QuickBooks Payroll Review 2023

QuickBooks Payroll's low per-user fee makes it a good pick for budget-conscious employers.
Best for growth
Quickbooks
QuickBooks Payroll
Starts at
$22.50/mo. + $5.00/payee
  • pro
    Three full-service payroll plans
  • pro
    Optional employee benefit add-ons
  • pro
    Easy employee access self-service portal
  • con
    Limited HR features with cheapest plan

Data as of 4/25/23. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Sales price: 50% off for the first 3 months or 30-day free trial

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The bottom line: QuickBooks Payroll is a user-friendly payroll solution with a comprehensive payroll app for on-the-go employers. Its basic plan has a high starting price—but it’s offset by a low per-employee price that makes QuickBooks Payroll more affordable if you have more employees.

However, QuickBooks Payroll lacks the expansive employee benefits and HR tools that competitors like Gusto and OnPay include with every payroll plan. And if you pay employees in multiple states, you’ll want to look elsewhere: QuickBooks Payroll charges extra for multi-state payroll, while Gusto offers built-in multi-state payroll for free.

QuickBooks Payroll pros
pro Affordable per-employee starting price
pro Automatic end-of-year form filing
pro Multiple plans for growing businesses
pro Automatic wage garnishment
QuickBooks Payroll cons
con Limited employee benefits
con Additional fees for HR add-ons
con Extra charge for multi-state payroll processing

Our most affordable payroll solution: SurePayroll

SurePayroll is an affordable and straightforward payroll software that offers automatic payroll runs, tax filing, and exceptional customer service.


QuickBooks Payroll review: Table of contents

Info
QuickBooks Payroll discounts

First-time customers can get 50% off the base price of any QuickBooks Payroll plan for their first three months. However, the three-month discount requires you to waive your free trial: you can claim one or the other, but not both.

Compare QuickBooks Payroll pricing and plans 2022

Plan name
Starting monthly price
Price per employee
HR features
Get Started

$22.50*

$5.00/payee/mo.

Optional health benefit add-ons

$37.50*

$8.00/payee

Core + HR support center

$62.50*

$10.00/payee

Premium + dedicated HR advisor

Data as of 4/25/23. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Current sale price: 50% off for three mos. or 30-day free trial.

QuickBooks Payroll’s key features

If you already use QuickBooks Online, love the interface, and just hired your first employee, adding a QuickBooks Payroll plan to your accounting software subscription just makes sense. (When you’re dealing with something as complicated as payroll, it helps to use an interface you already know and love with next to no learning curve—you have enough to deal with as it is.)

QuickBooks offers three full-service payroll plans: Core, Premium, and Elite. All three plans include the same base payroll features:

  • Automatic end-of-year tax form filing
  • Automatic federal and state payroll tax filing
  • Automatic payroll runs (if all employees are salaried and use direct deposit)
  • Employee self-service for accessing W-2 forms, PTO accruals, and pay stubs
  • Wage garnishment and deduction management
  • Health benefits through SimplyInsured (not available in DC, VT, and HI)
  • Crucial payroll reports
  • Tax accuracy guarantee
  • Mobile payroll app for employers

The Premium plan adds some limited HR features:

  • Built-in time tracking
  • HR support center access
  • Same-day direct deposit

And QuickBooks Payroll’s priciest plan, Elite, adds a personal HR advisor and additional customer service options. Plus, while QuickBooks’ two cheaper plans include an industry-standard tax-filing accuracy guarantee, Elite includes tax penalty protection: if the IRS fines you for an error you made while using QuickBooks Payroll, the company will cover your fine for up to $25,000.

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Compare QuickBooks Payroll to top competitors

Brand name
Starting base price
Starting price per payee
Employer-facing app
Get started
$22.50/mo.*$5.00/payee/mo.
Icon Yes  DarkYes (iOS and Android)
$40.00/mo.$6.00/payee/mo.
Icon No  DarkNo (mobile-friendly website)
$39.00/mo.$5.00/payee/mo.
Icon Yes  DarkYes (iOS and Android)
$40.00/mo.$6.00/payee/mo.
Icon No  DarkNo (mobile-friendly site)
$35.00/mo.$5.00/payee/mo.
Icon Yes  DarkYes (iOS and Android)
Contact for pricing Contact for pricing
Icon Yes  DarkYes (iOS and Android)
$37.00/mo.$4.00/payee/mo.
Icon No  DarkNo, mobile-optimized website only
$19.99/mo. $4.00/payee/mo.
Icon Yes  DarkYes (iOS and Android)

Data as of 4/25/23. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Current sale price: 50% off for three mos. or 30-day free trial.

QuickBooks Payroll drawbacks

If you’re looking for comprehensive HR and employee-benefit features on top of basic payroll tasks, QuickBooks Payroll might not be the best fit. Sure, it offers all the basics, like workers compensation insurance, health insurance management, and 401(k) plans. But Gusto includes more varied perks, such as health savings accounts and life insurance options. And competitors like ADP, Paychex, and UZIO have better payroll-plus-HR packages with more comprehensive HR solutions than QuickBooks.

Plus, QuickBooks Payroll outsources its health insurance options to a third party, which means you’ll pay an additional fee to work with a broker. In contrast, Gusto has an in-house team of insurance brokers: you only pay the insurance premiums with no additional fees for integration.

Then there’s the issue of customer service. Although Intuit (QuickBooks’ parent company) has a A- rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), customers have logged more than 3,100 complaints. Most users complain of slow, unhelpful phone support—a huge frustration when a software problem keeps you from paying employees on time.

And on the review site Trustpilot, QuickBooks Payroll scores only 1.2 out of 5, which is lower than the industry standard. (Gusto scores 3.5.)

Additional QuickBooks Payroll features

Easy QuickBooks Online syncing

If you’re already using QuickBooks Online to calculate expenses, generate invoices, run reports, produce financial statements, and accept payments, setting up payroll for QuickBooks is the next logical move. Your payroll numbers will automatically sync with your QuickBooks Online account, which makes e-filing payroll taxes about as easy as possible.

On the other hand, if you love QuickBooks Online but aren’t thrilled about QuickBooks Payroll, you have dozens of options. Competitors like Gusto, Paychex, OnPay—honestly, most payroll software solutions—all sync easily with QuickBooks Online.

Plus, it's worth remembering that for the most part, QuickBooks Payroll doesn't sync with accounting software options beyond QuickBooks Online. If you want accounting software that syncs with your books to ensure your financial records are up to date, buying QuickBooks Payroll requires you to invest in QuickBooks Online as well.

Tax penalty protection

Like most payroll software, QuickBooks Payroll includes a tax-filing accuracy guarantee with each plan. This guarantee means that QuickBooks Payroll will pay any IRS fines incurred by a QuickBooks-caused problem.

With the Elite plan, though, you also get what QuickBooks calls tax penalty protection. With this enhanced protection level, QuickBooks Payroll will cover up to $25,000 of IRS fees if you incurred those fees while using QuickBooks Payroll software.

The takeaway

QuickBooks Payroll’s low learning curve, user-friendly mobile app, and low per-employee starting fee make it a good fit for small-business owners who are just getting into payroll. Plus, if you’re already familiar with QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Payroll’s similar interface and seamless integration can simplify your payroll and accounting processes.

But if you pay employees in multiple states, a QuickBooks competitor like Gusto with free multi-state payroll will cost less in the long run. And QuickBooks Payroll lacks some key HR features, so if you want more employee benefits and in-house insurance brokers, you’ll get more bang for your buck with Gusto or Paychex.

Looking for more payroll software options? If QuickBooks Payroll isn’t a good fit for you, check out our page comparing payroll software to find a payroll plan that is.

Related reading

Explore other payroll options

Wondering how QuickBooks Payroll compares to other payroll solutions? Enter some basic information about your business's payroll requirements and we'll send you up to five personalized quotes.

QuickBooks Payroll FAQ

QuickBooks Payroll is a good payroll software choice for many small businesses. Its detailed, user-friendly interface is easy for non-accountants to use. In contrast to most small-business payroll solutions, QuickBooks Payroll has a stand-out mobile app for employers. And while it has an above-average starting base price, QuickBooks Payroll’s low starting price per employee makes it affordable for businesses that have lots of employees and don’t mind simplified benefit options.

QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Payroll are two separate products. QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based accounting software solution for small businesses, while QuickBooks Payroll is a cloud-based small-business payroll solution. The two products integrate easily with each other, which means it’s easy to add a QuickBooks payroll plan to your QuickBooks accounting subscription and vice versa.

Both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Payroll are owned and distributed by the same company, Intuit, which also owns TurboTax. You can also find desktop versions of both QuickBooks products—you’ll see them referred to as QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Payroll Desktop.

QuickBooks Self-Employed is the only QuickBooks accounting product that doesn’t integrate with QuickBooks Payroll. If you’re using QuickBooks Self-Employed and want to start paying employees with QuickBooks Payroll, you’ll need to upgrade to a small-business QuickBooks Online plan first.

Yes, every QuickBooks Payroll plan includes automatic payroll tax calculation, deductions, and filing. Unlike some competitors, like ADP, QuickBooks Payroll also automatically files end-of-year tax forms like W-2s at no additional charge.

Our methodology

To evaluate QuickBooks Payroll and calculate our star rating, we compared it to other payroll providers, and reviewed several crucial aspects of payroll software:

  • Pricing and affordability
  • Scalability and number of plans
  • Payroll and HR features
  • Overall user-friendliness
  • Customer service, including customer service hours and reviews

We weighted each category equally to calculate our star ratings. Star ratings are frequently reviewed and subject to change.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Kylie McQuarrie
Written by
Kylie McQuarrie
Former Business.org staff writer Kylie McQuarrie has been writing for and about small businesses since 2014. Her work has been featured on SCORE.org, G2, and Fairygodboss, among others. She's worked closely with small-business owners in every industry—from freelance writing to real-estate startups—which has given her a front-row look at small-business owners' struggles, frustrations, and successes.
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