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The Best Online Payroll Services of 2023

Mike Berner
Staff Writer
| Updated
Jun 01, 2023

Our team has compared the best online payroll services for 2023. See up-to-date reviews and costs for the top services.

Best for Small Businesses
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$40 per month, plus $6 per employee per month
Unlimited payroll
Strong customer support
Best for Growing Businesses
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Custom pricing
Pay per payroll
Plans for all business sizes
Best for HR Integration
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$40 per month, plus $6 per employee per month
Added tools for HR
Gusto Wallet app included
Best for Large Businesses
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$39 per month, plus $5 per employee per month
Plans built for larger businesses
Full mobile app available
Best for Accounting Integration
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$45 per month, plus $5 per employee per month
QuickBooks accounting integration
Bundled pricing available
Our team has compared the best online payroll services for 2023. See up-to-date reviews and costs for the top services.

The Best Payroll Providers

  • OnPay: Best Online Payroll Service for Small Businesses
  • Intuit Quickbooks: Best Online Payroll Service for Accounting Integration
  • Gusto Payroll: Best Online Payroll Service for HR Integration
  • Paycor: Best Online Payroll Service for Employee Self-Service
  • ADP: Best Online Payroll Service for Growing Businesses
  • Paychex: Best Online Payroll Service for Larger Businesses
  • Rippling: Best Online Payroll Service for Automating Processes
  • Square: Best Online Payroll Service for User Friendliness
  • Deluxe: Best Online Payroll Service for Packaged Solutions
  • Papaya Global: Best Online Payroll Service for International Employees
  • Remote: Best Online Payroll Service for EOR Services

With so many online payroll companies to choose from, it can be difficult to find the service with all of the functionality your business needs. To help you in this task, we examined nearly all of the top payroll providers. We looked at the costs, features, tools and customer support to find the best online payroll services for various types of businesses.

What is an Online Payroll Service

An online payroll service provides businesses with the software and tools to run payroll on their own. With the software, you enter each employee and then some additional details, including their salary or hourly wage, their benefit deductions and where they live, among others. With all of this completed, the service automatically calculates each employee’s paycheck each pay period. Additionally, it withholds and, in some cases, pays your local, state and federal payroll taxes. The service also provides detailed reporting that lets you know how much you spend on payroll each month.

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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.

Our Reviews

OnPay Payroll Software: Best for Small Businesses

No contracts are required.
You can pay month to month and cancel at any time.
OnPay does not offer a dedicated mobile app.
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OnPay is our top choice for small businesses because it handles all payroll and payroll tax needs, has an easy-to-use online platform, and is affordable even for businesses with tight budgets. The service costs $40 per month, plus $6 per employee per month. Employees are defined as any individuals you compensate for their services, so part-time employees and independent contractors are considered employees and thus are included in this fee.

Editor’s score: 9.5/10

OnPay doesn’t sacrifice features and value by edging toward simplicity. Users can enjoy payroll processing, tax compliance, multiple employee types, multiple payment options and employee self-service access. This software can also integrate with many popular small business services, like QuickBooks Online, Xero, Kabbage, Humanity, Guideline and ThinkHR.

OnPay stands out for its unlimited payroll runs and automated payroll processing features. We like how OnPay stays up to date with federal, state and local payroll tax rates and calculates how much your business owes based on where your employees are located. OnPay even takes responsibility for any fines associated with payroll tax errors. If your company offers employees benefits such as a 401(k) or commuter benefits, OnPay automatically withholds the correct amounts for these items.

OnPay includes a full suite of HR tools with its payroll services for no extra charge, which we think small businesses will find valuable. In addition to online onboarding, companies get paid-time-off (PTO) accrual and approval, e-signable legal document templates, in-app messaging, secure document storage, and a full library of free HR guides and resources. OnPay also offers an employee self-service portal, where staff members can see their paystubs and year-end tax forms. Employees can also update their banking information or their addresses, thereby saving your team time and ensuring your payroll records are up to date.

Some of OnPay’s newer features include a refreshed dashboard and enhanced multifactor authentication. OnPay also introduced a new collaboration feature that allows businesses to work with outside consultants, such as accountants. With OnPay’s permissions tool, you can customize their level of access and visibility.

The reporting tools allow small businesses to create enterprise-level expense reports. The tools can examine 50 data points, rearrange columns as needed and save the report in multiple views based on who is reviewing it.

Read OnPay Payroll Software Review

ADP Payroll Software: Best for Growing Businesses

ADP offers multiple service plans to meet your needs.
ADP is the payroll software industry's market share leader.
ADP charges on a per-payroll basis, which could really add up if you have different pay schedules for various employee types.
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ADP has a strong reputation as a leader in the payroll industry. For growing businesses, ADP offers plans for every stage of a company’s maturity, from small businesses all the way up to multibillion-dollar corporations.

Editor’s score: 9.3/10

ADP offers different payroll platforms for small, midsize and large businesses. The Run platform is designed for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, while the Workforce Now platform is for businesses with 50 to 999 employees. Organizations with more than 1,000 employees have various options, including the Enterprise platform.

ADP offers four plans that vary based on the included features and services. All plans include an employee self-service portal, direct deposit payment, prepaid debit cards and paper checks, and onboarding and payroll reporting. Added services, depending on the plan, include unemployment insurance management, check signing and stuffing, background checks, job postings via ZipRecruiter, employee handbook creation, and HR training.

The most advanced plan includes HR help desk support, expanded employee handbook support, employee training, sexual harassment prevention training, and legal assistance from Upnetic. The breadth of ADP’s services alone makes it a standout payroll provider.

Payroll processing is especially flexible with ADP; you can manage it on your desktop or mobile device (iOS and Android), as well as over the phone. ADP automates payroll tasks, such as calculating an employee’s paycheck based on wages and time off, thereby saving you time and improving accuracy in payroll by reducing the likelihood of human error.

ADP also takes advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The platform’s smart technology examines your company’s payroll history to flag possible errors before they occur. In addition, the platform lets users receive alerts from state and local tax jurisdictions regarding possible mistakes and provides tips on how to address those errors.

In addition, ADP offers a timekeeping solution that is available to businesses with fewer than 50 employees who are using the Run payroll platform. The timekeeping system lets employees clock in and out via tablets and uses facial recognition software to ensure the entire process is touchless.

ADP’s payroll software easily integrates with the company’s other services, like in-house time-and-attendance software. If you’re interested in a full suite of business solutions, you can choose from several packages.

The Workforce Now platform allows businesses in the U.S. and Canada to easily pay employees who work in other countries, thereby eliminating the need to pay for a payroll service in each country where your employees are located.

Read ADP Payroll Software Review

Gusto Payroll Software: Best for HR Integration

Gusto has comprehensive payroll and benefits administration features.
Gusto integrates with more than 40 popular third-party applications.
The HR services don't include performance management tools.
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Gusto is our choice for the best online payroll software with HR integration because of the many human relations services it offers. In addition to taking care of all your payroll processing and payroll tax needs, Gusto can handle many of your HR tasks, such as managing your staff’s PTO and administering health insurance. It also grants access to certified HR professionals who can guide you through all sorts of situations.

Editor’s score: 9.4/10

Gusto is available in four service plans, which range from $40 to $80 per month, plus $6 to $12 per employee per month. The variety of service plans gives you the option to use Gusto only for payroll or to upgrade if you want to tap into the HR resources.

Gusto also supports the hiring of employees around the country by allowing quick and easy tax registration for employees in all 50 states. This is especially beneficial in the current workplace environment, in which a growing number of employers are hiring employees from anywhere to work remotely. In addition, the Gusto platform allows for contractor payments in more than 80 countries.

Gusto is an intuitive, easy-to-use software platform that most users can learn quickly with minimal training. Running payroll, for example, is as easy as logging in, clicking the Run Payroll tab, and filling out the fields regarding employee hours, vacation time, bonuses, commissions, etc. When the information is entered, simply click Submit Payroll. Most processes in Gusto are similarly straightforward.

Read Gusto Payroll Software Review

Paychex Payroll Software: Best for Large Businesses

Employees can be paid by direct deposit, paper checks and pay cards; paper checks can be printed or mailed.
Paychex includes a host of HR-related services.
Paychex doesn't provide pricing online for its Select and Enterprise service packages.
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Paychex is a robust cloud-hosted payroll service that manages payroll processing and tax obligations and provides a host of other HR-related services. The Paychex Flex platform is accessible online or via the mobile app for iOS and Android devices. You can use Paychex to pay anyone who does work for your business, including W-2 workers, 1099 contractors and freelancers.

Editor’s score: 9.4/10

Paychex offers plans that are suitable for businesses of all sizes, making it a good scalable option. Paychex offers three service plans and several payment methods, including direct deposit, paper checks and prepaid debit cards.

Running payroll is simple with Paychex: You just enter your employees’ salaries and pay rates, note how many hours they worked, and then submit your payroll for processing. Paychex takes care of the rest: It calculates each paycheck, withholding the proper amounts for payroll taxes and other benefits, and then pays your employees via direct deposit, pay card or printed check.

To ensure paychecks are accurate, Paychex users now have the opportunity to review paystubs before payday. We like Paychex Pre-Check, which lets users choose how they want to be notified – such as via email, a smartwatch or a smart speaker – when their paystub is ready to be reviewed. Users can then confirm that the paystub is accurate or report a problem.

Paychex also offers a labor cost tool that gives business owners and their financial teams a real-time look at their total labor costs and labor distribution. Having instant access to labor costs and allocation helps businesses to better understand their financial standing and to plan more adeptly for the future. For example, this data can help business owners see how salary cost adjustments would affect overall expenses.

Additionally, Paychex offers a compensation summary that provides workers with an understanding of their full compensation beyond what they see in their paycheck. The report shows employees their health insurance and retirement contributions, as well as any bonuses or other benefits they received. This is helpful in efforts to retain employees in today’s competitive job market.

Paychex has four pricing plans: Essentials, Flex Select, Flex Pro and Flex Enterprise. Each of these plans includes all of the core payroll processing and payroll tax features we looked for in our review.

In addition to payroll services, Paychex offers human resources tools and services, time and attendance systems, employee benefits, and business insurance. This wide selection of services is another element that makes Paychex a scalable platform, because larger organizations can also leverage Paychex to manage time and attendance, recruiting, hiring and benefits.

Read Paychex Payroll Software Review

Intuit QuickBooks Payroll: Best for Accounting Integration

The payroll service integrates with QuickBooks' accounting software.
You can pay W-2 employees and 1099 contractors and freelancers.
It lacks some of the bells and whistles of competitors.
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QuickBooks Online Payroll by Intuit provides businesses of all sizes with payroll and related tax services, as well as integration with Intuit’s QuickBooks accounting software. As a cloud-hosted service, it doesn’t require you to install or maintain any software. You can log in to the system to process payroll, review and pay payroll taxes, and view detailed labor reports, while your employees can view their paystubs, pay history and PTO accruals.

Editor’s score: 9.1/10

QuickBooks Online is available in three service plans – Core, Premium and Elite – all of which allow small businesses to run payroll and file taxes automatically. Other services in the various plans include a workforce portal for employees, health benefits from SimplyInsured, time tracking, an HR support center and project management. Prices range between $45 and $125 per month, plus between $5 and $10 per employee. QuickBooks accounting software can be included as an add-on with each of these plans. Each plan includes a 30-day free trial.

QuickBooks Online users have access to QuickBooks Early Pay, an on-demand pay option for employees. The service gives employees access to immediate funds to help cover unexpected expenses or ease any other financial stress they may be facing. The Early Pay service is included in the QuickBooks Online Payroll service for no additional cost.

QuickBooks Payroll also offers a desktop option with its own pricing structure. QuickBooks Payroll for desktop includes unlimited payroll runs, payroll tax calculation, and automatic filling and e-filing of tax forms. Also included are W-2 printing, direct deposit and support from payroll experts. The desktop version is billed at either an annual rate of $500 plus $5 per employee per month, or a monthly rate of $50 plus $5 per employee.

QuickBooks is a flexible service that can meet the needs of just about any small business looking to run payroll online. If you’re interested, the company provides access to the QuickBooks accounting software as part of its payroll offering, giving you intuitive accounting and payroll software in one simple plan. By focusing on plan variety and addressing a full spectrum of small business needs, QuickBooks defines itself as a versatile small business payroll provider.

Read Intuit QuickBooks Payroll Review

Paycor: Best for Employee Self-Service

The employee portal offers your workers an easy way to keep tabs on their paystubs, time off, compensation and benefits.
Paycor automates payroll tax preparation and assists with meeting filing deadlines.
The flat monthly rate might be prohibitively expensive for small businesses that would pay less on a per-employee basis.
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Paycor is an online payroll software platform that includes an exceptionally user-friendly employee self-service portal, which allows employees to take charge of their time-off requests, monitor their compensation, check their paystubs, manage their benefits, and update their personal or financial information.

Editor’s score: 8.9/10

Paycor offers four service plans that vary by price and the features and tools they include. Midsize and larger companies could see savings based on Paycor’s pricing model, but very small businesses might pay less with a per-employee, per-month model. Paycor charges a flat monthly fee that ranges from $99 to $199 per month (plus $5 to $14 per employee per month) depending on the plan you select.

In addition to payroll processing and payroll tax filing, some of the features and tools users have access to, depending on the service plan, include wage garnishment; PTO requests and manager approvals; new-hire onboarding and tax filing; compliance checklists and templates; expense management; and integrations with 401(k) providers.


Rippling Payroll Software: Best for Automating Processes

Rippling automates payroll and accounting functions by syncing relevant data from more than 400 apps.
The user-friendly interface enables new users to acclimate to the system quickly with little training.
Rippling has no free trial.
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Rippling stands out for its extensive automation tools that simplify and streamline tedious payroll tasks. It is user-friendly online payroll software that requires little or no training to quickly become proficient with the system. Rippling also integrates with more than 400 apps to automate payroll processing.

Editor’s score: 9.1/10

A sleek, organized user interface organizes key information, like the total hours worked per employee, time off by employee and total labor expenses. Further, you can manage direct deposits and paychecks through Rippling so your employees are paid on time in the manner they prefer. Rippling displays all of the tax and benefit withholdings by employee per paycheck, offering a complete record for both the employer and employees to reference with ease.

Rippling offers custom quotes based on the services you need, but plans start at $35 per month plus $8 per user per month.

To leverage Rippling’s payroll processing capabilities, you need to subscribe to the company’s Employee Management Platform, a broader HR suite that includes a variety of services, like onboarding tools; benefits management; employee changes, such as promotions and offboarding; time and attendance; and device management. Rippling sales representatives will develop a customized plan that meets your business’s needs and budget.

The payroll processing module offers automatic compliance and tax-filing tools that can streamline the way you report payroll to the relevant state and local government agencies and remit payments accordingly. Rippling also supports international payment, which is especially important in an increasingly remote work environment where distributed workforces are the norm.

The payroll module also includes a PTO-tracking tool that allows you to set a custom policy for your employees and then monitor time-off requests with a single click. PTO requests automatically sync with payroll processing and require no additional manual input from managers.

Finally, payroll reporting is custom and powerful with Rippling. We like that you can run a report, for example, that shows your total labor expenses in Q1 or a report that shows how much you withheld in employee taxes for the last pay period. You can display your data in a variety of formats, such as doughnut charts, line graphs and bar graphs.

For companies that want an even closer partner, Rippling also offers a professional employer organization (PEO) service in addition to its employee management platform.

Read Rippling Payroll Review

Square: Best for User-Friendliness

Square is an easy-to-use payroll service that doesn't require a lot of training.
Square combines your payroll data, checking it against applicable tax laws to ensure you're in compliance with filing deadlines and regulations.
Users have to set up their own integrations.
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Square is a highly popular payment processing platform, but the company also offers Square Payroll, easy-to-use online payroll software that makes payroll tax compliance simple. Square automatically compiles and files your federal, state and local payroll taxes based on the data that is already in your system, thus giving you more time to focus on operations.

Editor’s score: 8.9/10

Square offers expert support through a live chat tool that allows you to connect with payroll specialists who can help you manage your business’s payroll and improve your process. Square syncs with a wide range of time-and-attendance systems and point-of-sale (POS) systems to track employee hours automatically. When it’s time to run payroll, you can pay employees directly from your Square Balance, rather than waiting for ACH transfers to go through the banks.

Square Payroll is intuitive and easy to use; it doesn’t have a steep learning curve, and the features will suffice for most users. Square Payroll can be used to process payroll for W-2 employees and 1099 contractors.

In addition to payroll processing tools, Square offers a team management feature that can help you sync hours, review an employee’s performance and manage system permissions for each team member. This is an especially important function in a time when remote work is more common than ever.

There is no contract requirement for Square Payroll, and pricing plans start at $35 per month, plus $5 per employee per month. Alternatively, there is a contractors-only option that charges you $5 per payment with no monthly base fee.


Deluxe: Best for a Packaged Solution

Deluxe offers a full-service payroll solution backed by a dedicated customer service team that can optimize your payroll process.
Deluxe manages implementation and removes the burden of setup and configuration.
Pricing is higher than for other providers we reviewed.

Deluxe shines in supporting your team with processing your company’s payroll and helping you comply with federal and state payroll tax laws. In addition to gaining access to Deluxe’s online payroll software, you are assigned a dedicated customer service team that can offer guidance and serve as a liaison between you and the company. Deluxe also offers services beyond payroll, including identity theft protection.

Editor’s score: 9/10

Deluxe has two plans, both of which package payroll with HR tools. Users can also tack on benefits and other add-ons. Although the packages are pricey by themselves, the combination of payroll and HR adds value to businesses that require both.

The Essentials plan starts at $45 per month, plus $7 per employee per month. It includes payroll, onboarding, various payment options, accounting integration, 24/7 customer support and employee self-service. The Enhanced plan starts at $45 per month, plus $17 per employee per month. It includes everything in the Essentials plan, plus custom reporting, document templates, digitization of company documents, and workflow automation.

Deluxe’s payroll processing tool is easy to use; users can complete payroll in three steps. It’s also precise, allowing you to adjust pay for fractions of hours worked. It can be used to issue employee checks or direct deposit payments, as well as to generate a series of reports to monitor your labor expenses.

You can work with your dedicated customer service team for tax advice or general guidance. They can help you comply with your payroll tax obligations, as well as offer tips to improve your reporting and filing processes to save you time and money.

Deluxe includes employer and employee portals. Employers can run payroll and a variety of reports, while employees can look up their paystubs, withholding information, time-off requests and direct deposit information. Employees can update their information here as well.

Deluxe interfaces with dozens of third-party software providers, including accounting software and POS systems. Integration also includes seamless data migration. Recently, Deluxe has started offering a tighter integration with popular accounting software. QuickBooks, Xero and Sage are several of the larger services that integrate with Deluxe, offering business owners an important connection between payroll and accounting.


Papaya Global Payroll: Best for International Employees

In-house experts help businesses overcome international hurdles.
You can initiate cross-border payments and file taxes locally.
Papaya Global is cost-prohibitive for many businesses.

Papaya Global is a payroll platform that specializes in assisting companies with employees all around the world. With over 160 countries in its system, Papaya beats the competition in catering to a global workforce.

Editor’s score: 8.3/10

Papaya follows a simple pricing plan of $20 per employee per month, which might prove expensive for businesses with many employees. Many other payroll providers we reviewed charge a flat base fee, plus a variable cost per employee. Papaya does offer volume discounts, but you will need to contact the company for a customized quote.

For its payroll services, Papaya offers cross-border payments, as well as access to an in-house team of consultants with global expertise. The user interface allows you to easily view and run payroll for individual countries, and Papaya’s compliance system keeps your business up to speed with local laws and regulations.

Papaya offers several important services for an additional cost. In-country partners can serve as your employer of record (EOR) for an international workforce. This means a third-party company will essentially assume near-total responsibility for your employees, including payroll, benefits, compliance and daily management. This service costs $650 per employee per month, which is more than other providers, such as Remote.

For $25 per employee per pay cycle, you can outsource certain services to a contractor. The Papaya platform features international onboarding tools, which allow you to hire in any country.


Remote: Best for EOR Services

Remote allows you to run payroll and stay compliant in over 60 countries.
For an added fee, Remote will serve as your employer of record.
The feature set isn't as extensive as those of other payroll providers.

Remote specializes in international payroll services. Its major strength lies in its top-notch employee of record services, which is when a third-party company helps you legally employ people in other countries. The EOR takes care of all tasks relating to things such as payroll, benefits, taxes, stock options and local compliance.

Editor’s score: 8.4/10

For businesses that want to quickly expand internationally, having an EOR can be a major benefit, because it means you don’t have to set up a local corporate entity. In many countries, the amount of red tape and bureaucracy makes hiring locally a long, complicated and expensive process. Remote’s team of in-house experts can also give advice on integrating remote workers and building compensation plans in individual countries.

For $599 per employee per month, Remote acts as your EOR. With this service, Remote handles local payroll processing, payroll taxes and compliance. You can also set up a benefits package that’s customized for each country and is also administered by Remote. Local in-house advisors serve as your boots on the ground, helping you to navigate any issues that arise. Remote also emphasizes protection for your company’s intellectual property abroad.

The company offers contractor management for $29 per contractor per month. With this service, you can onboard, pay and manage contractors in both the U.S. and around the world. Remote is currently in the process of rolling out a global payroll platform similar to those of the other providers we reviewed.


Online Payroll Pricing

While the costs of payroll services differ by company, payroll providers use a similar cost structure. There is typically a base fee and a per-employee charge. Our best picks charge base fees of $29 to $150 and per-employee fees of $2 to $12.

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

While some providers offer just one package that includes all of their services, others have several plans at various prices and different levels of service. For example, less-expensive plans may include only payroll processing, while others may handle all payroll tax filing and payment responsibilities. When you’re looking at whether to choose a cheaper payroll plan, consider your business’s individual needs.

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

Costs of Payroll Implementation

Many payroll services don’t charge any implementation or setup fees. For the most part, the software setup is an easy process that employees can even do on their own. Some companies may charge a one-time fee to transfer all of your previous payroll and employee data; while this isn’t hard to do on your own, the transfer fee might be worth it to save you some time.

When determining the true cost of payroll services for your small business, you need to factor in any taxes, implementation costs or other fees. Be sure to inquire about fees when you’re discussing prices with vendors.

Before you sign up with a payroll service provider, ask the company these questions to get the best deal possible:

  • Does it offer a discount for agreeing to a long-term contract?
  • Does it offer discounts for businesses with a large number of employees (if you’re a larger company)?
  • Would it be willing to match the price of one of its cheaper competitors?

It is essential to review the contract thoroughly before you sign anything. Make sure the contract includes everything you have agreed to and doesn’t have any built-in price increases after a certain time period.

Also, ask about the process for canceling service. For example, find out if there are any costs associated with canceling and how much notice you need to give.

Online Payroll Free Trial

Many payroll providers offer first-time customers a 30-day free trial, which gives you the chance to run payroll at least once to determine how you like the service. In addition, many payroll providers don’t require long-term commitments, so if you test it out for a few months and decide the program you selected doesn’t fit your needs, you can easily cancel your service and find a better match elsewhere.

Buying Guide

Online Payroll Features


Online payroll software encompasses a lot of services. These are some of the most valuable features and services these programs offer.


The primary purpose of these services is to get your employees paid, which saves you from doing the laborious and tedious work of learning how to process payroll by yourself. Based on the wage rates you enter and the hours each employee worked, the system automatically calculates how much workers should be paid. For each employee, the service applies the appropriate deductions, such as for medical benefits and Social Security.


One big plus of using an online payroll service is that it handles your business’s payroll tax responsibilities. Based on each paycheck, the software can withhold the required employee taxes. The payroll company then fills out and files the quarterly payroll tax reports and pays the appropriate local, state and federal agencies.

At the end of the year, the software generates the W-2 and 1099 tax forms for your workers. Many payroll companies offer an error-free guarantee, which means that if the company makes an error on your taxes, your payroll provider will correct the mistake and pay any fines or interest it incurred.


Each time you hire a new employee, you must report that information to the state. Online payroll services can complete those forms for your business and send them to the proper state agencies. Information on the forms includes the employee’s name, address and Social Security number, as well as the employer’s name, address and federal employer identification number.


Payroll companies offer multiple ways to pay your employees. The most convenient option is direct deposit. With this method, an employee provides their bank account information and the payroll software automatically deposits the paycheck into the employee’s account on payday.

Another option is paper checks. Some payroll providers offer check-stuffing services: They print the checks, stuff them in envelopes and then deliver the envelopes to your office to be given directly to employees.

In addition, some payroll services now offer prepaid debit cards. With this option, money from each paycheck is automatically deposited onto each debit card, and the employees who are using the payroll cards then have instant access to the funds.


Learn more about how direct deposit works for small businesses, including the pros and cons of using payroll services.


Some payroll providers and third-party services now offer on-demand pay options, which allow employees to determine when they want to be paid, rather than waiting for their specific pay date. In these scenarios, employees are paid for the time they have already worked. So, if a worker is eight days into a 14-day payroll cycle and has an unexpected expense come up that they need money for, they can utilize their on-demand pay to be processed a check for the eight days they have already worked.


You can pay all types of employees with online payroll software. The software can process pay for full- and part-time W-2 employees, as well as for 1099 contractors, including consultants and freelancers. The software treats both W-2 and 1099 employees the same in terms of payment and reporting. All employees are stored in the software; oftentimes, both types of employees can log in to the system to access their payroll records.


Online payroll software can provide a wide range of payroll reports that give businesses insight into your company and employees. The types of payroll reports that some services offer include payroll registers, contribution reports and payroll tax reports.


Many online payroll software platforms integrate with programs that businesses already use. These include accounting software, time and attendance systems, and HR software. These integrations allow the programs to connect seamlessly; data is automatically shared and transferred between them, thereby saving you the time you’d otherwise spend entering the same information in multiple places.


Each employee has their own login to access the software. The employee portal allows them to review their digital paystubs, access their year-end tax forms and check their time-off balances.

Did You Know?

Free paystub generators can help you create paystubs for your employees online.


Many payroll services include some level of management for your employees’ paid time off. This may mean simply tracking PTO accruals, or it may also offer the ability for employees to request PTO and managers to approve or deny it.


Some payroll companies include human resources services in their platforms. These might include employee onboarding services, as well as tools to create employee handbooks or job templates. Some payroll services even offer on-demand HR consultations.


Online payroll companies offer a variety of customer support options. Some assign a dedicated support representative to your company; this is your go-to person for any issue that requires a call. Other payroll services just have a general support number that you call for help. Most companies offer customer support Monday through Friday, though a few have support available over the weekend. In addition, most online payroll services have extensive resources on their websites, such as how-to-guides, FAQs and videos.


Some payroll services provide mobile access to their software. Some have mobile-friendly websites, while others have dedicated iOS and Android apps that allow you and your employees to access all of the same features from any location.


Today, people spend more time on mobile devices than on desktop computers, which is important to keep in mind when you’re thinking about how to choose payroll software.


In addition to the core payroll functions, many payroll companies offer a litany of other services that you can tack on to your plan. These include workers’ compensation insurance, benefits administration, retirement plans, college savings plans, and time and attendance systems.

Pros and Cons of Online Payroll


There are numerous benefits to using online payroll software. The two biggest are accuracy and timeliness. Online payroll software is critical in ensuring your employees are paid on time and accurately.

The software helps with accuracy because it handles all of the calculations for you. As long as you enter the correct number of hours each employee worked each pay period, the amount they are paid should be correct every time. Because you don’t have to do any of the math yourself, this greatly reduces the chance of errors. Failure to keep up with payroll liabilities can result in large fines from tax authorities and regulators, and payroll software can help you stay compliant.

In addition, many payroll services are essentially “set it and forget it.” Again, as long as you enter the correct number of hours worked, everything else will be handled in time for payday, without any extra input from you.

One of the most confusing aspects of running payroll is making sure the correct tax amounts are withheld each pay period. Payroll software handles all of that for you, which is a huge benefit. In addition to withholding the correct amount of payroll taxes, some payroll services fill out the correct federal and state payroll forms and file them for you, along with your payments.

The one potential downside of payroll software is that the platforms are usually cloud-hosted services. This means you are at your provider’s mercy in making sure the software is always up and running. If your provider has a catastrophic issue that takes its services offline, you run the risk of not being able to pay employees on time.

Online Payroll Security


Payroll software contains a lot of sensitive data that you don’t want unauthorized people to access, such as employees’ Social Security numbers and bank account details for direct deposit. To keep that data safe, you need to make sure the online payroll software you use has top-notch security protocols.

Among the security measures you should look for when choosing online payroll software are multifactor authentication and high-level encryption. Find out what security certifications the software has and what physical security measures the company takes in the server location where it stores the cloud-hosted software and data.

Frequently Asked Payroll Questions



There are various factors to consider when you’re choosing a payroll service provider, but it all comes down to whether it can serve your company’s needs. Will the software make it easy to manage your entire employee roster? Can you run payroll as often as you’d like? Does it handle all of your payroll tax needs? Does it offer a tax guarantee? Does it provide any added services you want, such as workers’ compensation insurance and PTO management? These are all things you need to know about a service before committing to it.

Other factors you should consider are whether the payroll service fits your budget, how easy the software is to use, and the level of customer support the company offers.


There are many benefits to using online payroll services. First, it simplifies the payroll process. These services handle all of your payroll processing and payroll tax responsibilities. All you, as the business owner, are responsible for each pay period is entering the number of hours each employee worked and any commissions or bonuses they earned. You should be able to run your payroll in just a few minutes.

Once you submit this information, the payroll software does the rest of the work for you. It calculates the correct amount for each paycheck and deposits that money directly into each employee’s bank account. If they don’t use direct deposit, it will let you know when you can print out a paper check for them. The software also automatically calculates the proper payroll tax withholdings and, when the time comes, files the required paperwork and submits the necessary payments on your behalf.

Payroll software also offers employee self-service. Employees don’t have to ask someone else all of their payroll questions because they can log in to the system to get the answers on their own. This is a time-saver for both employees and the staff who would be answering their questions.


We looked at a variety of factors to determine our recommendations. For each service, we considered the cost; the usability of the software; the tax services it offers; the integration options; any incentives, like free trials or discounts; the availability of self-service; the completeness of the tax services; extra services, such as HR, time-off management and retirement savings plans; customer support; and user-generated reviews.


After careful research and consideration, we selected the following providers as the top payroll services: OnPay, Gusto, ADP, Rippling and Paychex. Other highly rated services include Deluxe, Paycor, Papaya Global, Remote and Square Payroll. To learn more about each of our best picks, check out our reviews above.


Most payroll software allows you to pay contractors right alongside your full-time employees, though there are some differences with regard to taxes. Taxes are not withheld from contractors’ paychecks. (Instead, independent contractors pay self-employment tax on their earnings.) If you pay a contractor more than $600 a year, you will need to fill out Form 1099-MISC.


A balance sheet reports on a company’s finances (including assets, liabilities and shareholder equity) during a certain time period. A balance sheet does not necessarily detail salaries and wages, though unpaid wages can appear as a liability on the balance sheet.

What to Expect in 2023

Payroll outsourcing is expected to grow at over 5% a year until at least 2026, according to Accenture. Advances in cloud computing will be the largest driver of its widespread adoption throughout the industry. Businesses are more willing to outsource their payroll due to concerns regarding staff sizes and the increasing number of digital platforms capable of quickly and efficiently handling these functions.

The move toward remote work will also continue driving more cloud-based software offerings. Many online payroll vendors have already transitioned to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model with a monthly subscription, and we expect that trend to continue in 2023. Furthermore, automation and the need for data insights are increasingly driving the adoption of AI capabilities and data analytics in online payroll. These are features that business owners may want to consider when searching for payroll software. This could be an additional avenue to drive productivity gains.

The growing “work-from-anywhere” trend also bolsters the need for payroll software, especially those that offer employer-of-record service. Although recent layoffs in the tech sector have eliminated many remote roles, we expect that this trend will reaccelerate as the economic picture improves.

According to KPMG, workforce compliance standards are tightening around the globe. For example, Social Security’s wage base increased to $147,000 in 2022. With greater regulatory scrutiny, businesses can take advantage of payroll software to help ensure they remain in compliance with local laws and regulations.

Payroll taxes will remain largely unchanged at the federal level in 2023. The maximum FICA tax will increase from $9,114.00 to $9,932.40. Many states are also boosting minimum wages, including New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Other states are changing their payroll taxes and paid leave requirements. Noncompliance can cost business owners significant time and money. Payroll software can help you keep track of these requirements and alert you to any instances of noncompliance.

Mike Berner
Mike Berner
Staff Writer
Mike Berner is a staff writer at and Business News Daily specializing in finance. Mike has a deep background in the financial world, having written hundreds of articles and blog posts on financial markets, business and investing. He holds a B.A. in economics and a B.B.A. in finance, both from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prior to his writing career, he performed quantitative analysis and research as an economic analyst.
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