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SurePayroll: Best Household Online Payroll Service

After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend SurePayroll as the best online payroll service for paying household employees. We chose SurePayroll from a pool of payroll services for household employers, as well as general payroll providers that offer household employer services. 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.

SurePayroll offers services for all types of household employees, allows unlimited payroll run and provides full tax services. It's our best pick for a variety of reasons. One is cost. SurePayroll charges a flat monthly fee of $39.99 for up to two household employees. Here's a detailed breakdown of why we picked it as our winner.

SurePayroll provides everything a household employer needs from a payroll service. The company handles all of the payroll and payroll tax responsibilities.

What makes SurePayroll so appealing is that its services can be used for all household employees, including nannies, elder care givers, home care providers, private nurses, drivers, yard workers and cooks. Some of the other providers we examined had services only for nannies.

With SurePayroll, you can run payroll as often as you want each month and pay household employees with a written check or by direct deposit. Not all of the services we analyzed offered direct deposit for household workers.

The service also handles all payroll tax obligations. This includes calculating and deducting Social Security, Medicare and federal and state unemployment taxes, along with filling out and filing federal, state and local tax forms. In addition, it makes all tax payments for you. The service guarantees that your taxes will be filed and paid correctly and on time. Should an error be made, SurePayroll pays any of the fines or interest fees you incur. Not all of the services we investigated offered this type of guarantee.

SurePayroll also files a quarterly 1040-ES on your behalf, and provides you with a signature-ready Schedule H (Form 1040) that attaches to your annual 1040 filing. These services are all completed automatically, without any extra input from you.

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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It is important to note that SurePayroll only supports household employers in the state of California who are designated as quarterly filers. Annual filers in California need to change their filing status to quarterly to use this service.

We also like that SurePayroll integrates with a variety of popular accounting software, including QuickBooks, AccountEdge, Xero, Intacct, Sage 50 and Less Accounting.

Of all the household payroll services we examined, SurePayroll was one of the cheapest. There is a flat monthly fee of $39.99 for up to two household employees. If you have more than two workers, there is an additional $2 charge per person, per month. Nearly all the other payroll providers we considered included the cost of only one employee in its base fee. Most other services charge between $20 and $75 for each additional household employee.

We like that SurePayroll has a monthly fee, rather than the quarterly fee that many other household payroll providers charge. Because there is no long-term contract, you have the option to cancel your service at any time and not pay for months you might not be using.

The only added cost is $44.25 for year-end tax forms. Most of the other services we looked into not only charged more for the year-end tax service, but also charged an initial setup fee of at least $100.

What makes SurePayroll so attractive to household employers is how easy it is to use. The service is cloud-based, so there is no software to install or maintain. You can access the system's online portal from any internet-connected computer and any web browser.

All you need to do to pay an employee is enter the hours the household employee worked or their pay rate. You are then shown a preview of the payroll, which includes the employee's gross pay and how much is being deducted from each check for employee and employer taxes.

To pay employees, you simply add in the number of hours they worked and their gross pay amount. The system then totals all of the calculations up for you and allows you to preview the payroll before you approve it.

If everything looks accurate, the final step is to click on the Submit for Approval link to run your payroll. At that point, you are provided details on when the money will be transferred for direct deposit or when you can write out checks.

The home page allows you to quickly see your payroll status and any important reminders, such as your upcoming payroll processing dates and bank holidays.

The SurePayroll dashboard gives a complete overview of your payroll. It includes the date your next payroll needs to be approved by and data on total payroll expenses for the current quarter.

To learn more about how to use the system, you can watch videos on the SurePayroll website and on YouTube.

SurePayroll's mobile app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices, allows household employers to enter earnings, deductions, hours worked and benefits, such as vacation and personal time. Most of the other household payroll services we examined did not offer a mobile app.

Household employees also have access to the system. They can log in online or use the mobile app to review pay stubs and pay history.

We were very pleased with the level of customer support we received from SurePayroll. To gauge the type of service a new customer can expect, we called and emailed the company multiple times posing as a household employer interested in the company's service.

Each time we called we were immediately greeted by a helpful representative who was able to provide clear and detailed answers to all of our questions. At no time did they try to pressure us into signing up for the service. Many of the other payroll providers we called had us wait on hold; gave short answers, sometimes just one word, to our questions; and spent most of the call trying to get us to commit to their service.

SurePayroll was also the only payroll provider that offered to let us test the system on our own. One of the customer service agents we spoke with gave us temporary login credentials that allowed us to see exactly what it was like to use the platform. This gave us a feel for what it would be like to set up the system, enter in new employees and run payroll every month.

Another aspect of SurePayroll's support we found appealing is that customers receive the same high level of service, regardless of whether they call about payroll for household employers or small businesses. When conducting our investigation of SurePayroll, we called on separate occasions to inquire about both types of service. During each of those calls, we received the same level of support. That is a sign to us that SurePayroll values each of its clients equally, regardless of the size of its payroll.

SurePayroll provides customer support between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. (CST) Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (CST) on Saturdays. We like that the help lines are open later in the evenings and on Saturdays, which is something many of the other services we examined didn't offer. SurePayroll's website is also filled with a lot of valuable resources, including a full glossary of payroll terminology and articles on payroll and payroll taxes.

SurePayroll is an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau. According to the BBB website, as of September 2016 there were 71 complaints filed against SurePayroll over the past three years that were resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant. In addition, there were 56 complaints still awaiting resolution. It's important to note, however, that nearly all of the payroll providers we reviewed had some criticism levied against them with the BBB. Despite its complaints, SurePayroll has a BBB rating of A+. You can read more specifics about the complaints on the BBB website.

One potential downside of the SurePayroll is that it doesn't offer different packages like some of the other nanny-specific payroll providers we reviewed. Some of SurePayroll's competitors offered cheaper plans for lower levels of service. For example, they gave the option to pay less if you only wanted the service to calculate tax withholdings and prepare your tax documents. If you would rather pay your employee and send in tax documents on your own, you don't have that option with SurePayroll.

  • 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: 

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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.