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Intuit QuickBooks Payroll Review

Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks

QuickBooks Payroll from Intuit has everything small businesses are looking for in a payroll solution. It offers flexible service plans so you only pay for the services you need. Additionally, the software is easy to use, it includes all of the features and tools you need to run your payroll quickly and efficiently, and it works in tandem with QuickBooks Accounting Software, the most popular accounting software on the market. It also now offers options for additional HR services. Few payroll services provide this type of comprehensive service, which is why QuickBooks Payroll is our choice as the best online payroll service for small businesses. We chose Intuit from an initial pool of more than 70 payroll companies.

Intuit QuickBooks Payroll

Intuit QuickBooks Payroll

The Best Online Payroll Services of 2021

The Verdict

QuickBooks Payroll is our choice for the best online payroll system for small businesses. It offers a range of service plans, allows unlimited payroll runs each month, and is easily managed through an online portal that makes processing payroll simple.

QuickBooks Payroll Pricing and Service Plans

Part of the appeal of QuickBooks Payroll is that it is available in multiple service plans with varying price points. This gives most businesses, regardless of their budget, the ability to use this software in some way.

QuickBooks Payroll is available in three service plans. All three include full-service payroll processing, as well as the ability to handle all of your payroll tax needs. The three plans are:


The Core plan costs $45 per month, plus $4 per employee. It includes auto-payroll options, health insurance benefits, workers' compensation management and next-day direct deposit.


The Premium plan costs $75 per month, plus $8 per employee. In addition to everything in the Core plan, it includes same-day direct deposit, access to an HR support center, mobile time tracking and expert setup review.


The Elite plan costs $125 per month, plus $10 per employee. It includes everything in the Premium plan, plus customized setup, project tracking, and a tax penalty protection of up to $25,000. You also get access to a personal HR advisor who can provide professional guidance on critical HR issues.

You can add QuickBooks accounting software to all of these plans. The Simple Start plan is an additional $25 per month, the Essentials plan is an added $40 per month, and the Plus costs another $70 per month.

All of these plans include a 30-day free trial.

Besides the QuickBooks Payroll subscriptions, you can also purchase a QuickBooks Desktop monthly payroll subscription. The three desktop payroll plans – Basic, Enhanced and Full Service – differ in the included services and features and prices.


This plan costs $29 per month, plus $2 for each employee. When starting out, you save 30% on the monthly base fee for the first six months. The Basic plan only includes payroll processing. Intuit doesn't handle any tax responsibilities with this plan. This plan offers direct deposit, the option to instantly print paychecks for both W-2 employees and 1099 workers, and live customer support.


This plan costs $45 per month, plus $2 per employee. You save 50% on the first six months when signing up for this plan. The Enhanced plan includes payroll processing and some payroll tax obligations. With this plan, Intuit calculates all federal and state payroll taxes for you, but you are responsible for making all tax payments. The service automatically fills in all the federal and most state payroll tax forms for you, and provides the option of electronically paying these taxes. This plan also allows you to print out year-end tax forms for employees.

Assisted Payroll

This plan costs $109 per month, plus $2 per employee. There is a 70% discount for the first six months. The Assisted plan handles all payroll and payroll tax responsibilities. It calculates, files and pays payroll taxes for you. It also provides a tax guarantee that your payroll taxes will be paid on time and accurately. If any mistakes are made, Intuit corrects them and pays any incurred fines. Intuit sets up the service for you by inputting all employee information into the online platform. It also processes and prints year-end tax forms.   

An appealing aspect of QuickBooks Payroll is that none of the service plans require long-term contracts. You can pay month to month for each plan, and you cancel at any time without incurring a penalty. 

QuickBooks Payroll Features

QuickBooks payroll service offers many features that will appeal to small businesses. Among some of the more valuable are: 

Unlimited Payroll Runs

With QuickBooks, you can run payroll as many times as you want each month. You can pay your employees weekly, biweekly, semimonthly or monthly all for the same cost. Additionally, if your business uses 1099 contractors or freelancers, you can pay them whenever you want, and you don't need to have them on the same pay cycle as your W-2 employees.

Employee Payment Options

Pay employees and 1099 workers via direct deposit or paper check. With paper checks, you can use preprinted check stock that has your company information and logo printed on it, or blank check stock. You can also use plain paper to print pay stubs and then write out a check by hand.

Payroll Taxes

QuickBooks Payroll can take care of all of your payroll tax responsibilities. This includes calculating, filing, and paying your local, state, and federal payroll taxes. When the taxes have been filed, Intuit sends you an email notifying you it has been completed. With QuickBooks Desktop Payroll, this level of service is only offered with the Assisted plan. Both the Elite and Assisted plans also include tax penalty protections. With this, Intuit assumes all responsibility should it make a mistake calculating your payroll taxes.

Year-End Tax Forms

QuickBooks takes care of your year-end tax form responsibilities. The service automatically prepares your W-2 forms and files them with the IRS. It also delivers W-2 forms to your employees.

Paid Time Off

This payroll software can track paid time-off accruals. You can set up the system for accruals based on certain dates, like the beginning of the year, or the employee's anniversary date, each pay period, or by each hour worked.

Payroll Reports

QuickBooks offers several payroll reports, such as payroll summaries and details, as well as reports for tax payments and liabilities. Other reports include total costs, workers' compensation, deductions and contributions, and vacation and sick time.

Quickbooks Integration

QuickBooks Online's integration can be a real timesaver. The two services seamlessly transfer data to one another, so you never have to manually enter data into both programs.

QuickBooks Payroll Pros

QuickBooks payroll software is extremely easy to use. It is a cloud-hosted system that doesn't require any special software to install or maintain. Since it is hosted in the cloud, it is accessible anywhere with an internet connection.  

The system's online platform is simple to navigate. The interface is clearly labeled, which makes finding what you need when you need it easy. The homepage includes a running to-do list of tasks that need to be completed.

When it is time to run payroll, you can complete the process in just three steps. First, you select the employees you want to pay, the hours each one worked, plus any vacation or overtime hours. Salaried employees' pay rates are already saved in the system.

The second step is to review the payroll to ensure everything looks accurate. You can compare your payroll date to previous pay runs to see how things line up. If everything is correct, the final step is to submit the payroll. You will see confirmation that the payroll is complete. You can then either print your checks or allow for direct deposits. 

The system can also be tapped into from the QuickBooks mobile app, which is available on iOS and Android devices. From the app, payroll administrators can run payroll, review and pay payroll taxes, and access the company's payroll history. 

The software includes employee self-service offerings. Employees can log in to the system to review their paystubs, see their accrued paid time off and access year-end tax forms. 

One of QuickBooks' biggest benefits is its integration with QuickBooks accounting software, which is business.com's choice as the best overall accounting software. The two programs work in lockstep. The integration allows the two programs to work as one so you don't waste time entering information in both programs.

QuickBooks Payroll Cons

QuickBooks Payroll doesn't offer tax penalty protection to everyone. Only those paying for the most expensive plans get that protection. Many of the other services we considered included that protection to all users, regardless of whether they were using the cheapest plan or the most expensive one.

Additionally, QuickBooks Payroll is not the cheapest payroll provider we examined. While it is not overly expensive, some of its per-employee fees cost more than similar fees charged by other providers.

Another disappointment was the number of complaints about QuickBooks' parent company, Intuit, with the Better Business Bureau. As of December 2020, more than 1,600 complaints had been filed against Intuit with the BBB. However, not all of the complaints were about its payroll services. Despite the complaints, however, Intuit has an A+ rating with the BBB.

Customer Service 

We were very pleased with the level of support we received from Intuit. We contacted the company multiple times by phone and email, posing as a small business owner interested in payroll software. 

Each time we contacted Intuit by phone, our call was quickly answered by a representative. We were pleased that at no time did we have to wait on hold to speak with someone. With some of the other payroll providers we contacted, we were forced to wait on hold for a lengthy amount of time before someone was available. 

Each of the representatives we spoke with was friendly and helpful. They all provided thorough answers to our questions. By the end of each of our calls, we understood how Intuit's payroll service worked, what it had to offer and how much it cost. 

We were also pleased with the support we received via email. Many of the representatives we spoke with by phone offered to follow up with an email so we had their contact information should we have any further questions. Each time we emailed the company with a question, we received a prompt response. 

One area where we felt Intuit's service fell short was with its live chat tool. When we contacted the company, we were told by the chat support agent that to get those answers, we needed to contact the company by phone. It's disappointing that a tool that is supposed to provide quick and immediate answers didn't provide that information. 

QuickBooks Payroll support is available by phone, email and live chat between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (PST), Monday through Friday. Elite users can connect with the support team by phone or chat 24/7.

In addition, QuickBooks' website has a lot of valuable useful resources where you can find answers to questions without calling the support line. There are training videos and guides; there's also a user community where Intuit clients interact and help each other solve problems. 

Image Credit: AndreyPopov / Getty Images
Intuit QuickBooks Payroll

Intuit QuickBooks Payroll

The Best Online Payroll Services of 2021

The Verdict

QuickBooks Payroll is our choice for the best online payroll system for small businesses. It offers a range of service plans, allows unlimited payroll runs each month, and is easily managed through an online portal that makes processing payroll simple.

Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks
business.com Staff
See Chad Brooks's Profile
Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor who has spent more than 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014.