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The Best Free Payroll Software For Small Businesses

These free payroll software options are reliable, offer solid payroll features, and best of all, have zero cost.

    Davina Ward
  • Last updated onUpdated

  • Chelsea Krause

    Chelsea Krause

    Lead Staff Writer

Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

Free payroll software doesn’t offer the same level of functionality that you have to pay for when using the best payroll software. However, there are free payroll services that will enable you to pay your employees — without paying a software subscription fee.

We’ve researched several free payroll software solutions and chosen the top performers. Keep reading for a breakdown of the best free payroll software’s features, optional fees, and what to watch out for.

Try A Top Pick For Payroll

ADP Payroll

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Read our Review

We like ADP Payroll for its advanced employee management, strong payroll features, and great customer support. Get three months free when you sign up through our links!

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanyBest ForNext StepsBest For

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  • Best overall free-payroll software
  • Up to 10 employees
  • Unlimited customer support
  • Best overall free-payroll software
  • Up to 10 employees
  • Unlimited customer support

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  • Best free payroll software for spreadsheet-based bookkeeping
  • Limited to 57 employees on the timesheet
  • Strong reporting options
  • Best free payroll software for spreadsheet-based bookkeeping
  • Limited to 57 employees on the timesheet
  • Strong reporting options

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  • Best free payroll software with a mobile app
  • No employee limit
  • Supports 60+ languages
  • Best free payroll software with a mobile app
  • No employee limit
  • Supports 60+ languages

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  • Best free payroll software for employee time tracking
  • No employee limits
  • Multiple integrations available
  • Best free payroll software for employee time tracking
  • No employee limits
  • Multiple integrations available

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eSmart Paycheck

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  • Best free paycheck calculator
  • No employee limits
  • Calculates federal and state taxes
  • Best free paycheck calculator
  • No employee limits
  • Calculates federal and state taxes

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Show Fewer Options

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

A Quick Look At The Best Free Payroll Software Options

The 5 Best Free Payroll Software

Free payroll software should keep payroll software costs at zero and offer all the essential features needed to pay employees, including paycheck calculation, deduction management, and check printing. The top free payroll software solutions include:

  • Payroll4Free: Best Overall Free Payroll Software
  • ExcelPayroll: Best Free Payroll Software For Spreadsheet-Based Bookkeeping
  • Best Free Payroll Software Mobile App
  • TimeTrex: Best Free Payroll Software For Employee Time Tracking
  • eSmart Paycheck: Best Free Payroll Check Calculator

A Closer Look At Our Top Choices

FeesEmployee LimitsAutomatic Tax CalculationCustomer Support
Payroll4FreePayroll4FreeUp to 10 employees (free)US-based phone support
ExcelPayrollTax tables start at $50/yearUp to 57 employees per timesheetEmail
HR.myOptional $5/month sponsorship feeUnlimitedPublic Forum
TimeTrexOptional paid upgradesUnlimitedPublic forum
eSmart PaycheckOptional paid upgrades availableUnlimitedLimited phone support & other options

Payroll4Free: Best Overall Free Payroll Software

Total Rating 3.0

Ease Of Use2.7


Customer Service2.6

User Reviews3.1

Payroll Processing Time

2-4 Days


Free for up to 10 employees

Business Size

Small to mid-sized businesses (up to 10 employees for free)


  • Free direct deposit and tax calculations
  • Free basic service for businesses with 10 or fewer employees
  • Strong security features
  • Unlimited customer support


  • Windows only
  • Direct deposit through Payroll4Free’s own bank is not free
  • 10-employee limit for free services

Why We Chose Payroll4Free For Best Overall

Overall, Payroll4Free earned 3/5 stars with the software offering essential payroll features for small businesses, a generous free plan, and optional tax services for businesses that are looking for inexpensive full-service payroll software

With Payroll4Free, small businesses can keep costs down without sacrificing tax support, employee time off management, the ability to pay employees via check or direct deposit, or solid customer support.

Payroll4Free Fees

Payroll4Free Plans Price  When To Use
Payroll4Free Standard Plan $0/month – $35/per payroll run each month If you need very basic payroll processing services for up to 10 employees per month

If you want to use Payroll4Free to pay 11 or more employees, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee that starts at $10/payroll run that month.

Employers that don’t want to deal with depositing and filling out payroll taxes need to pay a $35/month or $350/year fee for Payroll4Free to take care of it for them. However, Payroll4Free does offer free tools as a basic service that you can use to make this process easier.

If you don’t want to rely on your bank to transfer direct deposit funds to your employees, you will need to pay another $35/month or $350/year for Payroll4Free to complete these transfers using its bank.

You can save by bundling Payroll4Free’s tax and direct deposit services for $40/month or $400/year.

Payroll4Free Features

The free version of Payroll4Free places no limits on payroll or direct deposit processing and doesn’t require upgrading to a higher-tier plan to enjoy its basic features.

Features that Payroll4Free offers at no additional cost include:

  • Multiple Payment Methods: Pay via direct deposit of paper check; print paystubs.
  • Pay Multiple Worker Types: Pay your employees and contractors at no extra cost.
  • Employee Management: Employees can view their payroll data via an employee dashboard portal and owners can manage employee time off.
  • Tax Support: Free tax calculation at the federal, state, and local levels; completed tax form generation.
  • Data Management: Import or export payroll data (into QuickBooks, for example; import time clock data).
  • Customer Support: Payroll4Free also offers extensive customer support, including US-based phone support and free account set-up.

What To Watch Out For

  • Payroll4Free is only compatible with Windows. However, if you have a Mac running the Windows operating system, the software will work on your Mac.
  • Payroll4Free is ad-supported. To generate the revenue needed to operate Payroll4Free, the software hosts ads that users see when navigating the system. Fortunately, the ads shouldn’t be a hindrance.
  • Only 10 paid employees or contractors are supported when using Payroll4Free. If your business exceeds this number, you’ll no longer be eligible for Payroll4Free’s no-cost services and will need to pay $10-$35/payroll run that month, including those runs that were previously made.

When To Use Payroll4Free

  • Completely free payroll processing for 10 or fewer employees
  • Payroll software that calculates payroll taxes
  • Essential payroll features
  • Support for importing QuickBooks timesheets
  • Basic employee management features

Get Started With Payroll4Free

Read our in-depth review

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ExcelPayroll: Best Free Payroll Software For Spreadsheet-Based Bookkeeping


Visit Site


  • Easy to use with Microsoft Excel
  • Strong customization options
  • Print checks
  • Generates accounting entries


  • Manual entry
  • Microsoft Excel compatibility issues
  • State tax tables cost extra
  • Strict technical limitations to restrict use

Why We Chose ExcelPayroll For Spreadsheet-Based Bookkeeping

We love that ExcelPayroll offers a highly customizable foundation for those business owners who have the extra time, know-how, and Microsoft Excel license to get the most out of a spreadsheet-based payroll system.

ExcelPayroll can handle advanced payroll operations, including vacation accrual, deductions, paycheck design customization, reporting, custom tax rates, payroll year closeout, and more.

Business owners with complex payroll needs and a low payroll software budget will get the most out of ExcelPayroll.

ExcelPayroll Fees

ExcelPayroll sells up-to-date state tax tables for $50 each or $100 each for Alabama and New York’s tax tables. You’ll likely need to purchase renewals each year unless you prefer to save money and update the tax tables yourself.

To run ExcelPayroll, you’ll need a license for Excel 2007, 2010, or 2013. Unfortunately, Microsoft has discontinued support for all the versions listed, so you’ll need to already have a product key/license for an older version of Excel or scour the internet for a reputable reseller with valid licenses at a reasonable price.

It may be possible to run ExcelPayroll with Microsoft 365, but the program’s macros or VBA code may be blocked from use. We ran into that problem when trying to run ExcelPayroll with the latest version of Excel.

ExcelPayroll Features

According to its program mission, ExcelPayroll strives to create a Microsoft Excel-based payroll application that includes no monthly fees and zero costs attached to using it. Best of all, ExcelPayroll offers a full set of reliable payroll tools, including:

  • Payroll Tax Support: Set custom tax rates at the federal, state, and local levels; print out W-2 and W-3 tax forms and data.
  • Customizable Payroll: Set multiple pay rates and schedules, cut checks at any time, customize paycheck designs, pay out supplemental earnings, and set deductions.
  • Employee Management: Keep up to 1,000 employees in your employee database, set employee status, and track and manage vacation time accrual.
  • Strong Reporting: Run a wide variety of payroll reports using data entered in ExcelPayroll.

What To Watch Out For

ExcelPayroll is designed for use by accounting students and very small businesses. Therefore, the creator has placed strict technical limitations on the software that prevent it from being used by larger businesses.

ExcelPayroll’s technical limitations include limiting the software to 57 active employees, setting the maximum single-employee hourly earnings to $4,807.69, and setting the maximum single-employee annual earnings to $458,300. Non-profits paying more than 57 active employees may reach out to the creator directly to have these limits increased or removed.

Additionally, it may be challenging to run ExcelPayroll on the latest versions of Microsoft Excel, and you may need to find an older version (2007, 2010, or 2013) to get the program to work for you.

When To Use ExcelPayroll

  • Your small business pays fewer than 57 employees
  • You are a skilled Excel user
  • You prefer to manually run payroll
  • Your business needs strong payroll reporting features

Get Started With ExcelPayroll

Jump back to comparison chart Best Free Payroll Software Mobile App

Visit Site


  • Supports 67 languages
  • Role-based access controls
  • Feature-rich mobile app
  • Strong attendance tracking features


  • Poor customer support options
  • No built-in tax support
  • No built-in labor law compliance for US-based businesses

Why We Chose For Best Mobile App

We chose as a one of the best free payroll software options because we think that's mobile app is a standout feature that has been well-received on both the iOS and Android platforms — a feat that even paid payroll software giants have trouble pulling off.

Additionally, enables small businesses to pay an unlimited number of employees, set custom access roles, manage documents, collaborate in forums, and much more. Fees users may opt to pay a minimum $5/month sponsorship fee in exchange for an ad-free experience, additional file storage, one additional HR role, and early access to new features.

That said, the subscription price isn’t compulsory and doesn’t gate any of the service’s core features behind a paywall. Features accomplishes its free service through crowdfunding from its user community, so you just need to sign up to start using it.’s free features include:

  • Comprehensive Payroll Options: Set custom pay rates, multiple schedule options, custom deductions, set employee status, and track employee time with built-in time tracking.
  • Employee Management: Employee self-service portal where employees can view and edit records, time off request management and tracking, expense management, document workflows, and scheduling.
  • HR Tools: Employee collaboration forum, document storage, announcement boards, set custom access roles, and employee credential tracking.
  • Mobile app: Run payroll on the go, remote time clocks for employees, leave management, and more.

What To Watch Out For

  • does not have built-in US labor law compliance or tax support. If you’re going to use, you’ll need to ensure that you’ve brushed up on the payroll tax liabilities and labor laws that are applicable to your business and its employees. You can set custom tax rates, but the software does not provide any relevant guidance on payroll taxes or labor law compliance, such as minimum wage laws in your state.
  • has limited customer support options. Businesses using shouldn’t expect much by way of customer support. Issues can take days to resolve and are generally posted to a public support forum, so you’ll need to be careful about the information you post, should you ever need support.

When To Use

  • You need free payroll software with a functional mobile app
  • Your business’s payroll requires many custom deductions
  • Your business’s employees speak multiple languages
  • Your business’s accountant or tax professional handles payroll processing

Get Started With

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TimeTrex: Best Free Payroll Software For Employee Time Tracking


Visit Site


  • HR management tools
  • Can be integrated with other payroll services (such as ADP and QuickBooks)
  • Automated multi-week scheduling
  • Web-based time clocks


  • No tax filing assistance on free version
  • Customer support is limited to a community forum
  • Clunky interface and UI

Why We Chose TimeTrex

We love TimeTrex's free cloud-hosted payroll software that includes web-based time clocks. TimeTrex's free plan is a good option for small businesses that are looking for a solid mix of HR and basic payroll features.

Businesses using TimeTrex can run payroll, track employee time, and manage employee data from TimeTrex's platform. There are no limits to the number of employees you can pay on TimeTrex's free Community plan, so the software can scale with your business.

TimeTrex Fees

TimeTrex does not have any fees on its free plan. TimeTrex offers paid plans, but doesn’t include any further pricing details, so you’ll need to request a quote with them to learn more about which paid plan makes sense for your business, should you choose to upgrade.

TimeTrex’s paid plans include other services, such as a mobile app and on-site service in addition to its web portal support. However, customers on TimeTrex’s free plan still have access to the service’s basic features.

TimeTrex Features

TimeTrex offers its most basic payroll features for free under its Community Edition service plan. The TimeTrex Community Edition is exclusively cloud-hosted, doesn’t require any downloads or software installations, and comes with free features:

  • Payroll: Pay employees and contractors via direct deposit of paper check integrated attendance and scheduling.
  • Employee Management: Track employee time and attendance, manage schedules, and manage employee time off.
  • Payroll Tax Support: Generate tax reports, including W-2, W-3, 1099, 940, and 941-specific reports; free payroll tax calculator (federal, state, and local taxes).

TimeTrex home dashboard screen

TimeTrex Home Dashboard

What To Watch Out For

  • TimeTrex’s customer support is very limited. On its free plan, TimeTrex offers support by way of its community-led forum. Otherwise, you’re essentially on your own.
  • TimeTrex’s free plan doesn’t offer any tax filing support. This solution is best for businesses that have some familiarity with payroll tax filing or those who will be filing taxes with the aid of a tax professional.
  • TimeTrex’s interface is a bit clunky. Although the software was surprisingly easy to use, it’s definitely missing the smoothness and fluidity of modern paid payroll software.

When To Use TimeTrex

  • Your business pays hourly workers
  • You’re looking for a combined payroll and scheduling software solution
  • Your business needs attendance tracking
  • Your business needs payroll software that can be integrated with your existing software stack

Get Started With TimeTrex

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eSmart Paycheck: Best Free Payroll Check Calculator

eSmart Paycheck

Visit Site


  • 100% free payroll check calculator
  • Customizable withholdings
  • Easy to use
  • 401k contribution tracking


  • Limited customer support
  • Limited to just paycheck calculation
  • No local tax support

Why eSmart Paycheck Is The Best Check Calculator

We chose eSmart Paycheck because it offers an easy-to-use, customizable, and reliable paycheck calculator with paycheck and paystub printing. Simply input your employee's hourly or salaried earnings, deductions, filing status, state, and other relevant information to generate a detailed paycheck and pay stub for your employee.

eSmart Paycheck is free to use for individuals or businesses but doesn't automatically save each paycheck unless you register your business.

eSmart Paycheck Fees

eSmart Paycheck is free to use and even offers a free account for businesses that wish to save their paychecks. Businesses using eSmart Paycheck can pay for paid access to federal and state payroll forms and tax filing support at various prices.

eSmart Paycheck Features

eSmart Paycheck’s free plan is more of a payroll calculator than it is a full-fledged payroll software solution. Small business owners can use eSmart Paycheck to input employee wages and withhold information to run payroll themselves. Standout free features include:

  • Paycheck and pay stub downloads and printing
  • State-specific payroll calculators (no local tax support)
  • Adjustable pay cycles
  • Web-based access from anywhere with an internet connection
  • Federal and state withholding calculator

eSmart Paycheck Dashboard

eSmart Paycheck – Home Dashboard

What To Watch Out For

  • eSmart Paycheck doesn’t automatically calculate local taxes. You’ll need to add customized deductions when using eSmart Paycheck. For example, eSmart Paycheck doesn’t automatically calculate the various personal income taxes in Portland, Oregon.
  • Don’t expect quick customer support when using eSmart Paycheck. While eSmart Paycheck offers some customer support, you’re generally limited to email, fax, or snail mail, as eSmart Paycheck itself even adds a disclaimer about its very limited phone support.
  • eSmart Paycheck isn’t good for much outside of paycheck calculation and printing. You’re not going to get time tracking, third-party integrations, or really much of anything beyond paycheck calculation when using eSmart Paycheck. It’s a solid solution for what it does, but it should only be a supplement to businesses that are able to manage all other payroll functions, including tax filing, time tracking, benefits administration, and more using another solution (or manually).

When To Use eSmart Paycheck

  • Your business pays employees with paper checks
  • You need free payroll software that can calculate payroll taxes
  • Your business has many custom deductions
  • You don’t need advanced payroll or HR features
  • You have a firm grasp on how to calculate payroll and file taxes

Get Started With eSmart Paycheck

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Which Free Payroll Software Is Best For Your Business?

Free payroll software can help your business save time running payroll, improve accuracy, and get payments out on time. However, finding good small business payroll software free of charge is a big ask. Many free payroll options have limitations in fulfilling all your tax filing and compliance needs. There are certainly more options beyond our five picks, but other free programs may lack security measures that could put your small business at risk.

If you’re going the free payroll software route, you’re not likely to get any help come tax time, and payroll taxes can pack a punch. It’s best to familiarize yourself with payroll taxes, forms, and filing deadlines before switching to any payroll software, paid or otherwise. That way, you can decide whether you prefer a full-service payroll solution that includes tax support or if you’d rather handle everything yourself.

If none of these free payroll options cut it for your business, take a look at these cheap payroll software options — these payroll software apps are still affordable but offer better features and support than free payroll software.

Try A Top Pick For Payroll

ADP Payroll

Get A Quote

Read our Review

We like ADP Payroll for its advanced employee management, strong payroll features, and great customer support. Get three months free when you sign up through our links!

Free Payroll Software FAQs

Where can I find payroll software free trials?

ADP Payroll, Gusto, QuickBooks Online Payroll, Wave Payroll, and Patriot Payroll all offer free trials for new businesses trying their payroll software.

Is free payroll software worth it?

Small businesses that are running on a limited budget and that need tools to run payroll themselves benefit the most from using free payroll software.

That said, free software won’t have as many features or be as scalable for a growing company as a paid software app would be. If you don’t want to have to switch payroll software down the road, you should go with a payroll service like ADP or Gusto instead.

When should I upgrade to paid payroll software?

If you need well-developed features for time tracking, document management, and HR resources, you’ll probably need to purchase a paid service plan. Automation of big tasks like scheduling payroll cycles and filing tax withholding also usually come with paid payroll software, and the time you save from these automations could be more than worth the cost of upgrading from free payroll software.

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Davina Ward

Davina Ward

Senior Staff Writer
Davina joined Merchant Maverick in 2022, covering small business payroll and accounting. She began writing for small businesses in 2018 and has since gained expertise in the SaaS industry. She earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in English Literature from SUNY Geneseo in 2018. She currently resides in New York.
Davina Ward
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