QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Review
This payroll system works well with QuickBooks Desktop Pro, Premier, and Enterprise, but may be overkill if you're not already a die-hard QuickBooks user.
- Integrates with QuickBooks Desktop Pro, Premier, and Enterprise
- Easy to use
- No long-term contracts required
- Direct deposit
- Poor customer support
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Overview
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll and Intuit Online Payroll (also known as QuickBooks Online Payroll) are the two main QuickBooks payroll products. What’s 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.
If you are already a QuickBooks Desktop user, the convenience of using QuickBooks’ integrated payroll system is hard to beat. While other payroll programs may be cheaper and easier to use, there’s comfort in already knowing and understanding a system. Also, QuickBooks Desktop Payroll guarantees to run seamlessly with your other QuickBooks software and will save you time by eliminating the need for double entry or bouncing between different programs.
Table of Contents
- QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Pricing
- Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
- Hardware & Software Requirements
- Specific Size Of Business
- Is QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Easy To Use?
- QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Features
- QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Customer Service
- QuickBooks Desktop Payroll User Reviews
- QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Integrations
- Is QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Secure?
- Final Verdict: Is QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Worth It?
- QuickBooks Desktop Payroll FAQs
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Pricing
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll is a bit expensive for small businesses on tight budgets. Businesses will need to enroll in the highest-priced tier for full tax support, putting this payroll program at the pricey end. QuickBooks Desktop Payroll offers two plans: Enhanced Payroll and Assisted Payroll.
If your business subscribes to QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise’s Gold, Platinum, or Diamond plans, you’ll already have access to QuickBooks Desktop Payroll services, as they are included in those plans. Additionally, you won’t need to pay the QuickBooks Desktop Payroll’s base subscription price — you’ll only need to pay a per-employee or contractor-paid fee.
A 30-day free trial for both plans is available. A credit card is required to sign up for the trial, and you must select whether you would prefer to pay annually or monthly after the trial expires. QuickBooks also frequently offers discounts for new subscribers, although using a free trial may prevent you from taking advantage of these discounts.
QuickBooks Desktop Enhanced Payroll
QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll costs $50/month +$2/month per employee. You can purchase a yearly plan for $500/year + $2 month per employee for additional savings. QuickBooks Desktop Enhanced Payroll includes:
- Instant paychecks
- Pay W-2 and 1099 employees
- Free direct deposit
- E-filing for W-2s
- Payroll tax e-filing & e-payments
- Free tax forms
- Payroll support
QuickBooks Desktop Enhanced Payroll is an included service for QuickBooks Enterprise Gold and Platinum users.
QuickBooks Desktop Assisted Payroll
QuickBooks Assisted Payroll costs $109/month + $2/month per employee and includes everything from the Enhanced Payroll plan, plus:
- Free next-day direct deposit
- Automatic tax filing
- Free year-end forms
- Automatic payroll setup
- Premium support
QuickBooks Assisted Payroll is an included service for QuickBooks Enterprise Diamond users and offers a discounted $1/employee paid fee.
Extra QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Costs
Before choosing QuickBooks Desktop Payroll, there are several additional costs to be aware of:
- QuickBooks Time: Your employees can easily track time through the web, mobile app, or QuickBooks Time kiosk. Other benefits of QuickBooks Time include employee scheduling, team management, reports, and integrations. Pricing starts at $20/month + $8/employee per month.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance: If your business needs workers’ comp, 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.
- E-File 1099s: Intuit offers a 1099 e-filing service that helps prepare your 1099s through auto-fill from QuickBooks Desktop Payroll. You can send PDFs to contractors, and QuickBooks will e-file your 1099s for you. This service is available in January and costs an additional $14.99. You can also order tax forms and other business forms and checks directly from QuickBooks.
- Multi-State Processing Fees: If you process payroll for employees or contractors in different states, you can expect to pay a $12 processing fee per state to file taxes.
- Medical/Dental/Vision: You also can add health insurance for your team through Simply Insured. Quotes start at $233 per month per employee. Contact Intuit directly for more details.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll works with locally-installed QuickBooks Desktop accounting software. Payroll subscriptions purchased online or over the phone can easily be activated within the QuickBooks Desktop software. You also have the option to purchase the software directly through QuickBooks Desktop accounting software, and it will automatically be installed for you.
Hardware & Software Requirements
To use QuickBooks Desktop Payroll, you must have QuickBooks Pro, Premier, or Enterprise. QuickBooks Desktop Payroll only works with versions 2017 or newer. Internet access is also required in order to download updated payroll tax rates.
Specific Size Of Business
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll is optimized for mid-sized businesses looking for a full-service payroll solution.
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.
Is QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Easy To Use?
If you’re already accustomed to QuickBooks, QuickBooks Desktop Payroll will seem familiar and easy. The software is well-organized, and the UI is relatively intuitive.
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Features
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll offers the basics you’d expect from payroll software. The company recently expanded its features and reports as well. Here’s an overview of what you can expect with Intuit’s payroll services:
- QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Dashboard: If you’re used to using QuickBooks Desktop accounting software, the dashboard will be quite easy for you to use. However, even QuickBooks newbies will find the dashboard easy to navigate. The top menu bar features options including payroll setup, time tracking, preferences, and support. You can then toggle through three different tabs. The Pay Employees tab is where you’ll spend most of your time, as this allows you to set up and run your payroll or review past payroll information. You can also set up direct deposits, run reports, order checks, or access QuickBooks Guides. Through the other tabs, you can create, edit, and pay liabilities, as well as create, edit, and file forms.
- 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 various details, 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 pay your taxes and file your quarterly payroll reports for you. (For local taxes, you might be on your own to deduct and allocate; check with a QuickBooks or tax expert.)
- 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.
- Time Tracking: QuickBooks Desktop Payroll allows you to easily track the time of your employees.
- 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: Numerous payroll reports are available through QuickBooks Desktop Payroll.
- Benefits Administration: Intuit is growing its benefit options. Benefits through Simply Insured are available, and future updates through Mammoth, Inc., will include more HR administration integrations. 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 now available on all plans.
- 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.
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Customer Service
Before purchasing the product, I was able to get in touch with customer service reps 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 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.
There are a number of ways to find answers to your QuickBooks Desktop Payroll questions, including:
- Phone: QuickBooks offers phone support for its payroll users. Assisted Payroll subscribers receive priority support that’s available 24/7.
- Email: You can contact customer service through email.
- 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 you with your QuickBooks payroll and accounting software questions.
- Social Media: Intuit maintains Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts.
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll User Reviews
Negative QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Reviews & Complaints
Any major company that has millions of 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 Intuit 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:
- Expensive: QuickBooks Desktop Payroll isn’t exactly the most budget-friendly option, especially for smaller businesses with few employees. There are add-ons that can further increase the price. You must also have QuickBooks Pro, Premier, or Enterprise in order to use QuickBooks Desktop Payroll.
- Poor Customer Service: If the program runs well for you, then great! If it doesn’t? 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 QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Reviews & Testimonials
People who like QuickBooks and already use aspects of the software are more likely to have a positive experience using QuickBooks Desktop Payroll. It also seems that many of the positive reviews are from people with accounting backgrounds versus small business owners. Sometimes, it is difficult to distinguish whether users are reviewing payroll services for QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop. However, QuickBooks Payroll receives 4.5/5 stars on Capterra (based on 640+ ratings). Users praised the following:
- 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 tier 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. Assisted Payroll subscribers also receive 24/7 priority support.
- Frequent Updates: New changes and updates are consistently being rolled out for QuickBooks Payroll. Intuit has shown its customers that it is willing to listen to its users and makes changes to its software when necessary.
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Integrations
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll works within QuickBooks Desktop, which offers over 200 integrations. This includes popular business apps and software like QuickBooks Time, Expensify, Shopify, and Chaser.
Is QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Secure?
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll operates through QuickBooks Desktop accounting software. Since it’s locally-installed, data security is up to you, with the exception of QuickBooks Hosting users. QuickBooks offers a number of online resources to help you learn how to protect your data.
Final Verdict: Is QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Worth It?
While QuickBooks Desktop Payroll has its shortcomings (more on those in a minute), there are a number of reasons why a business would choose this payroll software. For QuickBooks Desktop users, the most obvious benefit is that QuickBooks Desktop Payroll integrates with the software. This makes setting up the software easy, and users with prior QuickBooks experience will find the payroll dashboard easy to navigate and use.
Throw in tax support, numerous payroll reports, and a number of great features, and it’s easy to see why QuickBooks Desktop Payroll is a good choice for many businesses that want an all-in-one payroll and accounting software solution.
On the flip side, though, QuickBooks Desktop Payroll can be expensive. Only two plans are offered, and you only receive full tax support with the higher-priced plan. Additionally, you must have a QuickBooks Desktop subscription in order to use QuickBooks Desktop Payroll. If you already use the accounting software for your business, great. If not, you’ll have to make the switch, which could be cumbersome and more expensive than your current accounting and payroll solution. The expense may also not be worth the cost to smaller businesses with just a few employees or contractors.
Customer support has never been QuickBooks’ strong suit, and the support offered for QuickBooks Desktop Payroll is no exception. Fortunately, there are other resources and guides that can help answer most of your questions about using the software.
If you’re already a fan of QuickBooks Desktop, it doesn’t hurt to give QuickBooks Desktop Payroll a shot. However, if you already love the accounting software you’re using, are on a tighter budget, or would feel overwhelmed by numerous features, QuickBooks Desktop Payroll may not be the right software for your business. If this is the case, check out The 8 Best Payroll Software For Small Businesses. Good luck!
QuickBooks Desktop Payroll FAQs
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