Best Payroll Software 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

Making sure your employees continue to get paid appropriately as your business grows is critical when expanding your team. Having the right payroll software in place makes this process easier and simplifies end-of-year reporting, including your business taxes.

In this article, we’ll get into what payroll software can do, why your organization should consider it, and our top rated list of the best payroll software available in 2021. 


What’s on This Page

What is Payroll Software?

Payroll software makes managing everything to do with payroll easier through automation and employee self-service. The best payroll software will automate employee salaries, bonuses and deductions and calculate time off, vacation and benefits. The software will make calculations based on the hours and wages entered on the platform for employees, and file taxes automatically.

Many businesses opt to outsource their payroll completely, but this isn’t a cost-effective solution for a lot of small and medium sized businesses, and a lot of enterprise companies want to keep these processes in house. Payroll software takes away some of the burden of keeping payroll under your roof.

Why use Payroll Software?

Without software, your payroll would be done manually, leaving room for error which can lead to employee dissatisfaction, late salary payments or even fines from your governing tax body. Depending on how big your business is, you might want to appoint one person to be responsible for your payroll software, this person can ensure that employees are onboarded and off boarded properly and will hold accountability for how the software is run and used.

Top Rated Payroll Software


Best Overall Payroll Software

Gusto has a full service payroll offering that serves any level of business, from small to medium to large, but this software is most appealing to small businesses who are new to payroll software. The software is user friendly and allows you to set up payroll, processes and empowers your team with reporting tools and great customer service support!

Intuitive and clean interface

It’s intuitive and clean interface make it simple and easy to use for essential payroll needs and eliminates many of the complications often associated with payroll. The software offers paid time-off tracking, basic reporting and unlimited payroll runs. If you want health benefits, integrations and dedicated support though, you’ll have to upgrade to one of the more expensive plans.

Automatically tracks and files taxes

Gusto tracks and files federal, state and local taxes automatically – making it a small business dream when it comes to the time-consuming task.

Faster deposits with higher pricing plans

The higher you move up in pricing plans, the faster your direct deposits will clear. On the basic plan, direct deposits will take up to two days to clear, where on the high tier plans, direct deposits clear next day. 

Basic Plan: tax filing for single state only

If you choose the basic plan, note that your employees will need to all be in the same state for payroll tax filing purposes, as the software will only submit for a single state. If you work with employees across multiple states, you’ll have to upgrade.

Gusto pricing:

  • Core – $29/month base + $6/month per person
  • Complete – $39/month base + $12/month per person
  • Concierge – $149/month base + $12/month per person
  • Contractor – $6/month per person

Overall Ratings:

SC Icon

4.5 (Aggregate Score)

Capterra Icon

Not Available

G2 Logo

4.35 (469 user reviews)

QuickBooks Payroll

Best Payroll Software for easy setup

Many organizations are already using QuickBooks for accounting, making this software the easiest set up option if you fall into that category.

In-depth tutorials available

Anyone who’s used QuickBooks before will feel comfortable with this payroll solution, and even if you need support, the knowledge base and tutorials are so in depth that you can work through any issues on your own.

Quality product but higher pricing

While this software is one of the easiest and most intuitive to set up, it comes at a cost! The pricing is at the higher end when compared to competitors, but rest assured the product is quality.

Innovative features and integrations

The company is constantly adding new features, and now has auto-payroll, TSheet integration and HR tools through third party integrations.

While this software is easy, if your company can’t justify the high cost – look at some of QuickBook’s competitors before making your decision.

QuickBooks Payroll Pricing:

  • Core – $45/month + $4 per user/month
  • Premium – $75/month + $8 per user/month
  • Elite – $125/month + $10 per employee/month

Overall Ratings:

SC Icon

4.5 (Aggregate Score)

Capterra Icon

4.5 (600 user reviews)

G2 Logo

4.0 (25 user reviews)


Best Payroll Software for Small Businesses

If you’re a small business on a budget this software is for you! The company claims that its software saves business owners over 15 hours a month and allows them to focus on what matters, the bottom line.

Fast performance and tax-filing automation

The software runs payroll in minutes, automates taxes and offers a self-service platform for employees. It integrates with QuickBooks and Xero and even takes care of quarterly and year-end tax filing.

Great onboarding and customer support

The online payroll service has a set up wizard, making the onboarding process simple, anyone who follows the step-by-step guide should be able to figure it out. If this doesn’t work, OnPay customer support experts will help you with set up for free, so no matter what you’re in a win-win situation.

Additional HR services

Think of this software like an HR assistant, because it also has features that will help get your day-to-day tasks done faster, like creating offer letters, hiring new employees and e-signing.

When compared to other payroll plans, OnPay comes out on top – they charge less than their competitors for many features that are considered top tier on other platforms.


  • $36/month + $4 per person per month for all services on OnPay.

Overall Ratings:

SC Icon

4.9 (Aggregate Score)

Capterra Icon

Not Available

G2 Logo

4.9 (159 user reviews)


Best Payroll Software for Enterprise

ADP is one of the most recognized names when it comes to payroll software. While this software was made for enterprise clients, and their customer base is made up of large companies, they have a service called ADP RUN which is suitable for small businesses with less than 50 employees.

Robust features but hard to reach customer service

While the software offers a robust selection of features including reporting, customization and several HR add-ons, many people report that customer service needs improvement. Many customers have said it takes a long time to speak to someone in person if there is an issue, causing frustration in some users.

Roll by ADP – AI payroll technology

In February, ADP launched a product called Roll by ADP, a payroll software that is run by an artificial intelligence chatbot. Users can type in commands like “run payroll,” leaving the rest up to the automation of the system.


Contact ADP for pricing. Pricing depends on several different factors like how many employees you have, how often you run payroll and the features available on the plan you select.

Overall Ratings:

SC Icon

3.5 (Aggregate Score)

Capterra Icon

4.5 (5000 user reviews)

G2 Logo

3.9 (158 user reviews)


Best Payroll Software for Free service

While this payroll software is free, it requires more manpower from you and your team. This will allow you to manually enter hours for payroll, and do the admin yourself. While some of the competitors offer automation, this requires manual data entry, leaving room for error during process.

There is a setup tool available to help you through the process, making it simple and seamless even for novice users.

If you’re looking for a multitude of features and add-ons, this is not the service for you. There are very limited features and integrations available, and if you want to set up payroll tax filing or pay employees via direct deposit that will run you an extra $12.50 per month for each feature.

Overall Ratings:

SC Icon

3.5 (Aggregate Score)

Capterra Icon

3.0 (7 user reviews)

G2 Logo

4.5 (1 user reviews)

Our Rating Process

We assessed each software based on features, ease of use, customer support and value for money to find the best payroll services out there. We scored them each out of 5 points to help you in your decision process.

Ease of Use
Customer Support
Value for Money

Features are important for your payroll software because depending on the size of your business and what type of employees you have, you’ll need varying features, like automatic tax filing, paid time off calculator and an employee self-service portal. Without the right features, your teams will be bogged down by more work and dicey processes.

Ease of Use

Ease of use is crucial for your payroll software because not only will your accounts and HR teams need access, but if you have an employee self-serve portal, the platform will need to feel intuitive, eliminating time spent on training.

Customer Support

Customer support is always important when it comes to SaaS tools. If your organization runs into any bumps in the road, it’s important to know that you’ll be supported so that you can continue to focus on running your business, not technological issues.

Value for Money

Value for money is important no matter the size of your business. You want to make sure that the software you’re implementing works for your business today and your business tomorrow. You want to ensure that you’re getting what you pay for and that the price is sustainable.

Product Features


$29 – $149
/ plus $6-$12 per person / month

  • Intuitive Interface
  • Auto-file Taxes
  • Customer Support

Sign Up


$45 – $125
/ plus $4-$10 per person / month

  • In-depth Tutorials
  • Easy Setup
  • Innovative Features

Sign Up


/ plus $4 per person / month

  • Customer Support
  • Automated Tax-Filing
  • Additional HR Features

Sign Up


Contact Vendor

  • Robust Features
  • Enterprise Level
  • AI Payroll Option

Sign Up

Alternative Options

Other Services


ERP Software


Live Chat Software


Learning Management Systems


HR Software


Help Desk Software


Business Intelligence Tools

Frequently Asked Questions

Which free payroll software is best?

Only you will know what software is best suited for your business, but if you’re looking for a free payroll software, Payroll4Free, ExcelPayroll and eSmart Paycheck are all contenders. Before choosing a software, do your research and figure out which platform has the features you need. Payroll4Free is one of the best overall free softwares on the market, but offers minimal automation, leaving room for error. Furthermore, if you need direct deposit and tax services, these come at an extra fee.

What is the best payroll software for small business?

In order to find the best payroll software for your small business, you need to first assess your business needs. Once you’ve figured out your business needs, do your research and identify a software with the features you need, and one that you can grow into if you are expecting to scale quickly. For small businesses, Gusto, OnPay and Square Payroll all offer excellent services.

How much is payroll software?

The cost for payroll software varies, depending on the platform, features and integrations available. You can find software for free, but they usually have limited functionality. Once your business starts growing, it will most likely be worth it to pay for a software in order to automate processes and avoid errors, save time and optimize your day-to-day operations. Payroll software usually come at a monthly base cost-plus cost per user. For example, OnPay charges $36/month + $4 per person per month. For enterprise solutions you’ll have to contact the service provider for a quote.

Related Articles