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Best Payroll Services for 2022

By
Jamie Johnson
,
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
| Updated
Nov 03, 2022

We've conducted extensive research to find the best payroll service providers for small businesses in 2022, including solutions for sole proprietors and household employers.
Best for Small Businesses
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Well equipped for startups
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Straightforward, affordable pricing
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Employee self-service features
Best for Same-Day Direct Deposit
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Automate payroll services
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Next- and same-day direct deposit
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Tax penalty protection
Best for Added HR Services
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Comes with payroll and HR services
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Access to HR experts for guidance
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Ensures compliance
Best for Employee Self-Service
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Robust employee portal
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Comprehensive HR tools
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Benefits administration
Best for Growing Businesses
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Ideal for scaling companies
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Manages payroll and HR tasks
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Software grows with your business
We've conducted extensive research to find the best payroll service providers for small businesses in 2022, including solutions for sole proprietors and household employers.

The Best Payroll Providers


  • The right payroll processing software ensures employees and contractors are paid correctly and on time.
  • Online payroll software helps companies automate payroll, file quarterly and annual taxes, and make better business decisions.
  • As your business grows, your payroll needs will change, so it’s a good idea to look for software that can scale with your business.
  • This best picks page is for small business owners looking to simplify payroll and pay their employees and contractors quickly. 

Payroll is one of the largest expenses businesses incur, and managing it can be frustrating for everyone involved. Frequent payroll errors are time-consuming to fix and can cause employee satisfaction to plummet. That’s why many small businesses turn to online services for processing payroll.

Online payroll services allow you to automate your payroll and simplify tax filings. But with so many payroll providers to choose from, it’s hard to know which vendor is the right choice for your business. That’s why we researched more than 70 top payroll companies to identify the best providers.

Find the Right Online Payroll Service for Your Business

Fill out this questionnaire to find vendors that meet your needs.
Payroll software Editor’s score Best use case Free rrial Starting price Third-party integrations Mobile app
OnPay 97/100 Best for small businesses Yes $40/month + $6/month per person Yes No
Gusto 94/100 Best for added HR services No $40/month + $6/month per person Yes No
ADP 93/100 Best for growing businesses No Custom pricing Yes Yes
Rippling 94/100 Best for ease of use No $8/month per user + custom pricing Yes Yes
Paychex 91/100 Best for businesses of all sizes No $39/month + $5/month per person Yes Yes
Intuit Quickbooks Payroll 95/100 Best for same-day direct deposit Yes $45/month + $5/month per person Yes Yes
Paycor 90/100 Best for employee self-service Yes $99/month + $5 per employee Yes Yes
Deluxe 93/100 Best for integration capabilities No $45/month Yes Yes
Square Payroll 95/100 Best for tax filing No $35/month + $5/month per user Yes Yes
Papaya Global 90/100 Best for companies with a global workforce No $20/month per employee Yes No
Remote Payroll 90/100 Best for onboarding employees and contractors No $299/month per employee Yes No

Our Reviews

OnPay Payroll Software: Best for Small Businesses

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OnPay provides straightforward pricing for small businesses.
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Businesses can run payroll an unlimited number of times.
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OnPay doesn't offer a mobile app.
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OnPay is a user-friendly payroll solution that caters to small businesses and startups. You can pay employees via direct deposit or paper check. Best of all, the software allows you to run payroll an unlimited number of times, which is helpful for businesses that run payroll weekly or routinely pay contractors for projects.

Editor’s Score: 97/100

You can use the OnPay software to add employees to your payroll, set statuses, run payroll and manage paid time off (PTO). The platform comes with a payroll tax and benefit deduction withholding system and offers payroll tax preparation. The company will cover the cost of any fines due to errors in your filings or payments.

OnPay has one all-inclusive package that incorporates HR tools: The cost is $40 per month, plus $6 per month per employee. Under this model, freelancers do count as employees, so you’ll be charged for any 1099 payments you make.

In 2021, OnPay upgraded its reporting capabilities to allow users to create custom expense reports. The reporting tool includes the ability to add up to 50 data points to key reports, reorder columns to emphasize important data and save multiple views for different company stakeholders. This is valuable for tracking business finances and making informed decisions.

Read OnPay Payroll Software Review

Intuit QuickBooks Payroll: Best for Same-Day Direct Deposit

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QuickBooks has a variety of plans at a wide range of price points.
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The payroll software fully integrates with the QuickBooks accounting software.
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Not all plans come with an error-free tax guarantee.
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QuickBooks Payroll provides small businesses with scalable payroll services that easily integrate with the QuickBooks accounting software. QuickBooks’ payroll features are available in multiple packages that vary due to add-ons, but each includes unlimited payroll runs, automatic tax forms, a workforce portal, payroll reports, and free next- or same-day direct deposit.

Editor’s Score: 95/100

You can run payroll in all 50 states for employees at varying pay grades, and the software can handle garnishments and tax withholding. QuickBooks Payroll can be accessed on various devices, including through an iOS and Android mobile app.

Businesses can also use QuickBooks Payroll for health benefits administration and HR support, depending on the plan. Its “Tax Penalty Protection,” in which the vendor promises to reimburse you up to $25,000 if you incur any fines or interest charges due to inaccurate tax filings, is only available with the Elite package.

Read Intuit Quickbooks Review

Gusto Payroll Software: Best for Added HR Services

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Gusto offers comprehensive HR services with access to HR experts.
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Flexible pricing plans are available.
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The per-person pricing can get expensive for large businesses.
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You can use Gusto to manage your payroll and tax responsibilities for W-2 employees and 1099 contractors. The cloud-based software is easy to use and comes with direct deposit, new-hire reporting and detailed payroll reports.

Editor’s Score: 94/100

Plus, if you invest in one of the higher-priced plans, you’ll have access to a wide variety of HR tools and features. For instance, you can receive personal guidance from certified HR experts, who can ensure your business stays compliant.

Gusto has four tiers of service, with the Simple plan starting at $40 per month, plus $6 per employee per month. The variety of packages means the software can grow with your business, and you can add on more features as you’re ready.

Gusto also handles tax registration for employees in all 50 states, and the software can facilitate contractor payments in more than 80 countries. These features provide support to businesses with remote employees or companies that bring on contractors.

Gusto makes running payroll easy and requires minimal training to become proficient with the platform. To run payroll, all you need to do is log in, click the “Run Payroll” tab and provide the requested information. When this is complete, simply click “Submit Payroll,” and your employees (or contractors) will be paid.

Read Gusto Payroll Software Review

Paycor: Best for Employee Self-Service

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Paycor has a robust self-service portal where employees can confirm their information and check their compensation.
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Paycor streamlines payroll tax preparation and ensures employers meet deadlines.
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The plans are more expensive than what other payroll providers charge.
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Editor’s Score: 90/100

Paycor offers easy-to-use online payroll software that comes with a comprehensive employee self-service portal. This portal can be used to review compensation data and update personal or financial information. Employees can also use the portal to request paid time off, monitor their payments, review their benefits and access their pay stubs.

Paycor has four plans, each with a flat monthly base rate and per-employee fee. Here is an overview of each of the packages.

  • Basic: The Basic plan is $99 per month, plus $5 per employee per month. It comes with payroll processing, payroll tax filing, PDF reports, access to the Paycor mobile app, and employee self-service for wage garnishment and child support information.
  • Essential: The Essential plan is $149 per month, plus $7 per employee per month. It expands on the Basic plan with PTO requests and manager approvals, new-hire onboarding and tax filing, and compliance checklists and templates.
  • Core: The Core plan is $199 per month, plus $8 per employee per month. It comes with everything offered in the first two plans, plus HR and career management services.
  • Complete: The Complete plan is $199 per month, plus $14 per employee per month. It adds advanced analytics and data benchmarking, integrations with 401(k) providers, and dedicated account manager support.

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ADP Payroll Software: Best for Growing Businesses

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ADP is one of the largest and most trusted payroll providers.
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ADP can support your business at every stage of growth.
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You'll need to get a custom quote to find out specifics about pricing.
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ADP’s Run is a scalable payroll platform that provides all the tools and features businesses need to process payroll and pay associated taxes. ADP works well for companies across all industries and is a particularly good option for businesses with complex needs.

Editor’s Score: 93/100

The company facilitates payroll for small, midsize and large businesses. If you have fewer than 50 employees, there are four different plans available, but ADP customizes pricing and does not reveal costs upfront. Companies can access additional features like an employee self-service portal, direct deposit payments and onboarding tools. The advanced plans can include HR support, background checks, employee training and the ability to post job openings on ZipRecruiter.

You can run payroll on your desktop computer, on your mobile device or over the phone. ADP automatically calculates an employee’s paycheck based on their wages and time off, which saves you time and reduces the likelihood of error.

Read ADP Payroll Software Review

Paychex Payroll: Best for Businesses of All Sizes

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Paychex offers multiple payment methods for employees.
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The company provides flexible payroll schedule options.
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Businesses on a tight budget may find Paychex too expensive.
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Paychex is a payroll service that’s a great option for businesses of all sizes. The company offers weekly, biweekly, semimonthly and monthly payroll schedules.

Editor’s Score: 91/100

Paychex can accommodate all types of workers, including full-time and part-time employees, 1099 contractors, and freelancers. Team members can choose to receive their paycheck as a direct deposit, paper check or prepaid debit card.

You can manage your payroll with the computer software or the Paychex mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android devices. To run payroll, you just need to enter the necessary information and submit it for processing. The self-service feature allows employees to log in to the system and view their pay stubs and year-end tax documents.

Paychex offers three packages that start at $39 per month. The most basic plan includes payroll processing and tax preparation services, while the more advanced plans come with garnishment payment and onboarding services.

Read Paychex Payroll Review

Rippling: Best for Ease of Use

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The software has an easy-to-use and intuitive interface.
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Rippling offers hundreds of integrations.
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Pricing isn't transparent beyond the per-employee rate.

Rippling’s online payroll software has a user-friendly interface and requires little training for new users. The software works with hundreds of third-party applications to improve your payroll process, tax preparation and other business operations. The payroll process is so simple that you can run it in as little as 90 seconds.

Editor’s Score: 94/100

The software tracks important metrics like total hours worked per employee, paid time off and labor expenses. You can set up direct deposits directly in Rippling or give employees paper checks. The software automatically deducts an employee’s tax withholdings based on their filing status.

Rippling advertises a price of $8 per person per month but requires custom quotes for the base fee. The vendor also requires all payroll customers to be on its workforce platform, Rippling Unity, which houses all data related to payroll, onboarding, benefits administration, and time and attendance.

The system automatically compiles the necessary data for payroll tax preparation and automatically identifies applicable local, state and federal forms. You can then file and remit payments directly through Rippling. If your business operates across national borders, Rippling offers international payment support.

Read Rippling Review

Deluxe: Best for Integration Capabilities

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Deluxe's full-service payroll is backed by a dedicated customer service team that can optimize your processes.
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Deluxe handles all implementation and configuration, ensuring it's done correctly.
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There are no free trials to test the software.

With Deluxe’s easy-to-use payroll software, payroll can be completed in just three simple steps. The software allows you to adjust pay for fractions of hours worked, and you can issue paper checks or direct deposit payments.

Editor’s Score: 93/100

Deluxe interfaces with dozens of third-party software providers, including accounting software and point-of-sale (POS) systems. The integration process includes seamless data migration. By connecting Deluxe with the various business software you use to run your company, you can streamline operations, easily share data and better manage your organization.

As a Deluxe customer, you’ll have access to a dedicated customer service team that can offer tax advice and general guidance. These reps can ensure you’re tax compliant and help you find ways to save time and money on your reporting and filing processes. Even with this consultative approach, the vendor has simple pricing plans: $45 per month, plus $7 per employee per month, for its Payroll + HR Essentials package and $45 per month, plus $14 per employee per month, for its Payroll & HR Enhanced package.

Deluxe’s Microsoft partnership means its services can be accessed via Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. This all-in-one solution is meant to simplify your business software needs via a single platform.

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Square Payroll: Best for Tax Filing

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Square is user-friendly and intuitive, requiring minimal training.
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Square combines payroll data with applicable tax rules to ensure compliance and helps you meet filing deadlines.
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The vendor requires you to set up your own third-party software integrations.
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You may know Square as a payment processing platform, but the company also offers an online payroll service. Square Payroll is easy to use and has all the features we looked for in a payroll software company.

Editor’s Score: 95/100

You can use Square Payroll to process payroll for W-2 employees and 1099 contractors accurately and on time. The software automatically prepares necessary tax forms based on the information that’s already in your system.

Customer service is available via phone, email and live chat. The live chat tool is built directly into the software and allows you to contact payroll specialists, who understand how to optimize payroll processes.

Square can integrate with the best time and attendance systems as well as POS software. The system tracks employee hours automatically, and when it comes time to process payroll, you can pay employees using their Square balance rather than their bank account.

There is no contract requirement for Square Payroll. Pricing plans start at $35 per month, plus $5 per employee per month. Alternatively, there is a contractors-only option, which allows you to pay 1099 contractors for $5 per payment with no monthly base fee.

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Papaya Global: Best for Companies With a Global Workforce

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Papaya Global can run payroll in more than 160 countries.
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The company ensures your business stays compliant in different countries.
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The HR services aren't as robust as what other payroll providers offer.
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If you plan to expand your business globally, Papaya Global is a great option for payroll processing. The vendor can run payroll in more than 160 countries for all types of employment. That’s why it’s used by large brands like Microsoft, Toyota and Shopify.

Editor’s Score: 90/100

The company’s employer of record service ensures that you stay compliant with the various employment laws in all the countries where you have workers. Papaya Global will even help you secure short-term or long-term work permits for employees outside their home countries.

Papaya Global doesn’t charge a base fee for running payroll; the payroll package simply costs $20 per employee per month. But if you need to use the company as your global employer of record, it costs $650 per month.

Papaya Global is best for businesses looking to expand internationally. If you run a small business and don’t need global payroll tools, the software may come with many features that won’t be beneficial for your organization.

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Remote Payroll: Best for Onboarding Employees and Contractors

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Remote offers payroll solutions for a distributed, global workforce.
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The platform comes with a seamless onboarding process for employees and contractors.
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Customer support is only available via email or through the company's Help Center.

Remote Payroll is an all-in-one payroll provider for businesses with an international workforce. The company is compliant in more than 60 countries and even offers country-specific benefits packages.

Editor’s Score: 90/100

There are a variety of plans available depending on whether you want to use the software to manage contractors, a remote workforce or a global payroll. The standard solution comes with an employee self-service portal, HR library, new-hire reporting and analytics.

You can also use Remote Payroll as your employer of record. If you choose this option, the company will manage the local payroll, taxes and benefits for you to ensure your business stays compliant in various countries. The employer of record service costs $599, while you need to contact the vendor for a global payroll quote.

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Payroll Software Costs

Online payroll providers typically have a monthly or per-payroll cost structure. With monthly plans, you pay a base fee and a per-employee fee. Base fees typically range between $30 and $150 per month, and per-employee fees often range from $5 to $15 per month.

With a monthly fee structure, you can usually run payroll as often as you like for one flat fee. With a per-payroll fee structure, companies may charge you anywhere from $10 to $100 per payroll run, plus per-employee fees of $2 to $15 per month. In addition, some providers charge extra for year-end tax services and the initial setup.

A few online payroll services offer a free trial, giving you the chance to try out the software for at least one payroll run to see if it meets your needs. Fortunately, even if you can’t get a free trial, several vendors will let you cancel your contract at any time.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: Most online payroll services charge a monthly base fee of $30 to $150 per month, plus per-employee fees of $5 to $15 per month.

Payroll Software Features

Payroll services offer a variety of features and tools that streamline payroll processing for small businesses. Here are some of the most valuable features to look for when considering payroll companies.

  • Unlimited payroll processing: Some payroll services allow you to run payroll as many times as you want each month. This gives you the freedom to determine the pay periods that make the most sense for your employees. This flexibility also lets you pay independent contractors whenever they complete a project without paying extra for additional payroll runs.
  • Payment options: Most online payroll services allow you to pay employees by direct deposit, paper checks and prepaid debit cards (also known as pay cards).
  • Payroll tax: Online payroll services determine how much your business owes in payroll taxes. They’ll also complete and file the paperwork with the appropriate federal, state and local tax agencies, and make the required payments on your behalf.
  • Year-end tax forms: Payroll services prepare all of the necessary year-end tax forms for your workforce and provide them to your employees and independent contractors.
  • PTO management: Some payroll services handle some or all of your PTO management. This can include tracking how much PTO employees earn and use, as well as allowing employees to request time off and managers to approve or deny those requests.
  • Employee self-service: Payroll software typically has an online portal that employees can access to view their pay stubs and year-end tax forms.
  • New-hire reporting: Many payroll services can complete and file the required paperwork each time you hire a new employee. These documents need to be filed in the state where your business operates.
  • Mobile access: Most payroll services provide a dedicated mobile app or a mobile-friendly website, ensuring the platform is accessible from smartphones and tablets.
  • HR services: In recent years, many payroll vendors have started offering additional HR services, like onboarding tools, employee benefits management and HR compliance. Additionally, some payroll companies give your business access to dedicated HR professionals who can help you navigate HR issues.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: Most payroll software comes with unlimited payroll processing, the ability to pay employees in multiple ways, assistance with year-end tax forms, PTO management, employee self-service and mobile access. It is increasingly common to be able to use a payroll service for other HR needs too.

Choosing Payroll Software

If you’re ready to choose the right online payroll software for your small business, here are the steps to get started.

1. Determine Your Business’s Needs

When choosing an online payroll service for your small business, there are several factors to consider. For most companies, budget will play a big role in figuring out which provider to go with. What can your organization afford to spend on payroll processing and assorted services? What features can you live without and which are absolute necessities?

Weigh your different priorities. Is next-day deposit important to you? Is it more vital than other functions? Does your business need a platform that includes additional HR services? Make a list of everything you want your payroll software to help you accomplish so you can look for providers that meet your company’s needs.

2. Research Potential Vendors

Once you know what specific features you’re looking for in a payroll software provider, you can compile a list of potential vendors. From there, you can review the features each vendor offers and get a sense of where each one stands out or falls short. Compare each system against your list of desired functions, and remove from consideration the platforms that don’t align.

Once you’ve narrowed your list down to just a couple of options, it can help to schedule demos with these providers. During a demo, you can see how the software works and ask the sales team pertinent questions. For instance, can you run payroll as often as you want each month? Does the package come with a mobile app and an employee self-service portal? You should also evaluate how intuitive and easy it is to use the program. The platform’s interface should be simple to understand and allow you to run payroll in a matter of minutes.

Make sure you fully comprehend how the provider’s pricing works and what you can expect to spend each month. For instance, many payroll providers charge a base fee along with an additional per-employee fee. What structure do they use? And be sure to ask if there are any setup charges or fees for additional payroll runs.

Finally, you should look into what kind of customer service the company provides. How is the payroll provider rated by the Better Business Bureau, and how many customer complaints are there? Is there phone, email and chat support, or are you limited to just one of those options? The answers to these questions should further narrow down your prospects.

3. Make Your Selection

After you’ve weighed the pros and cons of each provider, you can identify your top options and begin the sign-up process with your most preferred vendor. See if you can negotiate the price, and always ask if any discounts are available. Once you’ve chosen the software that’s best for your business, you can move forward with the setup phase.

Advantages of Payroll Software

Here are some of the biggest advantages of using payroll software.

  • Increased efficiency: Using a comprehensive payroll platform means you don’t have to hire someone in-house to handle all of your business’s payroll needs.
  • High ease of use: The software does most of the heavy lifting for you. It calculates pay amounts, withholds the proper deductions and automatically distributes payments based on the method chosen.
  • Ensured tax compliance: Payroll companies also take care of tax filings and payments for you, ensuring you meet your legal obligations. Most offer a tax guarantee, so if the payroll service makes a mistake when filing or paying your taxes, it will fix the problem and pay any fines you incur.
  • Reduced expenses: The best payroll software can save your company money by streamlining tax preparation. It can also help you cut costs by running more accurate payrolls and, if you go entirely digital, eliminating the need for paper documents.
  • Reliable processing: Payroll software is the most reliable way you can run payroll each week. If you set up automatic payroll, it will run without you having to do anything. But even if you choose to operate it manually, the system can still send you reminders each week. This ensures employees are paid accurately and on time.
  • Wide accessibility: If your payroll software has a self-service app, employees can easily access any details they need. All they have to do is log in to the app to see their pay stubs, W-2s and direct deposit information. Similarly, you’ll be able to monitor payroll while on the go.

Did you know?Did you know?: In addition to determining whether you should pay employees hourly or on a salary basis, you need to figure out whether they are classified as exempt or nonexempt.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about payroll software and services.

What is online payroll software?

Online payroll software, also known as online payroll services, is cloud-based software you can use to process payroll and onboard new employees. Most online payroll software is easy to use and allows you to run payroll in minutes.

What is unique about comprehensive payroll companies?

What’s unique about comprehensive payroll companies is that in addition to managing your business’s payroll, they also handle your company’s payroll taxes, manage employees’ paid time off, provide new-hire reporting and facilitate workers’ compensation insurance. They may also offer HR management, benefits administration, time and attendance services, and 401(k) programs. [Learn about taxable fringe benefits and how they relate to wages.]

Why are payroll services important for small businesses?

Payroll services are important for small businesses because most small companies don’t have a dedicated HR team that knows the ins and outs of running payroll. Instead, they can rely on payroll companies to manage these tasks for them. These services ensure employees are paid correctly each month and that payroll taxes are filed. By outsourcing these tasks, business owners can save money and time.

How do you set up payroll software?

To set up payroll software, you’ll start by connecting your business’s bank account to your payroll platform of choice and entering your employees’ pay rates and withholding information. Employees who want to be paid by direct deposit can enter their banking information in the system’s online portal. Once this information has been submitted, you can set your pay schedule and start processing payroll based on each team member’s pay rate and hours worked.

Do payroll service providers offer mobile applications?

Yes. Most payroll service providers offer mobile applications for iOS and Android devices. These apps typically allow administrators to run payroll, review past payroll runs and pay payroll taxes. Additionally, employees may be able to use the mobile apps to review their pay stubs, pay history and PTO accruals.

How long does it take to process payroll?

How long it takes to process payroll varies by provider, but many payroll services complete the process within two days. This means payroll administrators need to submit their final payroll numbers two days before payday.

Are there any free payroll software solutions?

There are several free payroll software solutions, which may be useful for businesses that are just getting started. Free payroll software can help you manage payroll taxes, wage garnishments and benefits deductions. However, when using a free service, you may have to sacrifice other valuable features, like dedicated customer support.

Tip: You can hire a certified public accountant (CPA) if you need help managing the collection and reporting aspects of payroll processing. Accountants can analyze your payroll and provide valuable guidance for your business.

What are unpaid payroll tax penalties?

Unpaid payroll tax penalties apply when an employer fails to pay the Internal Revenue Service the proper amount of payroll tax funds it owes. Failure to complete Form 941 or to provide proper documentation, like W-2s or 1099s, is another possible issue that could lead to penalties. To avoid fines, you need to ensure your payroll taxes are paid on time in the correct amount and that your company has filed all the required paperwork.

What is an example of a payroll tax?

An example of payroll tax is the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax. This is a mandatory payroll deduction that employers pay to the IRS to cover Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare for employees.

What is a pay period?

A pay period is the recurring length of time during which an employee’s wages are calculated for payment. Pay periods can be weekly, biweekly, semimonthly or monthly. To choose the best pay schedule for your business, weigh the pros and cons of each option.

Jamie Johnson
Jamie Johnson
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Jamie Johnson is a Kansas City-based freelance writer who writes about finance and business. She has also written for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Fox Business and Business Insider. Jamie has written about a variety of B2B topics like finance, business funding options and accounting. She also writes about how businesses can grow through effective social media and email marketing strategies.
Image Credit: AndreyPopov / Getty Images
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