Payroll Software

Get the best payroll software for your business. Compare product reviews, pricing below. Read our buyer’s guide for more help.

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Gusto Screenshot
Gusto is an all-in-one HR, payroll, and benefits software solution used by over 100,000 small businesses. The software lets you seamlessly run payroll, manage insurance benefits & retirement contributions, track time & PTO…
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$45/month
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
Patriot Software Screenshot
Patriot Software is an online accounting and payroll software solution for small businesses. The solution allows businesses to track money and pay employees with ease. The online accounting is designed to be used by the…
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$8/month
Client OS
Windows
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
QuickBooks Payroll Enhanced Screenshot
Pay employees right from QuickBooks, and get all your payroll tax forms are completed for you with Payroll Enhanced. QuickBooks Payroll provides 1099 E-File, workers compensation, labor law posters, employee benefits, direct…
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$36/month
Client OS
Windows
Deployment
On-Premises
OnPay Screenshot
OnPay is a small business payroll software that runs payroll, handles employment taxes, and handles basic HR tasks. Payroll can be ran in minutes and only requires you to input hours, tips, reimbursements, and bonuses. The…
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$36/month
Client OS
Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
Payroll4Free Screenshot
Payroll4Free.com is a forever free payroll software for small businesses (under 25 employees). The software lets you easily pay your employees and calculate taxes. You can also manage accrued vacation and create detailed…
Price Range
$ · · · ·
Starting Price
$12.50/month
Client OS
Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
Sage HRMS Screenshot
Sage Human Resource Management System (HRMS) is a complete on-premise tool that helps you improve HR policies and make smart decisions for your small to medium-sized business. Sage HRMS helps you elevate the level of service…
Price Range
$ $ $ · ·
Starting Price
$1,600 (perpetual license)
Client OS
Mac, Windows
Deployment
On-Premises
Paychex Flex Screenshot
Paychex Flex is an online payroll software that provides quick and easy payroll processing. Paychex Flex is a cloud-based platform providing an integrated suite of services that manages payroll, reporting, and employee data…
Client OS
Web, iOS, Android
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
ADP Payroll Solutions Screenshot
ADP offers a variety of solutions in accordance with your company size including: RUN Powered by ADP (For Small Businesses) and Features ;. ; ADP Workforce Now (For Medium & Large Businesses) and Features ;. ; ADP Vantage HCM…
Client OS
Web, iOS, Android
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
SurePayroll Screenshot
SurePayroll is the online alternative to ADP and Paychex. Offered is a full-service payroll solution you can access anywhere, anytime. Just visit one Web site every pay period to enter payroll information—SurePayroll takes…
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$34/month
Client OS
Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
Paycor Screenshot
Paycor is a human capital management (HCM) software that provides cloud-based onboarding, HR, payroll, and timekeeping software capabilities. Paycor’s HCM platform modernizes every aspect of manage the people in your…
Client OS
Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
Xero Screenshot
Xero
(3)
Xero is an online accounting solution for small businesses that is known for its ease of use. See your cashflow in real-time with online billing, banking and accounting. Just login anytime, anywhere. Free trial, pay nothing…
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$9/month
Client OS
Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
Wagepoint Screenshot
Wagepoint is an onine payroll software for small businesses to pay employees and independent contractors. Wagepoint also helps keep your business compliant with any payroll regulations in your jurisdiction. Wagepoint helps…
Price Range
$ · · · ·
Starting Price
$20/month
Client OS
Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
Paycom Screenshot
Paycom is an online payroll services and HR payroll software option that helps businesses streamline their employment processes from recruiting to retirement and everything in between. The Talent Acquisition, Time and Labor…
Client OS
Web, iOS, Android
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
Zenefits Screenshot
Zenefits is an HR software providing an integrated approach to HR, payroll, benefits, and time and scheduling. Zenefits helps streamline all things related to human capital management with their easy to use solution. Zenefits…
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$8/month/employee
Client OS
iOS, Android, Mac, Windows
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
UltiPro Screenshot
UltiPro unites all aspects of HR, payroll, and talent management into a complete human capital management functionality. The cloud-based product suite is designed to simplify work people to every day, and identify employees…
Client OS
iOS, Android, Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
Denali Payroll Screenshot
Why outsource payroll? Whether you have one employee or 1000, our payroll solution provides everything you need to pay employees, manage taxes, and support any number of standard or unique deductions. Features include: Any…
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$1,999 (perpetual license)
Client OS
Windows
Deployment
On-Premises
CenterPoint Payroll Screenshot
Whether you are currently outsourcing your payroll or using another payroll program, CenterPoint Payroll can help you gain better control of your payroll and also save you money and valuable payroll processing time. Some of…
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Client OS
Web, Windows
Deployment
Cloud or On-Premises
Paymate Clarity Screenshot
Clarity is an integrated Payroll, HR, Time and Attendance, and Employee Self Service software. Clarity is a comprehensive Integrated Payroll and Human Resources solution, ideal for medium and large sized businesses looking…
Price Range
$ $ $ · ·
Client OS
Web, Windows
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
PayDirt Payroll Screenshot
PayDirt Payroll is the best payroll solution for clients with difficult payrolls that require the distribution of wage and benefit expenses to multiple departments, or have many union-style benefits and deductions. PayDirt…
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$1,550 (perpetual license)
Client OS
Windows
Deployment
On-Premises
Easypay Payroll Screenshot
Easypay Payroll is a Canadian software product developed and supported in Canada. Easypay is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses. Easypay runs on Windows 10 / 8 / 7 / Vista / XP / 98 SE / 2000 / NT. The emphasis at…
Price Range
$ · · · ·
Starting Price
$399 (perpetual license)
Client OS
Windows

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Payroll Software Buyer’s Guide

Payroll software helps you not only write paychecks but calculate and track employee salaries, wages, bonuses, tax withholding, and deductions. Payroll software applications can centralize your key payroll data and make processing paychecks much more efficient. Printing employee paychecks and creating payroll reports can be a tedious, labor-intensive process, but with the right payroll software, it doesn’t have to be.

This guide provides information on the following topics:

What Is Payroll Software?

Payroll software is designed to manage all elements of executing employee compensation, including wage calculation, check printing or direct deposit, and payroll tax management. Payroll software remains the key financial focus of all HR software packages, and a necessary tool for payroll departments, or more broadly, human resources.

Payroll software calculates and tracks employee salaries, wages, bonuses, tax withholding, and deductions. It prints employee paychecks, provides reports to better manage employee pay records, and generates complete weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual payroll tax-related forms and reports.

Features of Payroll Software

  • Salary and wage calculation: Calculation of employee paycheck amounts based on hours worked, specified salary and wage rates, and any other contributing factors
  • Check printing: Print employee paychecks. Batch printing can offer efficiencies versus writing individual payroll checks
  • Paystubs: Provides detailed paycheck information covering items such as hours worked, salary/wage earned, deductions, tax withholdings, etc.
  • Deductions management: Allows for custom control over withholding funds from paychecks to cover taxes, benefits, garnishments, health insurance, retirement contributions, etc.
  • Multiple state tax tables: Support for all states varying tax rates
  • Overtime management: Pay overtime at alternate pay rates or allow for the accrual of vacation time based on overtime worked
  • Electronic payroll tax filing: Allow for the digital submission of payroll returns without requiring paper-based submissions
  • Employee self-service portal: Allow staff to check on paycheck data such as withholding settings, vacation accrued, tax forms, as well as enact changes without additional administrative support
  • Time tracking: Allow employees to report time (either in real-time or after-the-fact) for wage calculation purposes
  • Direct deposit: Allow for automatic deposit of payroll funds to employee bank accounts
  • Certified payroll: Ensures 3rd party verification of wage payments and confirms that wages are in accordance with prevailing wage standards

Benefits of Payroll Software

Critical business benefits of using effective payroll software include:

  • Reduced administrative effort, time, and cost of compensating employees through software automation features
  • Increased employee satisfaction based on accurate and timely payroll delivery
  • Easier observance of governmental requirements for payroll tax filing and remittance
  • Improved staff retention through the execution of compensation packages that reward employee performance

Compared to a manual payroll method, the following benefits are likely to remove the most frustration caused without a payroll system in place:

  • Automating Tasks with Payroll Software: Payroll software can assure your business accurately withholds taxes for employees and pays mandatory fees such as Worker’s Compensation. Once the initial information is inputted into the system, payroll software can automatically calculate figures and log them in the appropriate accounts. These actions make generating payroll a much simpler and quicker process than if trying to perform these duties manually.
  • Minimizing Errors and Saving Time: The two biggest advantages of using payroll software are speed and accuracy. Payroll systems have been proven to save time and increase efficiency, reduce errors, and save money and resources. Timely and accurate employee payment is critical to any business of any size. Late payment of withheld taxes can even result in substantial financial penalties.

What Payroll Software Does Your Business Need?

Whether your organization is a small business, a non-profit organization, or a multinational corporation, you must have an accurate and timely way to account for payroll expenses, withhold and pay government taxes, and generate the proper reports required by law. This, more often than not, means the implementation of payroll software into your accounting system. Without payroll software, the detailed elements involved with this task could quickly become overwhelming.

  • New buyers and small businesses: Small business owners will be looking for an easy and affordable way to pay their employees. The core functionalities included in a small business payroll system will be wage calculation, check printing, and deductions management.
  • Existing users desiring functions beyond core payroll: Buyers that already have a payroll solution in place, but are unsatisfied with the functionality, may desire additional features to meet their growing needs. If a business has enough employees, they may move away from printing pay stubs and look for an employee self-service portal. They may also desire a way to file payroll taxes electronically, and better manage employee benefits such as overtime accumulated.
  • Large companies: Larger employers will have more complex payroll processes. For example, companies with 500+ employees will likely need to have an entire department dedicated to processing their payroll for them. New regulations such as the Affordable Care Act have made accurate record keeping more important than ever before. Many recommended options will include solutions with a heavy human resource management side to it. This could include a tool that lets employees do anything from submit time off & PTO requests to managing 401k contributions.

Best Small Business Payroll Software

The perfect payroll system for your small business will be dependent on a number of factors. You’ll want to ensure the solution has the features a small business desires, on top of being able to appropriately process payroll for the volume of employees.

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Patriot Software
Patriot Software Screenshot
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$8/month
Client OS
Windows
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
What We Like
Low starting price
Easy to use
Does not require use of their accounting package
What We Don’t Like
No mobile app
Difficult to upload 3rd party time sheets
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OnPay
OnPay Screenshot
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$36/month
Client OS
Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
What We Like
Benefits and HR in all 50 states
Syncs with most accounting and time-tracking software
Direct deposit and debit card payment options
What We Don’t Like
For US companies only
Lengthy setup

Patriot Software offers a simple payroll solution that lets you run unlimited payroll, print checks or deposit pay directly into employees’ bank accounts, set pay schedules, and print W-2 forms. Staff can also use the employee portal to see their paystubs and access other payroll info they need.

The most attractive part of Patriot Software for small businesses is the price. The base price starts at $10/month with $4/month extra for each additional user.

OnPay is one of the top small business payroll solutions. The base package lets you assign tasks to your payroll staff, track deadlines, and can sync with your primary accounting solution such as QuickBooks or Xero. The online platform goes beyond payroll by providing benefits administration such as health insurance deductions and 401(k) contributions.

Best Free Payroll Software: Payroll4Free and Wave

Start-ups and small businesses looking to save by doing payroll in-house should look into free payroll software. Many solutions offer free trials of their paid versions, but these will only be temporary fixes to an ongoing issue. How do you pay your employees accurately at the lowest possible cost?

(1)
Payroll4Free
Payroll4Free Screenshot
Price Range
$ · · · ·
Starting Price
$12.50/month
Client OS
Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
What We Like
Forever free
Full featured
Employee portal
What We Don’t Like
Direct deposit services are $12.50/month
Outdated interface
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Wave
Wave Screenshot
Price Range
$ · · · ·
Client OS
Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
What We Like
Supports tax filing and compliance
Offers PayPal payment option
What We Don’t Like
Only pays 1099 employees (no W-2s)
Must use their accounting package

Payroll4Free is a forever free payroll solution. All basic services are free as long as you have less than 25 employees. Payroll4Free does have small ads placed inside the software in order to justify the program being free.

Features include paying employees and contractors, tax calculations and forms, and vacation time tracking. Direct deposit is available, however you’ll have to use your own bank to transfer direct deposit funds to your employees, or face a $12.50/month charge.

Wave is usually brought up in free accounting software discussions, but the software also includes free 1099 processing. Any payments being made to independent contractors can be used as a part of their core accounting package.

If you are looking to handle payroll for you W-2 employees, you’ll be looking at a $20/month base fee.

Best Online Payroll Software: Gusto and SurePayroll

Online (cloud-based) payroll software lets users log in from anywhere using a web-browser or mobile device. Benefits of online payroll software include lower upfront costs, cloud data backup, and automatic updates. They also commonly include user portals that let employees view paystubs online.

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Gusto
Gusto Screenshot
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$45/month
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
What We Like
Strong support network
Employee self-service
Includes benefits administration
What We Don’t Like
Limited time-off options
Hard to add sporadic allowances
SurePayroll
SurePayroll Screenshot
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$34/month
Client OS
Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
What We Like
Full-service payroll
Handles multiple payroll types (hourly, salary, bonuses)
What We Don’t Like
Dated design
Extra charge for W-2 and 1099 forms
Printing multiple paystubs is cumbersome

Gusto is one of the most widely used online payroll options. It’s payroll capabilities include deductions and filings, direct deposits, W-2s, and 1099s. It also includes additional HR features such as onboarding, benefits management, and time tracking with paid time off.

There are 3 plans available for Gusto that are dependent on the feature set your business needs. Advanced features available in higher plans include permissions, onboarding capabilities, time-off requests, and an employee directory with surveys.

SurePayroll provides easy online payroll services for small businesses. They offer a 100% tax filing guarantee for calculate, filing, and paying federal/state/local taxes. The software is easy to use and lets payroll staff easily handle deductions for 401(k), workers’ comp, health insurance, and pre-employment screening.

Best Payroll Software for Mac: CheckMark and Aatrix Top Pay

Mac users quickly learn that a large percentage of payroll solutions on the market are intended to be used on PCs or are web-based options. While online payroll software will work regardless of your operating system, many Mac users are looking for a stand-alone solution that does not require a web-browser and can be purchased for a one-time cost (no ongoing subscription).

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CheckMark Payroll
CheckMark Payroll Screenshot
Price Range
$ · · · ·
Starting Price
$429 (perpetual license)
Client OS
Windows, Mac
Deployment
On-Premises
What We Like
Low one-time cost
Support included
All features included in base package
What We Don’t Like
Difficult to make changes to checks
Intended for small businesses only
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Aatrix Top Pay for Macintosh
Aatrix Top Pay for Macintosh Screenshot
Price Range
$ · · · ·
Starting Price
$260/year
Client OS
Mac
Deployment
On-Premises
What We Like
Over 330 payroll reports
Simple integration with QuickBooks
Built-in time tracking via TimeCard"
What We Don’t Like
Must subscribe to their Tax Table Service
QuickBooks is the only accounting integration available

CheckMark Payroll offers both a Mac and Windows version that operate exactly the same, so you know the developers are paying equal attention to the solution. Automatic updates keep the software operating with the latest patches for enhancements, tax updates, bug fixes, and mroe.

The software provides a free trial and an easy transition into their paid package. Unlike many tiered software, CheckMark provides all available features with their base product. The difference between their Pro and Pro+ is the amount of included support.

Aatrix Top Pay for Mac has a rather robust feature set while still being rather easy to implement. This makes the program perfect for both small and large companies looking for a payroll software with a Mac-UI.

Aatrix Top Pay will work best if QuickBooks is your primary accounting software. They offer a 2-month free trial IF you are already na existing QuickBooks user, and posting payroll transactions is quick and easy.

Best Payroll Software for Accountants: Denali Payroll and CenterPoint Payroll

Offering payroll services to your clients can be a great way to create workload for your accounting firm. However, finding the right payroll software that can manage multiple companies can be challenging and downright confusing. The best payroll software for accountants will allows CPAs and bookkeepers alike the ability to access their client accounts to gather any needed details.

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Denali Payroll
Denali Payroll Screenshot
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$1,999 (perpetual license)
Client OS
Windows
Deployment
On-Premises
What We Like
Low cost
Tax tables for all 50 states
Easily handle multiple companies
What We Don’t Like
Designed to be used with their native accounting program
No client portal
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CenterPoint Payroll
CenterPoint Payroll Screenshot
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Client OS
Windows, Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
What We Like
Unlimited companies and employees
Employee portal for time clock
Easy e-filing option
What We Don’t Like
No report writer
Workers comp and garnishments are cumbersome to manage

Denali Payroll from Cougar Mountain Software is a mid-market solution capable of handling the payroll for companies with as few as 1 employee and as many as 1,000 employees. It can handle multiple compensation types such as hourly, salary, per-diem, contract, and more. It can also easily pay employees via direct deposit or check-printing methods.

For accountants just starting to provide payroll services for their clients, Denali Payroll has all the needed features and also lets you add on specifics if your payroll calls for it. The software easily handles multiple companies, letting users easily access the company they wish to process payroll for. Denali Payroll also offers tax tables for all 50 states.

CenterPoint Payroll from Red Wing Software is a great payroll choice for both small businesses and accounting firms that provide payroll services to their clients. Their platform operates both on-premise or as a cloud application, giving maximum flexibility. While the solution will work best alongside their accounting product, CenterPoint Payroll will work as a stand-alone product.

CenterPoint Payroll can also import time and attendance from most timeclock applications, even though it does offer that feature within the program. If you choose not to use the accounting software from Red Wing, the payroll journal entries can be exported to third-party solutions. This works great for an accoutant who provides payroll services to many clients using multiple accounting systems, such as QuickBooks or Xero.

Best Integrated HR and Payroll Software: Paymate Clarity and Zenefits

Since employee compensation is linked to closely to talent management and benefits administration, integrated HR and payroll software will provide a complete suite to manage payroll processing and other human resources tasks.

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Paymate Clarity
Paymate Clarity Screenshot
Price Range
$ $ $ · ·
Client OS
Windows, Web
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
What We Like
Fully-integrated HR
Included support/updates
Robust reporting
What We Don’t Like
Not a good fit for small businesses
Lengthy setup
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Zenefits
Zenefits Screenshot
Price Range
$ $ · · ·
Starting Price
$8/month/employee
Client OS
Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Deployment
Cloud Hosted
What We Like
Robust mobile application
Priced per employee
Add-ons allow for a custom bundle approach
What We Don’t Like
Difficult to learn quickly
Does not offer multiple job roles/pay rates
Compensation and performance management costs extra

Paymate Clarity is an integrated payroll and human resource solution. The core module is the payroll functionality, but the solution also has optional inclusions to manage HR tasks. This includes things such as time & attendance tracking, benefits administration management, disciplinary tracking, vacation/sick day entitlements, and more.

Paymate Clarity is best used by medium to large businesses due to the human capital management features it provides along with the advanced reporting.

Zenefits is an HR software first that includes payroll as an available add-on. This means the solution is strong in providing core HR capabilities such as hiring and onboarding, employee records, organizational charts, time and scheduling, and more.

To get payroll integrated into your Zenefits HR package, you’ll have to purchase the add-on for $6/month/employee. Currently there is no way to operate Zenefits as just a payroll option without at minimum signing up for their “Essentials” package of some core HR features.

Is QuickBooks a Good Payroll Software?

Payroll is an available add-on for Intuit’s QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online. It is also available as a standalone payroll option to use alongside an alternative accounting program.

QuickBooks Payroll is one of the least expensive options on the market, starting at $24/month plus $4/employee/month. It can also be billed annually for additional savings.

The below video from QuickBooks demonstrates how you can set up Payroll as a feature that integrates in with your accounting.

Common Pain Points Solved With Payroll Software

  • Software integration issues. Most would say the biggest desire for payroll programs is the level of automation it can provide your business. However, when your payroll solution is not speaking correctly to your accounting program or your timekeeping program, manual intervention will be needed. It may require an employee having to manually transfer the data into the appropriate program, which means a lot of hours spent doing data-entry rather than focusing on other work.
  • Incorrectly handling payroll taxes. Payroll systems will let you automatically deduct and pay payroll taxes for your employees. These funds are submitted to the government on their behalf. Withholding an amount incorrectly can be very burdensome for not just the employee who feels they are being paid the wrong amount, but also the employer who could be dealing with this potential issues for multiple employees, all at different pay rates. Many employers will struggle appropriating the correct annual taxes when an employee is placed on leave, which can require manual adjustments, and thus be at a risk for human error.
  • Compliance Risks. Businesses need to adhere to a number of local, state, and federal laws when processing payroll. These laws are affected by the number of employees and will effect how much tax is withheld, for example. You’ll also need to be up to date on the latest minimum wage laws and provide any periodic reporting required to the government to ensure compliance with wage laws.
  • Payroll Software vs Outsourcing Payroll. Before deciding which direction to take your business, you’ll need to analyze the skill set of your workers, the risk tolerance of your business, and the costs involved. It’s not as black and white as evaluating the cost of a software program to the cost of a payroll service. You’ll also need to make an educated decision on how valuable your time is, as running payroll in-house could take a staff member away from other tasks.
  • Payroll is the most requested add-on to accounting software. In a survey of over 3,000 accounting software projects, it was determined that over 25% of accounting software buyers required payroll to be an included functionality.
  • Cost savings come from hardware as well. Sometimes the benefits of payroll software processes go beyond the software itself. For example, it was recently found that biometric time clocks save $298 per employee annually.
  • Increase in payroll automation. In a 2016 study, 47% of employers responded that their payroll setup is automated.
  • Pay cards have grown in use for paying employees. Direct deposit still commands the lead for the most popular way of paying employees, but the number of companies (primarily in manufacturing and retail) that paid their employees via pay cards grew from 1% in 2011 to 5% in 2014.