After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend Intuit Payroll as our 2018 pick for the best online payroll service for small businesses. 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.
Why Intuit Payroll?
Service Plans and Cost
Part of Intuit's appeal is that its payroll services are available in three different plans, at three different price points. This gives businesses of varying budgets the ability to use this service. The three plans are:
- 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 pay for a year in advance, the base fee drops to $18.75 per month.
- Features and tax services: This package includes the ability to print instant paychecks for W-2 employees and 1099 workers, direct deposit, and live support.
- Overview: This plan 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 pay for a year in advance, the base fee drops to $29.25 per month.
- Features and tax services: It includes everything in the basic package, plus it calculates all federal and state payroll taxes. You are responsible for making all tax payments. The service automatically fills in all the federal and most state payroll-tax forms for you and gives you the option of electronically paying these taxes. Additionally, this plan includes email reminders for taxes and the ability to print W-2 forms for employees.
- Overview: It handles all payroll and payroll 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.
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QuickBooks Combo: 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 $37 and $44 per month for the first three months, plus $2 per employee. After three months, the price increases to between $74 and $89, depending on the version of QuickBooks Online you choose. Combining QuickBooks Online and the Full Service payroll package costs between $67 and $74 per month for the first three months, plus $2 per employee. After three months, the base fee price increases, with prices ranging from $134 to $149 per month. QuickBooks Online was our choice for the best accounting software for small businesses.
Ease of Use
Cloud-based: Intuit Payroll is a cloud-based service that has no software to install or maintain and can be accessed online from anywhere.
Online platform: The system has an easy-to-use platform that's clearly labeled and simple to navigate. All of the main sections have easy access tabs at the top of the home page. The To Do page highlights tasks that need to be completed and messages you've received, while the Payday tab is where you can create, approve, and print paychecks. There are additional tabs for taxes and forms, which is where you see all payroll-related tax forms and pay your taxes. You also have an employee tab, where you can add details, such as pay rate and schedule for each worker, and a reports tab where you can access detailed payroll and tax data.
Payroll processing: Running payroll consists of the same three-step process for all three plans. You start by 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 rates saved. The second step is to review the payroll info. You can see each employee's payroll details as well as your total costs. The last step is to click the Submit to Intuit link. The service confirms that it received the information and processes the payroll. Employees who have direct deposit are paid in two business days. Employers also have the option of printing checks from their offices.
Employee access: Employees can log into the online system to view their pay stubs, pay history and paid time off accruals.
Payroll reports: Intuit Payroll users can download a variety of reports, including payroll summaries, payroll details, employee details, tax payments, tax and wage summaries, tax liability, workers' compensation, total cost, and contractor payment details.
Unlimited payrolls: A benefit of Intuit is that each of its plans allows unlimited payroll runs for no extra charge. This gives businesses the option of paying employees every week, biweekly or monthly, all for the same price.
Free trial: Intuit offers a 30-day free trial period for all of its pricing plans.
QuickBooks integration: While most payroll services offer accounting software integration, Intuit's service works in tandem with QuickBooks Online by automatically syncing the two. Every time you run payroll, all of your payday info — including check amounts, state and federal taxes, and deductions — is automatically downloaded into your QuickBooks accounting software.
Customer support: 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 numerous times posing as a business owner interested in payroll services. Each time we contacted Intuit, a representative immediately answered our call. The Intuit representatives were extremely friendly and accommodating during our calls. They thoroughly answered our questions and left us with a clear understanding of the system and how it works.
Add-on services: 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 healthcare benefits. The only extra services it offers are workers' compensation plans, a time-tracking feature and a 1099 e-file service.
BBB complaints: Another potential negative is the large number of complaints filed against Intuit with the Better Business Bureau. As of February 2018, there had been 1,400 complaints filed against the company. Of those, only 502 were resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant. While the large number of complaints is concerning, it is important to note that 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, the BBB still rates Intuit as an A+ organization.
Ready to choose a payroll service? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:
- The Best Payroll Services 2018
- Payroll Service Buyer's Guide
- Best for Small Businesses
- Best for Sole Proprietors or S Corps
- Best for Very Small Businesses
- Best for Household Employers