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Best Payroll Services for 2016

To help you find the right payroll service, we researched and analyzed dozens of options. Here is a roundup of the online payroll services we think are best and an explanation of how we chose them.

  • 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

Want to take a step back and learn more about payroll services? See what experts advise in our guide to choosing a payroll service, and then come back here to see our best picks again.

Intuit Payroll provides small businesses with payroll 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 several separate plans that differ on the services included and price. Go here for a full review of Intuit's payroll service.

Gusto handles all payroll and payroll tax responsibilities for both W-2 employees and outside contractors. The cloud-based system is easy to use and offers a range of valuable features, including direct deposit, an "autopilot" tool, new-hire reporting and detailed payroll reports. The company also offers helpful customer service. Go here for a full review of Gusto's payroll service.

OnPay charges a very affordable monthly fee that includes payroll service for the first 10 employees. With OnPay, you can run unlimited payrolls and pay employees by direct deposit or checks. The online system is user-friendly and manages paid time off. Additionally, OnPay customer service reps are willing to help you every step of the way. Go here for a full review of OnPay's payroll service.

SurePayroll serves all types of household employees, including nannies, senior caregivers, yard workers, drivers and cooks. It. handles all of your payroll and tax obligations and guarantees that it will do it right. For one monthly fee, SurePayroll allows for unlimited payroll runs 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 household employees.

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

 

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To determine the best payroll services for 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-picks 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 20 payroll services to consider as best picks for our business categories. They were: ADP, AmCheck, APS, BenefitMall, Big Fish Payroll Services, Fuse Workforce Management, Gusto, Intuit, IOIPay, MyPayrollHR, OnPay, Patriot Software, Pay USA, Paychex, Paycor, Paylocity, Payroll On A Budget, Sage, SurePayroll and Wagepoint. (See full list of payroll services and their websites below.)

Next, we watched tutorials and how-to videos, read user comments, reviewed Better Business Bureau ratings and considered the pricing available on these services' websites. We also tested out services when we could. After narrowing down the list to 10 contenders, we contacted each company and posed as would-be business owners.

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

  1. Cost
  2. Tax services
  3. Ease of use
  4. Customer service
  5. Accounting software integration
  6. Incentives offered (free trials, free months, etc.)
  7. Tax guarantees
  8. Mobile accessibility
  9. Payroll reports
  10. Employee self-service
  11. Extra services offered, such as employee retirement plans or workers' compensation
  12. Better Business Bureau ratings and complaints

To determine the best payroll services for household employers, we used a methodology similar to the one we employed for our small business categories. However, we only considered SurePayroll and Intuit from the above list, because they had plans tailored specifically for household employers. 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 below for the full list of websites for payroll services organizations that specialize in household employees.)

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, which are marked with an asterisk.

ADP – ADP provides customized payroll solutions for businesses of all sizes. ADP offers multiple options for paying your employees, including electronic pay cards. With this system, you can integrate payroll functions with human resources management, benefits administration and time and attendance solutions from ADP. adp.com

Advantage Payroll Services – Advantage Payroll Services offers a wide variety 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 Payroll product allows businesses to manage their payroll needs online. The company offers direct-deposit and tax filing services at no additional charge. advantagepayroll.com

Alliance Payroll Services – Alliance Payroll Services'proprietary online software, AllPay, delivers paperless applicant tracking, onboarding, work opportunity tax credits, employee self-service, human resource management, benefit enrollment and payroll processing in a single database. alliancepayroll.com

Alpha Payroll Services – AlphaPayroll Services' single sign-on portal enables employees to easily review the status of their payroll account. The system is cloud-based and built on a .Net platform that uses SQL database technology. Alpha Payroll also offers HR support, timekeeping and workers' compensation services. alphapayroll.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

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 from anywhere there is an Internet connection. BenefitMall gives you the option of paying your employees through direct deposit or by printing your own checks. Additionally, employees have online access to their payroll information. The company also offers PayFocus + HR, which provides small businesses with a 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

CBIZ Flex-Pay Payroll Services – CBIZ Flex-Pay Payroll Services provides checks or direct deposit to employees in all 50 states. With this service you can call in, fax or email your payroll each period, or you can submit it online via a web-based system. Flex-Pay submits federal tax, federal unemployment tax, state tax and local tax withholdings information and files quarterly reports. The company also offers time and attendance and HR solutions. flex-pay.com/services/payroll

Checkmate Payroll – Checkmate Payroll provides payroll services and files taxes in accordance with state and local requirements in more than 40 states. The company's system allows businesses to check their payroll information on the go and compare it against the last payroll period to ensure that figures are correct prior to processing. Services include direct deposit, payroll alerts, automated reciprocity tax withholding and year-end tax form processing. checkmatepayroll.com

Client Solutions Group – Client Solutions Group's online management system provides the ability to collect and store data that's needed for hourly and salaried payrolls. With the system, businesses can create and review payrolls from any location that has an Internet connection, process and preview payroll in real time and provide employees with secure online access to paychecks and W2 and 1099 forms. client-solutions-group.com/online-payroll

Coastal Human Resource Group – Coastal Human Resource Group's (CHRG) online payroll service allows you to submit all payroll information via the web. Payments can be made by direct deposit or paper checks that are printed by CHRG and delivered in time for your designated payday. The service also handles all 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

Diamond Payroll – Diamond Payrollprepares payroll checks, direct deposits or pay cards for employees; prepares check registers; prepares and submits federal and state payroll taxes; prepares and submits year-end W-2s and W-3 tax forms and tracks employee vacation hours. diamondpayrollservices.com

DM Payroll Services – DM Payroll Services serves businesses of all sizes. The company's payroll solution features employee self-service, paperless payroll, payroll processing and garnishments, tax filing services, remote check printing, check calculation and funding notification. DM Payroll Services also offers HR and time and attendance solutions. dmpayroll.com

Fuse Workforce Management – Fuse Workforce Management unites time and attendance management, human resources management and payroll into one system. The payroll module puts you in complete control of your payroll and 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 accounts. The system integrates with accounting software, time and attendance solutions and human resources systems. gusto.com. Read our full review here.

Harpers Payroll Services – Harpers Payroll Services is a full-service payroll provider that files taxes in all 50 states and offers direct deposit to any ACH-participating financial institution in the country. Services include paperless payroll, workers' compensation, automatic issuing of company checks, mandated tax payment to federal and state agencies, new-hire reporting, electronic wage reporting and complete quarterly and annual tax filings. harperspayroll.com

Heartland Payroll – Heartlandprovides employee payroll services to businesses of all sizes. The company features payroll processing anytime with instant online access to all payroll data and employee information. Plus, it uses the latest encryption technology to ensure that all business and employee data stays safe. heartlandpaymentsystems.com

Insperity – Insperity offers full-service HR for businesses with between 10 and 5,000 employees. The company offers services for payroll, benefits and hiring, as well as numerous management and planning tools. The company's payroll service features employee self-service, technology that makes it easy to track and calculate garnishments and alerts that warn you of potential errors before final processing. insperity.com

Integrated Payroll Services – Integrated Payroll Services is an independent and family-owned payroll company. Services include online payroll, direct deposit, employee self-service, tax filings and workers' compensation. The company also develops customized reports to fit each client's needs. integrated-payroll.com

*Intuit – Intuit offers three separate payroll plans for small businesses. The first plan only includes running payroll, while the second also includes some tax services. With the third, full-service package, Intuit sets up, runs and files your payroll and taxes for you. Intuit also offers packages that combine payroll services with its QuickBooks Online accounting software. payroll.intuit.com. Read our full review here.

IOIPay – IOIPay is a cloud-based platform that serves employers of any size. Services include payroll processing, employee self-service, tax credit services, payroll tax filing and payroll reports. ioipay.com

JetPay – JetPay is a payment services provider with solutions for credit card processing, payroll processing and prepaid cards. JetPay's payroll services offer customized payroll and tax-filing solutions. The company also offers comprehensive business services, including human resource management, time and attendance, 401(k) plan administration, and benefits tracking and sign-up. jetpay.com

Jumpstart:HR – Jumpstart:HR is an "all-in-one" human resources partner for small businesses that provides 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. Specific services include payroll administration, HR consulting, leadership development and background checks. jumpstart-hr.com

Kelly Payroll – Kelly Payroll is a subsidiary of Kelly & Associates Financial Services. Kelly Payroll integrates online payroll services with beneļ¬ts information. Through a single point of entry, employers and their employees have access to payroll and benefits information whenever they need it. Kelly's benefits integration technology automatically updates payroll deductions to coincide with any changes or modifications that are made in the benefits administration system. kellyway.com/payroll

MMC HR – MMC creates comprehensive, customized HR solution 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 24/7 personalized support, 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 manage every aspect of your payroll and benefits, including online pay stubs, payment management, 401(k) plan administration and workers' compensation. In addition, the company's team of tax specialists reviews individual payroll accounts and handles all tax payments and reporting needs on the state, local and federal levels. Employees can log in and view pay stubs from any Internet-connected computer. thesba.com/payroll-services

Oasis Outsourcing – Oasis Outsourcing 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 companies can choose an hourly pay-per-use structure, while larger organizations 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 that 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 that are 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 that has an Internet connection. Patriot Software also offers time and attendance and HR solutions. patriotsoftware.com/payroll/software

Payright Payroll – Payright Payroll offers tailored payroll solutions for businesses of all sizes. Services include basic payroll processing and integrated solutions that incorporate payroll processing, human resources, time and attendance, and employee benefits. Payroll information can be entered via Payright's Evolution software or by phone, fax or email. The company also handles all payroll tax responsibilities. payrightpayroll.com

PaySmart – PaySmart offers a complete spectrum of payroll services to small and medium-size businesses. The company provides hands-on solutions for payroll processing on a weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Services include direct deposit, payroll reports, new-hire reporting, tax filing and payments, benefit accrual tracking and reporting, and pay-as-you-go workers' compensation. paysmartpa.com

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 Flex. The cloud-based Paychex Flex features payroll tax services, employee self-service, mobile access and 24/7 support. Paychex also offers human resources, employee benefits, 401(k) plan administration and insurance services. 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 has accrual, tax and reporting engines that make your payroll accurate and complete. paynorthwest.com

Precision Payroll of America – Precision Payroll of America offers businesses the ability to custom build a payroll process that best suits their needs. The company handles all payroll and tax administration responsibilities. Precision Payroll also offers human resources, time and attendance and administrative services. precisionpayroll.com

Premier Payroll Services – Premier Payroll Services is part of a national network of payroll providers that use software that is developed and maintained by Pay Choice. Services include payroll checks, direct deposit, quarterly tax returns, electronic reports, check signing and stuffing, new-hire reporting and vacation and sick accruals. In addition, the company files W-2s, W-3s and 1099 forms on your behalf. premiernow.com

PrimePay – PrimePay offers two types of payroll services: online and "hands-off." The online payroll service 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-2s 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+ – Pro HR+ provides full-service payroll management customized to your needs. Payroll services include the calculation, printing and delivery of payroll checks, direct deposit and paid-time-off management. ProHr+ also handles all payroll tax obligations, including the calculation and deposit of employer and employee taxes and the filing of all tax forms. prohrplus.com

Pro iPay – Pro iPay from ProData is a single-platform, fully hosted, web-based, real-time solution. It integrates HR and time and labor data into the payroll process, streamlines review and approval processes and eliminates the need for manual imports of third-party data. Pro iPay's fully scalable infrastructure can be customized to your specifications, from small clients to large corporations with multiple locations and departments. prodataontheweb.com/products-services/payroll/pay

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 fee, 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 state and federal payroll tax responsibilities, including all the necessary withholdings, payments and filings. Currently, the system is only available in Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. squareup.com/payroll

*SurePayroll – SurePayroll is a payroll company that offers payroll tax services, accounting services and 401(k) plan administration for small businesses. The company also has specialized payroll 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 tax rules 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 information 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 W-2 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

Wagepoint – Wagepointis a simple and fast online payroll solution for small businesses across North America. Wagepoint can handle direct deposits, government reporting and all year-end reporting for either salaried or hourly employees and contractors. wagepoint.com

Wave – Wave offers integrated software and tools for small businesses, including payroll services. The payroll solution features payroll reminders, direct deposit options as well as check printing, year-end tax filings and an employee self-service portal for pay stubs and W-2 forms. waveapps.com/payroll

A list of payroll companies that specialize in household employee payroll processing follows:

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 with your own checks or via 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 on your behalf with the appropriate tax agencies. 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, caregivers for seniors, housekeepers, maids and other household workers. HomeWork Solutions offers two payroll plans: one that pays employees and files 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 who is familiar with you and your account. nannychex.com

Savvy Nanny Payroll Services – Savvy Nanny Payroll Services files and pays your employer taxes, creates pay stubs for your employees and offers direct deposit. The service sends email reminders about paydays and payment deadlines. In addition, it integrates with QuickBooks. The service is currently only available in 26 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 Jeanette Mulvey at jumlvey@purch.com

Editor's Note: Looking for information on payroll systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact 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.