Intuit Online Payroll Review
- Easy setup
- No long-term contract required
- Integrates with QuickBooks Online
- 24-hour direct deposit
- Numerous public complaints
- Poor customer support
- Non-transparent pricing
Intuit QuickBooks has been one of the industry leaders in accounting software since the 1980s. With 2.7 million users, that means roughly 10% of small businesses today already use QuickBooks for some aspect of their business accounting — and 1.4 million of those use the payroll services specifically.
There are two types of QuickBooks payroll products: QuickBooks Desktop Payroll and Intuit Online Payroll (also known as QuickBooks Online Payroll). What the difference? QuickBooks Desktop Payroll — you guessed it — works with QuickBooks Desktop Pro, Premier, and Enterprise. Likewise, Intuit Online Payroll works directly with QuickBooks Online. You must have an existing QuickBooks Online account or be looking to purchase both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Online Payroll to use this payroll service.
Intuit Online Payroll is easy to use, and those who are familiar with QuickBooks will find a similar interface and level of usability. QuickBooks Online Payroll has decent features, a large number of integrations, and directly integrates with QuickBooks Online for a smooth and seamless transition into the payroll world. The system has many bells and whistles designed for medium-sized businesses, so the program grows well with a company. Small businesses might find all those features dizzying, inflexible, and more expensive than other small business options, such as Gusto or Square.
While the self-service option is inexpensive, it’s also a bare-bones program. It doesn’t offer many competitive features compared to other payroll software at similar price points. For businesses with a built-in accountant who can run numbers and file taxes, maybe the self-service is a great deal. However, for businesses trying to do-it-themselves, there is value in shopping around and paying a bit more money for needed features. For businesses looking to outsource their payroll completely, the full-service QuickBooks Online Payroll plan might be a better choice.
Those familiar with QuickBooks Online already know one of the biggest complaints about the company — poor customer support. QuickBooks Online Payroll is no different; the representatives are friendly but lack an understanding of payroll and taxes. There are also limited benefits/HR integrations available at the moment.
For QuickBooks fans, Intuit Online Payroll is a solid upgrade that will integrate well with your existing accounting software. But for the average small business owner, if you don’t already use QuickBooks, other options offer more support, flexibility, and value for your money. To decide if QuickBooks Online Payroll is right for your business, read our full review or check out Gusto for a more flexible small business payroll solution.
Table of Contents
QuickBooks Online Payroll comes with two very distinct payroll service plans: Online Self-Service Payroll and Online Full-Service Payroll. With self-service payroll, you are responsible for filing payroll tax reports and submitting payroll taxes to the IRS. This program helps calculate your payroll and with year-end forms, but if you need tax assistance, full tax support does not come with this subscription. With full-service payroll, QuickBooks takes care of your payroll taxes for you. Should you need tax assistance, you have access to experts.
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 is also often running promotions for its payroll product, so be sure to check out any discounts before purchasing.
Online Self-Service Payroll
- $35 a month + $4 per employee
- 24-hour direct deposit
- Unlimited payroll runs
- Calculates paychecks
- Calculates and files year-end forms
Online Full-Service Payroll
- $80 a month + $4 per employee
- 24-hour direct deposit
- Unlimited payroll runs
- Calculates paychecks
- Calculates and files year-end forms
- Does payroll taxes for you
- Same-day direct deposit
- Free W2s filed and sent
- Assisted payroll setup
- Help from US-based experts
- No-penalty guarantee*
* I’m concerned that in its terms and conditions, Intuit says, “Guaranteed terms and conditions are subject to change at any time without notice.” If the terms and conditions of a guarantee can change, then doesn’t it stop becoming a guarantee? Several negative reviews, enough to take note of, complained of being on-the-hook for taxes and penalties without hearing back from customer service. The phrase “I’ll escalate this to my manager” is a rote and oft-repeated platitude, without substance, to customers in a tax crisis.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Most businesses with one or more employees across all 50 states need worker’s compensation as a legal business requirement. It pays for medical expenses and lost wages if an employee gets injured on the job. Intuit partners with AP Intego’s pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation insurance. There is a $5 monthly fee to use this service. Premiums for workers’ compensation will depend on how many employees you have and what type of business you operate.
- Labor Law Poster Subscription Service: All businesses who have an employee or contractor working for them must display or have available the appropriate labor law posters. Posting this information is part of labor law here in the US and staying on top of new regulations and changes can be tedious. Through an add-on subscription, payroll customers can have access to the labor law posters for their state, and QuickBooks will send new posters as needed.
- E-File 1099s: In January of each year, your business will need to file the 1099 forms sent out to contractors. This service helps prepare your 1099s through auto-fill from your Intuit Online Payroll information. You can send PDFs to contractors and QuickBooks will e-file your 1099s for you. This additional service is available in January and is an additional $14. You can also order tax forms and other business forms, such as checks, directly from QuickBooks.
- Multi-State Processing Fees: If you are processing payroll for people in different states, expect to pay a $12 processing fee per state to file taxes.
- Medical/Dental/Vision: New to Intuit’s online platform is the option to add health insurance for your team through Simply Insured. Quotes start at $233 per month/per employee. Contact Intuit directly for more details.
- Time Tracking: Intuit Online Payroll does not offer built-in time-tracking. Instead, the software integrates with TSheets for time-tracking. TSheets costs $20 + $5 per user (up to 99 users).
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
Intuit QuickBooks is cloud-based and no downloads or installation required.
Hardware & Software Requirements
As cloud-based software, QuickBooks Online Payroll operates with nearly all internet browsers so long as you have internet access. There are also desktop versions available, which rate higher among consumers for speed. To read forms and use the print checks feature, you will need Adobe Reader 7.0+ or the Firefox PDF plugin.
QuickBooks Online Payroll also has mobile apps for Apple products (iOS 9.3+) and Android products (4.1+).
Specific Size Of Business
For the cost, Intuit is well-optimized for mid-sized businesses looking for a full-service payroll solution. However, if your company plans to grow, Intuit is a good option if you would like your payroll system to grow with you. Intuit recently added a benefits section to its online options, which is fantastic, but there are limited options for other small business integrations. The entire platform seems geared toward converting its existing QuickBooks users into payroll customers instead of trying to be a leader in online payroll services.
For small and micro businesses looking for self-service payroll, this is an expensive option for the features promised, and you can get more bang for your buck elsewhere. One plus that is worth taking into consideration is that your employees have the option to connect directly to TurboTax. Intuit Online users can quickly and easily set up a preference in the settings to allow their employees to import their W-2 information from Intuit straight into TurboTax. This feature might make the software worthwhile for those small business owners who want to make the tax process as seamless as possible for their employees.
Ease Of Use
If you’re already accustomed to QuickBooks Online, Intuit Online Payroll will seem familiar and easy to get used to. The software is well-organized, and the UI is relatively intuitive. In terms of getting started, here is what Intui has to say about the QuickBooks Online Payroll setup process:
If you have a ‘Do it for You’ Payroll (Intuit Full Service), we’ll do most of setting up for you. If you have a ‘Do it Yourself’ Payroll (Intuit Online Payroll), we’ll walk you through setting up the basics of your Payroll.
Either option has support as you set up your payroll and company. Reviews say that onboarding is particularly tedious in the online version.
QuickBooks Online offers the basics you’d expect with a payroll solution. Here’s an overview of what you can expect with Intuit’s payroll services:
- Dashboard: The free trial did not allow me to navigate much around the dashboard, but it is relatively easy to do so and to understand the layout. The top dash is dedicated to any “to-dos” on your list. You can also hop between employees or contractors and the newly added benefits section.
- Employee Portal: The workforce portal allows your employees to log in under the same email they use for TurboTax or the email you provided when setting up payroll. They have access to their benefits information, leave information, and any other information you’ve made available for them during payroll setup.
- Employee Management: Intuit has many features to help you manage your employees and contractors from a single interface. You can add information, including job title, payment information, time off, tax documents, and benefits. Intuit allows you to manage additional earnings, deductions, and garnishments.
- Payroll: Intuit promises that running payroll is as easy as clicking a button. It takes about two or three minutes to run payroll online. Once your employees are enrolled, their hours and pay scales set, and your pay dates set, running payroll is simple. Intuit will only pay your taxes and file your quarterly payroll reports for you if you have chosen the full-service option.
- Payment Methods: You can pay your employees by check or by direct deposit.
- Pay Stubs & Checks: Employees can download a PDF of their pay stubs directly from their employee portal. If you choose to pay your employees by check, you can print the checks with Intuit.
- Paid Time Off (PTO): You can set paid time off policies on any plan, including vacation and sick days. Set sick days/vacation or accrued sick days/vacation are both possibilities.
- Reports: Here is a screenshot of the reports section from the free trial. QuickBooks also allows for custom reports.
- Benefits Administration: This is an area where Intuit is a bit behind, but it is growing. Benefits through Simply Insured are available, and it is including more HR administration integrations in future updates. There are options to connect your benefits management, but QuickBooks does not often integrate with things outside the QuickBooks Suite. So some businesses find themselves going back and forth with record keeping.
- Payroll Garnishment: Intuit can handle pay garnishment for you.
- Tax Support: Tax support is only available on the full-service plan. For the self-service plan, Intuit assumes you are filing your payroll taxes and paperwork. However, for the full-service plan, there is full tax support.
- Connects To TurboTax: You can set up a preference within your payroll that allows employees to import their W-2s straight into TurboTax by using their employee identification number. Doing so can save a few minutes of manually entering W-2 information for your employees during tax time.
Customer Service & Support
Before purchasing the product, I was able to get in touch with people very easily via phone or online chat. For more specific user questions, the online chat was pretty simple, and they did provide me with answers in a reasonable time. Then I realized that both times the chat information was incorrect. However, Intuit QuickBooks is known for outsourcing its help centers. Payroll experts are hypothetically available for important issues, but getting to one and talking things through can take a long time.
- Phone: Intuit has a phone line. They do not have a specific extension for payroll or any particular call hours that I can find.
- Email: Yes, there is a way to contact customer service through email either outside or from inside your payroll program.
- Online Chat: Online chat is a quick and easy option. After an initial screening, customer service reps will get you to the right person to answer your question.
- In-Software Support: Within the software, you or your users can access forums and chat rooms.
- Help Center: There is an online help center with articles, forms, and lists to help keep you knowledgable and organized.
- Social Media: Intuit maintains Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Any major company that has a great many users is bound to run into challenges, and Intuit is a large company that does a lot more than payroll. The Better Business Bureau gives it a good rating overall, but if you delve deeper into the reviews specifically for the payroll program, things turn ugly in a hurry. There are a plethora of rants about misfiled taxes, miscommunications about payments, and the general ineptitude of the customer service representatives. It’s hard to ignore the negative reviews and all-caps calls of caveat emptor. Here are the most significant complaints users have:
- Non-Transparent Pricing & Fees: Pinning down a solid price is difficult. There are several QuickBooks programs, so it’s easy to get lost among the different payroll pricing guides. You could end up straying away from the online payroll program and not even know it.
- Bad Customer Service: If the program runs well for you then great! If it doesn’t? Well, be prepared to spend some time getting those questions answered. While the people on the other end of the phone/chat/screen are well-intentioned, very few of them are actual payroll experts. It can take a long time to connect with someone who is.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
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. It also seems that many of the positive reviews are from people with accounting backgrounds versus small business owners. It is also sometimes tough to ascertain if reviews are for the online or the desktop versions (and the desktop version receives the higher praise). However, this seems to be a situation of love it or hate it. The software has 4/5 stars on Capterra (based on 363 ratings), and a collection of the best reviews boil down to the following features:
- Easy To Access & Use: The QuickBooks interface is clean and straightforward. It’s easy to use for all levels of technical abilities, and most users find it very intuitive. Also, as long as you have an internet connection, you can run payroll.
- Onboarding Help: No matter which program you purchase, there are specific representatives dedicated to making sure you are set up from start to finish. Since this part of the process is a bit tedious, it’s nice to have the extra assistance in making sure all the required forms are filled out.
- Constantly Updating: Even this past year, Intuit has rolled out new changes and updates to its program. Since the program is cloud-based, all updates are automatic, so you know you’re getting a fresh and evolving product. Intuit’s willingness to explore upgrades and keep current is essential.
Intuit online payroll is continuously expanding its integrations. QuickBooks is known for giving access to over 400 apps, and the Intuit Online program has many you might be familiar with, such as TSheets, Expensify, Shopify, and Chaser. Please contact Intuit for a full list of what’s currently available.
QuickBooks Online uses 128-bit SSL encryption and multi-factor authentication. The Tier-4 data center has physical safeguards in place, and routine testing ensures security. For more information on QuickBooks’ security, check out the Intuit website.
So what do we think of QuickBooks Online Payroll? Intuit is undoubtedly a big player in the business software world. However, with so many other viable payroll options on the market, Intuit is merely mediocre for the price and the options it provides. Small businesses can get more features and better support elsewhere.
Growing businesses who can afford the full-service plan may appreciate QuickBooks Online Payroll, but the self-service plan leaves users wanting — which is evident from dozens of negative complaints. If you’re a huge fan of QuickBooks Online and its UI, QuickBooks Online payroll might still win your heart. Plus, the TurboTax integration for W-2 employees is tempting. But we can’t look past the price, poor customer support, and the negative reviews — and you shouldn’t either, at least not without exploring all of your options first. Check out other options that are better for smaller businesses and more cost-effective, such as Gusto, Paychex, or Square.
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