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Intuit: The Best Online Payroll Service for Small Business Overall

After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend Intuit Payroll as the best online payroll service for small businesses. We chose Intuit from a pool of the dozens of payroll services we considered. To understand how we selected our best picks, you can find our methodology and a comprehensive list of online payroll services on our best picks page here.

Intuit Payroll offers small businesses a variety of service plans that handle some, or all, payroll and tax responsibilities. Intuit costs between $20 and $99 per month, plus $2 for each employee. Here is a detailed breakdown of why it's our best pick.

What makes Intuit Payroll so appealing to small businesses is that the service is offered in three different plans, for three different prices.

Basic

  • Overview: The basic plan only runs payroll and does not handle any payroll tax obligations.
  • Cost: $20 base fee for the first six months, plus $2 per employee. After six months, the base fee increases to $25 per month. If you sign an annual contract, the cost is $18.75 per month.
  • Features and tax services: Included in this package is the ability to print instant paychecks for W-2 employees, direct deposit and live support. No tax services are included.

Enhanced

  • Overview: Handles all payroll and some tax responsibilities.
  • Cost: $31.20 base fee for the first six months, plus $2 for each employee. After six months, the base fee increases to $39 per month. If you sign a yearly contract, you pay $29.25 per month.
  • Features and tax services: Includes everything in the basic package plus calculates all federal and state payroll taxes. You are responsible for making all tax payments. The service also automatically fills in  all the federal and most state payroll-tax forms for you and gives you the option of electronically paying these taxes with the click of a button. Additionally, this plan includes email reminders for taxes and the ability to print W-2 forms for employees.

Full Service

  • Overview: Handles all payroll and tax responsibilities.
  • Cost: $79 base fee for the first six months, plus $2 per employee. After the first six months, the base fee increases to $99 per month. There is no annual billing discount.
  • Features and tax services: This package runs payroll, completes and files all federal, state and local forms and guarantees tax payments are correct and on time. If Intuit makes an error, it will pay all the resulting payroll tax penalties that you incur. Intuit sets up this package for you by having a company representative enter all employee data and information into the system before you get started. In addition, the full service package takes care of processing and printing employees' year-end W-2 forms.

We like that all plans include unlimited payroll runs. This gives you the option of paying employees every week, biweekly or monthly, all for the same price. Some of the other services we examined had pricing structures based on the number of payrolls run each month.

The only other cost is for businesses with employees working in different states. There is an added $12 per-month charge per state.

Intuit offers a free 30-day trial period for all three of its pricing plans. This lets you get familiar with the system and run a couple payrolls to make sure you are comfortable with the service. If you don't like how it operates, you can cancel at no cost.

Editor’s Note: Looking for information on payroll systems? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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Another option Intuit offers is a combo package of its payroll services and QuickBooks Online accounting software. Combining QuickBooks Online with the enhanced payroll package costs between $27 and $39 per month for the first six months, plus $2 per employee. After six months, the price increases to between $54 and $79 depending on the version of QuickBooks Online you choose. QuickBooks Online was our choice as the best accounting software for small businesses. You can read our review here.

Combining QuickBooks Online and the full service payroll package costs between $57 and $69 per month, for the first six months, plus $2 per employee. After six months, the base fee price increases to between $114 and $139 per month.

We like that Intuit offers a variety of service plans. This gives businesses on different budgets the ability to use this service. Most of the other payroll systems we looked into had only one plan at one price.

We were also impressed with how open Intuit was with its pricing. All of the costs are clearly outlined on the company's website. A number of the other payroll solutions we analyzed were more secretive with their pricing and made you contact their sales department for a quote. In addition, some other services we spoke to initially quoted one price, but as we asked about additional services, the price quickly escalated.

Intuit Payroll is a cloud-based service, so there is no software to install or maintain.

Overall, the platform, which can be accessed from any web browser, is very easy to use. The system's interface is clearly labeled and simple to navigate. All of the main sections have easy access tabs running across the top of the home page. The "To Do" page highlights any tasks you need to complete and messages you've received, while the "Payday" tab is where you can create, approve and print paychecks.

The Intuit "To Do" page highlights all of the tasks that need to be completed.

There are additional tabs for taxes and forms, which let you see all of your payroll-related tax forms and pay your taxes, an employee tab, where you can add in details, such as pay rate and schedule, for each worker, and a reports tab where you can access detailed payroll and tax data.

Adding employees into the system is a simple task. The system walks you through each step of adding in basic details about each employee, such as pay rate, federal and state tax information and withholdings, tax exemptions and benefit deductions.

Full service users can have Intuit input all of this information for them. Those users can email or fax their employee roster and information to Intuit, and one of their payroll specialists will enter in the details.

Running payroll consists of the same three-step process for all three plans. You start by clicking the Enter Payday Info link and selecting the employees you want to pay. For hourly employees, you enter the number of regular, bonus, overtime and vacation hours they worked in that pay period. Salaried employees already have their pay rate saved.

To help ensure all the hours are correct, the service features an error-detection system. If you enter a number that is significantly different from previous pay periods, the system alerts you that there may be a problem. This is a tool not all of the other services we analyzed offered.

The second step is to review the payroll info. You can see each employee's payroll details, as well as your total costs. During this stage, you can also compare your current payroll with the previous one to make sure everything lines up.

Employees have access to the system via an online portal. They can log in to view their pay stubs, pay history and paid time off accruals.The last step is to click the Submit to Intuit link. The service confirms that it received your information, and processes your payroll. Employees who have direct deposit are paid in two business days. Checks can be printed out from your office for those without direct deposit. You can learn more about using the system by watching one of several training videos Intuit offers on its website.

In addition to the online portal, the Intuit mobile app, for iOS and Android devices, can be used by those in charge to run payroll, pay taxes and view company payroll history. Employees also have mobile access. They can log into the service's mobile-friendly website to review their paystub information.

Another appealing aspect of Intuit Payroll is its integration with QuickBooks. While most services offer accounting software integration, Intuit's service works in tandem with QuickBooks by automatically syncing the two together. Every time you run a payroll, all of your payday info — including check amounts, state and federal taxes, and deductions — is sent to a server in the cloud. QuickBooks checks that server in regular intervals and automatically downloads those files into your QuickBooks accounting software. There is no need to manually enter any of the information on your own. The system does it all for you.

Intuit Payroll users can also create a variety of helpful reports, including payroll summaries, payroll details, employee details, tax payments, tax and wage summaries, tax liability, workers' compensation, total cost and contractor payment details.

Intuit provides businesses with a variety of labor and wage reports that offer added insight into their operation.

 

For such a large company, we were pleased with the customer service Intuit provided. To gauge what customers can expect from the support team, we called the company multiple times posing as a new business owner interested in payroll services.Customer Service

Each time we contacted Intuit, a friendly and helpful representative immediately answered our call. With some of the other larger payroll services we investigated, we had to wait on hold for lengthy periods before someone was available to speak with us.

The representatives were extremely accommodating during all of our calls. They thoroughly answered our questions and left us with a clear understanding of the system and how it works.

We were pleased that the representatives never tried to pressure us into signing up for the service. Instead, they simply listened to us, answered our questions and encouraged us to call back with any further inquiries. This was a change from what we experienced with many of the other payroll providers we contacted.

We weren't as impressed with Intuit's live-chat support. When we used the tool to ask some basic questions, we were told that to get answers we would need to speak to a payroll specialist over the phone. While we are confident our questions would have been answered over the phone, we were frustrated that the live-chat representative wasn't as helpful as we expected.

You can reach Intuit representatives by phone, email and live chat between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (PST) Monday through Friday. The Intuit website is also filled with a lot of valuable resources, including payroll guides and advice, training videos, details on how to set up the system and a user community that has answers to questions on all the Intuit products.

One potential downside is that Intuit doesn't offer some of the additional services that other payroll providers do, such as human resources guidance, employee retirement plans and health care benefits. If you want a payroll service that can also handle those tasks, Intuit is not for you. The only available extra services offered are workers' compensation plans and a time-tracking feature.

Not having customer service available on the weekends could also pose a problem for some businesses. While it's nice that service agents are available 12 hours each day during the week, which is longer than most companies offer, it is of no help if you need support over the weekend. In addition, the live-chat tool wasn't as responsive as we had hoped. Some of the other services we looked into provided much better live-chat help.

Another potential negative is the large number of complaints filed against Intuit with the Better Business Bureau. As of September 2016, Intuit had more than 1,110 unresolved complaints. In addition, the company resolved more than 1,750 complaints over the past three years. While the large number of complaints is concerning, it is important to note that Intuit is one of the largest payroll and accounting software providers and the number of complaints might be because they have more totalcustomers. In addition, it is unknown how many of these complaints are specific to Intuit's payroll service. The complaints listed on the BBB website are in regards to all of Intuit's products and services. Despite the complaints, BBB still rates Intuit as an A+ organization.

  • Small Businesses Overall
    Intuit Payroll
    Read Review
    • Base Fee
      $20-$99 per month
    • Per Employee Cost
      $2 per employee
    • Tax Guarantee
      Full Service Only
    • Customer Service
      Phone, Email, Live Chat
  • Very Small Businesses
    OnPay
    Read Review
    • Base Fee
      $39 per month
    • Per Employee Cost
      No cost for first 10, $1 for all others
    • Tax Guarantee
      Yes
    • Customer Service
      Phone, Email and Live Chat
  • Sole Proprietor or S Corp.
    Gusto
    Read Review
    • Base Fee
      $39 per month
    • Per Employee Cost
      $6
    • Tax Guarantee
      No
    • Customer Service
      Phone and Email
  • Household Employer
    SurePayroll
    Read Review
    • Base Fee
      $39.99 per month
    • Per Employee Cost
      Two included, $2 for all others
    • Tax Guarantee
      Yes
    • Customer Service
      Phone and Email

Ready to choose a payroll service? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor’s Note: Looking for information on payroll systems? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.