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Payroll is one of the most important aspects of running a business, but it can also be complicated and expensive. Many small business owners and entrepreneurs use QuickBooks for their accounting and bookkeeping needs, and QuickBooks offers a full-service payroll system as well. But how much does QuickBooks payroll actually cost? Here’s a breakdown of the pricing, features, and options of QuickBooks payroll.

QuickBooks payroll pricing

The cost of QuickBooks payroll depends primarily on the number of employees you need to pay. There are three main pricing tiers:

  • Basic Payroll: $45/month base price plus $4/month per employee. It is best for fewer than 10 employees.
  • Enhanced Payroll: $75/month base price plus $8/month per employee. Best for 10-49 employees.
  • Premium Payroll: $125/month base price plus $16/month per employee. Best for 50+ employees.

So, for example, if you have 5 employees, Basic Payroll would cost $45 + $20 (5 x $4) = $65/month. The per-employee cost decreases as you reach higher tiers; premium payroll would cost just $125 + $80 (5 x $16) = $205 for those same 5 employees.

There are also add-on services like contractor payments, workers compensation, and other specialized features that incur additional fees per transaction or filing.

What’s Included in Each Plan?

The core functionality of QuickBooks Payroll is processing payroll, calculating taxes, printing checks, and paying employees. But each tier builds on that foundation with additional capabilities:

Basic payroll includes:

  • Payroll processing
  • Federal and state tax filings and payments
  • Direct deposit
  • Printing paychecks
  • Contractor payments add-on available

Enhanced payroll adds:

  • Quarterly tax filings
  • W-2s at year-end
  • Garnishments
  • ACA reporting
  • Payroll reports
  • 24/7 customer support

Premium payroll further adds:

  • Per-payroll phone support
  • Same-day ACH direct deposit
  • Custom report builder
  • Pay-by-pay HR support
  • Workers comp payments and filings
  • HR help desk
  • Onboarding services

So Enhanced and Premium are better suited for more employees and companies that need extra payroll features, support, and specialized HR services.

QuickBooks payroll requirements

To use QuickBooks Payroll, you need to have:

  • A QuickBooks Online account
  • QuickBooks Payroll subscription
  • Business bank account for wage payments
  • Information like SSNs, pay rates, and withholdings for employees

QuickBooks Online starts at $25/month, and you must have the Plus plan ($40/month) or higher to use payroll.

QuickBooks Payroll integrates seamlessly with your QuickBooks accounting software. This allows it to automatically pull in data like employee wage rates and deductions.

Pros and Cons of QuickBooks Payroll

Here are some of the key advantages and disadvantages of using QuickBooks for your payroll:


  • Seamless integration with QuickBooks Online
  • Automatic tax calculations and payments
  • Direct deposit for employees
  • Range of pricing tiers and features
  • Established name in accounting software
  • Access to HR services at higher tiers


  • Can be more expensive than other payroll services.
  • Limited phone support on lower tiers
  • Additional fees for extra features, like contractors
  • Not suited for international or global payroll
  • More complex than basic payroll services

QuickBooks payroll alternatives

Some small business owners may find the cost of QuickBooks Payroll too high, even on the lower pricing tiers. Here are some alternatives worth considering:

  • Gusto: full– Full service payroll and HR. It starts at $39 per month in base fees. $6 per person monthly.
  • OnPay streamlines small business payroll. $36/month base fee. $4 per person monthly.
  • Patriot Payroll: Cloud payroll focused on taxes. $10/month base fee. $4 per person monthly.
  • Square Payroll integrates with Square POS. $29/month base fee. $5 per person monthly.

These services offer lower base fees compared to QuickBooks Payroll, with competitive per-person pricing. They are worth checking out for the basic payroll needs of smaller teams.

The bottom line

QuickBooks Payroll provides a flexible payroll system that scales with your business’s growth. The base monthly pricing starts at $45 for fewer than 10 employees but rises considerably for midsize and larger businesses. Additional services also incur more fees. While it integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks accounting, there are lower-cost alternatives like Gusto, OnPay, and others if you just need simple payroll for a small team. As your business and payroll needs grow, the extra features and functionality in QuickBooks Payroll can become worth the higher pricing.

FAQ About QuickBooks Payroll Pricing

Does QuickBooks offer a free payroll plan?

No, all of QuickBooks’ payroll plans require a monthly subscription fee. They do not currently offer a free payroll option.

What’s the cheapest payroll plan from QuickBooks?

The Basic Payroll plan is their cheapest option, starting at $45/month base fee plus $4 per employee monthly.

Do I need to have QuickBooks to use QuickBooks payroll?

Yes, you need an active QuickBooks Online subscription to utilize QuickBooks Payroll. It integrates directly with your QBO accounting data.

Can I process payroll without paying for QuickBooks payroll monthly?

No, the subscription fee is required to process payroll through QuickBooks. You can’t just pay per payroll run.

Does QuickBooks payroll offer live customer support?

The Enhanced and Premium plans offer live phone support and an HR help desk. The Basic Plan is more limited to online support resources.

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