QuickBooks is one of the most well-known providers of accounting and bookkeeping software. Owned by Intuit, QuickBooks offers a full suite of useful software and online subscriptions for small and large businesses alike. 

QuickBooks Payroll is a small business payroll service that is entirely online. It’s a standalone product, meaning it doesn’t necessarily require the use of QuickBooks software. QuickBooks Payroll offers a full suite of useful features to pay your employees, track hours, and even manage employee benefits – all online, through one simple platform. 

The full QuickBooks Payroll review below will go over the details of this service, from pricing and features to customer ratings. 

What is QuickBooks Payroll?

QuickBooks Payroll is an online payroll service for small businesses. It allows employers to track hours, calculate payroll taxes, pay employees via direct deposit, and much more. 

QuickBooks Payroll is designed to streamline your weekly or bi-weekly payroll process, freeing up your time to focus on what matters most. Once you’ve completed the initial setup, you can pay your team automatically via direct deposit. 

QB Payroll also simplifies the collection, allocation, and payment of payroll taxes. These taxes are collected automatically and kept in a separate account until payment is due.  

The service also offers various Human Resources (HR) tools, including benefit management, health insurance, workers’ compensation, vacation time management, and more. In short, QuickBooks Payroll aims to provide a cheaper alternative to in-house payroll teams, while also combining some elements of a traditional HR department. 

Check out our roundup of the Best Payroll Services for Small Business

Is Intuit QuickBooks Payroll right for my business?

QuickBooks Payroll is a great payroll solution for small business owners and managers at mid-sized firms. Currently, over 1.4 million businesses use QuickBooks Payroll, and for good reason: It’s easy to use, accurate, and cost-effective. 

QuickBooks Payroll processing is a no-brainer if your company already uses QuickBooks accounting software for bookkeeping, accounting, or tax prep. The service integrates seamlessly with other QuickBooks products, saving you time and money. It offers the same ease of use and intuitive design that QuickBooks users love. 

Even for firms that don’t already use QuickBooks, this payroll service can still be a good option. QuickBooks Payroll is a standalone service, meaning you don’t need to subscribe to any other QuickBooks products. 

What features does QuickBooks Payroll offer?

Intuit QuickBooks Online Payroll offers three different plans. All three offer user-friendly, full-service payroll, so the main difference is in the available bonus features. For instance, Premium offers more help with initial setup, and an HR support center, while Elite offers premium customer service and extra protections for tax compliance. 

Here is an overview of features offered by each plan: 

QuickBooks Payroll Core:

  • Auto payroll for existing employees
  • Access to health benefits and other employee perks
  • Next-day direct deposit payments
  • Check printing
  • Vacation and paid leave tracking
  • Supports W-2 employees payroll, and offers 1099 and other tax form preparation for contractors
  • Fast and simple payroll runs
  • Simple tools to calculate paychecks and federal/state payroll taxes
  • Automated payroll tax calculation, collection, and payment
  • Compatible with guidelines in all 50 states
  • Ability to manage deductions and garnishments
  • Detailed payroll reports

QuickBooks Payroll Premium:

  • All features of Core
  • Same-day direct deposit
  • Workers’ comp. Administration
  • Human Resources support center
  • Expert setup
  • On-the-go time tracking via app

QuickBooks Payroll Elite:

  • All features of Core and Premium
  • Premium customer support
  • 24/7 product support
  • On-the-go time and project tracking
  • Protection from payroll tax penalties
  • Personal Human Resources advisor

All three versions have full-service payroll capability. This is notable, as most competing payroll providers only offer full-service features on premium plans. 

Every version of QuickBooks Payroll lets you automatically calculate, process, and file all necessary payroll tax forms. It enables employers to calculate and collect tax deposits, as well as issue tax payments, with compatibility for all 50 states. Multiple employee pay types can be added (salary and hourly, for example), and deductions and garnishments are handled automatically. Plus, all versions offer unlimited payroll runs, so you won’t be charged extra for additional runs.

Auto-payroll is another hugely useful feature. This lets you automatically run payroll, without the need for any manual entries. Auto-Payroll lets you skip all the manual work of a payroll run, and simply lets you review payroll before processing to ensure accuracy. For companies with predictable, stable payroll costs, this can save a lot of time. Unfortunately, Auto Payroll is only compatible with salaried employees who are using direct deposit. It does not work for hourly or contract workers, nor for employees receiving physical check payments. 

QuickBooks Online Payroll lets you define company policies relating to sick time, PTO, and vacation time. This information can be tracked over time as employees take advantage of their benefits. 

All features of QuickBooks Payroll are available online, directly in your browser. Some features can also be accessed through other QuickBooks software. There’s also a mobile app (iOS and Android), although it is more limited in usable features. 

How much does QuickBooks Payroll cost?


Full service payroll with all basic features


Full service payroll with extra features like same-day direct deposit, workers’ comp administration, and more


Full service payroll with tax penalty protection, premium customer support, personalized HR advisor, and more

$45/mo + $4/employee/mo $75/mo + $8/employee/mo $125/mo + $10/employee/mo

All three plans are currently available for 50% off, for the first 3 months. This means Core is $22.50, Premium is $37.50, and Elite is $62.50 for the first 3 months. Alternatively, you can opt to get your first 30 days free on any plan, but this will disqualify you for the 50% off promo pricing. 

As you can see, QuickBooks Payroll pricing is tiered in two ways: Features, and company size (measured by the number of employees). You can choose a base plan (Core, Premium, Elite), and then you’ll pay an additional $4-$10 per month, for each employee your business has. This is a fairly standard pricing structure for payroll services, but nonetheless, it’s important to be aware of how the cost will scale with the size of your business. 

Getting started with QuickBooks Payroll

The initial setup process is generally one of the most complex for any new payroll system. You have to enter all your business data, the information for all your employees, and ensure you’re compliant with all state and local payroll tax filing requirements. 

Fortunately, QuickBooks offers a fairly easy setup and onboarding process. There’s an automated setup “wizard” that asks a series of questions to help with the initial setup. This process will walk you step-by-step through uploading tax information, employee records, bank account information, etc. If you need, both chat and phone support agents are available during normal business hours. 

QuickBooks can also help transfer over existing payroll information from your current provider. This process can be automated or may require the help of a QuickBooks agent, depending on the provider. 

All QuickBooks Payroll plans come with pretty good support. However, the Elite plan gives you access to premium support reps who are better trained and can be reached more quickly. If your payroll situation is complex, it may be worth upgrading to Quickbooks Payroll Elite. 

Advantages of QuickBooks Payroll

  • Full-service plan for all payroll needs
  • Several plans available to suit various business needs
  • Does not require QuickBooks financial software 
  • Seamless integration with other QuickBooks services
  • Smooth and quick payroll process
  • Auto-payroll saves a lot of time for companies with predictable payrolls 
  • Fast payments, with next-day or same-day direct deposit (depending on your plan)
  • Integration with TSheets
  • HR support from third-party partners 
  • Excellent payroll reports with automatic export to Excel
  • iOS and Android apps available for on-the-go use

Disadvantages of QuickBooks Payroll

  • Managing 1099 contractors costs extra
  • Employee-side interface and tools are limited
  • Some customers have complained about poor quality customer support
  • Report customization is limited
  • Auto Payroll is limited to salaried employees only