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Best Payroll Services for Small Business

Save time and reduce risk by automating payroll tasks

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Payroll services do all of the hard work for you and handle any legal requirements for your state so you can focus on running your business. The best payroll services offer an automated solution that records employees' time, calculates and processes payroll, and includes free end-of-year tax filings. 

"Payroll services" is an all-encompassing term that includes both payroll software that will help you process your payroll yourself and also outsourced services that will handle all of the payroll on your behalf. Each takes away the worry about whether you’re doing payroll correctly and helps you handle payroll without a large team to complete the work.

We researched and reviewed more than two dozen payroll services and chose the best seven based on pricing, features, ease of use, customer service, and more. Here are our top picks.

The 7 Best Payroll Services for Small Business of 2022

Best Overall : Gusto


Gusto
Gusto
Why We Chose It

Gusto is our best overall payroll service because it is easy to use and provides an all-in-one solution that works for most businesses. The pricing is competitive, and it features everything businesses without an internal payroll team will need. You can automate your entire payroll, file your payroll taxes automatically, and integrate health insurance, retirement plans, time tracking, paid time off, and more. Gusto is a great option for any business but really tops the other options for small businesses that need the most help.

Gusto's customer service is available by phone, chat, and email. Chat is available from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT, while phone hours are between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. PT based on what level of service you select. Both are available Monday through Friday. Businesses that opt for the Premium plan even get access to a dedicated team that intimately knows their account.

Even though some Gusto users praise the easy-to-navigate interface and breadth of services, others note that customer service is not always responsive to support requests. Some third-party customer reviews even note that they were left with balances from the Internal Revenue Service even though Gusto claims it handles taxes.

Plan Cost Features
Simple  $40/month +$6/month per employee Full-service, single-state payroll, including W-2s and 1099s; employee profiles and self-service; basic hiring and onboarding tools; Gusto-brokered health insurance administration; employee financial benefits; payroll and time-off reports; custom admin permissions; integrations for accounting, time tracking, expense management, and more; basic support
Plus $80/month +$12/month per employee Everything in the Simple plan plus full-service, multi-state payroll, including W-2s and 1099s; next-day direct deposit; advanced hiring and onboarding tools; PTO management; time and project tracking; workforce costing and custom reports; team management tools; full support
Premium Contact for pricing Everything in the Plus plan plus HR resource center; compliance alerts; access to certified HR experts; full-service payroll migration and account setup; health insurance broker integration; R&D tax credit discount; waived fees and exclusive pricing; performance reviews; employee surveys and insights; dedicated support
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Full-service payroll services

  • Easy-to-use interface

  • Benefits support available

Cons
  • Non-responsive customer service

  • Users report issues with tax filing

Runner-Up for Best Overall : Intuit QuickBooks Payroll


Intuit QuickBooks Payroll

 Intuit QuickBooks Payroll

Why We Chose It

Intuit QuickBooks Payroll offers many of the same features that Gusto does, even down to health benefits for employees. Even the pricing is comparable. QuickBooks Payroll is our runner-up for best overall because of how well-rounded its offerings are combined with the ability to connect so seamlessly with QuickBooks, the most widely used accounting software for small businesses. Intuit's QuickBooks Payroll offers a competitive price, a solid service, and overall is a good fit for just about anyone, especially if your company already uses QuickBooks. 

Intuit also has a strong customer support system built around all of its products. Its payroll service isn’t the most popular part of its business, but the support is the same as QuickBooks accounting. Support is available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time via both phone and live chat. QuickBooks also offers a payroll support center online where you can get additional help through various guides, FAQs, and other curated resources.

Users report that customer service is typically friendly and helpful, but some third-party customer reviews point to problems cancelling plans, technical issues with direct deposits, and issues with payroll taxes being filed properly.

Plan Cost Features
Payroll Core + QuickBooks Simple Start $37.50/month + $5/month per employee Full-service payroll, including automated taxes and forms; auto payroll; 1099 E-File and pay; next-day direct deposit; 401(k) and health benefits; track income and expenses; accepts invoices and payments; maximize tax deductions; run general reports; capture and organize receipts; track miles; manage cash flow; track sales and sales tax; send estimates; manage 1099 contractors; 1 user
Payroll Core + QuickBooks Plus $65/month + $5/month per employee  Everything in the Payroll Core + QuickBooks Simple Start plan plus 1-5 users, manage and pay bills, track time, track inventory, track project profitability 
Payroll Premium + QuickBooks Plus $80/month + $8/month per employee  Everything in the Payroll Core + QuickBooks Plus plan plus expert review, on-the-go time tracking, an HR support center, workers' compensation administration 
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Competitive pricing

  • Connects seamlessly with QuickBooks accounting products

  • Employee benefits support available

Cons
  • Technical problems with direct deposits

  • Customer reviews point to problems filing payroll taxes

  • Some users complain that they were unable to cancel their plans

Best for Pricing : Wave Payroll


Wave

 Wave

Why We Chose It

Wave Payroll is our best option for pricing because it charges a flat rate, instead of offering pricing tiers based on features. Wave also offers free accounting and invoicing software you can combine with Payroll, making it even more of an affordable option. Its payroll software is easy to use, and you can try it free for 30 days. A major drawback is that the free tax filings are only available in 14 states. 

Wave has average customer service reviews online. Many users feel like Wave was not very helpful when they called into the team, but most reviews seem to be related to their payments product. For support, they offer customers the opportunity to submit a support ticket, chatbot, live chat, and a help center with articles and tutorials.

Like the other payroll service providers on our list, Wave has had complaints leveled against it relating to unpaid payroll taxes. It's also important to note that Wave Payroll supports payments for fewer than 40 employees, so if your business has more than 40 employees, you'll need to look elsewhere.

Plan Cost Features 
Payroll $35/month + $6/month per employee or contractor for tax service states*, $20/month + $6/month per employee or contractor One-click employee pay; see breakdown of payroll expenses by employee, expense type, and more; employee access to pay stubs and tax forms; W-2 and 1099 form generation; automatic tax filing and payments; time and accrual tracking; integrated invoicing and payment tracking; customer support Monday through Friday

*Tax service states include Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Customers in all other 36 states must file and pay state payroll taxes themselves.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Very affordable

  • Integrates with both Wave Accounting and QuickBooks

  • 30-day free trial

Cons
  • Only automatically files and pays payroll taxes in 14 states

  • Supports payroll for companies with 40 or fewer employees

Best for Outsourcing Payroll : Justworks


JustWorks

 JustWorks

Why We Chose It

Justworks is a professional employer organization (PEO) that will completely outsource all of your payroll and handle it for you. PEOs lease employees to companies, thereby sharing liabilities and responsibilities for those employees while also giving those companies less control when something goes wrong. We chose Justworks as our best outsourcing payroll service because of its ease of use and the number of HR functions you can outsource with payroll. 

Justworks has a strong online reputation in regard to its customer support. It offers 24/7 support via phone, email, Slack, chat, or SMS. It also offers a lot of helpful content that might help your employees through any issues they’re having with the service.

The company's pricing structure is a bit different from other payroll services on our list, but because your employees are technically employed by the PEO, this makes sense. The cost is substantially higher than most of the other providers on our list with most others offering a flat rate and a nominal per-employee monthly charge.

Plan Cost Features 
Basic $59/month per employee; $49/month for 50th employee onwards Payroll for salaried and hourly employees; off-cycle payments; vendor and contract payments; employer payroll tax filing; W-2 and 1099 filing; unemployment insurance filing; 24/7 customer support; HR consulting; harassment prevention and inclusion training; employee onboarding; PTO management; calendar, doc center, and directory; accounting software integrations; reporting; commuter benefits; plan setup; access to workers' compensation, life and disability insurance, health and wellness perks, fitness memberships, and 401(k)
Plus $99/month per employee; $89/month for 50th employee onward Everything in the Basic plan plus COBRA administration; health advocacy services; One Medical, where available; access to medical, vision, and dental insurance; access to HSA/FSA accounts
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Full-service payroll and benefits outsourcing

  • 24/7 customer support via phone, email, Slack, chat, or SMS

Cons
  • Very expensive

  • Professional employer organizations (PEOs) lease out employees to companies, giving those companies less control if something goes wrong

Best for Growing Businesses : ADP Run


ADP Run

 ADP Run

Why We Chose It

ADP is the most experienced payroll service option on our list. It serves businesses of all sizes so it's equipped to handle small businesses as well as those with hundreds of employees. That’s why we chose ADP Run as our best payroll service for growing businesses, particularly those planning to grow to more than 100 employees. 

Although ADP offers a wide range of payroll and HR services, it's not very transparent with its pricing. The other providers on our list provide pricing information clearly on their website, but you'll have to go through ADP to get a quote for each of their plans.

Also, ADP isn’t known for great customer service, but it has mostly good reviews online. Customer service is available 24/7.

Plan Cost  Features
Essential Payroll Contact ADP Payroll, taxes, and help with compliance
Enhanced Payroll Contact ADP Payroll, garnishment payment service, SUI management, background checks, and job posting through ZipRecruiter®
Complete Payroll & HR+ Contact ADP Payroll, HR tools such as live HR support, employee handbook wizard, proactive compliance alerts, HR guidance and forms, and a job description wizard
HR Pro Payroll & HR Contact ADP Payroll, comprehensive suite of HR tools such as a proactive HR support team, employer/employee training, business advice, and legal assistance from Upnetic Legal Services®
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Wide range of payroll and HR services available

  • Well-known company with longevity

Cons
  • Pricing is not transparent, and you'll have to contact ADP for quotes

  • Customer service is lackluste

Best for Software Integrations : OnPay


OnPay

 OnPay

Why We Chose It

OnPay is a solid payroll service that offers integrations for not only most accounting software options but also with most time tracking software. OnPay’s API makes it easy to integrate even if it doesn't currently offer a direct integration. That’s why we chose OnPay as the best option if you’re looking for integration. OnPay is also very quick to process payroll, and you can run the entire process easily right on your mobile device. OnPay offers a flat pricing structure that’s affordable and easy to understand.

OnPay has mostly positive customer reviews, particularly for its customer service. It offers both phone and email support, available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time. If customer support is one of the most important things to you, then this is a great option.

Although its reviews are mostly positive, some third-party customer reviews note problems with responsiveness when it comes to tech issues. Others report some inaccuracies with payroll numbers.

Plan Cost Features 
OnPay $40/month + $6/month per employee Cloud-based payroll, automated taxes, built-in HR and benefits, expert support, free setup
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Easily integrate accounting software

  • Run payroll on your mobile device

  • One affordable plan

Cons
  • Problems with unresponsive tech support

Best for Paying Household Workers : SurePayroll


SurePayroll

 SurePayroll

Why We Chose It

SurePayroll is our pick for household workers because it provides payroll services for niche industries. The company provides a host of payroll and HR options for small business, as well as nannies and household service providers and even churches and clergy members.

The downside to SurePayroll is that the company does not offer transparent pricing. Like ADP, you'll have to reach out to the company for a quote. And pricing varies depending upon your industry.

Customer support has a good, but not great, reputation across third-party review sites. The company does offer support six days a week, Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Plan Cost Features
Niche-based Varies; contact SurePayroll Payroll, workers' compensation, 401(k), health insurance, pre-employment screening,
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Payroll and HR services for niche industries

Cons
  • No transparent pricing

Final Verdict

Payroll can be time-consuming, and if you're a small business owner, hiring a payroll service can take the confusion and headaches out of paying your employees and managing human resources tasks.

Gusto took our top spot as best overall payroll service provider for small businesses because it is competitive priced, easy to use, and features just about everything a small business needs to manage its HR and payroll functions. But every business is different. Our list will help you choose the right payroll service.

What Are Payroll Services?

Payroll services is a term that includes the software and/or the outsourced parties used to process payroll for businesses. Typically, a payroll service will provide not only a way for you to process basic payroll, but you’ll get lots of extra features. These include a way to pay employees via direct deposit, integrations or built-in methods to record time, tax calculations and processing, and a way for you to issue year-end documents like W2s and 1099 forms to your employees. 

Most small businesses will be satisfied with an all-in-one software solution that is affordable and can do most of the heavy lifting for you, especially if you don’t have an internal team of experts to process payroll on your behalf. This simplifies payroll without breaking the bank. There are also outsourced services, such as a personal employer organization (PEO), that will take care of all payroll activities but unless you have a significant amount of employees, they can be expensive or difficult to work with. 

There are numerous things to look for when you are trying to find the right payroll service for your business. “Among the top considerations when evaluating payroll service providers are user-friendly software that meets your technical requirements, a track record of dependable service, and fair and transparent pricing," says Leigh-Ann Mosley, Director at Inova Payroll. "A user should also look at the long-game when considering a payroll service provider. Will the service easily expand if I add 10 or 50 employees? Are there fee increases each year?”

How Do Payroll Services Work?

A payroll service, or payroll software, is used by businesses to automatically calculate and process payroll. Typically you’ll either set up an automatic connection with whatever system you use to collect your employee’s time or you’ll manually enter work time each week into your payroll service. 

Based on the information you’ve entered about each employee, your software will calculate how much tax to withhold and how much to pay your employees. If your employees have direct deposit, then your payroll service will initiate a transfer from your bank account to theirs. 

At the end of the year, your payroll service will easily run the 1099 and W2 forms of your workers and help you either print or provide secure access to these documents for your employees. This can save you countless hours of trying to create and send these to your employees by the deadline. Plus, using software that you’ve used to pay the employees all year ensures that the numbers align with the money that has been deposited into their bank accounts. 

How Much Do Payroll Services Cost?

Payroll services typically require a base cost of $20 to $100 per month plus an additional cost per employee or independent contractor that ranges from $4 to $10. Some services might have a per-pay or per-check fee, but if you’re planning on pushing direct deposit for employees then you can rely on the costs above, which typically will include weekly pay periods, if desired. 

Are Payroll Services Worth the Cost?

If you have even one employee then these payroll services are typically worth the cost just for the amount of time and risk they will save you and your business. If you have a good handle on employee laws, taxes, and accounting for your business, then you could do this yourself, but the potential cost and liability of missing deadlines or paying people incorrectly could end up costing you a lot more than the price of a simple payroll service or software.

Other types of software will offer payroll services as an add-on to a program you’re already purchasing, but we still recommend getting your own service provider. The add-ons don’t typically have all of the features that make the best payroll services so great, and they can cost about the same or more than the ones on this list. 

How We Chose the Best Payroll Services for Small Business

We researched nearly two dozen of the best payroll services based first on the combination of features and pricing. At a minimum all payroll services needed to offer a way to automatically track time, calculate payroll and taxes, direct deposit your employee’s pay, and provide end-of-year tax documents. Beyond that, we also considered ease of use, additional features, and customer service.

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