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Best Payroll Systems for Small Businesses

Looking for the best payroll system for your small business? You’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re profiling all of the most popular competitively-priced payroll software for small businesses.

Thanks to online payroll software, the cost of running payroll has declined significantly from days gone by. Businesses no longer have to hire dedicated accountants to run payroll. Instead, today’s best payroll systems are available for as little as $30 to $60 per month for small to mid-sized businesses.

Ready to find out which cheap small business payroll software is right for you? Here’s an overview of the most popular affordably-priced payroll systems on the market today.

Editor’s Note: Looking for information on payroll services? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:


Top 4 Best Payroll Systems For Small Businesses

Intuit Online Payroll System

Intuit Payroll Free Trial

Price: $51.20 Per Month for Businesses with 10 Employees ($31.20 base + $2 per employee per month)

Intuit is the most popular payroll solution for small businesses. Made by the same company that makes the world’s most popular accounting software (QuickBooks), Intuit Online Payroll reduces double-entry inefficiency by integrating perfectly with QuickBooks at every step of the way.

In terms of price, Intuit Online Payroll is also very competitive. The most basic plan (which doesn’t file payroll taxes or IRS forms on your behalf) is priced at $20 per month. Most small business owners, however, prefer the more popular $31.20 per month plan, where you pay an extra $2 per employee per month for complete payroll services, tax filings, IRS forms, etc.

Some of the most popular Intuit Online Payroll system features include:

Scalable Plans: There are three different Intuit Online Payroll plans available. The most basic plan includes basic payroll filing but not tax filings or IRS forms. The middle plan (Enhanced Payroll) includes payroll, tax filings, IRS forms, and other legally-required things. The most expensive plan (Full Service Payroll) will actually give you a dedicated Intuit employee who runs payroll on your behalf every pay period. Plans also scale according to your number of employees: you simply pay $2 per month extra for each additional employee.

Cheap Pricing: Intuit Online Payroll is one of the most competitively-priced software options on the market today. The Intuit Online Payroll Basic plan costs $20 per month while the Enhanced version costs $31.20 per month. You pay $2 extra per month per employee. All plans come with free trials. All plans can also be bundled with QuickBooks Online. If you purchase both at the same time, then you’ll get 50% off the price of both. If you want the Intuit Full Service Payroll plan, then you can get a customized quote from Intuit for your small business.

Accuracy Guarantee on the Full Service Plan: SMBs can’t afford costly tax penalties due to tax mistakes. That’s why it’s reassuring to see that Intuit will pay your tax penalties if it makes a mistake with accuracy or deadlines (although this guarantee only applies on the Full Service Plan). In any case, Intuit’s accuracy across all plans makes it exceptionally popular.

30 Day Free Trial: Although it’s not as long as the 60 day free trial offered by competitors like OnPay, Intuit Online Payroll’s 30 day free trial still gives you ample time to explore the system’s full range of features.

Additional Features: The Enhanced version of Intuit Online Payroll includes features like workers’ compensation and employee time tracking. Don’t expect to find health care benefits of other features that cater to HR, however. You can also print off labor law posters to display around your office, although this service costs an extra $70.39 per year.

The Best at Integrating with QuickBooks: Most SMBs use QuickBooks as accounting software. That’s why all major payroll company providers also integrate with QuickBooks. No payroll system for small businesses integrates better with QuickBooks, however, than Intuit Online Payroll (obviously, they’re made by the same company). This integration means that you only ever have to enter information once: the moment you enter any information into QuickBooks or Intuit Online Payroll, that information is instantly sent to the cloud and then copied across your accounts. This seamless integration makes QuickBooks and Intuit Online Payroll a match made in heaven.

Ultimately, Intuit Online Payroll’s affordable price tag and easy compatibility with QuickBooks makes it a popular option with many small to mid-sized businesses.

OnPay Payroll System

OnpayPrice: $40 Per Month for Businesses with 10 Employees ($40 base rate that includes 10 free employees + $1 per employee per month)

OnPay may be Intuit Online Payroll’s biggest competitor in terms of both price and features. The company’s competitive price tag undercuts Intuit Online Payroll while also including features for which some other businesses charge. This makes it one of the best payroll system for small businesses on this list.

Some of OnPay’s best benefits of their payroll system include the following:

Cheap Pricing: OnPay is the only payroll system on this list that includes a certain number of employees in its base rate. The base rate ($40) is slightly higher than its competitors, but you’ll save money if you have more than 5 employees because all other payroll systems charge extra rates per employee per month. Ultimately, with OnPay you’ll pay just $40 per month for online payroll systems for a small business with 10 employees and $50 per month for a business with 20 employees. Even larger companies pay just $1 extra per month per employee.

Integrates with Popular Accounting Software: OnPay gets along well with most other accounting software, including QuickBooks, Peachtree, and Microsoft Money. Best of all, you don’t need to pay extra for this integration.

Mobile Friendly: OnPay is mobile-friendly, but it doesn’t have an Android or iOS app. The reason? OnPay chose to only offer a mobile website because it ensures that critical employee payroll data isn’t being stored on your phone – it’s stored in secure OnPay servers instead. You can still run payroll, edit employee details, view reports, and do all of the other tasks on the OnPay mobile website – so you don’t lose anything with this functionality.

Full Tax Services: OnPay is excellent at handling payroll taxes. The service will calculate your payroll taxes every month and process the required payments and forms needed for your small business to comply with state, federal, and local tax laws.

Service Guarantee: Not only will OnPay process taxes for you, but the company will also guarantee these taxes and deadlines are 100% accurate. If your business is assessed a tax penalty while using OnPay, then OnPay will pay that penalty for you. The company puts its money where its mouth is in terms of backing up its payroll services.

Lengthy Customer Service Hours: OnPay has longer customer service hours than any other payroll system listed here. The company’s customer service is open 7 days a week from 9am to 8pm EST (although it’s officially an “emergency support line” on weekends). Nevertheless, this is still better customer support than most OnPay competitors, which typically offer customer support during normal North American business hours (weekdays from 9am to 5 or 6pm). If afterhours support is important to your small business, then OnPay is a good option.

OnPay is a solid payroll system for small businesses available at the right price. With its wide range of included features and friendly, accessible customer support, many people are surprised by the relatively low OnPay price tag.

Gusto Payroll System

GustoPrice: $89 Per Month for Businesses with 10 Employees ($29 base + $6 per employee per month)

Gusto is the most expensive option on this list and has a relatively high fee premium per employee. Compared to OnPay’s $1 per extra employee and Intuit’s $2 per extra employee, Gusto’s $6 per extra employee can seem a bit steep.

If you haven’t heard of Gusto, then you’re not alone: until September 2015, the company was known as ZenPayroll. The company has since rebranded – although the base offerings are the same. One of the key differences between the old ZenPayroll and the new Gusto is that Gusto is available across America. Previously, due to tax laws, ZenPayroll was only available in 26 states.

Other benefits of Gusto Payroll System include:

Plenty of Extra Features Included: Gusto includes certain extra features in its base rate, including W-2s and 1099s, new hire reporting, year-end tax forms, direct deposits and unlimited payroll runs. Since certain other payroll programs make you pay extra for these features, the fact that Gusto includes them for free is a nice touch.

Strong Customer Service: Gusto’s customer service hours aren’t as lengthy as OnPay’s famous customer service. Nevertheless, Gusto makes up for it by offering a treasure trove of information at its official website, including webinars, tutorials, and more. You can often use this information to avoid talking to customer service – almost all major questions can be answered online.

AutoPilot: Arguably Gusto’s most popular feature, AutoPilot ensures your payroll efficiency isn’t sacrificed when you’re away from the office. AutoPilot will automatically run payroll on a scheduled basis and then send you a notification when payroll is complete. If you’re a hands-off small business owner, then this AutoPilot feature can save you a lot of time and effort (provided nothing much changes between payroll periods).

User-Friendly Interface: As part of its rebranding, Gusto has redesigned its interface on both desktop and mobile apps. Many small businesses also appreciate the employee app for Chrome, which lets your employees self-report their own hours.

Most small businesses will pay more for Gusto than they would with other payroll systems on this list. However, it’s still a relatively affordable option compared to premium options like PenSoft (priced at $249 per year).

Patriot Payroll Software Payroll System

Patriot Software Free TrialPrice: $27.85 Per Month for Businesses with 10 Employees (full payroll support costs $60.80 Per Month for Businesses with 10 Employees with a $25 per month base rate + $3 to $4 per employee)

Patriot Payroll Software isn’t the flashiest or most feature-rich payroll software on this list. But it is the most affordable for businesses with fewer than 5 employees. Patriot Software starts at just $10 per month for businesses with one employee. For a small business with ten employees, you pay $27.85 per month, or $56.92 per month for 25 employees. No matter how you slice it up, that’s a cheap price.

So what’s the catch? Patriot Software isn’t as expensive as its competitors because it only offers basic payroll functionality with few bells and whistles. Additional features are available, although you’ll need to pay extra fees per month.

For example, if you want Patriot software to handle all federal, state, and local payroll taxes, then you’ll need to pay an extra $12 per month (this rate varies according to the number of employees in your business). You’ll need to pay an extra $3 per month to track employee hours online or $2 per month for employee hour self-reporting. All of these fees can add up to make Patriot more expensive than the other options listed here – so make sure you’re aware of these fees before you sign up.

Patriot’s other payroll system features include:

Cheapest Pricing: If you’re looking for the least expensive payroll system available today, then it doesn’t get much cheaper than Patriot Software. At $25 per month, you get full service payroll that includes direct deposit, printable W-2s, W-3s, and all state, local, and federal taxes.

Guarantees: When you subscribe to the $25 per month plan, you get a guarantee that your tax filings will be completed on-time.

Free Trial and Free Demo: You can get a free 30 day trial when you sign up for Patriot. Or, if you don’t feel like committing to a membership, you can try a demo. The demo doesn’t let you actually run a payroll system for your small business, but you can see how the UI works-

Basic Payroll Versus Full Service Payroll: Priced at $10 per month, the Basic Payroll only provides basic payroll services, including free direct deposit or printable checks, printable W-2s, and an employee portal. This plan doesn’t calculate payroll taxes. Most small businesses will require additional services of the Full Service Payroll plan, which starts at $25 per month and includes everything in the Basic plan as well as W-2s, W-3s, federal payroll taxes, state payroll taxes, and local payroll taxes. You also get the guarantee that your taxes will be filed on-time.

Patriot can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. If you’re confused by the options available, then Patriot’s website has an easy calculator that lets you easily see how much it would cost for your company based on your number of employees.

Editor’s Note: Looking for information on payroll services? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:



About Johnson Hur

After having graduated with a degree in Finance and working for a Fortune 500 company for several years, Johnson decided to follow his passion by embarking on a path to the digital world. He has over 8 years of experience with large companies setting marketing strategy.

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