboarding, and performance tools. If you sign up for an Elite plan, you can contact Mineral HR and compliance experts (either online or via phone) if you have critical HR issues. They can also assist you in creating HR policies and custom handbooks.
If you select either its Premium or Elite package, you can track your employees’ work hours and paid time off (PTO) through QuickBooks Time (formerly TSheets). With its mobile app, your staff can clock in/out, switch jobs or tasks, and check their attendance while on the go. It even has GPS functionalities, allowing you to check your field employees’ location when they clock in.
The QuickBooks Payroll portal lets employees access pay stubs and W-2s, as well as view PTO balances and withholdings. They can also change and update their 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 even a section for HR documents like employee manuals. 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
- Chat and phone 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. The Premier package does give you access to a setup review to ensure everything is correct before you run your first payroll. Once you run payroll for an employee, you can no longer add historical data, so be sure to add all the information first.
When running payroll in QuickBooks Payroll, the whole process requires only several button clicks. Its system automatically pulls up the necessary employee and pay information, including time data (if you have QuickBooks Time), and you can make changes before completing the payroll run. The interface is not complex, and there is a help button with how-to articles, plus a way to contact its 24/7 chat support. You can also call a customer service rep via phone from Mondays to Fridays, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., all Pacific time.
Top QuickBooks Payroll Alternatives
Best for: Small businesses
Best for: Square POS users, particularly retailers and restaurants
Best for: Small agricultural companies that need to file Form 943
Base monthly fee from:
Base monthly fee from:
Base monthly fee from:
Per-employee monthly fee from: $6–$12
Per-employee monthly fee from: $5
Per-employee monthly fee from: $4
If you’re not sure if QuickBooks Payroll is right for you, see how it compares with other HR payroll software.
What Users Think About QuickBooks Payroll
The QuickBooks Payroll reviews on third-party sites (such as G2 and Capterra) showed solid ratings. Many users highlighted its ease of use, fast direct deposits, and efficient online tools that make paying employees and managing taxes easy. However, others said it is expensive compared to similar small business payroll providers.
Customer support is also hit or miss. While many reviewers complained about the long wait times when contacting its support team, a few said that the customer reps they spoke with have been helpful and responsive.
At the time of publication, QuickBooks Payroll earned the following scores on popular user review sites:
These are some of the trends I noticed when reading through online QuickBooks Payroll reviews:
Users Don’t Like:
Very easy to use
Can be pricey for small businesses
Well-organized, easy to track records
Occasional software and mobile app glitches
Makes taxes a breeze
Inconsistent customer support quality; wait time can be long
If you like QuickBooks, then its payroll software is a natural choice. With seamless integration, it makes calculating employee pay simple and easy; plus, it handles tax payments and filings for you. In addition, QuickBooks’ parent company, Intuit, has partnered with several reputable companies to enable you to offer and manage benefits and basic HR tasks for your employees, so you can do it all on one system.
What’s great about this software is you don’t have to have QuickBooks Accounting to use QuickBooks Payroll. You can get its payroll module as a standalone solution and then add Intuit’s other products to your platform as you grow your business.
Sign up for QuickBooks Payroll’s three-month free trial today and learn more about its features.