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The Best Payroll Software For Small Businesses

Take a look at the best payroll software companies on the market based on price, functionality, and usability.

    Erica Seppala
  • UPDATED

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

The best payroll software for small businesses is intuitive, easy to use, and can even automate your payroll runs. Additionally, you may be looking for software that has customizable payroll features, reliable tax support, or offers a low monthly cost. This post looks at the best small business payroll software based on price, usability, features, customer reviews, and more.

If you’re in the market for payroll software for your small business, keep reading to learn which software option is right for you.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

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  • Pricing: $39/month + $6/employee
  • Number Of States: 50
  • Direct Deposit Processing: 1-2 days
  • Pricing: $39/month + $6/employee
  • Number Of States: 50
  • Direct Deposit Processing: 1-2 days

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  • Pricing: Custom
  • Number Of States: 50
  • Direct Deposit Processing: 2 days
  • Pricing: Custom
  • Number Of States: 50
  • Direct Deposit Processing: 2 days

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  • Pricing: $35/month + $5/employee
  • Number Of States: 50
  • Direct Deposit Processing: 4 days
  • Pricing: $35/month + $5/employee
  • Number Of States: 50
  • Direct Deposit Processing: 4 days

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  • Pricing: Custom
  • Number Of States: 50
  • Direct Deposit Processing: 2-3 days
  • Pricing: Custom
  • Number Of States: 50
  • Direct Deposit Processing: 2-3 days

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  • Pricing: $45/month + $4/employee
  • Number Of States: 50
  • Direct Deposit Processing: 1 day
  • Pricing: $45/month + $4/employee
  • Number Of States: 50
  • Direct Deposit Processing: 1 day

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Other Featured Options:

  • Paycor:
    • Pricing: $99/month + $7/employee
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 2 days
  • SurePayroll:
    • Pricing: Custom
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 2 days
  • OnPay:
    • Pricing: $36/month + $4/employee
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 2-4 days
  • Paychex:
    • Pricing: $39/month + $5/employee
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: Same day
  • Payroll4Free:
    • Pricing: $0/month
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 2 days
  • Patriot Payroll:
    • Pricing: $17/month + $4/employee
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 4 days
  • Wave Payroll:
    • Pricing: $20/month + $6/employee
    • Number Of States: Full-service in 14 states
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 1 day
  • Rippling:
    • Pricing: $8/month per user
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 1-4 days
  • Homebase:
    • Pricing: $35/month + $5/employee
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 2 days

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

The 14 Best Payroll Software For Small Businesses

We based our choices for the best payroll software options for small businesses on price, features, and ease of use. Gusto is the best overall small business software, with ADP as runner-up, while Square is the easiest to use. But there are even more great choices on the list.

Let’s look at the best payroll applications for small businesses to see how they compare toe-to-toe with each other, so you find the best fit for your business.

Gusto: Overall Best Small Business Payroll Software

Gusto



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Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Modern interface
  • Great tax support

Cons

  • Limited reporting
  • Few integrations

Gusto is the overall best payroll system choice for small businesses that need easy-to-use software with reliable customer support. Gusto is ideal for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees that need to automate their payroll processing system completely. This cloud-based payroll system has an easy-to-navigate interface and intuitive onboarding and benefits setup, and it fully automates payroll, streamlining everything from onboarding to termination.

Gusto provides transparent pricing, but the price does run a smidge higher than other comparable systems. What you pay for, however, is a robust program with a track record of friendly and helpful customer service, full tax support, and includes solid HR features. Gusto has favorable reviews among its users — especially those in the payroll and bookkeeping worlds — and they find the program is updating and expanding according to client needs. Reporting options and integrations continue to grow and evolve.

gusto dashboard

Gusto Pricing

Gusto offers three different pricing plans and a free 30-day trial. The Core, Complete, and Concierge plans run from $39 a month + $6 per employee (Core) t0 $149 a month + $12 per employee (Concierge). The Concierge package offers HR compliance assistance and an HR resource center, as well as the addition of a dedicated customer service representative. Gusto also offers a plan for businesses that hire only independent contractors. The software’s ‘Contractor Only’ plan costs $6/month/contractor.

Read our full guide on Gusto’s pricing plans for more details.

Key Gusto Features

Gusto offers strong benefits administration features and assists with adding worker’s compensation and HSA plans to your payroll. If ease and functionality are what you need, Gusto can’t be beaten.

At the top level (Concierge), Gusto offers the following features:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Reporting
  • Customizable admin permissions
  • Employment offers and onboarding
  • Time tracking
  • Employee directory and surveys
  • HR and compliance support
  • Dedicated customer support team

Is Gusto Right For My Business?

Gusto is perfect for small to medium-sized businesses that may not have a full accounting department and are looking for an easy, functional, customer-oriented program to run payroll. It is not a bargain-basement option, inexpensive with limited features, nor is it an intricate option with numerous integrations and bells and whistles. Gusto is just right, focusing on small businesses and catering to their needs with ample support.

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ADP: Best Payroll Software For Beginners

ADP Payroll



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Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Can grow with a company

Cons

  • Added fees

ADP is the best payroll software for small businesses with no payroll or accounting experience that need to automate both processes. ADP is also a great choice for larger businesses with more than 50 employees that needs extra functionality to facilitate payroll automation.

ADP is known for its easy-to-use interface and guided assistance through the program. The reporting dashboard and options for integrations are impressive. ADP has been around long enough to know a thing or two about payroll. That is reflected in the ample customer service it offers and its attentiveness to complaints and concerns. Run ADP is the option for small businesses with 1-50 employees, but there are other options if a company grows and needs additional assistance.

adp dashboard

ADP Pricing

ADP generally offers customers three free months and reduced-rate contracts to sign a yearly contract. Each contract is different, but most contracts require a 12-month commitment and are paid upfront. There is no termination fee, but there are no refunds for canceled contracts.

On average, you will most likely pay $160 with 10-15 employees. We were quoted $179.86 monthly for 11 employees for payroll and HR Plus; that is a $10 per-employee fee in addition to payroll fees. (ADP charges a fee each time you run payroll.) There is also a $25 set-up fee that is usually waived with a contract. All quotes are customized per your business location, number of employees, frequency of running payroll, etc.

Key ADP Features

ADP is easy to use and well-organized, and guided support and other resources help you navigate the features and get the most out of the software. Run ADP offers the following features:

  • Payroll processing
  • Direct deposit
  • Tax filing
  • Garnishment payment
  • Electronic reporting
  • Time tracking
  • Numerous integrations

Is ADP Right For My Business?

ADP is a great program for small businesses with a handful of employees that do not have an HR or accounting team. The program is easy to use, intuitive, and solid (and since ADP has been in the payroll business for a long time, you know it has decades of experience and information to help businesses work through difficulties). For a business with only one or two employees, ADP is simply too expensive for basic payroll but is a solid option otherwise.

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Square Payroll: Easiest Payroll Software

Square Payroll



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Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Basic

Cons

  • Rudimentary features
  • Limited payroll functions

Square Payroll is the best payroll software for small businesses that already use Square products, as well as businesses looking for a bargain and that employ numerous contractors. Square doesn’t include a lot of bells and whistles, but it gets the job done well for small businesses that need to be compliant and always on top of their payroll reporting.

Square has a niche: simple and easy. Square’s point of sale app offers a straightforward system without being flashy. And that is exactly what Square Payroll delivers as well. This intuitive and easy-to-use payroll program integrates well with the rest of Square’s products. Competitive pricing and a simple interface are big plusses for Square. Its only complaints come from bigger companies looking for a more curated interface and people who say it sometimes takes a long time to connect with a payroll expert. However, if you want something simple, Square can provide it at a reasonable rate.

square payroll dashboard

Square Payroll Pricing

With Square, there are no hidden fees or sneaky terms and conditions. There are two different plans depending on your type of employee and payroll needs. If your business only pays contractors, you will pay a $5/month fee per contractor on your payroll. If you pay both contractors and salaried/hourly employees, you pay a $35 monthly subscription fee plus $5/employee/month. There are no contracts with Square, so you can cancel your plan anytime.

For more details, read our full Square Payroll pricing post.

Key Square Payroll Features

Square’s features are easy to access and understand, even if you have never run payroll before, and the interface is designed to walk you through each step of the process.

Square offers the following features:

  • Unlimited payroll processing
  • Tax services
  • Employee self-service portal with mobile app
  • HR support
  • Time tracking
  • Benefits administration
  • Integrations (including QuickBooks, QuickBooks Time, and ZipRecruiter)

Is Square Payroll Right For My Business?

Square is best for small businesses that are already using Square products or looking for simple and inexpensive payroll options. The pricing is competitive among payroll systems for similar employee numbers, and the setup is simple and intuitive for companies that may not have an HR department. However, larger companies that need customization around payments and pay scales may find Square too limited.

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Paylocity: Most Customizable Payroll Software

Paylocity



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Pros

  • Customizable
  • Copious features
  • Modern interface

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Steep learning curve
  • Not for the tech-shy

Paylocity is the best payroll system for mid-sized businesses that need software they can tailor and customize to suit their business needs. This web-based payroll program boasts a large feature set that works well for businesses that need both payroll and HR capabilities.

Customizability is where Paylocity has a competitive edge. Its program boasts many integrations for HR, benefits, time tracking, performance reviews, and applications fully tailored to your company’s needs and wishes. With a drag-and-drop interface and a specialized account person a phone call away to help make changes, this program has a lot to like. However, some users find the app counter-intuitive and prone to errors, which does not make this a good option for Luddites or payroll newbies.

paylocity dashboard

Paylocity Pricing

Paylocity offers three payroll tiers (Effortless Payroll, Efficient Tech, and Modern Workplace.) The price varies by feature access, not by the number of employees. There are no contracts, and you can cancel your plan anytime. We were quoted between $125 to $200/month plus $6-$8/month/employee depending on the plan.

For small businesses, Paylocity is a bit more expensive than its competitors. However, at the Modern Workplace level, Paylocity is a full human capital management system and payroll system, incorporating the entire employee life cycle.

Key Paylocity Features

Paylocity’s features are varied and easily customizable based on your business needs. At the most basic payroll level, Paylocity offers all the best features of a cloud-based payroll system while also accommodating growth for companies looking to expand beyond payroll.

Here is a full list of features available:

  • Unlimited payroll processing
  • Tax services
  • Web Time (cloud-based time tracking)
  • Employee self-service portal with mobile app
  • Benefits essentials
  • New hire reporting
  • Custom-built PTO tracking and management

Is Paylocity Right For My Business?

Paylocity is not a simple program: It was designed to appeal to HR directors and accountants, not necessarily the small business owner running payroll for a few people on a monthly basis. If you need simple and basic, this isn’t for you. Instead, this program will appeal to growing businesses that want a more streamlined HR and payroll system and know enough about payroll and HR to communicate their desires to the Paylocity team. It’s not for payroll newbies but is a solid find for a small business with more advanced requirements.

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QuickBooks Online Payroll: Best Payroll Software For QuickBooks Users

Intuit Online Payroll



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Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Perfect for QuickBooks users
  • Priced well

Cons

  • Mediocre customer service
  • Confusing to navigate QuickBook’s myriad formats

Intuit is the best payroll system for businesses that already use QuickBooks products and want to integrate easily with a payroll solution. Intuit has a reputation for regularly adapting and reworking its payroll features, which may appeal to businesses that anticipate rapidly scaling their growth and operations in the near future.

QuickBooks is an old standby, and its products are hard to ignore. For businesses that already use QuickBooks software, upgrading to Intuit QuickBooks Online Payroll should be a breeze. Users will find that the program is trustworthy, easy to navigate, and affordable.

quickbooks online payroll dashboard

QuickBooks Online Payroll Pricing

QuickBooks has a tiered pricing system. Pricing ranges from $45/month +$4/month per employee to $125/month plus $10 per employee. As the prices scale, the features improve and become curated for your business. Intuit offers white-glove treatment for onboarding at the upper tiers and sends you a dedicated HR representative to work with your company.

Intuit QuickBooks has month-to-month contracts and no early termination fees. Payments are monthly, and you can cancel your subscription at any time. QuickBooks also runs promotions for its payroll product frequently, so be sure to check for any available discounts before purchasing.

Key QuickBooks Online Payroll Features

Intuit Online Payroll is well organized, and the UI is intuitive. People who like QuickBooks and already use aspects of the software are more likely to have a positive experience transitioning to the Intuit Online Payroll system.

Intuit QuickBooks Online offers the following features at its Core level:

  • Next day direct deposit
  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Calculates paychecks
  • Calculates and files federal and state taxes and year-end forms
  • Workforce portal
  • Manages garnishments and deductions
  • Offers reporting features

Is QuickBooks Online Payroll Right For My Business?

If your small business already uses and likes QuickBooks, you will find a lot to love about the addition of Intuit payroll. With the new overhaul of payroll and pricing, Intuit has demonstrated a desire to evolve and grow as payroll competition becomes fiercer.

The biggest complaint in the past was customer service and confusion about prices, but QuickBooks has adjusted its pricing and seems to have its finger on the pulse of complaints. We are always impressed when a company responds swiftly to feedback.

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Paycor: Best HR Software

Paycor



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Pros

  • Easy setup
  • User-friendly
  • Strong payroll features

Cons

  • Extra fees
  • Too many essentials sold à la carte

Paycor is the best payroll system for small businesses that need a full human capital management system with payroll processing features. Paycor boasts an intuitive and modern-looking user interface that may appeal to smaller businesses that need some extra hand-holding.

Paycor’s human capital management (HCM) program, including its cloud-based full-service payroll system and the rest of the HR/benefit management suite, is sleek, usable, and has an intuitive interface. These qualities make it an easy software to learn and understand; combined with the company’s commitment to resolving issues and rolling out new features and customized options, Paycor shows dedication to improvement and innovation. If you need payroll and HCM support, Paycor should be the first place you look.

paycor dashboard

Paycor Pricing

Prices for Paycor’s Basic Payroll range from $99 + $5 per employee per month to $199 + $7/employee/month. Paycor’s HCM pricing tier starts at $199 + $12/employee/month and adds more advanced features, such as automated workflows, document management, performance reviews, and more.

The one thing to note is that some of the more popular essentials of an HR management suite are still add-ons with additional monthly fees. For example, if you want to add time tracking or a benefits management package, you’ll pay more per month.

Key Paycor Features

The payroll system for Paycor is rated highly for usability and features. The system is easy to navigate, is loaded with reports and customizations, and has helpful resources built into the program.

Paycor offers the following features in its Basic Payroll package:

  • Same-day direct deposit
  • Free W-2s filed and sent
  • Assisted payroll setup
  • Standard report building and customizable reports
  • Garnishment/child support self-service
  • HR support center
  • Up to 10 employees

Is Paycor Right For My Business?

If you want a payroll system and an HR platform, Paycor is a fantastic choice. Paycor is perfect for small to medium-sized businesses looking for enterprise-level HR assistance. The software was designed to streamline services, so it is best suited for an owner-operator or business owner with a small HR department. Large companies that need a significant amount of customization may find Paycor too limited.

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SurePayroll: Best Payroll Software For Businesses With Few Employees

SurePayroll



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Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Modern interface
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Website is slow
  • Ample extra fees
  • Limited integrations

SurePayroll is the best payroll system for overlooked industries and very small businesses. SurePayroll works best for small businesses that need easy-to-use software with basic payroll processing features. SurePayroll is best for industries such as household employment, nannies, clergy, or nonprofits — and it’s a great fit for very small businesses with fewer than five employees.

If you are looking for an inexpensive, simple, straightforward payroll program, SurePayroll deserves to be in top contention. It’s simple to use and designed for small businesses in terms of price and functionality.

surepayroll dashboard

SurePayroll Pricing

SurePayroll doesn’t publish its prices online. However, our business was quoted $29/month plus $4/employee. One frustration with SurePayroll is the extra fees. Integrations, such as time tracking, can cost an additional monthly fee, which does not include the cost for year-end filing and W-2 reports. A one-month free trial is available.

Key SurePayroll Features

SurePayroll’s features were designed with small businesses in mind. That means a small business should find every feature and customization they need, but not too many extras.

SurePayroll offers the following features:

  • Unlimited payroll processing
  • Tax services
  • Direct deposit
  • Employee self-service portal with mobile app
  • Garnishments
  • New hire reporting
  • HR support

Is SurePayroll Right For My Business?

SurePayroll is the perfect payroll software to use if your company is small or you are looking for a payroll system that specifically manages nanny/household employees. The software’s features and customizable options are few; however, most small business owners running payroll by themselves may feel bogged down by options they’ll never use in a more robust app. Surepayroll doesn’t lack any essential features or reports. Full tax support at its current price puts SurePayroll among the least expensive options available, and it truly is simple and easy with excellent customer support.

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OnPay: Best Mobile Payroll Software

OnPay



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Pros

  • Customizable HR and payroll tools
  • Strong mobile experience
  • Responsive customer service

Cons

  • Poor scalability for larger businesses
  • Extra fees to process year-end tax documents

OnPay is the best payroll software for small businesses that want a simple system to onboard new employees and need to automate their payroll and HR processes. OnPay boasts fast, unlimited payroll processing as well as flexible frequency to accommodate different reporting needs and even offers a robust mobile experience to assist small businesses with their HR and payroll.

OnPay has a positive reputation for responsive customer service that’s available through an easily navigable dashboard. It even integrates with QuickBooks for small businesses already using Intuit QuickBooks products. This is one of the best payroll software solutions for small businesses that want to combine a wide range of customizable payroll features with HR resources and tools to streamline processes.

onpay payroll dashboard

OnPay Pricing

OnPay’s pricing includes just a single plan that starts at a flat rate of $36 a month, with a monthly per-employee fee of $4. Your first month is free, and there are no setup costs. Since OnPay doesn’t require users to sign any contracts for terms of use, you only need to pay to keep using the software every month without risking getting hit with penalty fees.

Key OnPay Features

Only one service plan is available with OnPay, so you can enjoy all of the biggest features the software offers, including unlimited payroll runs with quick processing speeds, employee self-service options to review paychecks and tax forms, and onboarding and employee time management options for administrative users.

OnPay offers the following features with its single service plan:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Self-service portal
  • Tax services
  • New-hire reporting
  • Online HR library and resources
  • Responsive mobile site experience
  • Integrations with popular services (QuickBooks Time, QuickBooks Online, Xero, etc.)

Is OnPay Right For My Business?

OnPay works best for very small businesses that are rapidly growing and need to flesh out their payroll and HR processes. Its highly intuitive online platform complements its expansive set of HR tools, tracking capabilities, and customer service that work well on mobile as well as on a desktop PC. Certain businesses may find a single service plan limiting; however, the pricing is relatively inexpensive compared to certain higher-tier plans offered by solutions such as Paylocity and Intuit QuickBooks.

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Paychex: Best Payroll Software For Growing Businesses

Paychex



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Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Good customer support
  • Built-in onboarding and HR
  • Numerous integrations

Cons

  • Extra fees
  • Non-transparent pricing

Paychex is a cloud-based payroll and HR solution that’s suited for businesses of all sizes. Paychex offers many essential features for small businesses and customized solutions for large businesses. Standout features include strong employee management tools, 100+ reports, and solid payroll tax support.

The Paychex UI is intuitive and easy to use. Setup is simple, and 24/7 customer support is in place to help you get the most out of your software. Basic pricing for Paychex is pretty competitive. However, costs can add up with customized plans and add-ons. Still, businesses may find the strong features well worth the cost, and growing businesses will appreciate the scalability of this payroll software.

paychex dashboard

Paychex Pricing

Paychex has four pricing plans to choose from. Paychex Flex Essentials is priced at $39/month + $5/employee per month; you must contact Paychex to get a quote for its customizable plans. Additional fees may apply for add-on services, including time tracking, software setup, HR packages, tax services, and employee benefits.

Key Paychex Features

Paychex has a solid set of features that can be customized for businesses of all sizes. At its most basic level, here is what Paychex has to offer:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Direct deposit
  • New hire reporting
  • Self-service employee portal
  • HR library and business forms
  • Prepaid paycards
  • Tax credit services
  • Standard analytics and reports

Is Paychex Right For My Business?

With multiple pricing tiers and an abundance of features, Paychex truly is designed for businesses of all sizes. It is best suited for small to medium-sized businesses, although enterprise-level plans are also available.

Paychex is a scalable option, making it a great choice for growing businesses that need payroll essentials now but may require more advanced options in the future. Its base pricing is competitive, although upgrading to a higher tier and purchasing add-ons can drive up costs, so this may not be the most cost-effective option for businesses working with a tighter budget.

However, businesses seeking a solid set of features backed with good customer support or wanting an all-in-one payroll and HR solution may find everything they need with Paychex.

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Payroll4Free: Best Free Payroll Software

Payroll4Free



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Pros

  • Free plan for businesses with up to 25 employees
  • Easy to use
  • Includes essential payroll features
  • QuickBooks integration

Cons

  • Unsuitable for large businesses
  • Outdated UI
  • Ad-supported

If your business is running on a tight budget, Payroll4Free’s free payroll software may be a solid choice for your business. While you won’t get the bells and whistles of other paid programs, you will have access to essential payroll features at no cost — provided your business has 25 or fewer employees.

With Payroll4Free, you can pay your employees and contractors without worrying about a monthly subscription fee. Payroll4free offers a surprising number of features at no cost, including tax forms, reporting, direct deposits, and an employee portal. The tradeoff is that the software is ad-supported, although you aren’t inundated with advertisements. The UI could also use a refresh, but at this price point, it isn’t a huge issue.

The software is easy to set up and use, and customer support is pretty good based on user reviews. While this isn’t a good choice for businesses seeking sleek, modern software loaded with more advanced features or businesses with more than 25 employees, it’s a good place to start for smaller businesses with basic payroll needs.

Payroll4Free Pricing

As the name suggests, Payroll4Free is forever-free payroll software. All features are included in your free plan. However, there are two upgrade options. You can purchase the Payroll Tax Service if you want Payroll4Free to deposit and pay your payroll taxes. You can also buy the Direct Deposit Service if you’d prefer to use Payroll4Free’s bank instead of your own. Even with both of these add-on services, you will never pay more than $30/month to use Payroll4Free.

Key Payroll4Free Features

Payroll4Free has a surprising number of features available to its users for no cost. While it is without the embellishments you’ll find with some of its competitors, this software has all of the essentials small businesses need to run payroll, including:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Direct deposits
  • Tax forms and calculations
  • Vacation time tracking
  • Reporting
  • Accounting software integrations
  • Unlimited live customer support

Is Payroll4Free Right For My Business?

If you’re looking for easy-to-use payroll software that won’t break the bank, you may find exactly what you need in Payroll4Free. If you can get past the outdated UI and the occasional advertisements, you’ll have access to essential payroll features with no monthly fee. This software is a good choice for businesses without complex payroll or HR needs and is only suitable for smaller businesses with no more than 25 employees.

If Payroll4Free doesn’t cut it for your business but you still want a free payroll software option, check out our top free payroll software picks.

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Patriot Payroll: Best Payroll Tax Software

Patriot Payroll



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Pros

  • Excellent tax support
  • Excellent customer service
  • Competitive pricing
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Limited HR features

Combine strong payroll features, affordable pricing, good customer service, and excellent tax support, and you’ll get Patriot Payroll. Patriot offers basic and full-service payroll options at one of the lowest pricing points you’ll find. This cloud-based software is intuitive, easy to use, and comes with all the features you expect from good payroll software.

But where Patriot really stands out is for its tax support. With its full-service package, you won’t have to worry about payroll taxes, as Patriot will file and deposit federal, state, and local taxes for you. Year-end filings are also included at no additional charge. You can also e-file your 1099s through the software. Best of all, Patriot includes a tax filing accuracy guarantee for your protection.

patriot payroll dashboard

Patriot Payroll Pricing

Patriot Payroll has two pricing plans. The Basic plan is priced at $17/month + $4/employee per month. If you want full tax support, you can spring for the Full Service plan, priced at $37/month + $4/employee per month. Patriot Payroll integrates with other Patriot services, including time tracking, HR management, and accounting for an additional fee.

Key Patriot Payroll Features

Patriot Payroll has everything you need to run payroll easily. The Basic plan includes the following features:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Free two-day direct deposit
  • Employee portal
  • Workers’ comp integration
  • Contractor payments
  • Net to Gross Payroll tool
  • Mobile-friendly software
  • QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online integrations
  • Time-off accruals

Is Patriot Payroll Right For My Business?

Patriot Payroll is best suited for small to medium-sized businesses with less than 100 employees. Simplicity, essential payroll features, and unmatched payroll tax support are what you can expect from this software — all at a very affordable price. Larger businesses or businesses looking for advanced HR management features may want to look elsewhere, as there are payroll options on the market that better fit these needs than what Patriot offers.

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Wave Payroll: Best Budget-Friendly Payroll Software

Wave Payroll



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Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Competitive pricing
  • Wave Accounting integration

Cons

  • Full-service payroll not available in all states
  • No HR support

Wave is best known for its forever-free accounting software, but it’s also making waves with Wave Payroll. This simple, easy-to-use payroll software covers the payroll basics that smaller businesses may be looking for, all at an affordable price. For existing Wave Accounting users, integrating with Wave Payroll is seamless.

On the flip side, though, Wave Payroll lacks many features that you’ll find with its competitors, such as time-tracking and off-cycle pay runs. Additionally, full-service tax support isn’t available for 36 states. HR support is also pretty much nonexistent. However, businesses that don’t need advanced features and want basic, affordable payroll software may be satisfied with what Wave Payroll has to offer.

wave payroll dashboard

Wave Payroll Pricing

Wave Payroll offers two pricing plans that cost $20-$35/month plus $6/month per active employee or contractor paid. The more expensive plan provides full-service tax support and is only available in 14 states. A 30-day free trial is available to test out the software.

Key Wave Payroll Features

Wave lacks many payroll features you’ll find in other software options on this list. But it does offer the basics, including:

  • Direct deposits
  • Self-service pay stubs and tax forms
  • W-2 and 1099 tax forms
  • Full-service payroll available in 14 states
  • Basic reports
  • Paid time off
  • Basic employee management

Is Wave Payroll Right For My Business?

Wave Payroll is perfectly suited for small businesses that want basic payroll software that isn’t overly complicated. It’s especially suited for businesses that are already using Wave Accounting and don’t have complex payroll needs. Wave is also very easy to set up and use, and it is affordably priced. However, Wave Payroll doesn’t have advanced features (such as HR support), and it even lacks some basic features you’d expect from payroll software, so keep this in mind and take it on a test run before making a commitment.

Read our in-depth review

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Rippling: Best Payroll Software For IT & HR Management

Rippling



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Pros

  • Simplifies HR and IT management
  • Numerous integrations
  • Automatic compliance
  • Automatic tax filing

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Steep learning curve
  • Limited customer support options

Rippling is more than just payroll software — it bills itself as an employee management platform. While Rippling does allow you to run global payroll, it also boasts HR and IT management resources that let you sync your data across all systems and automate time-consuming administrative tasks.

Rippling simplifies payroll, making it possible to pay your employees in just minutes. It also boasts great tax support, including automatic compliance and filings, and syncs with your HR data for easy, automated payroll. As you would expect, though, these features come at a cost. The price — and the sheer abundance of available features — may prove to be too much for smaller businesses with more basic payroll needs.

rippling payroll dashboard

Rippling Pricing

Rippling does not disclose pricing online but instead requests you submit a request for a free quote based on the services you need. Its website does note that pricing starts at $8/month per user, although it is unclear what you’ll receive for this price.

Key Rippling Features

Rippling’s customizable plans may include a number of HR and IT features. In this post, however, we’ll focus on its payroll features, which include:

  • Global payroll
  • Automatic tax filings
  • Automatic tax compliance
  • W-2, W-4, 1099, and new-hire filing
  • Employee time tracking
  • PTO tracking
  • Job costing
  • Over 400 integrations
  • Customizable reports

Is Rippling Right For My Business?

Rippling should be a contender for businesses seeking an all-in-one HR, payroll, and IT solution. Its customizable plans are suitable for larger businesses. Rippling can help simplify complex admin tasks and makes it easy to run payroll by synching with HR data. For smaller businesses (or those looking for low-cost software), Rippling is likely overkill. User reviews also indicate that there is a steep learning curve, and setup can be a bit complicated, so beginners may want to search for an easier, straightforward payroll software option.

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Homebase: Best Payroll Software For Hourly Employees

Homebase



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Pros

  • Free time tracking and employee scheduling
  • Competitive pricing
  • Easy to use
  • Fast and easy setup

Cons

  • Glitchy mobile app

Homebase is free employee scheduling software. Signing up is quick and easy, and you can begin tracking time and scheduling employees at no cost. The software can also run payroll, although you will need to upgrade from the free plan to take advantage of this feature.

Homebase is ideal for businesses with hourly employees. The software is easy to navigate, allowing even beginners to set up their first payroll run in just minutes. Homebase Payroll is full-service, so you don’t have to worry about manual tax filings. Add in good customer service, a competitive monthly cost, and other essential features, and it’s easy to see why this software made this “best of” list.

homebase dashboard

Homebase Pricing

Homebase’s scheduling and time-tracking software is free for one user in one location. You can upgrade to a paid plan if you have multiple locations or users. The payroll add-on is available for any plan for $35/month + $5/month per active employee.

Key Homebase Features

Homebase has everything you need to track hours, schedule employees, and pay your workers on time. Standout features of Homebase include:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • 1099s, W2s, and amendments included
  • Two-day direct deposits
  • HR tools
  • Employee scheduling, time clocks, and timesheets
  • Built-in messaging
  • Automated tax filings and payments
  • QuickBooks Online integration
  • Mobile app

Is Homebase Right For My Business?

Small businesses with hourly employees will enjoy all that Homebase has to offer. The free scheduling and time-tracking tools are a nice bonus for users looking for simple payroll software. Homebase has a handful of HR tools, solid customer service, and a clean, easy-to-use interface that makes it easy to get started. Pricing is competitive, so it’s a great choice for budget-minded business owners. Homebase may not be the best choice for businesses that primarily employ salaried workers or have more complex payroll needs.

Jump back to comparison chart

Search For The Best Payroll Software By Industry

Are you looking for an industry-specific payroll software? While our list of the best payroll software work well for many businesses, if you are in a certain niche like construction or trucking, you might require software that fits your specific features and needs better.

Here are some best payroll software selections by industry:

What To Look For In A Good Small Business Payroll Software

Processing payroll can be cumbersome. If you lack payroll expertise, you’re more likely to make common beginner mistakes, such as misreported tax withholding data or even missed filing deadlines. So rather than trying to be your own payroll superhero, consider outsourcing your payroll processing tasks instead.

To do that, you’ll need to ask yourself exactly what your company needs from a payroll software solution.

  • Are you looking for a program that’s easy to use? Maybe something with the whole kitchen sink of customizable features?
  • Are you hoping for reliable, one-on-one customer service, or are you past the point of needing to have your hand held?
  • How much are you willing to pay for your software?
  • Do you want to provide benefits, and do you already have a broker to help you offer them?

For better or worse, these are all questions to which you need definitive answers before making a final decision on payroll software for your business. That’s because the payroll software solution you choose must meet your business’s unique needs. Fortunately, each payroll software has the same end goal: creating a reliable and efficient payroll system for your business.

As you sit down to research, some key features can guide your choices. Here are the things to look for in good payroll software:

  • Full tax support
  • Excellent customer service
  • Mobile apps
  • Benefits administration options
  • Ease of use for administrators and employees
  • HR/attendance add-ons
  • Affordability
  • Integrations
  • Security

The bottom line? Taking the time to determine your business’s payroll needs before contacting a payroll sales rep can help you find a solution that’s right for your business. Sales reps want to sell you a product, and if you don’t know what your company needs, you might be easily swayed by features that you don’t need or can’t afford. Take your time, do your due diligence, and hopefully, you’ll end up with a solid payroll software solution.

Choosing The Best Small Business Payroll Software For You

So when it comes down to the decision-making moment, how do you choose between the payroll options? It depends! Payroll providers and small businesses certainly have one thing in common: They’re unique. The payroll software that wins your heart will be the one that meets and fulfills your needs. That sounds romantic, but remember, you’re hiring a payroll company to perform a service for you — so ask yourself these questions:

  1. How much tax support do I need?
  2. What reports do I require to run my business?
  3. Will I need hand-holding through onboarding, or can I manage it myself?
  4. Do I need payroll, or am I looking for a full human capital management program?
  5. Is a modern interface important to me?
  6. Does the payroll provider have a functional app?
  7. What do the reviews say about the company? What are patterns and unresolved issues?
  8. How easy is it to schedule a demo?
  9. Does the price include filling W-2s?
  10. Are there tax experts in case of a tax emergency?
  11. Can I customize the software to suit my business’s needs?

With answers to those questions under your belt, you should have a firm grasp on what type of payroll system your company needs. Thanks to the varied options available, it should be easy to find something that is a perfect fit.

Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Take a look at our comprehensive payroll software reviews to find the perfect software for your business.

Small Business Payroll Software FAQs

What is the best payroll software for small businesses?

The best payroll software for your small business will come down to your business’s specific payroll needs. That said, Merchant Maverick’s top overall pick for the best payroll software for small businesses is Gusto.

Gusto’s easy-to-use and modern interface, friendly and helpful customer service, full tax support, and solid HR features all combine to create a robust program that continues to grow and evolve. If Gusto’s features sound like a good fit for your business, check out the software’s pricing plans to see which ones match your business’s payroll software budget.

What is the easiest payroll software to use?

Payroll software that is easy to use typically combines aspects such as a navigable user dashboard, payroll outsourcing, automated reporting, reliable customer service, and a responsive mobile web design. Merchant Maverick considers all of the payroll solutions covered in this article, including Gusto, Square Payroll, Paycor, and OnPay, easy-to-use payroll solutions that work well for small businesses.

That said, certain companies with very little or no payroll experience may find Square Payroll among the easiest to use. Square offers relatively rudimentary features compared to other solutions discussed in this article, with an interface that’s about as simple as it gets. Honorable mentions include ADP, Gusto, and Paycor for their simple setup processes and easily navigable dashboard layouts.

What is the best HR software for small businesses?

Merchant Maverick’s top picks for the best HR software solutions for small businesses include:

  • Gusto
  • Zenefits
  • BambooHR
  • Namely
  • Paycor

These are great options for small business owners that need to outsource or upgrade their HR department.

That said, not all HR software solutions are created equally. Some emphasize stellar payroll capabilities, while others rely on a bevy of customizable features as their bread and butter. The best HR software for your small business comes down to how mature your HR processes are, which will impact the priorities you should look for in HR software.

Can I do my own small business payroll?

Doing payroll all by yourself may seem daunting, but doing it manually isn’t out of the question. DIY payroll can be a cheaper solution if outsourcing the process seems too expensive or if you prefer to know what’s going on with all of your payroll processes and taxes. If you’re determined to do payroll manually, take a look at our list of easy steps to start running your own payroll.

What is the best free payroll software?

Running your own business isn’t cheap. Small businesses, in particular, know how important it is to run payroll in a way that helps them retain their hard-earned money. With free payroll solutions, small businesses can save on monthly subscription fees and allow themselves more room to invest money in other areas of their business.

Merchant Maverick’s top overall pick for best free payroll software for small businesses is Payroll4Free, which, even at its most stripped-down level, packs a punch with an impressive range of features that are available to businesses paying 25 or fewer people.

Is QuickBooks good for payroll?

There are two types of QuickBooks payroll products: QuickBooks Desktop Payroll and Intuit Online Payroll. The former works with QuickBooks Desktop Pro, while the latter integrates directly with QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks Desktop Payroll is an excellent choice for those who want to learn the ins and outs of its relatively advanced features. QuickBooks Online is the better option for businesses that want to emphasize mobility and cloud-based solutions. To learn more about the differences between QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online, take a look at our QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Desktop comparison.

Either way, both solutions are reliable, and there’s a reason that Intuit QuickBooks has been a leader in the accounting software industry, with more than 1.4 million users using it specifically for payroll.

How do I choose a payroll system?

When it comes to choosing the best payroll software for your small business, consider the software solution that provides the level of tax support and guidance that suits your amount of payroll experience. The right payroll software for your business should be easy to use and fulfill your unique business needs.

As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to look at solutions that balance a modern, intuitive interface with transparent pricing that clearly outlines features under each service plan if there are multiple pricing tiers. With these things in mind, you should be able to make a confident and informed decision on the payroll system that’s a perfect fit for you and your small business.

In Summary: The 14 Best Payroll Software For Small Businesses

  • Gusto:
    • Pricing: $39/month + $6/employee
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 1-2 days
  • ADP Payroll:
    • Pricing: Custom
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 2 days
  • Square Payroll:
    • Pricing: $35/month + $5/employee
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 4 days
  • Paylocity:
    • Pricing: Custom
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 2-3 days
  • Intuit Online Payroll:
    • Pricing: $45/month + $4/employee
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 1 day
  • Paycor:
    • Pricing: $99/month + $7/employee
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 2 days
  • SurePayroll:
    • Pricing: Custom
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 2 days
  • OnPay:
    • Pricing: $36/month + $4/employee
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 2-4 days
  • Paychex:
    • Pricing: $39/month + $5/employee
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: Same day
  • Payroll4Free:
    • Pricing: $0/month
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 2 days
  • Patriot Payroll:
    • Pricing: $17/month + $4/employee
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 4 days
  • Wave Payroll:
    • Pricing: $20/month + $6/employee
    • Number Of States: Full-service in 14 states
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 1 day
  • Rippling:
    • Pricing: $8/month per user
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 1-4 days
  • Homebase:
    • Pricing: $35/month + $5/employee
    • Number Of States: 50
    • Direct Deposit Processing: 2 days
Erica Seppala

Erica Seppala

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
An expert in accounting, finance, and point of sale, Erica has been researching and writing about all things small-business since 2018. Erica's insights into personal and business finance have been cited in numerous publications, including MSN, Real Simple, and Reader's Digest. She is a graduate of Limestone College.
Erica Seppala
View Erica Seppala's professional experience on LinkedIn.

4 Comments

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Jiilly

    Wow… ADP for beginners? ….maybe you meant for beginners who have a lot of money???!!!
    Square payroll is also extremely limited, and Onpay doesn’t have an app. How much are these companies paying you? Moving on to a more reputable review site….

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

      Emily Hale

      Hi, and thanks for giving us this feedback – we hope to help you find the right solution for your business. Our list was primarily built for ease of use and scalability in mind. It is true that you’ll start to lose some of those robust features when you opt for a lower cost. To answer your question, the companies we feature are not paying us for a good review. We do look at some of the more popular brands so that our editorial team can thoroughly look through the features and offer a digestible overview of each. We also do feature lesser known brands, and we are never paid to include any brand in our list. You can read more about our editorial guidelines here: https://www.merchantmaverick.com/merchant-maverick-money/ Since budget is one of your concerns, we do have 5 Best Free Payroll Apps For Small Business. We hope to see you again, and best of luck in finding the right service for your needs.

        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

        Vaden Haynes

        I notice that you do not seem to be including in your review and mention of recording time for job costing. Do any of the free or paid payroll services/software include this feature?

          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

          Jessica Dinsmore

          Hi Vaden,

          Thank you for asking. Paycore offers the option to add a scheduling platform that runs needed reports on inventory and job costing. Here is a link to our Paycore review I hope that answers your question!

            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

          Comments are closed.

          The vendors that appear on this list were chosen by subject matter experts on the basis of product quality, wide usage and availability, and positive reputation.

          Merchant Maverick’s ratings are editorial in nature, and are not aggregated from user reviews. Each staff reviewer at Merchant Maverick is a subject matter expert with experience researching, testing, and evaluating small business software and services. The rating of this company or service is based on the author’s expert opinion and analysis of the product, and assessed and seconded by another subject matter expert on staff before publication. Merchant Maverick’s ratings are not influenced by affiliate partnerships.

          Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.

          We Recommend ADP Payroll 🏆

          Our reviewers like ADP Payroll for its advanced employee management, strong payroll features, and great customer support.👍

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