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Best Online Payroll Services

by Chad BrooksLast Modified: April 9, 2018

Best Picks
Pricing
Reviews
Methodology
Community Picks & Surveys
Common Payroll Questions & Answers
When Do I Need Payroll Services?
State of the Industry
Guides & Whitepapers (Downloads)
Map
Services
Compare Quotes

The Best Online Payroll Services of 2018

 Online payroll services offer an easy-to-use solution for all of your business's payroll and payroll tax needs. However, with so many services to choose from, finding the one that's best for your company can be difficult.    

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a payroll service. The best companies offer all the services and tools you need, fit your budget, and provide a high level of customer support. To help you narrow down your options, we've researched and assessed the top providers on the market.    

We recommend Intuit, Gusto, OnPay, ADP and Paychex as some of our best picks. You can read more about each, and the types of organizations we think they are best for, below. If none of our recommendations work for you, scroll down to see more reviews and a list of other online payroll services.

Best Picks

Larger Businesses
Popular
Small Business
Very Small Businesses
Sole Proprietors or S. Corps.
Paychex - Online Payroll Services

Best Online Payroll for Larger Businesses

Paychex - Online Payroll Services

Paychex is an excellent online payroll service for larger organizations. It offers most of the features businesses look for in a payroll solution and wide array of additional services.

With Paychex, businesses can enter and submit payroll information online, and pay their employees by direct deposit, check or pay card. If you choose paper checks, Paychex can print and mail them to you, or you can print them yourself.

ADP

Most Popular Online Payroll Service

ADP

ADP is the most popular payroll service among Business.com readers, and has a strong reputation as a payroll industry leader. It is used by businesses across a wide range of industries and holds a 12 percent share of the entire payroll industry marketplace, according to IBISWorld.

This company offers specified payroll platforms for small, mid-size and large businesses. Its Run platform is designed for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, while its Workforce Now platform is built for businesses with between 50 and 999 employees. Larger organizations with more than 1,000 employees have access to a range of options with ADP, including its Streamline platform.

Intuit

Best Online Payroll Service for Small Businesses

Intuit

Intuit Payroll provides businesses of all sizes with payroll and related tax services. This cloud-based service requires no software to install or maintain. Employers log in to the system to process payroll, review and pay payroll taxes, and view detailed labor reports, while employees can view paystubs, pay history and paid time-off accruals.

The Intuit service is available in three different plans, which cost $20 to $99 per month, plus $2 per employee. The basic plan only includes payroll processing, while the enhanced plan includes payroll processing and payroll tax calculations.

OnPay

Best Online Payroll for Very Small Businesses

OnPay

OnPay is our top choice for very small businesses because it handles all payroll and payroll tax needs, features an easy-to-use online platform and is affordably priced. The service costs $36 per month, plus $4 for each employee. There are no long-term contacts, and the first month of service is free.

With this system, businesses can run an unlimited number of payrolls each month and pay both W-2 and 1099 workers by direct deposit or printed checks. Direct deposit payments are made two days after each pay run. Checks can be printed from any standard printer without any special software.

Gusto

Best Online Payroll for Sole Proprietors or S. Corporations

Gusto

Gusto is our top choice for S. corporations and sole proprietors because it serves both regular employees and contractors/freelancers, and allows you to run an unlimited number of payrolls each month.

To run payroll with Gusto, employers can log into the system from anywhere online, enter the employee hours plus any PTO and bonuses or commissions earned, and click the "submit Payroll" button. Employees are then paid via direct deposit or printed check.

Pricing

While pricing varies from provider to provider, most payroll services use a similar cost structure. Many charge a base fee, plus a per employee charge. Base fees typically range between $20 and $100 depending on the services included. Per employee costs can range from $1 to $12 each.    

How often you are charged also varies by provider. Some providers charge fees monthly, while others charge each time you run payroll. The providers that have monthly charges allow for unlimited payroll runs each month.      

While some providers offer just one package that includes all their services, others offer several plans at various price points with different levels of service. For example, the cheapest plan may include payroll processing only, with the most expensive plan featuring additional services, including all payroll tax filing and payment responsibilities.    

Besides the monthly or per pay run costs, some providers have additional charges for services such as setting up the system and completing year-end tax filings.

Editor's Note: Looking for information on payroll systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you with the information you need: 

Negotiation Tips

Before signing up with a payroll service provider, take the following steps to get the best deal possible: 

  • See if the provider offers a discount for agreeing to a long-term contract.
  • Ask about discounts for businesses with a large number of employees (if you're a larger company).
  • See if the provider would be willing to match the price of one of its cheaper competitors.    

It is critical that you review all the contract details before signing anything. Make sure the contract includes everything you have agreed to, and doesn't have any built-in price increases after an extended time.   

Additionally, inquire about the process for canceling service. Know if there are any costs associated with that and how much notice you need to give.

Reviews

Below are all of our reviews for online payroll services and related categories. Our coverage includes reviews of the best online payroll services and small business online payroll services. See all of our reviews below.

Our Methodology

To determine the best payroll services for businesses, we started with a pool that included each service on the comprehensive list below. After some preliminary research of other best-picks lists, we interviewed small business owners to discover new ones to add to our list.    

We settled on 22 payroll services to consider as best picks for our business categories: ADP, AmCheck, APS, BenefitMall, Big Fish Payroll Services, Fuse Workforce Management, GetPayroll, Gusto, Intuit, IOIPay, MyPayrollHR, OnPay, Patriot Software, PayUSA, Paychex, Paycor, Paylocity, Payroll On A Budget, PrimePay, Sage, SurePayroll and Wagepoint.  

Next, we watched tutorials and how-to videos, read user reviews, looked at Better Business Bureau ratings and complaints, and tested out services when demos were available. After narrowing down the list to 14 contenders, we contacted each company posing as business owners to evaluate their customer service.  

We analyzed each service based on the following factors: 

  • Cost
  • Tax services 
  • Ease of use
  • Customer service
  • Integration options
  • Tax guarantees
  • Mobile accessibility
  • Payroll reports
  • Employee self-service
  • Extra services (employee retirement plans, workers' compensation, etc.)
  • Ratings and complaints

BDC Expert Community & Business Survey Picks

We asked our Business.com community members to tell us what payroll services they use.

Business.com Survey Results - Infographic

 We asked the Business.com community what they look for in a payroll service, and compiled some of their answers into this helpful infographic. 

Understanding Payroll Services
Credit: Grant Reinero

Common Payroll Questions & Answers

Have a payroll question of your own?

I think people that choose one of the big guys do so because they are a known quantity. The smaller companies don't have as many reviews, and in some cases, can't provide all the services that are needed. They don't know what they are missing, as many clients go back & forth from ADP to Paychex because of problems. Our cloud based solution combines a powerful payroll & a web-based HR application along with the convenience of services typically offered by payroll outsourcing providers. ...

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Hi Daniel, I believe the question you must answer first is: What are my obligations as an employer? If it is required by your country's labor law to pay overtime premium then its is not only smart to do that, it is what is legal. In my case, I started my business with freelancers. I pay them only for the number of hours they work on our projects. If the work load is high, they get to work more hours. Because there's no employer-employee relationship, I am not required to provide statutory...

Read More ▼

Bravo that you're thinking this through! Gusto/Zenpayroll is a great option but does need to be monitored by a trained payroll eye, I've found two mistakes already with year-end filings with clients that I manage with them. I am happy with them otherwise, though, it's a great solution. Your tax accountant can advise you on reasonable salaries as well as draw structures that won't overdraw the basis and trigger capital gain. I've written a blog post in this same...

Read More ▼

There are multiple options available to you, but yes, you should do the accounting in a program. If you start from now using accounting software, you'll have all of your history in one place and can generate reports to compare time periods. And many import your transactions, so if you know what they are for, it won't take long to post. That doesn't mean you have to do the work yourself. If it's a fairly simple business, you can have a teenager or intern assist you as long as you understand...

Read More ▼

Becky, that pot of money that you are referring to should come from the net after-tax profits of the company. This is the amount that is left after the direct and overhead expenses. Before any funds are distributed to the owners/shareholders you should determine the amount of funding that you will need to grow your business in the future. This relates to additional working capital or investment in assets. In order to determine how much you need to reinvest in the company, you need to develop an...

Read More ▼

When Do I Need Payroll Services?

Payroll services are designed to make payroll processing simple, while also helping you comply with the policies and regulations involved in payroll, taxes and IRS reporting.  

When it comes to managing payroll, you may be using your own accounting software, like QuickBooks or FreshBooks. These platforms offer the features necessary to help you comply with regulations on your own, but the overall process can be time consuming and complex as you hire more employees. It can be easy to miss things here and there, which can result in payroll errors or hefty fines.   

You may find that processing your payroll online with a service can bring peace of mind. Having a service handle the process for you can save you both time and money if you aren't confident in your skills, or when you just don't have the time it takes to process payroll for multiple employees.

The Benefits of Using an Online Payroll Service  

Complying with major laws and regulations like the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – which applies to businesses with 50 or more employees – is a big benefit of having a dedicated service manage your payroll processing. These regulations typically require you to file certain forms to avoid an IRS fine. Other regulations, like paying your employees on time and correctly, are always required of you, regardless of the number of employees you have.  

In addition to federal and state laws, there are lesser-known regulations and other processes involved with payroll that not every company handles on a regular basis. Payroll providers can manage these issues to keep your business running smoothly.

Pay Distribution Options  

Many online payroll services include three options for paying employees: direct deposit, pay cards and checks. If you pay your employees by check, you can pay your employees through any of these methods. However, several states require employees to receive their pay through direct deposit. If those employees don't have bank accounts, you can use pay cards, where you load paychecks directly to a debit-like card for employee use.

Integration with Other Business Solutions  

Payroll is the last step of a long process. Gathering information before payroll can be complex, and good payroll companies integrate with other common business solutions to help the process run smoothly from one step to the next. For example, many time card software solutions automatically convert employee hours into a CSV file. The payroll provider then uses these files to calculate each employee's paycheck.

Most point-of-sale systems also integrate well with online payroll services, which is a big help if your employees' compensation includes tips. Likewise, integration with e-commerce and CRM solutions make it easy for the payroll service to track sales tax and commissions. You need to accurately track and report both sets of data as part of your overall payroll responsibilities.

 

State of the Industry

A growing number of businesses find value in outsourcing their payroll. Today's payroll services handle several critical, time-consuming tasks, including payroll processing and the calculating, filing and paying of payroll taxes.    

Outsourcing payroll not only helps prevent errors, but also frees up employee resources. A recent report on the payroll industry by IBIS World shows that, of the businesses in the United States using payroll services, the most prominent are technology-producing companies, healthcare providers and manufacturing institutions. Those three types of companies alone account for more than 40 percent of the total organizations using payroll services.    

"Operators in these industries are often highly specialized and prefer to outsource human resources such as payroll and bookkeeping services to focus on their core, profit-generating business functions," the study's authors wrote.

Downloadable Guides

Common Payroll Pitfalls - Whitepaper
Common Payroll Pitfalls - Whitepaper

The Top 10 Common Payroll Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

DOWNLOAD

Even small payroll mistakes can lead to big headaches—such as regulatory fines, penalties, and damaged employee relationships. But by following some simple best practices, you can easily avoid common slip-ups regarding compliance rules and regulations, taxable fringe benefits, year-end preparation, and much more!

Solving Payroll Problems
Solving Payroll Problems

The New Employee Management System

Download the Whitepaper

For a more robust employee management system through your payroll services providers, you may choose to add benefits management, 401(k) management, or other enhancements to the basic payroll processing service. Here are some common HR obstacles and ways in which payroll services can mitigate these challenges.

Payroll Processing:
Payroll Processing:

Proper Calculation of Employee Pay Helps Minimize Wage and Hour Compliance and Litigation Risks

Download Now

With wage and hour litigation on the rise, payroll accuracy should be a top priority for employers. Our review of court data shows that of all state and federal court employment law class actions filed in the United States, 90 percent are wage and hour class or collective actions. This increase in wage and hour litigation stems from Department of Labor initiatives that seek to inform employees of their rights under FLSA and the growing number of lawyers specializing in Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) cases. Why should employers be concerned?  The potential damages in these cases are alarming: in 2010 the average settlement in the top 10 reported wage and hour class and collective actions was $34 million.

Map

APS
3010 Knight Street
Shreveport, LA
APS
IOIPay
1710 Leer Drive
Elkhart, IN
IOIPay
MyPayrollHR
855 Route 146
Clifton Park, NY
MyPayrollHR
Paychex - Online Payroll Services
911 Panorama Trail S.
Rochester, NY
Paychex - Online Payroll Services
Intuit
5601 Headquarters Drive
Plano, TX
Intuit
Gusto
500 Third St
San Francisco, CA
Gusto
YourSource Management Group
69 N. Squirrel Court
Auburn, MI
YourSource Management Group
PrimePay
1487 Dunwoody Drive
West Chester, PA
PrimePay
Sage
271 17th Street Northwest
Atlanta, GA
Sage
LessAccounting
11250 Old St. Augustine Rd.
Jacksonville, FL
LessAccounting
QuickBooks
5601 Headquarters Drive
Plano, TX
QuickBooks
Coastal Human Resource Group
PO Box 161104
Mobile, AL
Coastal Human Resource Group

Services

List of 18Best Online Payroll Services

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