What is the best payroll company? And how much does it cost to hire one? Read this review to find out how the best payroll service can help grow your business.
Handling payroll by yourself is time-consuming and confusing. But deciding to use a payroll company or service can be just as dauntingwhere do you begin?
No matter the size of your small business, there are many factors to consider, from adjustment management to multi-state tax filings.
Whether you want to start using payroll services or switch to a new one, read on for ways to find the perfect pick for your small business.
What Happens After You Sign With a Payroll Service
Payroll services calculate and distribute salaries to employees. They begin by determining gross wages and then deducting any necessary items, such as payroll taxes and health insurance. Net wages are then given to each employee by direct deposit or physical check.
Payroll services prepare required and periodic tax statements. They also prepare year-end tax fillings for your business and your employees, including 1099s and W-2 forms, saving you hours of manual data entry and bookkeeping.
However, some payroll services will offer added help with select HR tasks, healthcare and benefits management, PTO, time and attendance tracking, and 401(k)s.
You can expect to pay between $25 and $200 per month for payroll services. The prices for different payroll software companies will vary.
Evaluate whats included for the cost. Some companies may charge extra for services outside of payroll processing, like healthcare, HR assistance, or payroll tax preparation.
A basic Google search brings up thousands of payroll options. So how do you find the best payroll for you?
Here are some of the most popular payroll services to start your search.
Gustois an all-in-one payroll software that automates many standard payroll functions, as well as HR and benefits services. All plans offer a baseline of comprehensive services, including:
Gusto integrates with your accounting and time and attendance tracking software. You can add extra benefits, like 401(k)s, FSAs, and more, to any plan for an added cost.
Gustos most basic plan offers everything a growing and small business may need for payroll. It costs$39 per monthas a base rate with an additional $6 a month per employee.
This is Gustos mid-level plan and offers some added features for payroll. It costs$39 per monthas a base rate with an additional $12 a month per employee.
Gustos Concierge plan offers a large variety of payroll and HR services for a relatively affordable cost. It costs$149 per monthas a base rate with an additional $12 per month per employee.
QuickBooks Payrollmanagement is one of the most popular payroll companies for small businesses. It has two programs: self-service payroll and full-service payroll.
The services also integrate with QuickBooks. If you do not have QuickBooks, tthey still offer a discount with Payroll.
With Intuits mobile app, you can even manage payroll on your own.
You can try either Intuit QuickBooks service free for 30 days.
The basic package costs $22.50 per month if you pay for the first three months in advance. For that package, each employee costs an additional $4 .
24-hour direct deposit and deductions, from health insurance to retirement
Payment customizations: choose how and when to pay your employees
Automatic tax updates: monitor and apply the most recent tax rates at the federal and state level
QuickBooks Payrolls more advanced payroll software costs $45 per month. Each employee costs $4 extra.
Quickbooks Full-Service Payrollincludes all of the Self-Service Payroll features and added benefits like expert payroll setup help and an accuracy guarantee.
U.S.-based payroll experts to help you set up your payroll system
QuickBooks to calculate and file all tax forms on your behalf
Accuracy guarantee: QuickBooks will cover any tax penalties or fees associated with filling errors.
QuickBooks to track tax rates and adjust on your behalf
Customizable payroll, from pay schedules to deductions to bonuses
Customer service over the phone, email or chat.
PayUSAcustomizes payroll services for small businesses up to 1,000 employees. For a company of 25 employees, that costs about$45 per payroll.
It offers several flexible payroll features, including:
Direct deposit: Employees can deposit their money into one account or several accounts at the same time
Check-stuffing services with signatures printed on the check, if you need physical checks
One of the largest payroll companies, ADP services large and small businessesmore than 600,000 companies in all. Despite their size, they have thousands of positive reviews.
ADP has four different optionsfor small businesses of up to 50 employees, two of which include HR and payroll.
The basic of the four systems is best for startups and small businesses looking for basic payroll services.
It lacks any HR services. If youre looking for HR integration as well as payroll, read on.
Enhanced Payroll includes wage garnishment payments, state unemployment insurance (SUI) and labor law posters to display in your office.
In addition to the basic features, Enhanced Payroll also offers:
ADPs Payroll & HR plus blends payroll and human resources into one monthly package. It includes advanced payroll features and HR tasks.
In addition to the previous features, Complete Payroll & HR Plus includes:
Access to ZipRecruiter: Post jobs to over 100 of the webs leading job boards
Employee handbook Wizard: Create an employee handbook based on federal law
HR Help Desk: Phone and email support from a team of HR professionals
Job Description Wizard: Create job descriptions using information from ADP database
HR training and toolkits to help complete HR tasks like hiring and termination correctly
HR compliance and database alerts: Get emails when HR laws change that may affect your company
Access to ADPs document vault, for secure and searchable storage of employee and company documents
24/7 access to track and monitor employee information, such as performance and advanced reporting
Alerts and notifications across payroll and HR
ADPs most advanced option for small businesses includes enhanced HR support and payroll.
In addition to the previous features, HR Pro includes:
Enhanced employee handbook support (ADP helps you create a comprehensive employee handbook)
Enhanced HR support from a team of business advisors
An employee discount program for nationally recognized brands
Work-life employee assistance programs, like counseling sessions and legal help
Trainings on sexual harassment, workplace harassment, etc.
ADP does not provide blank quotes for their packages. For a personalized quote, call them at (855)-230-6728.
Paychexis a cloud-based payroll company that offers plans for businesses of different sizes.
Payroll tax administration: federal, state, and local taxes will be calculated, paid, and filed
New hire reporting to remain in compliance with state regulations
Access to an employee financial wellness plan, including tools and education
Direct deposits for all employees, or a pay card
Paychexs most basic option works best for small and emerging businesses with less than 49 employees. It also offers no added benefits beyond the basic features.
However, for a small business with just a few employees, Express Payroll may be exactly what you need to make payroll simple.
Paychex Flex Select is most popular for businesses with less than 49 employees.
Additional employee pay options, including check signing and paper checks
Paychex learning management system, with online courses designed to help employees
Garnishment pay service that helps automatically deduct and remit garnished wages
General ledger service or the ability to link to select accounting software, like Sage and QuickBooks, with your payroll data
Workers compensation reports that include wages subject to workers comp insurance
Analytics and reporting stored in one large database with custom parameters to deliver new reports
Onboarding essentials for new employees, including direct deposit and payroll tax forms
Employee screening essentials, like background checks
The largest and most expansive Paychex plan works best for enterprise businesses.
Paychex Flex HR administration, including managing employee training and storing compliance documents
OnPayis a basic payroll and tax filing service with a transparent fee structure. It works best for businesses with basic needs.
The payment structure is simple: a$36 base feeper month, plus an additional $4 fee per month for each employee.
OnPay integrates with multiple accounting programs, including QuickBooks.
OnPay will set up everything and migrate your information for free. Heres some of what their plan includes:
Annual W-2 and 1099 forms: Free to print, or mailed for $5 each
Ability to cancel pay runs and make corrections
Unlike other services, OnPay does not charge extra for direct deposit, debit cards, or printing your own checks. There are also no added fees for withholding, remitting, or filing payroll taxes.
OnPay has several add-on features: HR tools, workers comp, 401(k) contributions, and health benefits. The costs vary, but even using these may be cheaper than going with an alternate option, depending on your needs.
If you regularly want printed checks or payment cards, opt for another provider. OnPay charges extra for each of these features. If you need printed checks often, it can become pricey.
BoA partners with Intuits payroll program and ADP. If you already use Bank of America as yoursmall business checking provider, usingtheir payroll systemcan be a simple and convenient integration.
Intuit and ADP offer similar payroll services. However, ADP offers added access to human resource professionals to help understand labor laws and HR policies.
Intuit, on the other hand, lets you manage your own payroll with their software.
Whats the price difference? Its hard to say. While Intuit is transparent about their pricing, ADP requires you to call for a quote.
ADPoffers the same services through Bank of America as they do for their customers, in addition to 24/7 payroll customer support (find the detailed plan-by-plan analysis above).
For more information on ADP via Bank of America, you can also call .
There are three payroll options throughIntuit: Intuit Basic, Intuit Enhanced, and Intuit Full Service Payroll. All services support a maximum of 150 employees.
Whichever option you pick, expect full reports, processing for multiple pay types, and a tax accuracy guarantee. But you will need a Bank of America business checking account and access to Small Business Online Banking.
This works best for small businesses with few employees and basic needs. Its completely free if you pay all employees through direct deposit to a Bank of America account.
A middle ground between their basic and full-service options, this plan fits best for growing and developing businesses with a diverse workforce.
The most expensive (and most convenient) option is ideal for business owners with a dedicated income for payroll systems and little free time to spare.
Under each Intuit plan, Bank of America lets you offer your employees a low-cost 401(k) (through Merrill Edge).
Sageis a cloud-based payroll service with some of the highest customer retention rates in the United States.
The biggest perk? Sage offers integration services with Office365 and other major accounting programs.
Sage has nearlya dozen plans for small businessestailored to their needs. It offers these key payroll services:
For support, talk with an American Payroll Association (FPC) certified expert.
Sages full-service payroll program with all the features handles:
Direct deposit with paper check options, online pay stubs, and more
Paid time off and sick time tracking with built-in reports
Payroll services to be able to do basic functions like payroll processing and tax statements. But depending on your needs, your payroll company may need to do more.
Here are some of the factors to consider when you look for payroll services:
Most small businesses will want to opt for a base rate price with added costs per employee in the system. Base rates will include:
Be wary of companies that are not transparent about pricing. Theres no way to know if payroll services will raise prices down the line.
Understanding the pricing structure in advance is important. Some companies will list prices online and others will require you to call for a quote.
You will have to input data yourself, so its important that you understand how to use your payroll system. If its too complicated, youll waste valuable time.
Ask for a guarantee that you will not be responsible for any mistakes the processor might make, like missing deadlines or making payments. Sign with a service that agrees to absorb the cost of their mistakes.
The ability to manage and distribute 401(k) payments for employees would be an added perk.
Some payroll services will offer PTO requests, approval, and tracking for employees and employers.
Ensure your future payroll service also offers direct deposit services as well as printed paychecks. Direct deposit specifically will save paperand time.
Some small business owners will want alerts for matters like employees approaching overtime or benefits eligibility.
Some stateslike Texasrequire companies to report information about new hires. If your business is based in one of these states, your payroll service can handle this for you.
In this day and age, ensure your payroll service has a comprehensive webpage to file payroll.
If your business has many different types of employees, your payroll service needs to support different types of pay, from overtime to shift differentials to location and more.
Ensure that your business has will be able to handle tips for employees, bonuses, reimbursements, and more.
If you prefer working on the go, your payroll service should offer comprehensive mobile accessibilty, including an app.
Most services will offer a portal for employees to access their payroll information, like payroll stubs and PTO requests.
Analysis reports may not seem urgent, but access to analysis and data can help show you how your business grows.
Your initial research may raise additional questions. If possible, get on the phone with a representative from a specific payroll service. This ensures youll get the answers you need.
Here are some additional questions BEFORE you sign a contract:
What is your pricing structure? What services are included at each price point?
Get an exact quote for the services your business needs right now and may need in the future. If the pricing will change, its important to know whether its in your budget.
Pick a company that specializes in your industry, so theyre familiar with the structure of your business and the related tax laws.
What insights do you offer through the dashboard?
Insights can help your business better understand the financial breakdown.
This question will be especially important for small businesses with different types of employees like:
Payroll services should be able to accommodate all types of pay structures.
What customer support does your service offer?
Many companies will promise many types of customer service, but the best way to check is to give them a call. See who picks up and how they help you. Call at different times of the day to see if there is a wait time.
Will you be assigned a representative to help, or do you get the next available customer service representative? Is support available during business hours or around the clock?
Payroll involves lots of sensitive information, from Social Security numbers to tax information.
As a business owner, you need to be confident your employees information is secure: ask how they protect the data on their servers.
Is there an added cost to file taxes in multiple states?
Clarify all costs associated with filing taxes in multiple states.
What am I responsible for and what will the company handle?
Narrow down what you will need to handle and what the payroll service will take care of.
What payroll taxes do you include in your service and which taxes cost extra?
Do annual fees fluctuate? How have they changed in the past?
Can they integrate with your current accounting software?
How often will I receive reports from your service?
Here are a few ways to ensure you found the best payroll services for your business:
Speaking to their referencesreal customerswill allow you to talk to someone who has been using the service.
However, some larger companies, like ADP, may not have personal references to offer aside from testimonials on their site.
Seek recommendations from similar businesses. Theyll likely be honest in their assessment.
The BBB gives you a better sense of the business, including:
If the company has any complaints, take time to read those too.
Check Google and Yelp to see what customers are saying. Just be sure not to take every negative review so seriouslyweigh all the reviews.
Make sure the analysis reports are easy to read and simple to understand right off the bat. You need to be able to understand all important information.
When signing with a payroll service, you should understand what tasks you will do yourself and what the payroll service will take care of.
In most cases, you will provide employees information, such as:
W-2 forms will be provided by your payroll service. But employees will have to fill out the W-2 forms.
Most businesses will keep their old payroll system for the first month or so after switching over to ensure a smooth transition. Double-check the numbers the first few pay cycles to make sure your new company works correctly.
If you find your payroll service is not working the way you want it to, consider switching.
The start of the year, when the pay cycle starts over
The end of a quarter, when your previous payroll service wraps up the quarterly reports.
Finding new payroll services can be tricky. But with the right amount of research and planning, your small business will find the best payroll fit.
Start by asking for recommendations from similar small businesses. Theyll likely be honest in their assessment and offer helpful insight.
And remember: If the payroll system doesnt work out, you can always switch to another provider and start again.
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