15 Best Payroll Services

by | Mar 10, 2021

Businesses of all types and sizes should have a reliable payroll processing system. A reliable payroll service is important to help you automate and manage your bills, income, taxes and more.

The right service can help you process the proper local, state and federal income taxes for employees’ wages. Plus the service will know how to withhold Medicare, Social Security and unemployment taxes as required by law.

Besides managing payroll and taxes, a good service can facilitate sales invoicing, expenses, calculate mileage expenses, accounting, therefore saving you time organizing it all.

Plus outsourcing your payroll services will allow you more time to focus on your business.

Here are our top payroll processing services to fit your company needs.

Top Payroll Processing Services

When selecting a services provider, one idea is to ask other business owners for recommendations. Perhaps, another small business person has used a specific service, and they’re satisfied with the results. 

Another option is to find a post like ours that reviews services and provides pros and cons.

Based on our research, we found these payroll service providers worth consideration.

1. Gusto

Gusto is a rapidly growing payroll service company that offers three service levels, with the top tier containing human resources benefits. All plans include automatic tax filings, direct deposit and unlimited payroll processing runs in every state.


  • Competitive pricing 
  • Low-priced option for contractor-only businesses
  • One-month free trial


  • Two-day payroll processing limited to higher-priced plans
  • Lowest-price plan won’t integrate with accounting program
  • No weekend customer service assistance

Best for budget-minded businesses that desire a well-rounded services package.

2. Intuit Quickbooks

Using Intuit Quickbooks for business transactions is super easy. Additionally, you can add one of three small business payroll services plans. 

Enhanced Payroll offers basic payroll services, while Full-Service Payroll adds a no-penalty guarantee and an HR services suite.


  • Two payroll services levels
  • Free 30-day trial
  • Integration with QuickBooks Online


  • Charge for 1099 forms
  • Less flexible than competing products
  • Mobile apps lack desktop functionality

Best for small businesses seeking integrated payroll and accounting solutions

3. Freshbooks

Well-regarded Freshbooks accounting software provides an elegantly simple way to manage invoicing and billing functions. There’s an easy user interface, and Freshbooks seamlessly integrates with other programs.


  • Simple user interface
  • Easy-to-use mobile apps
  • Excellent customer service


  • No built-in payroll functionality  
  • Additional users increase service cost
  • Higher priced than competitors’ offerings

Best for small businesses that prioritize a good user interface and superb customer service.

4. Square Payroll

Square Payroll suits businesses (especially retail) that use Square POS software. This is best suited for companies that hire hourly employees or contractors. Square Payroll’s services are available in all 50 states.


  • W-2 employee and 1099 contractor services
  • Budget-priced service offerings
  • Several benefits provider integrations


  • Limited payroll services, including report filing

Best for businesses that want a budget-priced contractor-only plan.

5. Paychex

Paychex is a supersized outsourcing firm that serves businesses with 1 to 1000+ employees. Service solutions are tailored to each business tier. Most plans contain basic human resources features.


  • Automatic tax calculation and payment
  • New hire reporting to state registries
  • Employee financial wellness services program   


  • Lack of online pricing for additional services
  • Plans are often costlier than competitors’ offerings

Best for midsize businesses.

6. ADP

This large-scale payroll services provider offers three service levels. The top-tier plan offers employee onboarding and human resources support services. ADP is known for its excellent customer service.


  • Small business plans for 1-49 employees
  • Business doesn’t incur payroll or tax error liability
  • Services can expand as business grows


  • Mid-tier plan needed for paper checks and payment cards
  • Expensive payroll service option
  • No online pricing available

Best for large businesses that value service quality over budget pricing.

7. Deluxe Payroll Services

Deluxe is one of the more traditional payroll service providers that offers a standard services package that can be tailored to each business’ specific needs. Services interface with general ledger systems, POS systems and 401(k) providers.


  • Paper checks, direct deposit and payroll debit cards
  • Exception reports and bank reconciliations
  • Tax-filing assistance


  • Limited services menu

Best for medium to large businesses with other system interfaces.

8. Onpay

Cash-crunched small businesses may appreciate Onpay’s standard payroll processing features and low fees. Optional health benefits and 401K add-ons are available.  


  • Enters employee data at no extra cost
  • Files local, state and federal tax forms
  • Payroll processing and tax form filing guarantees


  • No monthly service fee customization
  • Annual tax-filing fees ($5 for each W-2 hard copy)

Best for very small businesses on a budget.

9. Wagepoint

This budget-friendly payroll services provider delivers basic payroll functions in a no-nonsense manner. Wagepoint offers a user-friendly platform that is easy to set up and has a relatively minimal cost.


  • Calculates bonuses, commissions or alternative pay structures
  • Files W-2 and 1099 income reports
  • Provides direct deposit and online paystubs


  • Very small services menu
  • No customization options
  • No paper check option

Best for small businesses on a budget.

10. Paylocity

This cloud-based payroll services provider helps prepare and file standard payroll-related reports and returns. Paylocity is a Registered IRS Reporting Agent in every state and U.S. territory.


  • W-2 and Form 1099 processing and reporting
  • Third-party integrations enable fast form submission
  • Simple employee onboarding process


  • Software functionality challenges
  • Internal systems don’t operate well together
  • Inconsistent customer service

Best for businesses desiring combined payroll and human resources services.

11. PayUSA 

This online payroll services provider assists companies with 1 to 1000 employees. Customized services cater to clients’ varied needs. 

PayUSA offers a solid HCM (Human Capital Management) solution supporting business administration, payroll, Human Resources plus time and attendance.


  • New hire and workers’ compensation reporting
  • Paper checks and direct deposit options
  • Competitive pricing


  • Extra charge for onboarding or time tracking

Best for businesses that want customized payroll processing services.

12. Sage

This cloud-based payroll services company offers data accessibility from any web-enabled device. Sage offers a basic package for businesses with under 10 employees. Larger businesses can opt for a payroll solutions suite.


  • Certified payroll expert support
  • Easy integration with Office 365 account
  • Industry-leading customer retention rate


  • Very small businesses excluded from complete solutions package

Best for businesses that prefer a cloud-based payroll services option.

13. Patriot Software

This affordable online payroll services company caters to businesses with up to 100 workers. Patriot Software offers basic payroll and full-service payroll processing in all 50 states.     


  • Mobile-friendly payroll processing
  • Guaranteed tax-filing accuracy
  • Free 30-day trial


  • Limited services menu

Best for budget-minded businesses that desire basic payroll processing services.

14. SurePayroll

This Paychex-owned company automatically figures local, state and federal payroll taxes. The company provides options for home-based workers, child care providers and contract hires. SurePayroll was designed with small businesses in mind.


  • Mobile payroll processing app
  • Compatibility with most bookkeeping software
  • United States-based customer service team


  • Not geared to mid-size or larger businesses

Best for small companies with mobile employees.

15. 1-800-Accountant

1-800-Accountant  is backed by Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and Enrolled Agents (EAs). Along with standard payroll processing solutions, this 50-state provider offers flat-rate monthly pricing and year-round expert advice. 


  • Payroll solutions geared to industry and state
  • Payroll processing from web-enabled tablet or phone
  • Accurate and timely tax payments and filings


  • Limited services menu
  • No pricing flexibility

Best for businesses that want expert-backed service and flat-rate pricing.

The Payroll Outsourcing Solution

When business owners don’t want to deal with the headaches of payroll administration, we recommend to outsource this function. When sourcing the right service for you, look for these common features.

Manage Tax and Benefits Withholding Functions

Payroll services providers withhold the proper taxes from each employee’s wages. If the company provides benefits, the payroll processor also handles these deductions.

Provide Employee Pay Stubs and Direct Deposit

The payroll processor furnishes each employee with a pay stub showing their wages, taxes withheld and other deductions. Where applicable, the company will provide direct deposit services.

Furnish Employee and Contractor Tax Forms

Some businesses operate with an all-employee staff while other companies hire only independent contractors. A third segment uses a mix of worker types. Most payroll services process tax forms for all types of workers.

Offer a Tax Reporting Guarantee

Many payroll processors offer a tax guarantee to their clients.

For example, if the IRS or another tax agency questions a filing that your payroll services provider made. Therefore, the processor will attempt to resolve the issue on your behalf. If the tax agency finds that the services provider was at fault, they’ll pay any applicable penalties and fines.

Add Human Resources Services

Some payroll services providers offer onboarding assistance and other human resources services. Since these services cost more, only select a package if you plan to use every component.

Choosing a Payroll Service

Matching your company’s needs with a payroll services package makes good business sense. For example, your two-employee business will probably be fine with basic services such as Onpay or Intuit Quickbooks.

However, a rapidly growing company may benefit from add-on human resources services, such as Deluxe or Paychex.

Ideally, find a payroll services provider that will offer both desktop and mobile applications.  Plus if you have questions and need answers, it is important that the service offers a well-informed customer support team that is available through phone, email and live chat during business hours.  

Licensed in All States and U.S. Territories

The payroll services provider should be licensed in every state in which your company does business. Ideally,  they should operate in all 50 states and United States territories.

W-2 Employees and Independent Contractors

The payroll processor should provide services for W-2 employees and Form 1099 independent contractors. Moreover, companies that vary in their worker makeup, the services provider should support both worker types.

Accurate Withholdings and Payments 

The payroll services provider should always calculate the proper tax withholdings and facilitate the tax payments. Additionally, labor law compliance is also important.

Direct Deposit Anytime

Besides paper checks, the payroll services provider should offer 24/7 direct deposit services. This option appeals to employees who can’t visit their bank during working hours.

Mobile Payroll Scheduling Capabilities

An on-the-go business owner appreciates a mobile payroll scheduling option. If you’re working at another location, or taking some well-deserved time off for instance, you can still submit your payroll information on time.

Tax Fees and Penalties Support Service

Many payroll services providers offer tax fees and penalties support service, also called a tax guarantee service. Therefore, if the IRS (or another tax agency) questions a provider-prepared tax report, the provider will represent their client and resolve the issue. 

The provider will pay fines or penalties resulting from the error. Therefore make sure to check and see if your provider offers this service.

Expert Payroll Assistance

Some of your payroll-related questions may require an expert opinion. A reputable payroll processor should provide a credentialed authority to address these issues.

Healthcare and 401K Benefits Framework

Many larger companies offer healthcare and 401K benefits to employees. Ideally, a payroll services provider should maintain the infrastructure to manage these deductions and service logistics.


When searching for the right payroll services provider, you should consider your business’ current and future needs. 

If you choose a local company, make sure to ask for at least three references from current clients. If they’re from a similar industry, or the same-sized business, that’s even better. 

Either way, using a payroll service is a great step towards automating your accounting and payroll needs. Plus it will free you up to focus on other areas of your business.

Let us know if the comments which payroll service works best for you.