8 top payroll processing services for small businesses


Processing payroll week after week can become a tedious task for any small business. Contracting with a vendor specializing in payroll processing can save a small business time and frustration.

For many small businesses, processing employee payroll week after week, month after month, and year after year can be a tedious, time-consuming, and relentless endeavor. Writing payroll checks and filing and paying payroll tax returns takes you away from what you really want to do—serve your customers and sell your products. That’s why you became a business owner!

The time-consuming nature of payroll processing is why small businesses either choose to hire a dedicated payroll administrator to process their payroll tasks or contract with a third-party vendor that provides payroll service to take over this workforce management. Modern payroll processing vendors offer a full array of services including mobile access, cloud-based technology, online payroll, and employee quality-of-life benefits.

There are many payroll processing vendors offering their services for workforce management. Some are huge, multinational corporations, and some are much smaller cloud-based startups. And, while price is always an important consideration, your choice of payroll vendor should not be solely based on that data point. Automatic and complete filing of all payroll tax returns, automated and timely electronic payment of income and payroll taxes, and a simplified and intuitive user interface in your payroll solution will likely be more important factors in the long run.

Here is a list of eight payroll solutions offering services for small- to medium-sized businesses and business owners. The list is presented in alphabetical order, and the payroll vendors are not ranked.





Image: ADP

ADP offers a full array of payroll processing services plus employee benefit management, insurance services, and human resource tools. ADP’s payroll solution is designed to accommodate businesses ranging from a single employee to thousands of employees, making sure they all get their pay. The more services your business uses the more costs it will incur, but Essential Payroll is the most common payroll package for small businesses. ADP does not advertise its prices, so you must contact the company for a quote.

Key features:

  • Employee benefits included
  • Automatically file all payroll taxes
  • Three-month trial period
  • Time tracking included
  • Unlimited processing
  • Web/mobile interface


ADP



gusto-new.jpg

Image: Gusto

Gusto payroll software has been designed from the ground up to be a cloud-based service. Gusto offers a complete array of payroll processing services as well as additional services like HR management, employee benefits, hiring and onboarding, and employee finance tools. The Core package of services, which should appeal to most small businesses, costs $39/month plus $6/employee. 

Key features:

  • Bookkeeping integration included
  • Employee benefits management
  • Automatically file all payroll taxes
  • Time tracking included
  • Direct deposit
  • Trial period
  • Unlimited processing
  • Web/mobile interface


$40 at Gusto



intuit-logo-new.jpg

Image: Intuit

Small businesses and business owners adopting the QuickBooks accounting software often adopt the Intuit QuickBooks Payroll software system as well. While this payroll service includes full payroll processing services, it has a few more limitations regarding HR services. Integration with QuickBooks, however, is seamless. QuickBooks Payroll is now on sale for half price, with the Core available for $22.50/month plus $4/employee for three months (normally, $45/month plus $4/employee). 

Key features:

  • Bookkeeping integration included
  • Employee benefits included
  • Automatically file all payroll taxes
  • Direct deposit
  • 30-day trial period
  • Unlimited processing
  • Web interface


$23 at QuickBooks



onpay-menu-new.jpg

Image: Onpay

OnPay is another full-service, cloud-based payroll processing service. This vendor’s payroll software includes HR documentation and tools, time tracking, paid time off management, and benefit management. Unlike some of the other vendors, OnPay has simplified its pricing structure for this payroll solution to a flat $36/month plus $4/employee for all its services.

Key features:

  • Bookkeeping integration included
  • Employee benefits included
  • Automatically file all payroll taxes
  • Direct deposit and debit card
  • 30-day trial period
  • Unlimited processing
  • Web/mobile interface


$36 at OnPay



patriot-software-new.jpg

Image: Patriot

Patriot Software offers payroll processing services to small businesses without the frills and flourishes of other payroll vendors. If all you want is a vendor to run payroll and file the appropriate payroll and income taxes, Patriot Software may be the service for you to get your staff their pay. The service offers a free 30-day trial period, and the full service can be purchased for $30/month plus $4/employee. A basic package in which you file your own payroll taxes is available for $10/month plus $4/employee.

Key features:

  • Bookkeeping integration included
  • Automatically file all payroll taxes
  • Direct deposit
  • 30-day trial period
  • Unlimited processing
  • Web/mobile interface


$30 at Patriot



paychex-payrollcenter-new.jpg

Image: Paychex

The other large, old-school payroll processing provider is Paychex. This vendor offers a full array of payroll services including a mobile app, integrated HR services, and workers’ compensation reporting. Advanced payroll services will cost an additional fee, but the base package called Paychex Go, costs $59/month plus $4/employee.

Key features:

  • Bookkeeping integration included
  • Employee benefits included
  • Automatically file all payroll taxes
  • Time tracking included
  • Three-month trial period
  • Unlimited processing
  • Web/mobile interface (extra cost)


$60 at Paychex



sage-payroll-new.jpg

Image: Sage

Sage HRMS Payroll is part of a complete integrated HR management and accounting software system from Sage Group PLC. This payroll service is most effective when your business is also using other Sage products as part of its business management software. As the products are integrated, you will have to contact Sage for a price quote.

Key features:

  • Bookkeeping integration included
  • Employee benefits integration
  • File payroll taxes manually
  • Unlimited processing


Sage



sq-online-store-phone-new.jpg

Image: Square

Part of the Square ecommerce ecosystem, Square Payroll offers a complete payroll processing service for both employees and contractors. The system integrates with other pay services offered by Square but does not include HR management services or employee benefit services. Square Payroll costs $29/month plus $5/employee.

Key features:

  • Integration with Square products
  • Automatically file all payroll taxes
  • Direct deposit
  • Payroll for employees and contractors
  • Unlimited processing
  • Web/mobile interface


$30 at Square



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