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:
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.
Critical business benefits of using effective payroll software include:
Compared to a manual payroll method, the following benefits are likely to remove the most frustration caused without a payroll system in place:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.