2023 Payroll4Free Review: Pricing, Features, and Alternatives
This article is part of a larger series on Payroll Services.
Payroll4Free provides a full range of online payroll solutions optimal for small businesses (with up to 25 employees). It offers a free basic payroll service that includes vacation time tracking, detailed reporting, and access to payroll tax calculations and forms. You also get an employee portal, enabling your staff to view their pay slips, W-2s, and accrued vacation time credits online. For an extra fee, Payroll4Free can even handle payroll tax payments and filings, plus direct deposit.
Based on our expert review, Payroll4Free is a good payroll option for those looking for a cost-effective solution for their basic payroll needs. However, businesses looking for a robust tool should look for other options.
Although it didn’t make our recommended providers, we evaluated Payroll4Free against our best payroll software rubric and got an overall score of 2.87 out of 5. It got high marks for pricing because of its free forever plan for up to 25 employees and even got a perfect mark for reporting. However, it didn’t perform as well in other criteria, such as in HR features, for lack of tools such as self-service portal for employees, online onboarding, benefits, and health insurance. It also lacked payroll features, like pay on-demand, and charges extra for year-end tax reports. It isn’t as user-friendly compared to similar software, and its lack of user review ratings also affected its popularity score.
What We Like
- Offers free-forever payroll services with essential online tools (including an employee portal)
- Integrates with QuickBooks
- Calculates and prepares forms for federal, state, and local payroll taxes
- Has tax filings and direct deposits (not using own bank) as affordable add-ons
- Free only for businesses with 25 or fewer employees
- Has a limited system compatibility (Windows only)
- Interface looks old-fashioned
- Lacks a mobile app; payroll software comes with ads
- Completely free for businesses with 25 or fewer employees
- Calculates payroll and taxes, monitors PTO accruals, prints paychecks
- Can use free direct deposits when using own bank
- Handles year-end tax reports (W-2s and 1099s) by giving pre-formatted forms
- Ads on the free plan
What We Recommend Payroll4Free For
With Payroll4Free, you get access to free-to-use online payroll tools. And although the system is pretty basic and outdated, it can handle both employee and contractor payments, plus you can pay your staff with checks or direct deposits. Getting its system up and running is also relatively easy given its guided account setup wizard—although its interface isn’t as intuitive as popular small business payroll software like Gusto.
While its free payroll solution doesn’t include tax payments and filings, you can opt to add that service for a monthly fee of $25. If you prefer to use Payroll4Free’s bank account for your direct deposit transfer transactions, you can do so for $25 per month. However, Payroll4Free will only charge you $30 per month if you need both services.
In short, Payroll4Free is best for:
- Entrepreneurs and small business owners (with up to 25 employees): Payroll4Free ranks second on our list of best free payroll software. Its system and basic services come at no cost, provided your business doesn’t exceed 25 employees, and it offers tax filing and direct deposit services as reasonably priced add-ons. This helps you keep overall payroll processing costs to a minimum.
- Small companies employing 25 or fewer contractors: With Payroll4Free, you don’t need to find another payroll software to handle contractor payments. The provider’s platform can process salaries for contractors, compute the applicable taxes, and create year-end 1099 forms—all for free.
When Payroll4Free Would Not Be a Good Fit
- Midsize to large businesses: Payroll4Free is designed specifically for small businesses. If you have more than 25 employees, you may want to consider other payroll providers in our best payroll services guide.
- Business owners needing both HR and payroll tools: Apart from paid time off (PTO) tracking, Payroll4Free doesn’t have the essential HR tools (like onboarding and state new hire reporting) that other small business payroll providers offer. For more suitable solutions, read our best HR payroll software guide.
- Mac computer users: The provider doesn’t have a software version for Mac and is compatible only with Windows-based computers. However, a workaround is choosing to run Windows on your Mac instead of Apple’s macOS. You can also check out our guide to the best payroll software for Mac users for other options.
Looking for more robust pay processing tools? Read our guide to the best payroll software to find a solution that’s right for your business.
Top Payroll4Free Alternatives
QuickBooks accounting small business users
Retailers and restaurant owners
Base Monthly fees
Per-employee Monthly Fees
Payroll4Free got an excellent score for pricing because it is very affordable for small businesses. In fact, it’s free for businesses with up to 25 employees—and if you use its service to process and submit payroll taxes, you’ll only need to pay a small fee. With its free plan comes other helpful features such as a direct deposit option and an employee portal. However, Payroll4Free doesn’t offer multiple scalable plans.
Payroll Tax Service Fee
Batch Posting (per batch)
Amended Deposit (each)
Amended Filing (each)
Copy of Deposit/Filing Confirmation (each)
Payroll Tax & Direct Deposit Fee
File Cancellation (each)
File Adjustment (each)
Return of Undeposited Funds (each)
Same Day Deposit Processing Fee (by batch)
Same Day Deposit Transaction Fee (per deposit transaction in batch)
Payroll Processing Per Increment of 25 Employees (per posting); First 25 are free
Adjusting a Posted Batch
Major Use of System Training (per hour)
Employee Data Setup or Setup Reprocessing (per hour)
While Payroll4Free’s basic services are free for small businesses with up to 25 employees, it offers paid add-ons to help improve your payroll processes. If you want the provider to deposit and file payroll taxes on your behalf, Payroll4Free’s pricing for its automated tax services is $25 per month. However, if you get both tax filing and direct deposit services, you only have to pay $30 monthly.
Payroll4Free can calculate and file payroll taxes. It lost points because it lacks a pay on-demand option and charges extra for year-end tax report preparation and delivery. Payroll4Free also will cover penalties for their mistakes and only automates federal and state taxes.
Payroll4Free’s online tools and services are designed to help small businesses accurately and securely process employee payments. It can handle all types of payroll—from basic to complex pay computations. Here are some of its essential features:
With Payroll4Free, you can process salary payments for both employees and contractors. Its platform also supports various types of earnings, deductions, and contributions. Setting up simple to complicated computations for deductions and contributions is easy, plus you can specify how it should calculate 401(k) and even garnishments based on the employees’ net pay. Once you have completed setting this up, Payroll4Free will automatically compute it every pay run.
Paying employees and contractors with paper checks is possible given its check printing capability. Payroll4Free can also help you set up its software to add data that you want to be displayed on the check stub. In addition, you can send wage payouts to your employees’ accounts via direct deposits. Payroll4Free will even provide an automated clearing house (ACH) file that you can submit to your bank.
If you prefer to use Payroll4Free’s direct deposit service ($25 monthly), the provider will impound your staff’s net pay amount from your bank to its bank account and then disburse the salary payments to your employees’ accounts on pay dates. Note, however, that you are required to submit a security deposit in which the amount matches your highest estimated payroll for a seven-day pay period.
Aside from calculating federal, state, and local payroll taxes, the provider offers access to filled-out forms that you can use to file taxes. For $25 per month, you can even ask Payroll4Free to handle your payroll tax payments and filings, including year-end processing of W-2s and 1099s. It also comes with a guarantee, wherein Payroll4Free will be responsible for paying any penalties if they make a mistake filing your payroll taxes.
Payroll4Free supports data exports that allow you to connect your payroll data with third-party companies such as banks and benefits providers. It can also integrate with time clocks and accounting systems like QuickBooks.
If you’re looking for a payroll solution with basic tools for HR management, then Payroll4Free is not for you. It lacks an online onboarding option and does not have a self-service portal for employees where employees can update their personal information and submit required documents. It also lacks benefits options, health insurance, and expert advisers for compliance issues. On the brighter side, Payroll4Free lets you monitor PTO accruals and allows employees to view pay stubs, check remaining PTO balances, and more.
With Payroll4Free, you can set up employee vacation, sick, and PTO leaves. Once you have added the rules for calculating the credits for each leave type, the system will accrue and track the number of vacation, sick, and PTO hours that each employee should earn based either on their tenure, actual hours worked, or your company’s PTO policies.
Apart from accessing pay information online, Payroll4Free’s employee portal lets your staff check accrued PTO credits, print pay stubs and W-2s/1099s, and update their personal information.
Aside from its basic reports, Payroll4Free lets you create custom reports as needed. Payroll journals, tax reports, and detailed earning summaries are just some of the reporting options available on Payroll4Free. While you are provided access to a good selection of reports, they have limited customizability.
Payroll4Free scores modestly for this criterion. Its main strength is its affordability. However, it doesn’t have robust payroll and HR features. So, if you’re looking for more than basic payroll functions, such as automatic filing of federal, state, and local taxes, then you might consider Gusto or QuickBooks Payroll.
- Guided account setup
- Email and phone support with access to payroll and tax experts
- Supports data imports from time clock devices
- Data exports to banks, benefits providers, and accounting solutions
Payroll4Free isn’t as intuitive as popular payroll solutions like QuickBooks Payroll and Gusto. It has an outdated-looking platform, and you sometimes need to take additional steps to complete what other payroll systems can do in a single click. Plus, be prepared to see in-app ads while using Payroll4Free’s platform. Apart from its paid add-ons, ads are another way the provider earns money since its software is free.
While Payroll4Free has a step-by-step wizard to assist you with the initial setup, the process isn’t straightforward. You have to go through several steps, complete online forms, and submit requirements (like a copy of the IRS-provided Form SS-4). The provider needs these documents to set up your company account before you can use the system.
Payroll4Free has a team of payroll and tax professionals you can contact if you have questions. This comes free of charge, and you can contact them via phone and email as many times as you need and want.
Payroll4Free can also help configure payroll data exports to third-party solutions (like accounting and benefits companies). Its services even include setting up data imports from time clocks that track employee attendance—provided that the device supports file transfers.
There are very few up-to-date Payroll4Free reviews online as of this writing. Those who left positive feedback like that it is free and has all the basic yet essential tools they need to process payroll. Others, on the other hand, said its platform isn’t intuitive, looks dated, contains ads, and has limited customization options.
|Access to no- and low-cost basic payroll tools||Reports aren’t customizable|
|Entering employee information and payroll data into the system is relatively simple||In-app ads|
|Free check printing||Software looks dated and runs a little slow at times|
|Interface is unintuitive and confusing to navigate|
At the time of publication, Payroll4Free reviews earned the following scores on popular user review sites:
- Capterra: 3.2 out of 5 based on around 10 reviews
- G2: 4.5 out of 5 based on 1 review
If you’ve narrowed your search down to a few payroll providers but still can’t decide, read our guide on choosing the best payroll solution for help.
If you want basic payroll services (for up to 25 employees) for free, then Payroll4Free is a good option. Its online payroll software is designed specifically for small businesses and comes with an easy to set up platform equipped with all the tools you need to process employee and contractor salary payments. However, you have to contend with in-app ads and limited customization options. The provider’s tax payment and filing service is also a paid add-on, but the additional $25 monthly fee is a small price to pay compared to handling payroll tax deposits and submitting tax forms to various government agencies by yourself.