Gusto Logo
Gusto
  • Reporting
  • Wage garnishment
  • Direct deposit
Gusto payroll software has four service levels to suit the needs of small and medium firms. For $6/month per contractor, Gusto Contractor users can make unlimited payments and create 1099 forms. Gusto Core is designed for small businesses with W-2 employees. For $39 plus $6 per employee/month, Gusto Core users have access to two-day direct deposit, benefits administration, workers’ compensation administration and online document storage.

The Complete and Concierge options provide access to next-day direct deposit services and allow users to manage requests for time off. Gusto Complete costs $39 plus $12 per employee/month while Gusto Concierge costs $149 plus $12 per employee/month. Gusto Concierge includes everything in the Complete package, but it gives users access to an HR resource center and assistance from experienced HR professionals. The Core, Complete and Concierge packages include wage garnishment, payroll reporting and automatic tax filing.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Gusto has a wide range of self-service options for employees.
  • The software costs less than comparable payroll solutions.
  • Gusto grows with the company, making it ideal for small businesses that plan to expand.

Cons

  • It can be difficult to get assistance with technical issues.
  • The Gusto user interface can be difficult to understand.
  • The software doesn't integrate directly with common accounting platforms.

What Customers Are Saying

Users praise Gusto for the variety of self-service options available to employees. One employee writes that the experience of using Gusto “has been good and very self-explanatory, which is great for any onboarding experience.” Customers also appreciate that Gusto grows with their firms, taking the hassle out of business expansion.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • $149/month Concierge $39/month Complete
    • $39/month Core $0/month Contractor
  • Free trial
    Yes
  • Direct Deposit
    Yes
  • 401k Tracking
    Yes
Features
  • Reporting
  • Wage garnishment
  • Direct deposit
Paychex-Flex Logo
Paychex Flex
  • PTO tracking
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Wage garnishment
Paychex Flex is a cloud-based solution that eliminates the need to download software or pay extra fees for feature updates. Paychex Go, the most basic Paychex flex plan, includes features designed to help small firms process payroll, track attendance and comply with local, state and federal reporting requirements. For $59 plus $4 per employee/month, users have access to an online payroll administration module, automatic tax filing, time tracking and simplified attendance tracking.

Paychex Flex Select and Paychex Flex Enterprise are available for larger firms with hundreds or even thousands of employees. These plans include everything offered with Paychex Go, but they also provide access to an integrated payroll and HR system, advanced reporting tools and a mobile application that makes it possible to process payroll from almost anywhere.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Paychex Flex features two-factor authentication for additional security.
  • Firms can create custom codes and reports within the Paychex Flex system.
  • Employees are added to the system during onboarding, making it easy for them to access self-service options related to taxes, time off and retirement benefits.

Cons

  • Site outages make it difficult for employees to clock in and out at the right times.
  • Feature updates sometimes result in error.,
  • Users report difficulty receiving assistance with technical issues.

What Customers Are Saying

Customers love that Paychex Flex works for small companies with only one or two employees just as well as it does for larger companies. One user even described Paychex Flex as a “one-stop shop for all things payroll” due to the number of built-in features and the ability to offer employees self-service solutions.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • $59/month for Paychex Go
  • Free trial
    Yes
  • Direct Deposit
    Yes
  • 401k Tracking
    Yes
Features
  • PTO tracking
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Wage garnishment
QuickBooks-Online-Payroll
QuickBooks Online Payroll
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Wage garnishment
  • 401(k) tracking
QuickBooks Online Payroll integrates directly with QuickBooks accounting files, eliminating the need to make double entries. Through their partnership with Mammoth, QuickBooks also enables you to perform a variety of other HR tasks like job descriptions, onboarding, employee performance, and legal compliance.

The Core plan costs $45 plus $4 per employee/month for full-service payroll, next-day direct deposit and basic support. Full-service payroll includes automatic tax filing and payments. QuickBooks Online Payroll Premium costs $75 plus $8 per employee/month for everything in the Core plan, along with same-day direct deposit, access to an HR support center, time tracking and workers’ compensation administration. QuickBooks Online Payroll Elite costs $125 plus $10 per employee/month for everything in the Elite plan, along with a personal HR advisor, tax penalty protection, 24/7 support and a customized setup process. The three plans are available in all 50 states and include a workforce portal with self-service features and a variety of payroll reports.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • The software works within a user's existing QuickBooks Online file.
  • Integrating the software with QuickBooks Online eliminates the need for double entries.
  • The user interface is easy to navigate, even for beginners.

Cons

  • It can be difficult to reach customer support.
  • QuickBooks Online Payroll is more expensive than other payroll software with similar features.

What Customers Are Saying

Customers love that QuickBooks Online Payroll integrates directly with QuickBooks accounting files, making it easier to keep track of how HR decisions affect a firm’s profitability. One user commented, “My payroll runs effortlessly every week and I really appreciate that my forms get filed with the appropriate offices and in a timely manner.”

Summary

QuickBooks-Online-Payroll
QuickBooks Online Payroll
  • Starting Price
    • $125/month for Elite
    • $75/month for Premium
    • $45/month for Core
  • Free trial
    Yes
  • Direct Deposit
    Yes
  • 401k Tracking
    Yes
Features
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Wage garnishment
  • 401(k) tracking
Adp-workforce-now-logo
ADP Workforce Now
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Wage garnishment
  • Reporting
ADP WorkforceNow has many of the features included with ADP Comprehensive Services, but it’s designed for small and medium firms. One of the main differences between the two software packages is that ADP WorkforceNow doesn’t include automatic tax filing, which means users need to file their taxes manually or use another software program to handle tax payments and reporting.

ADP WorkforceNow offers many of the basic features employers need to make accurate payments to their employees. The wage garnishment function allows users to deduct a specific dollar amount or a specific percentage of each paycheck to satisfy an employee’s legal obligations. PTO tracking enables users to determine how many PTO hours employees have used and how many they have remaining. ADP WorkforceNow also has a 401(k) tracking feature, enabling employers to track their contributions to employees’ retirement plans, and a direct deposit feature, making it possible to issue electronic payments.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • ADP WorkforceNow has advanced reporting capabilities.
  • The software is ideal for small and medium businesses.
  • Employees can access their tax forms and other documents from their phones or office computers.

Cons

  • It can be difficult for payroll professionals to generate advanced reports.
  • Error messages are sometimes vague, leaving payroll staff wondering why the software isn't working.
  • It's time-consuming to import data from a previous payroll system.

What Customers Are Saying

ADP WorkforceNow has a reputation for making it easy for payroll staff and small-business owners to find what they need. One user comments, “It is really easy to find what you need in the system…[and] the ability to edit information is great.” ADP WorkforceNow also receives high praise for helping small and medium firms stay organized.

Summary

Adp-workforce-now-logo
ADP Workforce Now
  • Starting Price
    • No fixed pricing found
  • Free trial
    Yes
  • Direct Deposit
    Yes
  • 401k Tracking
    Yes
Features
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Wage garnishment
  • Reporting
Onpay Logo
OnPay
  • 401(k) tracking
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Direct deposit
OnPay offers a variety of payroll and HR features designed with UK employers in mind. The have unlimited monthly pay runs, automated tax payments and filings, free W-2 and 1099 processing, HR tools and software integrations and expert support whenever you need it. OnPay is a desktop-based payroll software that’s available for both Windows and Mac.

Their payroll software is simple enough for the smallest businesses, but flexible features and permissions make it easy to scale dfor medium-sized businesses. OnPay offers users the ability to integrate their payroll journals with QuickBooks, Xero and other popular accounting packages. With these features enabled, users can send payroll journal entries directly to their accounting systems, eliminating the need for double entries. OnPay also makes it possible to process payroll for multiple entities at the same time, saving time and reducing the risk of payroll errors.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • The software integrates time tracking and other useful functions.
  • Users can preview everything before it's finalized, making it easier to catch errors.

Cons

  • Longer payroll processing times
  • Need more dashboard options for customization
  • Customer service is slow to respond to requests for support.

What Customers Are Saying

"The software is very user friendly. I can easily generate the various accounting reports needed for business analysis. Running payroll in OnPay is quick and easy." HR managers also appreciate that OnPay offers a paycheck preview, which makes it easier to pick up on errors before finalizing payroll.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free trial
    Yes
  • Direct Deposit
    Yes
  • 401k Tracking
    Yes
Features
  • 401(k) tracking
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Direct deposit
Patriot-Payroll Logo
Patriot Payroll
  • Direct deposit
  • Reporting
  • Automatic tax filing
Patriot Payroll offers two software packages for small and medium firms: Basic Payroll, which costs $10 plus $4 per employee/month, and Full Service Payroll, which costs $30 plus $4 per employee/month. Basic Payroll automates key payroll functions, including direct deposit and payroll reporting, but it doesn’t include automatic tax filing. Full Service Payroll includes everything in the Basic Payroll Plan, along with automatic tax filing for employers.

Both packages include a variety of features designed to automate the payroll process as much as possible. Users can run an unlimited number of payrolls at any frequency, from monthly payments for contractors to weekly payments for W-2 employees. The free self-service portal gives employees access to pay stubs and other important information, limiting the number of requests for assistance that must be handled by the payroll department.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Patriot Payroll is easy to use for firms with non-traditional pay periods.
  • Customer support is available via chat box for the user's convenience.
  • The software is easy for beginners to use.

Cons

  • Patriot's reporting features aren't always intuitive.

What Customers Are Saying

Satisfied users report that Patriot Payroll provides more capabilities than many similarly priced payroll systems. Patriot Payroll also has a strong reputation for protecting employee data; the software requires two-factor authentication, reducing the risk of unauthorized access by third parties and ensuring that Social Security numbers, home addresses and other private information remain confidential.

Summary

Patriot-Payroll Logo
Patriot Payroll
  • Starting Price
    • $30.00 for Full Service Payroll
    • $10.00 for Basic Payroll
  • Free trial
    Yes
  • Direct Deposit
    Yes
  • 401k Tracking
    No
Features
  • Direct deposit
  • Reporting
  • Automatic tax filing
BambooHR Logo
BambooHR
  • Direct deposit
  • Automatic tax filing
  • PTO tracking
BambooHR was designed to help small and medium firms do a better job processing payroll and complying with relevant rules and regulations. The software also streamlines some of the most common activities performed by HR staff, saving time and increasing department efficiency. The Essentials package, which costs $6.19 per employee/month, features basic payroll and HR functions, including wage garnishment, automatic tax filing, direct deposit, 401(k) tracking and PTO tracking. The Essentials plan also gives employees access to a company calendar and organizational chart.

The Advantage package, which costs $8.25 per user/month, offers everything in the Essentials package along with enhanced support options and advanced components designed to help HR staff manage activities related to onboarding, employee terminations, training and applicant tracking. Users with the Advantage plan can also set up custom alerts and custom access levels for greater control over important HR functions.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • BambooHR makes it easy to centralize payroll information for companies with multiple locations.
  • The interface gives managers a quick way to determine which employees are on leave.
  • Employees can use the self-service feature to track their PTO.

Cons

  • The user interface can be confusing for new users.
  • It can be difficult for customers in the UK and Australia to access support services due to time zone differences.
  • It's difficult to integrate BambooHR with other systems.

What Customers Are Saying

Customers appreciate that BambooHR makes it easy to create employee records, prompting one user to comment that BambooHR “is a lifesaver when onboarding and welcoming new staff.” BambooHR also offers several employee self-service features, such as PTO tracking, freeing up more time to manage other payroll and HR activities.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free trial
    Yes
  • Direct Deposit
    Yes
  • 401k Tracking
    Yes
Features
  • Direct deposit
  • Automatic tax filing
  • PTO tracking
APS Logo
APS
  • Direct deposit
  • Wage garnishment
  • Automatic tax filing
APS offers payroll software with core HR functions designed to save time and increase efficiency. The software offers some of the most common payroll functions, including PTO tracking, direct deposit, 401(k) tracking and wage garnishment, enabling employers to process payroll on time and with a high level of accuracy.

The core HR features aim to help payroll and HR professionals automate as many activities as possible, freeing up more time to make strategic decisions related to the management of human capital. The attendance module integrates scheduling and time-tracking functions to ensure that users always have a clear picture of overtime costs and labor productivity. APS costs $60/month plus a fee of $6 per user/month for the standalone Payroll Solution or $8 per user/month for Payroll Solution + Attendance.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • APS combines payroll with other important HR functions.
  • The software works well for companies with offices in multiple states.
  • APS offers an online onboarding feature, reducing the amount of time it takes to complete the hiring process.

Cons

  • Some users report having problems with the eSign feature.
  • APS is more expensive than comparable payroll packages.
  • The software comes with a limited number of standard report formats.

What Customers Are Saying

Customers love that APS provides ongoing customer support, with one user commenting that the experience “has been amazing, from the first call, through the sales process, through training and implementation.” APS users also report that the software makes it easy to comply with tax laws in multiple states.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • $60/month for Payroll Solution
  • Free trial
    No
  • Direct Deposit
    Yes
  • 401k Tracking
    Yes
Features
  • Direct deposit
  • Wage garnishment
  • Automatic tax filing
Paycom Logo
Paycom
  • Direct deposit
  • Automatic tax filing
  • PTO tracking
The Paycom platform integrates payroll with time tracking, talent acquisition, HR management and talent management, eliminating the need to enter data in multiple places. Payroll data syncs with other system modules, ensuring that decision makers understand how payroll changes affect cash flow and profitability. It’s also possible to use the historical transaction comparison tool to identify significant differences between payrolls, which can help users identify payroll trends that are likely to affect their businesses.

The talent acquisition model includes several features designed to help recruiters identify the best candidates and onboard them efficiently. Paycom automates several time-consuming functions, including job postings and applicant screening; speeds up the process of completing background checks and allows new employees to complete the onboarding process independently. Paycom also has an employee self-service portal that provides 24/7 access to pay stubs and other payroll data.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • The user interface is intuitive and easy to use.
  • Employees can clock in and out from their smartphones, making Paycom ideal for companies with employees who often work at job sites.
  • Frequent updates give users access to new features.

Cons

  • Paycom is somewhat expensive compared to similar software packages.
  • Using some features incurs additional charges.
  • Some features need to be activated by Paycom, creating extra work for HR and payroll staff.

What Customers Are Saying

Paycom is known for providing a high level of functionality with few glitches, prompting one user to rave, “There isn’t much I don’t love about Paycom.” Customers also report positive experiences with the Paycom support team, which makes the implementation process easier and minimizes frustration during system upgrades.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • No fixed pricing found
  • Free trial
    No
  • Direct Deposit
    Yes
  • 401k Tracking
    Yes
Features
  • Direct deposit
  • Automatic tax filing
  • PTO tracking
Justworks Logo
Justworks
  • PTO tracking
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Wage garnishment
Justworks has several payroll options for firms with W-2 employees and contractors. Each package includes PTO tracking, wage garnishment, automatic tax filing and other essential features. The tax filing feature ensures that users remain in compliance with all local, state and federal tax laws by submitting timely tax payments and issuing required W-2 and 1099 forms each year.

Pricing depends on the package selected and the number of employees in the firm. The Basic plan, which includes all payroll and reporting features, costs between $39 per employee/month and $49 per employee/month for up to 174 employees. The Plus plan includes everything in the Basic package, along with access to affordable health benefits, flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts. Plus pricing ranges from $79 per user/month to $99 per user/month for up to 174 employees.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Justworks provides a high level of functionality in a software that costs less than many comparable solutions.
  • The software integrates payroll and benefits administration functions.
  • The modern user interface is easy to use.

Cons

  • Transitioning to Justworks from a prior payroll system can be difficult.
  • Unpaid time off must be entered manually.
  • Justworks doesn't offer a mobile app.

What Customers Are Saying

Many customers have commented on how easy it is to use Justworks, particularly when it comes to allowing employees to compare their benefit options during open enrollment. Customers also appreciate the ongoing support provided by the Justworks team, with one reviewer commenting that team members are always “very happy to help me out.”

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free trial
    No
  • Direct Deposit
    Yes
  • 401k Tracking
    Yes
Features
  • PTO tracking
  • Automatic tax filing
  • Wage garnishment
Dayforce-HCM Logo
Dayforce HCM
  • Automatic tax filing
  • PTO tracking
  • 401(k) tracking
Dayforce HCM by Ceridian starts at $10 per employee/month for the payroll-only option and $11.50 per employee/month for payroll plus additional features. This software aims to solve the common problem of having to wait for the end of the pay period to work on payroll due to an inability to access data that’s locked in a separate timekeeping system. Dayforce HCM integrates payroll with time tracking, allowing payroll staff to work on payroll whenever they have time, giving payroll professionals more time to perform quality audits.

The Dayforce HCM software includes PTO tracking, automatic tax filing, 401(k) tracking and wage garnishment. With the built-in self-service portal, employees can view their personal data at their convenience, reducing the number of requests for assistance that must be managed by payroll staff. Dayforce HCM also has an executive dashboard, which displays important payroll data to help executives make strategic decisions.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Dayforce HCM has several features to reduce the amount of paper used in payroll and HR.
  • The software integrates payroll, benefits administration and HR functions in one place.
  • Dayforce HCM has a test portal that allows HR staff to test new earnings and deductions before activating them in the main system.

Cons

  • The software doesn't alert employees when changes have been made to their schedules.
  • Dayforce HCM is often buggy after a system upgrade.
  • Employee self-service features are limited, which means employees have to ask HR for assistance.

What Customers Are Saying

Several reviewers have commented on the many features available with Dayforce HCM, with one user even commenting that the software has “endless capabilities.” Users also appreciate that Dayforce HCM makes it possible for firms to go paperless or nearly paperless, saving resources and freeing up storage space.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free trial
    No
  • Direct Deposit
    Yes
  • 401k Tracking
    Yes
Features
  • Automatic tax filing
  • PTO tracking
  • 401(k) tracking

How We Chose the Best Payroll Software

Many companies offer payroll software to automate employee payments and help businesses of all sizes meet their compensation-related legal obligations. With so many options on the market, it's often difficult for business owners and HR professionals to determine which tools do the best job of balancing functionality with affordability. We evaluated some of the top payroll solutions based on what's most important.

Basic Payroll Functions

The most basic function of payroll software is to make sure employees get paid the correct amount at the correct time. A good software program calculates gross pay based on each employee's salary or hourly wage, deducts the appropriate amount of taxes and keeps track of deductions for health premiums, life insurance, and other employer-sponsored benefits. Most programs also make it possible for employers to track attendance and store employment records, including offer letters, organizational charts and local, state, and federal laws related to compensation, benefits administration, labor relations, and employee safety.

Additional Payroll Features

Many types of payroll software offer additional features, such as automatic tax filing or the ability to keep track of wage garnishments ordered by criminal and civil courts. Some programs even enable business owners and their employees to keep track of PTO balances and employer-sponsored contributions to retirement accounts. For employers who offer direct deposit as a payment option, many software programs even have the ability to create ACH files and send them directly to financial institutions.

Reporting

The best software programs have basic and advanced reporting features. At the basic level, payroll software should be able to create reports showing how much was spent on payroll during the pay period, the quarter or the fiscal year. Advanced reporting makes it possible to prepare tax reports, summaries of employer contributions to retirement plans and labor distribution reports.

What Is Payroll Software?

Payroll software automates the most important payroll functions, leaving HR professionals and small-business owners free to spend their time on other activities. When new employees join the firm, someone adds their information — including full name, address, Social Security number and number of dependents — to the payroll system. Payroll software uses that information to determine how much each employee should be paid, what deductions to take from each paycheck and how much money should be deducted for taxes.

Payroll software also makes it possible to generate a variety of reports, increasing transparency and giving members of the accounting, finance and human resources departments the information they need to make better decisions. For example, some programs can be used to create labor distribution reports, which detail the total hours worked and total wages earned for all employees in a pay period. In some cases, these reports can even be broken down by department or business unit, making it easy to identify which departments cost the most in terms of wages and benefits. Many programs also produce tax reports, making it easier for the accounting department to track payments, and deduction reports, which show the total amount of deductions taken for health insurance and other benefits.

Benefits of Payroll Software

Payroll software has many benefits for small businesses, including the following:

  • Save time. Processing manual time sheets, cutting checks and trying to generate reports without an automated tool wastes time that could be better spent training new hires or figuring out the best way to grow your business. Payroll software performs these functions automatically.
  • Reduce errors. Manual payroll processing is prone to errors, which can have serious legal consequences for your business. Software packages reduce the risk of errors by eliminating the need to calculate wages and tax payments by hand.
  • Increase employee engagement. Employees are more likely to feel engaged when they have some control over their work. Most payroll packages make it possible for employees to submit leave requests, track their PTO and even track 401(k) deductions, increasing their independence.
  • Streamline HR and accounting functions. The best payroll programs feature automatic tax filing, attendance tracking and other functions that can help your business streamline payroll processing.
  • Improve compliance. Small businesses must follow a variety of regulations related to employee compensation and well-being. Payroll software helps improve compliance by generating required reports and making it easy for managers to find the data they need to fill out government forms.

Must-Have Features for Payroll Software

Payroll software should include all the basic functions necessary to process payroll for every employee, including PTO tracking and direct deposit. The best software packages can be integrated with other systems, ensuring that everyone in the company has access to the payroll and tax data they need to comply with relevant rules and regulations. Good software also makes it easy to make tax payments and file required financial forms.

Good payroll software should also include a variety of advanced features to streamline HR processes and give HR employees more time to carry out high-level responsibilities. Some of the best software packages include modules for applicant tracking, onboarding, employee development, benefits administration, and performance management. These extra features make it easier to perform compliance activities, generate reports and engage in strategic planning.

Payroll software should also have robust reporting options to help employers save time and increase efficiency. Good payroll software has the ability to pull data from several sources and use it to help HR managers calculate the average salary of all employees, the number of labor hours used during a pay period and other important metrics. These reports can help HR staff and department managers make better decisions.

The Cost of Payroll Software

The cost of payroll software varies significantly based on the number of features included in each package. Most companies charge a base monthly price plus an additional fee per user, which means companies with just a few dozen employees typically pay less to use payroll software than firms with hundreds or thousands of employees do. Free options usually have extensive limitations, which may make them suitable only for solo practitioners or employers with no more than five or 10 employees.

Low-cost options may have a base price of $0 and a per-user fee of a few dollars per month, making it more affordable for small businesses to take advantage of the benefits of automated payroll software. The most robust packages may have a base price of $399 per month or more, with user fees ranging from $2 to $12 per employee per month. Many software companies offer recruiting, training, onboarding, performance management and compliance modules for an additional fee, increasing the total cost of implementation. Despite the increased software costs, implementing a system with many functions helps streamline payroll, HR and accounting tasks, which may increase efficiency and reduce a firm’s overall costs.

Other Payroll Software Resources