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The 4 Best Payroll Software for Small Business in 2018

Maddie Shepherd

Staff Writer at Fundera
Maddie Shepherd is staff writer at Fundera. Beyond her deep knowledge of small business financing, Maddie's specialty is business credit cards—she'd love to help match your business with the credit card that benefits you most!

Making sure you pay your employees in full and on time is a non-negotiable ingredient to a high-functioning team, which makes choosing a payroll software for your small business a weighty decision.

Whether you’re looking for a barebones, free payroll software, or you’re willing to pay for full-service payroll software, there are some pretty stellar options out there for you. Here are the four very best payroll software options on the market right now:

The Details on the Best Payroll Softwares for Small Business

Let’s dive into the information you came here for. Here are the details on the four best payroll softwares for small businesses like yours:

Gusto Payroll

Our pick for the best payroll that offers up the fullest package—for the most reasonable price—is Gusto. Gusto is a payroll, benefits, and HR platform that is available to small businesses starting at just $45 a month.

No matter which of the three versions of Gusto you go for, you’ll get access to full-service payroll. The more you level up, though, the more features you’ll gain access to through this payroll software.

Plus, each of the three versions of Gusto payroll software offers a month’s free trial, so you can test them out to see if they’re the right fit. Don’t forget that you can also tack on extra benefits and insurance—like 401(k) retirement plans and health benefits, for instance—to whichever Gusto plan you end up choosing.

To give you an idea of what each of these options entails, let’s run through all three versions of Gusto payroll software:

Gusto Core

To access the Core level of Gusto payroll software, you’ll have to pay a base cost of $39 per month, plus $6 per month for each of your employees that you add to your software. Through this version of Gusto, you’ll be able to access the following features:

  • Full-service payroll software
  • Employee self-service and profiles
  • Health benefits administration
  • Workers’ comp administration
  • Customer support
  • PTO tracking

Gusto Complete

The next level up is Gusto Complete, which will cost you a base $39 per month, plus another $12 per month for every employee you attach to your account. With this version of Gusto, you’ll gain access to all of the features that Gusto Core comes with, along with the following add-ons:

  • Admin permissions
  • Employee offers and onboarding
  • PTO approvals to accompany PTO tracking
  • Employee directory and surveys

Gusto Concierge

Finally, the top-tier version of Gusto payroll software is Gusto Concierge. To access this version of Gusto, you’ll have to pay a monthly base cost of $149, and $12 per person every month. Along with all of the perks that Gusto Complete offers, you’ll also get access to the following Gusto Concierge perks:

  • Dedicated customer support
  • Certified HR professionals
  • HR resource center

payroll software

Intuit Payroll

Another top payroll software option for small businesses is Intuit Payroll. If you’re already using QuickBooks accounting software to keep track of your business’s finances—as many business owners are—then this will be one of the easiest ways to automate your payroll. In fact, if you’re using QuickBooks Online, you’ll be able to turn on this payroll software with the click of a button in your accounting software.

There are three versions of Intuit Payroll software that you’ll be able to choose from, and each of them will let you take a test ride with a free 30-day trial:

Intuit Payroll Basic

The Basic version of Intuit Payroll software will simply allow you to calculate paychecks and pay your employees. For your first six months with this payroll software, you will only have to pay a base cost of $24 a month, along with $4 per employee per month. After those first six months, your base cost will increase to $30 per month, but your employee cost will remain the same.

Intuit Payroll Enhanced

The next step up for Intuit Payroll software is the Enhanced version. With Enhanced Intuit Payroll software, you can calculate paychecks, pay employees, and calculate and file year-end forms. For this extra feature, though, you’ll have to pay a little extra—your first six months will cost you a base of $36 per month, along with $4 per employee per month. When your intro discount lifts after those first six months, your base cost will increase to $45.

Intuit Payroll Full Service

Finally, if you want to access more help from your payroll software than the Basic and Enhanced versions of Intuit Payroll can offer you, then consider leveling up to the Full Service version.

With Full Service Intuit Payroll, you’ll be able to access all the features that the Enhanced version offers, along with the following list of additional features:

  • Payroll taxes done for you
  • Free W-2s filed and sent for you
  • Assistance setting up payroll
  • Their no-penalty guarantee for tax filing

For these extra features that Full Service Intuit Payroll offers, though, you’ll have to pay a premium—your first six months will come with a discounted base rate of $87.20 a month and subsequent months will come with a base rate of $109. Again, each employee you add to your payroll will cost you $4 per employee per month.

payroll software

Patriot Payroll

Another option that’s made it onto our list of the best payroll software for small businesses is Patriot Software Payroll. Patriot Payroll software comes in two versions, both of which could serve small businesses wonderfully, depending on their needs and preferences. Plus, you can add on two bonus features to your Patriot Payroll software—time and attendance tracking and HR software—for small monthly fees.

Here are the two versions that Patriot Payroll software that small business owners can choose from:

Patriot Basic Payroll

The Basic version of Patriot Payroll software comes with a base cost of just $10 a month and an employee cost of $4 per month per employee you add to your payroll. For this price, you’ll be able to access the following payroll capabilities:

  • Payroll setup and support
  • Paycheck or direct deposit payments
  • Flexible payment schedules

Patriot Full Service Payroll

Your other Patriot Payroll software option is their Full Service payroll software. With this option, you’ll have to pay a base cost of $30 per month, plus $4 per month per employee. For this extra $20 a month, you’ll gain access to all features of Basic Patriot Payroll software, along with this list of additional features:

  • W-2s and W-3s filed for you
  • Federal taxes filed and deposited for you
  • State taxes filed and deposited for you
  • Local taxes filed and deposited for you

Payroll4Free

Finally, if you’re strictly on the hunt for a free payroll software, then your best option is Payroll4Free. If you have fewer than 25 employees in your payroll, then you can access all of the basic features that Payroll4Free offers for no money at all.

These basic features include the following capabilities:

  • Payroll processing (for both W-2 employees and 1099 contractors)
  • Direct deposits (to your own bank only)
  • Tax calculations and forms
  • Vacation tracking
  • Outside software integrations
  • HR functions
  • Reporting
  • Live customer support

Beyond those basic features, you can pay Payroll4Free to deposit and file your taxes directly from your payroll software for $12.50 a month. Plus, if you want to transfer direct deposit funds to your employee’s bank accounts—rather than your own—then you’ll have to pay them another $12.50 a month.

Other than those two optional services, Payroll4Free is a completely free payroll software that won’t make you sacrifice too much for its being free.

How to Decide on the Best Payroll Software for Your Small Business

Now that you’re familiar with the best payroll softwares for small businesses in 2018, it’s time to start deciding which of these four options will be the best fit for your payroll needs and preferences.

But with all of these options at your fingertips, how are you to decide on the best payroll software for your business?

Each payroll software option has its own pros and cons, but at the end of the day, you’ll need to think primarily about how much help you’ll need with your taxes and payroll setup, and balance that with how much you’re willing to pay every month for your payroll software.

Don’t forget to allow for the additional monthly cost that each of your payrolled employees—and future payrolled employees—will mean for your payroll software. As your small business grows, so will your payroll software expenses.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Maddie Shepherd

Staff Writer at Fundera
Maddie Shepherd is staff writer at Fundera. Beyond her deep knowledge of small business financing, Maddie's specialty is business credit cards—she'd love to help match your business with the credit card that benefits you most!

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