Payroll4Free is an online payroll solution designed primarily for small businesses with up to 25 employees. It offers a free basic payroll service with features such as vacation time tracking, detailed reporting, and access to payroll tax calculations and forms. Additionally, Payroll4Free provides an employee portal that allows staff to view their pay slips, W-2s, and accrued vacation time credits online.
For an additional $30 per month, Payroll4Free can handle payroll tax payments and filings, as well as offer direct deposit services. It aims to provide a cost-effective solution for businesses seeking a simple and streamlined approach to managing their payroll processes. Thus, although it was not included in our top recommended payroll providers, we still recommend it to businesses who are looking for a cost-effective payroll solution.
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 And although the system is pretty basic and outdated, it can handle both employee and contractor payments, plus you can pay your staff with checks or direct deposits (when using your own bank). Setting it up is also relatively easy given its guided account setup wizard. However, its interface isn’t as intuitive as more popular small business payroll software.
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 ADP Run, which has flexible payroll solutions. You can also check our best payroll services guide to check our top payroll providers.
- 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 a full-service payroll solution with HR tools, Gusto is a better choice. It also offers unlimited payroll runs and has a reasonably priced contractor-only payroll option.
- Mac users: While you can also use Payroll4Free as long as you run Windows on your Mac, the setup might be complicated for non-tech-savvy users. So if you are using or prefer to use Mac, getting payroll software like QuickBooks Payroll is better. 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
Base Monthly Fees
Unlimited Pay Runs
Multiple Pay Options
Small businesses with less than 25 people
Free for up to 25 employees
Best for businesses looking for a full-service payroll solution
$6/employee/month + $40 base fee
Best for businesses looking for payroll solution for Mac and Windows users
$6/employee/month + $45 base fee
Best for fast-growing businesses
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 using your bank account and an employee portal. However, Payroll4Free doesn’t offer multiple scalable plans.
Its free payroll solution doesn’t include tax payments and filings. If you want to add that service, you just pay a monthly fee of $25. You can also use its bank account for your direct deposit transfer transactions for another $25 per month. However, Payroll4Free will only charge you $30 per month if you avail of both services.
Its 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. Payroll4Free can calculate and file payroll taxes. However, it lacks a pay-on-demand option and charges extra for year-end tax report preparation and delivery. It also automates federal and state taxes. 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) deductions and even garnishments based on the employees’ net pay. Once you have completed setting this up, it 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 its 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 seek a payroll solution with basic HR management tools, Payroll4Free may not meet your needs. It lacks online onboarding, benefits options, health insurance, and compliance advisers. However, it does offer PTO accrual monitoring and allows employees to view pay stubs, remaining PTO balances, and more. Payroll4Free facilitates vacation time tracking by enabling setup of vacation, sick, and PTO leaves, along with automated accrual calculation based on rules you define. Additionally, the employee portal grants access to pay details, accrued PTO credits, pay stubs, tax forms, and personal information updates.
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. It is a valuable feature for businesses that need to track specific data or generate reports in a specific format. It also has a drag-and-drop interface that allows users to select the data they want to include and the format they want the report to be in.
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 ADP Run. 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.
It 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.
For this criterion, we considered both the number of reviews and the star rating of the software on popular third-party websites. While the star rating seems high, the number of reviews are fewer than 10. These factors are what caused the very low rating it got. 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.
|Users Like||Users Don’t Like|
|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:
If you’ve narrowed your search to a few payroll providers but still can’t decide, read our guide on finding 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-setup 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.