A computer running payroll software.
Image: Nuthawut/Adobe Stock

Business payroll isn’t as simple as it was back in the days of punch cards and physical checks. Today’s compliance standards, competitive benefits packages, dispersed teams and tax penalties are just some of the many factors that go into running payroll for a business while maintaining accuracy throughout.

Fortunately, services like QuickBooks Payroll can streamline and simplify several areas of the payroll process while providing HR and taxation features. Learn more about QuickBooks Payroll to determine whether it is an ideal solution for your business.

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What is QuickBooks Payroll?

The Intuit QuickBooks logo.
Image: Intuit

QuickBooks is a business accounting software service that provides bookkeeping software and other accounting and finance solutions, including payroll. QuickBooks Payroll enables businesses to run their employee payroll processes, and its higher-priced plans provide additional benefits for actions like tax filing.

SEE: Top payroll processing services for small businesses in 2023 (TechRepublic)

QuickBooks Payroll’s features

QuickBooks Payroll has many standout features that support businesses in their employee payments, tax filing, human resources processes and benefits administration.

Next-day and same-day direct deposit

Businesses can show their teams they care by providing employees with fast direct deposits. Businesses with the QuickBooks Payroll Core plan can use next-day direct deposit and submit payroll up to 5:00 p.m. PT the day before payday. The QuickBooks Payroll Premium and Elite plans provide same-day direct deposit.

Auto Payroll

QuickBooks Payroll supports businesses in performing their payroll processes through its automated, time-saving features. With Auto Payroll, businesses can set up payroll for salaried employees on direct deposit just once, and the system will automatically perform payroll processes.

Auto Pay allows users to ensure the accuracy of their paychecks by letting them review and approve the payroll before paychecks are distributed. Users can make changes and easily add more pay as needed.

Businesses can also set up and manage garnishments and deductions from paychecks and gain automatic tax calculations on every paycheck.

Tax features

The e-services provide automated tax payments and filing for state and federal taxes. Additionally, users with the Online Payroll Premium and Elite plans can benefit from automated tax payments and filings for local taxes.

QuickBooks allows its Payroll software users to prepare their 1099s at no extra charge or use its automated 1099 e-filing and delivery service. The 1099 E-File Service will e-file a business’s Federal 1099 information with the IRS and deliver copies directly to contractors; plus, contractors will have online access to their 1099s.

Fees apply for the 1099 E-File Service, and state filing is not included; even still, this feature can save businesses the extra hassle of performing these tasks.

Time tracking and robust reporting

QuickBooks Payroll’s time-tracking tools make reporting on payroll subjects a breeze. Businesses can manage and control multiple timesheets wherever and whenever they please with the QuickBooks Time mobile app, and access is included with the QuickBooks Online Payroll Premium and Elite subscription at no additional cost.

The QuickBooks Time mobile app works with iPhone, iPad and Android phones and tablets. It enables users to track time, submit and approve timesheets and create invoices on the go. The online timesheet tracker even has geofencing and GPS capabilities for easier employee management.

All QuickBooks plans include the ability to generate and download payroll reports for factors like payroll history, paid time off, tax payments and bank transactions. Payroll reports and timecard reports can gather data from the payroll solution to reveal insights on many areas of business expenditures for things like labor and project costs.

Expert support features

All QuickBooks Payroll plans come with expert product support, which lets users get step-by-step help and troubleshooting assistance via phone and chat. While chat support is available 24/7, U.S.-based phone support is available only during limited hours.

The Premium and Elite plans can access additional support perks like the workers’ comp administration feature, which can help businesses find quotes and connect their policies to QuickBooks to simplify their audits.

SEE: The best payroll software for your small business in 2022 (TechRepublic)

Premium and Elite plan users can also breathe easy with the Expert Review feature, which grants them access to experts that will review their payroll setup to ensure everything is correct. This can be especially beneficial for users switching from other providers.

In addition, Payroll Premium and Elite plan users can access the QuickBooks HR support center for HR questions and concerns; this can be helpful for ensuring compliance with state and federal wages and learning the best practices for HR operations. Elite plan users even get a personal certified HR advisor to provide professional guidance on HR tasks and topics.

Tax penalty protection

Tax penalty protection is limited to QuickBooks Online Payroll Elite users. With this feature, qualified users who receive a tax notice and send it to QuickBooks within 15 days of the notice will have their tax penalty fees and interest covered for up to $25,000.

Additionally, the QuickBooks Tax Resolution team will represent them and help resolve any payroll tax or filing issues with the IRS. This feature brings extra peace of mind to covered businesses regarding their potential tax penalties.

HR and employee benefits

QuickBooks Payroll lets employees support their teams with its HR and health benefits. Workers can quickly set up retirement plans with experts that handle the 401(k) administration, compliance and recordkeeping at no extra cost to businesses.

Businesses can also compare and select health plans to provide affordable coverage to their workers. All benefits processes are managed with the centralized online system, which shows instant quotes on plans and a fast three-step application process.

Is QuickBooks Payroll easy to use?

The QuickBooks Payroll platform is easy to use for employers and employees, and its automatic payroll features take the effort and confusion out of normal payroll processing. QuickBooks Payroll even lets users perform payroll actions and access information on the go with its mobile app.

QuickBooks Payroll’s pros

QuickBooks Payroll simplifies the payment processes for businesses through its helpful full-service features and capabilities. It supports unlimited payroll runs with an easy-to-use user interface that lets users take charge of many aspects of their payroll processes. It also integrates seamlessly with the QuickBooks accounting service, so users can perform all of their finance and payroll processes in one system.

The automated features of QuickBooks Payroll can save users time and effort. The payroll solution can perform accurate automated calculations for tax withholdings and paychecks and helps businesses stay compliant with tax laws. The software performs payroll in all 50 U.S. states, and the direct deposit payments save users time and money on producing physical checks. By accessing data through the system, businesses can make accurate payments to employees and produce customizable payroll reports.

Another benefit of QuickBooks Payroll is its support for business administrators and employees. QuickBooks Payroll provides various support options for businesses, like free guided setup and expert product support on its higher-tier plans. As for employee support, employees can access their employee self-service portal to update and view their personal payroll information.

QuickBooks Payroll’s cons

While QuickBooks Payroll is helpful for businesses, the software service does have drawbacks — most notably, its pricing. QuickBooks Payroll comes in three pricing tiers, but some users may find the pricing to be too high, especially in terms of what features are offered.

Plus, some users may want more capabilities for their payroll processing that the software does not support. For example, the QuickBooks Payroll’s HR features are basic when compared to payroll solutions offered by other providers.

Additionally, several features like time-tracking are only available through higher-cost plans. The HR support center is limited to only QuickBooks Premium and Elite subscriptions, and the HR advisor support is only provided for QuickBooks Payroll Elite plan users. Its most basic plan lacks local tax filings, and tax penalty protection is only included with the highest-priced Elite plan. Core and Premium plan users also must pay additional filing fees for employees in other states.

How much does QuickBooks Payroll cost?

QuickBooks Payroll buyers can choose from several service plans that are fine-tuned to support their users’ needs. Each of the plans provide the essential functions necessary for payroll operations, and higher-priced plans provide additional specialized features. In addition, QuickBooks offers a 30-day free trial and 50% off the monthly price for the QuickBooks Products for the first three months of service.

Pricing for QuickBooks Payroll Core

The QuickBooks Payroll Core plan covers the basics of payroll processing for $45 per month plus $5 per employee per month. It provides full-service payroll features and auto payroll, 1099 E-Filing and Payments, 401(k) plans, employee health benefits, and next-day direct deposit. This service plan includes one state filing, so businesses that wish to file taxes in multiple states will need to pay an additional fee of $12 per month.

Pricing for QuickBooks Payroll Premium

The most popular plan is QuickBooks Payroll Premium, and it costs $75 per month plus $8 per employee per month. It provides the basics included in the QuickBooks Payroll Core plan, with more HR support and employee services.

Some notable perks include same-day direct deposit, employee time tracking, expert product and HR support, workers’ comp administration, and expert review. This service plan only includes one state filing, so users filing taxes in multiple states will need to pay an additional $12 per month fee.

Pricing for QuickBooks Payroll Elite

The QuickBooks Payroll Elite plan is priced at $125 per month plus $10 per employee per month. This plan contains the payroll and HR features of the QuickBooks Payroll Premium plan, with a few key differences like on-the-go project tracking and tax penalty protection. Users also gain a personal HR advisor and more access to QuickBooks experts to help with setup and 24/7 product support. There is no additional charge for tax filings in more than one U.S. state.

Alternatives to QuickBooks Payroll

There are a number of alternatives to QuickBooks Payroll — we’ll focus on Gusto, ADP and Papaya Global.

Gusto

The Gusto logo.
Image: Gusto

Gusto is another popular payroll provider option; its online HR service allows businesses to automate their payroll calculations, tax filing and contractor payments. It contains helpful tools for employee onboarding and automating several areas of HR processes. Gusto’s scalability, flexible scheduling and new hire reporting make it a capable choice for growing businesses.

SEE: Gusto vs QuickBooks: Payroll management software comparison (TechRepublic)

Pricing

  • Simple: $40 per month plus $6 per person paid
  • Plus: $80 per month plus $12 per person paid
  • Premium: Custom

ADP

The ADP logo.
Image: ADP

ADP is another payroll software option that shines through its HR services. The comprehensive payroll solution is popular among businesses of all sizes and provides HR compliance checkups, support from HR professionals and legal services. Its payroll-specific features include payroll tax, payroll processing and new reporting.

Pricing

    • Essential: Custom
    • Enhanced: Custom
  • Complete: Custom
  • HR Pro: Custom

Papaya Global

The Papaya Global logo.
Image: Papaya Global

Papaya Global offers international payroll services in 160+ countries, making it a great option for dispersed teams. It has a vast array of integration options and uses synced payroll information to provide helpful features on one unified platform, like real-time data analytics, an employee self-service portal and international tax compliance tools.

Pricing

  • Pricing starts at $20 per month per employee and increases for more international payroll services and features.

Deciding factors

Businesses should always carefully consider their needs and budget when deciding on a software service. For QuickBooks Payroll, important deciding factors include the software’s feature limitations, scalability and business size.

QuickBooks Payroll offers excellent support features businesses can use to ensure they carry out accurate payroll and tax processes. Still, many of the QuickBooks Payroll standout features are only offered through the high-tier plans, meaning buyers will have to pay more to access them. Therefore, businesses should consider the budget they are willing to spend and whether these features are essential to their practices.

As for payments, businesses with larger teams may find the product to be less affordable, as the final payment amount is determined by the number of employees. This can also be a disadvantage for growing companies that are bringing in more employees and are seeking out inexpensive products. Therefore, a large or growing team may want to shop for products with different pricing structures that do not depend on the number of employees.

QuickBooks Payroll service is a good choice for those who want a supportive and easy-to-use payroll solution. Shoppers may also want to compare QuickBooks Payroll to other payroll service options and review the features and pricing to ensure they select the best option for their business.

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