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Best Payroll Services for 2016

We know that businesses have diverse payroll needs. We researched and reviewed dozens of online payroll services and came up with the ones we think are best for a variety of business types. Here is a roundup of our top picks for 2016 and an explanation of how we chose them.

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

Editor’s Note: Looking for a payroll service for your business? If you’re looking for information to help you choose the one that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

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Intuit provides small businesses with services that are scalable and easily integrate with QuickBooks accounting software. The service handles the collecting and reporting of all payroll-related taxes and offers a variety of helpful tools. It is available in three separate plans that differ based on price and the included features. Go here for a full review of Intuit's payroll service.

Gusto (formerly known as ZenPayroll) was one of the least expensive payroll services we found. More important, it allows you to pay outside contractors and to issue their 1099 forms. The service offers a variety of valuable features, including its "autopilot" tool, and has helpful customer service. Go here for a full review of Gusto's payroll service.

OnPay offers very affordable payroll service. The company is transparent with its pricing and features an online price calculator on its website to determine your pricing from the start. The system is user-friendly, and the customer service reps are willing and able to help you every step of the way. Go here for a full review of OnPay's payroll service.

SurePayroll handles all of your tax obligations and, even better, guarantees that it will do it right. The service allows for unlimited payroll runs for one monthly fee and doesn't charge extra for a second household worker, like most services do. Go here for a full review of SurePayroll's services for small businesses and household employees.

To initially determine the best payroll services for small businesses, we started with a pool that included all of the services on the comprehensive list below. After some preliminary investigation, including a look at other best-pick lists and initial research into each one, we interviewed small business owners to discover new ones to add to our list.

We ultimately settled on 17 payroll services to consider as best picks for our small business categories. They were: ADP, AmCheck, APS, BenefitMall, Big Fish Payroll Services, Fuse Workforce Management, Gusto, Intuit, MyPayrollHR, OnPay, Patriot Software, Pay USA, Paychex, Paycor, Paylocity, Sage and SurePayroll. (See full list of payroll services and their websites below).

Next, we watched tutorials and how-to videos, read user comments and considered the pricing available on these services' websites. After narrowing down the list to nine contenders, we contacted each company's customer service department and posed as would-be business owners.

In all, we analyzed each service based on the following factors:

  • Cost
  • Tax services
  • Ease of use
  • Customer service
  • Accounting software integration
  • Incentives offered
  • Guarantees provided
  • Mobile accessibility
  • Payroll reports
  • Employee access to the system
  • Extra services the payroll provider offered, such as employee retirement plans or workers' compensation

To determine the best payroll services for household employers, we used a methodology similar to what we conducted for our small business categories. However, we only considered SurePayroll and Intuit from the above list because they had plans specifically for paying household employees. In addition, we considered five companies that specialize in payroll services for household employees: NannyChex, HomeWork Solutions, Savvy Nanny Payroll Services, GTM Payroll Services, and HomePay by Breedlove. (See full list of payroll services specializing in household employees and their websites below.)

Here is a full list of payroll providers and a summary of what each company claims to offer. This alphabetical list also includes our best picks.

ADP – ADP offers a wide range of services that you can use with your payroll system, including tax services, human resources management, retirement services, time and attendance solutions, and benefits administration. adp.com

Advantage Payroll Services – Advantage Payroll Services offers a wide scope of payroll-processing technology, including proprietary software, online payroll management and a centralized data network. In addition to payroll input via PC, phone or fax, the company's Instant Payrollallows businesses to manage their payroll on the Web. The company offers direct deposit and tax filing at no additional charge. advantagepayroll.com

AmCheck – AmCheck offers three separate payroll plans. With each plan, AmCheck makes payroll deposits; files and reports all payroll taxes; and offers labor cost reporting. You can also build your own customized reports. The company's payroll solutions can be synced with almost every accounting software and time and attendance system. amcheck.com

APS – APS is a cloud-based service that provides online services for payroll, core human resources, time and attendance, Affordable Care Act reporting and compliance needs — all in a single platform. The company's mobile service delivers instant payroll, HR and time and attendance information to employees and managers on any mobile device. apspayroll.com

*Bank of America – Bank of America partners with Intuit for its payroll services. Intuit was our best pick for small businesses overall. To learn more about what Intuit has to offer, read our full review here.

BenefitMall – BenefitMall has payroll services for businesses of all sizes. The company's online payroll service processes payroll, manages payroll taxes and offers payroll reports 24 hours a day, from anywhere there is an Internet connection. To pay employees, BenefitMall gives the option of using direct deposit or printing your own checks. Additionally, employees have online access to their payroll information. The company recently unveiled PayFocus + HR, which offers small businesses a comprehensive combination of payroll and human resources services. benefitmall.com

Big Fish Payroll Services– Big Fish Payroll Services is an online payroll provider that manages every aspect of outsourced payroll, including calculating tax obligations, producing checks and preparing management reports. The company's payroll service allows for direct deposit and employee self-service. Big Fish also offers both time and attendance and human resources solutions. bigfishpayroll.com

Client Solutions Group – Client Solutions Group's online management system provides the ability to collect and store data needed for hourly and salaried payrolls. With the system, businesses can create and review payrolls from any location with an Internet connection; process and preview payroll in real time; and provide employees with secure online access to paychecks, W2s and 1099s. client-solutions-group.com/online-payroll/

Coastal Human Resource Group – Coastal Human Resource Group's (CHRG) online payroll service allows you to submit all of your payroll information via the Web. Payments can be made either via direct deposit or paper checks that are printed by CHRG and delivered straight to your business so they are ready for your designated payday. The service also handles all of payroll tax responsibilities. The company also offers human resources, employee benefits, compliance screening, workers' compensation insurance, PEO and time and attendance services. coastal-hr.com

Fuse Workforce Management – Fuse Workforce Management (formerly ProPayroll) unites time and attendance management, human resources management and payroll into one system. The payroll module puts you in complete control of your payroll. Continuous processing makes payroll available whenever you need it, while real-time calculations let you know exactly what your people are doing and how much you’re paying them to do it. The payroll system has a versatile pay rules engine that makes it easy to determine pay for regular or overtime hours and supports any number of scenarios, such as shift differentials, order of importance, location and more. In addition, tax data is built into the system to support multiple regional requirements and tax structures. fuseworkforce.com

*Gusto – Gusto is a full-service, cloud-based payroll provider. Features of the service include automatic tax calculations, payment and filing, new employee reporting, direct deposit, contractor payments, payroll reports and employee lifetime account. The system also integrates with accounting software, time and attendance solutions and human resources systems. gusto.com. Read our full review here.

Insperity –Insperity offers full-service HR for businesses with 10 to 5,000 employees. The company offers services for payroll, benefits and hiring, as well as numerous management and planning tools. insperity.com

*Intuit – Intuit offers three separate payroll plans for small businesses. The first plan only includes running payroll and calculating taxes. The second also includes filling in tax forms and filing and paying taxes electronically for you. With the third, full-service package, Intuit sets up, runs and files your payroll and taxes for you. There is also an error-free guarantee with this package. payroll.intuit.com. Read our full review here.

IOIPay – IOI's exclusive software, IOIPay, is a cloud-based platform that serves any size employer base. Among the services IOIPay includes are payroll processing, employee self-service, tax credit services, payroll tax filing and payroll reports. ioipay.com

Jumpstart:HR – An "all-in-one" human resources partner for small businesses, Jumpstart:HR strives to provide up-to-date HR knowledge and strategies, as well as career development tools for both employers and job seekers. Service packages are divided by company size, and include HR consulting services for early-stage startups. jumpstart-hr.com

MMC HR – MMC creates comprehensive, customized HR solutions packages for its clients, covering everything from payroll and taxes to risk management and legal compliance. The company's payroll service includes regular payroll processing, wage and hours compliance, payroll tax filing and paid-time-off management. mmchr.com

MyPayrollHR – MyPayrollHR's online payroll service allows you to customize your payroll setup with payment types, deductions, pay schedules and time sheets. If you already use accounting software like QuickBooks, you can export your payroll data from MyPayrollHR to your existing accounting setup. mypayrollhr.com

Namely – Namely is a full-service payroll provider. Its payroll processing system fully integrates with your HR and benefits information. Namely's payroll services include personalized support 24/7, automated tax filings, automatic generation of W-2 and 1099 forms and access to a variety of payroll reports. Namely also offers HR, benefits and talent management services. namely.com

Newtek – Newtek's online payroll services manages every aspect of your payroll and benefits, including online paystubs, payment management, 401(k) and worker's compensation. In addition, the company's team of tax specialists reviews your individual payroll account and handles all of your tax payments and reporting needs on the state, local and federal levels. Employees can log in and view their paystubs from any Internet-connected computer. thesba.com/payroll-services/

Oasis Outsourcing –Oasis includes a variety of human resources management services in one administrative fee. Depending on your needs, you will receive help from multiple professionals specializing in hiring, compensation, performance management, employee training and other HR functions. The company's Web-based payroll services include payroll accrual, tracking and processing, and payroll deposit options. oasisadvantage.com

*OnPay – OnPay is an online service designed to give employers the ability to create paychecks or access payroll reports 24/7. With the system, employers can calculate, review and create payroll checks. In addition, payroll taxes are calculated automatically each pay run. Payments are then processed by OnPay and paid to the responsible tax agencies. payrollcenter.com. Read our full review here.

OperationsInc – OperationsInc is a consulting service that gives small and midsize businesses flexible options for their outsourced HR department. Smaller firms can choose an hourly pay-per-use structure, while larger companies can pay for services on a monthly per-employee basis. OperationsInc's payroll services are designed to serve companies that have an interim emergency need as well as those that need a dedicated resource for day-to-day payroll administration. The company's payroll professionals are able to handle all levels of payroll services, from entering payroll information all the way through to resolving tax issues. operationsinc.com

Optimum Employer Solutions – Optimum Employer Solutions offers a Web-based payroll system. The system includes payroll tax filing, direct deposit, garnishment processing, paid time off tracking, W-2 preparation and mailing and payroll reports. There is also a Web portal for employees to access pay stubs, W-2s, paid time off balances and other personal information. optimumhr.net/payroll-solutions/

Patriot Software – Patriot Software offers payroll solutions designed specifically for small businesses. The company's Basic Payroll option allows you to take care of your own payroll tax deposits and filings, while its full-service payroll handles all federal, state and local payroll taxes on your behalf. With the system, businesses can run payroll 24/7 from any location with an Internet connection. Patriot Software also offers time and attendance and HR software solutions. patriotsoftware.com/payroll/software/

PayUSA – PayUSA offers tailored payroll solutions for businesses of all sizes. Its services include payroll processing; payroll reports; direct deposit, W-2, W-3 and 1099 printing; tax filing; new-hire reporting and check signing. payusa.com

Paychex – Paychex offers payroll services for businesses of all sizes, including a special system for small businesses. Paychex has online payroll with mobile support and features tax services, time and attendance tracking, and more. You also have the option to manage payroll in-house. paychex.com

Paycor – Paycor's online payroll platform allows you to get a quick view of total payroll costs before it is run; set up notifications to alert you to anything out of the ordinary, such as pay-related changes or an employee without pay; and offer direct deposit. In addition, the company's mobile app allows employees to view their pay stubs and request time off. Paycor also offers time and attendance, human resources and benefits solutions. paycor.com

Paylocity – Paylocity's cloud-based service, Web Pay, supports your online payroll and human resources needs. Web Pay features a paycheck calculator, quick data entry, online reporting, direct deposit, rate histories, dependent tracking and a company directory. The system also integrates with most retirement plans, general ledgers, and time and attendance applications. paylocity.com

PayLumina – PayLumina is a Web-based payroll system that offers PayNorthwest payroll customers a flexible, easy-to-use tool to manage and process payroll. PayLumina allows businesses to configure roles and permissions to control exactly who sees what information, create and save the reports you want, the way you want them and export your reports into common formats such as Excel, Word, PDF and HTML. It also has accrual, tax and reporting engines that make your payroll as accurate and complete as you require it to be. paynorthwest.com

PrimePay – PrimePay offers two types of payroll services: online and "hands-off." The online payroll is a web-based system that allows you to run payroll in three steps. With it, federal, state and local taxes are done for you and W-2's are automatically processed and filed. With the hands-off system, PrimePay runs every aspect of your payroll for you. In addition to its payroll services, the company offers time and attendance solutions, human resources and compliance services, insurance and benefits administration and credit card processing. primepay.com/payroll

ProHR+ – ProHR+ specializes in recruitment and talent management. For small and midsize businesses, it offers payroll and insurance setup, hiring, recruiting and outsourcing. ProHR+ also provides job listings, placement assistance and skills-matching services for job seekers. prohrplus.com

Sage – Sage is a provider of business management software and services to small and medium-size businesses. The company's payroll offerings include Sage Essentials, for businesses with less than 10 employees, and Sage Payroll Full Service. Sage Payroll Essentials provides unlimited processing, tax filing and direct deposit for a flat monthly price, while Sage Payroll Full Service allows you to outsource your work to Sage's payroll professionals. sage.com/us/sage-payroll-services

Square Payroll– Square Payroll is designed specifically for businesses with hourly employees. With this system, hourly employees can clock in and out from the register, and have their hours be automatically imported into the system. They can also set up direct deposit and access their pay stubs online. Square Payroll handles all of you state and federal payroll tax responsibilities, including all the necessary withholdings, payments and filings. Currently, the system is only available in California, Florida, Texas, Alaska, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota,Tennessee, Illinois, New York, Georgia and Arizona. squareup.com/payroll

*SurePayroll – SurePayroll is a payroll company that offers payroll tax services, accounting services and 401(k) plans for small businesses. The company also has specialized plans for household employers who employ a nanny, senior caregiver or landscaper. The system calculates your employee's wages, pays your employees and helps you stay compliant with payroll taxes and regulations. surepayroll.com. Read our full review here.

TelePayroll – TelePayroll provides a range of business services for both small and large companies. The company's small business payroll services allow businesses to submit payroll online, or by email, phone or fax; lets employees receive paper checks or direct deposit; and gives employees self-service access to their pay stubs and W2 forms. TelePayroll also collects and files taxes for any tax agency jurisdiction in the United States. telepayroll.com

TriNet – TriNet provides HR solutions to small and midsize businesses. Its bundled cloud-based HR products cover the core services of payroll, benefits and risk and compliance. TriNet's payroll services include payroll processing and administration with direct deposit and debiting; paperless payroll options; online payroll and billing reports; electronic W-2 preparation and delivery; QuickBooks integration; and the tracking and processing of paid time off. trinet.com

Below is a list of payroll companies that specialize in domestic or household employee payroll:

GTM Payroll Services – GTM Payroll Services offers two different household employer payroll options. The two packages are the same, except that with the EasyPay package, you can pay your employees via direct deposit or a printed check. With the other package, EasyTax, you write your own payroll checks each week. Other services included in both packages are electronic tax filings, the ability to track paid time off, a self-service portal for your employees and year-end tax services. gtm.com

HomePay by Breedlove – HomePay offers total payroll and tax filing management. The system calculates the precise withholdings each pay period and summarizes it for you in a preview email right before payday. You have the option to pay your household employees either by your own checks or direct deposit. The company keeps track of both your employees' tax withholdings and your accrued employer taxes. Prior to each federal and state tax deadline, the service files all required returns with the appropriate tax agencies on your behalf. HomePay also takes care of all your year-end tax obligations. myhomepay.com

HomeWork Solutions – HomeWork Solutions specializes in providing household employers and their tax preparers real solutions for nanny tax compliance. The service is designed for household employers with nannies, elder caregivers, housekeepers, maids and other household workers. HomeWork Solutions offers two payroll plans, one that pays your employees and files your taxes for you and another that files your taxes, but requires you to write your own checks each week. The company also offers background check services. homeworksolutions.com

NannyChex – NannyChex specializes in payroll and tax services for household employers. The company's service extends to all types of household employees, including nannies, elder care workers, housekeepers, gardeners and personal chefs. In addition to handling all of your payroll needs, NannyChex takes care of the quarterly and year-end taxes and forms you are required to file as a household employer. When working with NannyChex, you are provided with one point of contact that is familiar with you and your account. nannychex.com

Savvy Nanny Payroll Services– Savvy Nanny Payroll Services files and pays your employer taxes, makes pay stubs for your employees and offers direct deposit. The service sends you email reminders about weekly paydays and filing and payment deadlines, and integrates with QuickBooks. However, the service is not available in 22 states. savvynannypayrollservices.com

Are you a payroll service provider that would like to be added to this list and possibly be considered for our next round of reviews? Please feel free to contact Chad Brooks at cbrooks@purch.com.

Editor’s Note: Looking for a payroll service for your business? If you’re looking for information to help you choose the one that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

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Chad  Brooks
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.