Best Payroll Services

Review & Comparison, Last Update October 15, 2018
Managing payroll is easily the most complicated part of small business accounting. But, with the help of these payroll services, you will be able to do so with the sort of ease and precision that will make this element of your business run like a clockwork. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Free Trial
Smartphone App
Tax Submission
Time Tracking
Tax Forms
HR Tools
Customer Support
 
PROS

The platform features one of the most comprehensive and customizable report systems, providing more reports than just about any payroll service on the market. Their iOS application will allow you to work with employees, taxes, forms, and historical data.

CONS

The Basic and Enhanced plans do not offer automatic tax submission. 

OUR VERDICT

What we have here is probably one of the best payroll services for sole proprietors. Thanks to their flexible options, you will be able to automate parts of the process without overpaying for the unnecessary features. It isn't the most comprehensive service but it is certainly one of the more straightforward ones.

detailed parameters
Free Trial

Available

Smartphone App

iOS, Android

Tax Submission

Available with the $99 Full Service plan

Time Tracking

Available

Tax Forms

W-2

HR Tools

Unavailable

Customer Support

Chat, Phone, Email

PROS

The company offers a contractor-only option that costs just $5 per contractor a month. There's no subscription or monthly fee and the company will not deduct anything out of your pocket if you haven't worked with any contractors in the meantime. 

CONS

The platform is only available in 32 states. 

OUR VERDICT

If you're running a small business that relies on individual contractors more than it does on the full-time employees, this is easily the best payroll service for you. Their website presents outstanding user experience and navigating through the sizable number of automation options won't prove to be much of a challenge.

detailed parameters
Free Trial

Unavailable

Smartphone App

iOS, Android

Tax Submission

Federal, State, Local, Payroll taxes

Time Tracking

Available

Tax Forms

W-2, 1099

HR Tools

Unavailable

Customer Support

Phone, Email

PROS

Paychex uses a combination of buttons, icons, drop-down lists, fill-in-the-blank fields, and checkboxes to help the customers navigate their pages. The Paychex Insurance Agency will help you save money on group rates for carriers, deductibles, co-pays, prescriptions, and hospitalization costs.

CONS

Not the cheapest option on the market. The interface is inconsistent. 

OUR VERDICT

Paychex is as well-rounded as these services get. With its HR and benefits administration, the platform will prove to be useful for small business ventures as well as for larger companies that would like to automate part of the HR department's responsibilities.

detailed parameters
Free Trial

Available

Smartphone App

iOS, Android

Tax Submission

Federal, State, Local, Payroll taxes

Time Tracking

Available

Tax Forms

W-2, 1099

HR Tools

Available

Customer Support

Chat, Phone, Email

PROS

The BA tools will allow you to utilize 401k management, document management, and an employee directory. They'll also give you medical, life insurance, and disability coverage. The HR tools will let employees choose their own health plans, add dependents, and schedule plan changes based on upcoming life events.

CONS

Only supports two pay schedules a month. 

OUR VERDICT

There are a lot of payroll services out there but Gusto manages to stand out from that crowd. The platform's visual appeal makes it a pleasure to use. The simplicity of the interface makes the services as convenient as possible and the number of HR and BA tools make Gusto one of the most complete options on the market.

detailed parameters
Free Trial

Available

Smartphone App

iOS, Android

Tax Submission

Federal, State, Local, Payroll taxes

Time Tracking

Available

Tax Forms

W-2, 1099

HR Tools

Available

Customer Support

Chat, Phone, Email

PROS

Patriot Software is exceptionally flexible when it comes to creating entries for the hours that employees can work (regular, double-time, holidays etc) as well as the types of pay that your employees will be able to receive (the types include bonus, commission, and expense reimbursement).

CONS

Unoptimized when it comes to general user interaction.

OUR VERDICT

Just the fact that Patriot Software is the most affordable payroll service on the market already makes it a particularly attractive option for small business enterprises. On top of that, the company's customer support system is simply exceptional, making the platform particularly suitable for inexperienced employers. 

detailed parameters
Free Trial

Available

Smartphone App

Unavailable

Tax Submission

Federal, State, Local, Payroll taxes

Time Tracking

Available

Tax Forms

W-2

HR Tools

Available

Customer Support

Phone, Email

Intuit Online Payroll

Three Different Plans

Intuit is one of those online payroll solutions that doesn't necessarily include every single feature out there and there is a number of competitors that offer more additional services. Nevertheless, this is still one of the better options on the market due to a couple of important reasons. First of all, the platform provides a number of different plans for the customers to choose from.

Whether your business is struggling or you're simply the kind of person who counts every penny, you can save some money with their Basic plan that costs $25 a month plus two dollars per employee. With this plan, you will be able to pay W-2 and 1099 workers via check or direct deposit. Though it does calculate payroll taxes, you will have to get those forms and file them yourself, which is a tad inconvenient and partially defeats the purpose of these services in the first place.

But if you decide to upgrade or initially go with the Enhanced plan, for the same couple of bucks per employee a month and a $39 monthly fee, you will get completed tax forms and W-2s that you can file online. That said, if you feel like outsourcing the entire thing to this platform, the same amount of money per employee and 99 bucks a month will get you those payroll taxes filed for you.

Review of Intuit Online Payroll

Best Setup Wizard

Another thing that we liked about Intuit is its setup wizard. Despite the fact that the company doesn't offer live setup help, this is easily one of the most intuitive wizards in the business. There's quite a lot of information and a number of forms that you will have to fill out but the setup wizard walks you through the whole thing and makes the process as easy as it could be.

The said information includes elements like pay schedule, pay types (with a pretty generous number of choices), and deductions (both employee and company contributions). While you're building the profile for each of your employees, the website displays a sampled paycheck with projected numbers for income, taxes, and deductions. It may not seem like much but it helps paint the general picture of what it is that you're dealing with here.

Unfortunately, we cannot give the same amount of noise to Intuit's interface. Being one of the older options on the market, the design could certainly benefit from an update or two. At the time, it seems a bit clunky and inconvenient. Some pages may bombard you with information while others do not offer enough of it.

Intuit Online Payroll in the use

Customizable Report System

But if there's one more thing that Intuit does well, it is the payroll service's comprehensive and customizable report system. In fact, the company offers more reports than just about any payroll service on the market. Their iOS application is exceptional as well. With it, you will be able to work with employees, taxes, forms, and historical data. You'll also have the ability to issue a pay run right from your smartphone.

The only real gripe we have with this service is the fact that you will have to cough up $99 a month for their Full Service plan in order to receive access to automated tax submission. Though the Enhanced plan provides some guidance and the platform does the calculations for you, it will still be up to you to actually file those taxes.

Other than that, what we have here is probably one of the best payroll services for sole proprietors. Thanks to their flexible options, you will be able to automate parts of the process without overpaying for the unnecessary features. It isn't the most comprehensive service but it is certainly one of the more straightforward ones.

Detailed review of Intuit Online Payroll

 

Square Online Payroll Services and Software

Contractor-Only Option

Square Payroll is a lot of different things but inconvenient isn't one of them. In fact, their platform makes one of the best first impressions, with a great setup wizard that offers one hell of a smooth entrance. Every part of the process is clean, with plenty of visual cues that are really easy to understand. The first thing that the site will ask you is your state of residency, which is needed in order to identify and implement the state's payroll tax rates.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest drawbacks of the service is the fact that it only supports 32 states for W-2 employees, which is a real shame since that is the sort of limitation that you will seldom find in other automated payroll solutions. That said, unlike the majority of these solutions, Square Payroll gives you access to the 1099 forms.

Of course, there's still a number of companies that will send out the said forms for you, but none of them will offer you a contractor-only option. If you choose to go with the latter, the only thing you'll have to pay is $5 per contractor a month. There's no subscription or monthly fee and the company will not deduct anything out of your pocket if you haven't worked with any contractors in the meantime. As you would imagine, this makes Square one of the better payroll services for small business ventures that do not have a great number of employees.

Review of Square Online Payroll Services and Software

Make Your Own Entries

As it usually is, filling out all of your employee records is by far the most tedious and time-consuming task. There's quite a lot that goes into it but, fortunately, their website walks you through the whole thing on a step-by-step basis. Plus, you can invite your employees to enter the bulk of the information for you. Of course, it isn't just their information and all of the different types of taxes that you will have to deal with. Using the company's services, you will be able to distribute the benefits, including paid time off and sick pay. Aside from a number of presets, both the website and the application will provide you with the opportunity to add all kinds of benefits. Simply choose the "Add Benefit" option and create a new entry.

When it comes to actually running the payroll, Square's payroll services will provide you with a convenient screen that features the list of all of your employees in a single tab, including their pay rates. In this tab, you'll be able to enter the number of hours that each employee worked in the appropriate columns like Regular, Overtime, Additional (for commissions, bonuses, and similar elements), and Tips.

Square Online Payroll Services and Software in the use

Withdrawal Summary

Square's website is optimized for mobile viewing but the same cannot be said about its payroll-processing elements. Since there's no mobile application available as of yet, you might run into an issue or two trying to pay your employees via a smartphone. That said, with iPad or any other gadget that boasts a larger screen, you should be able to get the hang of it. Plus, Square Payroll is second to none when it comes to summarizing the entire payroll run. The Withdrawal Summary tab will display the exact amount of money that will be taken out of your checking account and go into direct deposits and taxes. The tab also includes the total net pay for all of those paychecks. And if you happen to run into any issues along the way, the company's representatives are available via phone, email, or Twitter.

All in all, if you're running a small business that relies on individual contractors more than it does on the full-time employees, this is easily the best payroll service for you. Their website presents outstanding user experience and navigating through the sizable number of automation options won't prove to be much of a challenge.

Detailed review of Square Online Payroll Services and Software

 

Paychex Payroll Services

Straightforward Navigation

There's a fine line between the sort of user interface that would make the IRS forms look exciting and a layout that looks like a 13-year old girl's Tumblr page. Of course, a payroll service doesn't have to look good, but it should be professional and clean enough for the average user to be able to navigate through it without feeling like he is jumping over all kinds of hurdles. And that is exactly the sort of solid interface that makes Paychex stand out in the most flattering fashion. Similar to the company's competitors, Paychex relies on a combination of buttons, icons, drop-down lists, fill-in-the-blank fields, and checkboxes to help the customers navigate their pages. Though it presents quite a lot of information, the use of colors and graphics makes every page intuitive enough without dumbing down their functionality.

But, above anything else, Paychex is a full service payroll platform. What makes it "full" is the sheer number of customization options. Part of what makes Paychex so flexible in the first place is the fact that the company doesn't limit the number of users who can access the records. In fact, it promotes the kind of transparency that can be immensely helpful in terms of establishing a healthy relationship between the employer and his employees. The latter can log into their own personal portal and view the status of their vacation days, current and historical pay stubs, as well as all of the available and potential benefits.

Review of Paychex Payroll Services

HR and Benefits Administration

Part of what makes Paychex special is that it is one of the very few payroll service providers that offers HR and benefits administration and probably the most exceptional service out there when it comes to the sheer scale of the latter. With Paychex, you will be able to create and manage basic health insurance plans (dental, vision, medical). Their website also offers insurance options for short- and long-term disability insurance.

And though these options aren't necessarily unique, the same can't be said about Paychex Insurance Agency. Under the somewhat ambiguous name lies a group health insurance service that is often immensely useful when it comes to helping small businesses save money on group rates for carriers, deductibles, co-pays, prescriptions, and hospitalization costs. The platform also includes retirement plans and startup services.

Paychex Payroll Services in the use

Work Ahead of Schedule

All in all, because Paychex payroll services are part of a larger human resources ecosystem, their platform offers far more flexibility in terms of shaping every payroll run. That means that you will be able to create records that include personal preferences of your employees and a number of small but important details. On top of that, Paychex is the only platform out there that will allow you to create and define an unlimited number of custom fields. As far as the actual payroll processing is concerned, the company also features an extra option or two that you will be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. For example, if you know ahead of schedule that one of your employees ought to receive a bonus after the next payroll run, you can go ahead and schedule that bonus instead of wasting your time with some sort of a reminder.

All things considered, Paychex is probably the most comprehensive payroll service on the market. With its HR and benefits administration, the platform will prove to be useful for small business ventures as well as for larger companies that would like to automate part of the HR department's responsibilities.

Detailed review of Paychex Payroll Services

 

Gusto Online Payroll Services for Small Business

A More Enjoyable Experience

There's so much to like about Gusto that there's a good chance it might turn the seldom pleasant procedure of paying your employees their salaries into an actually enjoyable experience. Or, at the very least, a much less miserable one. The said chance mostly derives from the simplistic installation process and the intuitive interface but we will get to those in a moment. First, we would like to talk about some of the other elements of Gusto that make the platform one of the best payroll services for small businesses and larger business enterprises. 

First, there's the company's Core program that offers just about everything you would want out of an online payroll solution. For 39 bucks a month and $6 per employee, you will receive automatic tax submission services that cover federal, state, local, and payroll taxes. You'll also get W-2 and 1099s forms, meaning that Gusto will more than suit those employers who work with independent contractors. Just about the only issue we have with this program and Gusto in general is the fact that it only supports two pay schedules a month. But, let's be honest, not a whole lot of small businesses would find much of a problem with it. 

Review of Gusto Online Payroll Services for Small Business

No Need for an HR Department

Then, there's the company's Complete package that will cost you the same amount of money per month but an extra 12 bucks for every employee. In addition to all of the aforementioned features and a number of standard elements that we didn't feel the need of mentioning, the Complete package will also provide you with HR and benefits administration tools. Using the latter, you will be able to utilize 401k management, document management, and an employee directory.

The benefits administration tools (BA for short) offer a number of services but, most importantly, they will give you medical (including dental and vision), life insurance, and disability coverage. This is a sophisticated system that runs an automated algorithm. The algorithm suggests personalized health plans for your budget based on current payroll data, location, number of employees, and their average salary.

As for the HR tools, Gusto's payroll services include considerable self-service features. With the help of the latter, your employees will have the ability to choose their own health plans, add dependents, and schedule plan changes based on upcoming life events.

Gusto Online Payroll Services for Small Business in the use

A Complete Package

Though the Complete package is by far the company's most popular plan, Gusto also offers the so-called Concierge deal (149 a month and 12 bucks per every employee). With it, you will receive the benefits of previous plans and you'll get access to certified HR pros as well as a dedicated support system that is available to subscribers.

Now, we did mention earlier that Gusto is probably the best payroll service when it comes to user interface and interaction. But it would be difficult to explain why that is the case without providing a long series of screenshots that detail everything from the setup process to all of the pages of their platform. Since the company offers a free trial, we'll let you experience it for yourself. Simply put, what we liked so much about it is that we never felt stuck on any part of the process and it was always easy to figure out how to get to the next page or how to access the desired tools.

So, to sum it all up, there are a lot of payroll services out there but Gusto manages to stand out from that crowd. The platform's visual appeal makes it a pleasure to use. The simplicity of the interface makes the services as convenient as possible and the number of HR and BA tools make Gusto one of the most complete options on the market.

Detailed review of Gusto Online Payroll Services for Small Business

 

Patriot Software Online Payroll for Small Business

Affordable Plans

Patriot Software may not be perfect but for the kind of price that the company is asking for their services, it certainly doesn't have to be. The fact that their basic plan costs no more than 10 dollars a month and a variable additional fee per employee already makes these payroll services one of the best options on the market as far as any small business is concerned, from restaurants and other similar types of establishments to any kind of developing company. For those 10 bucks a month, you will get pretty much everything you'd want out of an online payroll platform, including time-tracking tools, W-2 forms, and even HR tools that we will cover later in the review.

The only real downside of the basic plan is that you'll be forced to file the payroll taxes on your own. But keep in mind that Intuit's Enhanced plan doesn't cover automated tax submission either and the latter will cost you almost 40 bucks a month plus 2 bucks per employee. But if you choose to go with the Patriot Software's full-service plan, the company will file and deposit those taxes for you, including federal, state, and local ones in addition to the payroll taxes. And you will get that for $25 per month plus $4.35 per employee, which is still more affordable than any other payroll service, at least as far as we know.

Review of Patriot Software Online Payroll for Small Business

Professional Assistance

We like to believe that any service is only as good as its customer support. And with Patriot Software, customer support is one of the company's strongest suits. The whole payroll automation thing is confusing, exhausting, and often difficult. So we cannot stress enough how important it is that Patriot Software's payroll experts are there for you and you can always rely on them to help you complete this task.

When it comes to business accounting, managing payroll is by far the most complicated part of it. You cannot afford to screw up employee compensation. And neither can you miss on payments to benefits providers and tax agencies. Plus, even if you're running a small business, your employees might have multiple deductions, which would add further complications that you'd be better off outsourcing to Patriot Software's specialists.

Patriot Software Online Payroll for Small Business in the use

Flexibility of Operation

That said, it isn't like the company's payroll services platform is particularly complicated. They have recently added a setup wizard that makes the entire process substantially easier. The wizard uses its digital magic to walk you through a series of screens and those screens include detailed descriptions that will help you get started running payrolls. The wizard will also provide you with links to a number of useful resources, like the ones that describe the way to obtain a state unemployment number (commonly referred to as SUTA).

Finally, we would be remiss to wrap things up without at least briefly mentioning the flexibility of the platform. It's easy to say that these payroll services include the absolute majority of tools that you'd like to see in these types of services. But not all of those services could rival Patriot Software's flexibility in terms of creating entries for the hours that employees can work (regular, double-time, holidays etc) as well as the types of pay that your employees will be able to receive (the types include bonus, commission, and expense reimbursement).

In conclusion, just the fact that Patriot Software is probably the most affordable payroll service on the market already makes it a particularly attractive option for small business enterprises. On top of that, the company's customer support system is simply exceptional, making the platform particularly suitable for inexperienced employers.

Detailed review of Patriot Software Online Payroll for Small Business

 

What Are Payroll Services?

Whether you are a small business owner or a seasoned employer, you know very well that paying your employees is one of the most complex elements of any business and easily the most intricate part of the accounting system. You or the person to whom you've assigned that responsibility doesn't just have to write checks and direct deposits that need to 100% accurate but there's also a number of underlying calculations involving taxes, benefits, and other types of withholdings that should always be put into the equation. The complexity of this task has led many employers to believe that payroll services are worth what the people behind these services are asking for them.

Though there's quite a bit of a difference between each and every service, any one of them will help you manage this exhausting and deadline-driven part of your business in a timely and precise fashion. That said, you might still want to consider everything that the particular company has to offer before making your choice. The majority of these services will provide you with the ability to automate tax submission. Most of them will also send your employers W-2 forms. But not a whole lot of them include the function that sends off 1099s forms and that's a must-have if you work with independent contractors and self-employed personnel.

Of course, if you're an employee yourself, these services wouldn't do you any good. But you could certainly benefit from one of these tax software solutions or credit report services.

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Publish Date: 2018-08-16 11:46:35