Free Payroll Services

Last updated: December 2022

Compare different payroll services, explore our in-depth reviews & informative articles, and choose the best solution for you.

Result: 8 products
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3 months FREE* + 1 year of Digital W-2s Over 730,000+ customers
90-Day Free Trial
  • 2022 Best SMB-Focused Solution Award Winner
  • All-in-one platform
  • 45+ Years industry experience
4.6 / 5.0
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3 months FREE payroll*
14-Day Free Trial
  • End to end payroll and HR management
  • Manage scheduling, time, and attendance
  • Customized dashboards and reporting
4.2 / 5.0
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First month FREE*
30-Day Free Trial
  • Automate your payroll taxes & filings
  • Extensive Features Package
  • The only payroll service you’ll ever need
4.5 / 5.0
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3 months for FREE* Chosen by nearly 800,000 SMBs
90-Day Free Trial
  • Excellent 24/7 customer support
  • Start your payroll in a few clicks
  • Award-winning products
4.5 / 5.0
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Easy & reliable payroll software
14-Day Free Trial
  • 14-day free trial
  • Trusted by 11,000+ businesses
4.4 / 5.0
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Robust & affordable payroll
30-Day Free Trial
  • Unlimited payroll free for 30 days
  • Run payroll in 3 simple steps
  • Quick & accurate payroll reporting
4.6 / 5.0
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Excellent payroll services for SMBs
30-Day Free Trial
  • Automated, full-service payroll in all plans
  • 30-day free trial
  • Third-party HR tools
4.3 / 5.0
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DISCLAIMER: The “free online payroll services” options are recommendations designed to get you off the ground. While these programs are indeed “free” on the most basic levels or for limited times, it’s important to note that once the free trial period concludes, you will be required to pay for continued use. Additionally, if you use “Freemium” payroll software options, you must pay for more advanced features and functionality.

What Is Payroll Software?

Automated payroll software manages, organizes, and automates advanced and basic payroll functions. Whether running a small business or a fledgling start-up, you should make your employees, local government, and the IRS happy. Both cloud-based and on-premise payroll solutions help ensure all parties are satisfied. 

Generally, full-service payroll processing provides the following payroll features (but are not limited to) for small business owners

  • Basic and advanced payroll calculations 
  • Payroll processing and management tools, including flexible payment options for freelancers, contractors, and workers’ compensation payments
  • Payroll data storage, including employee information 
  • Automated direct deposit to employee bank accounts 
  • Onboarding data collection and storage
  • Basic and advanced tax filing features and tax forms, including tax calculations for state, federal, and local taxes 
  • Employee compensation management and administration 
  • Self-service employee portals for employees
  • Payroll reports for the human resources department 
  • PTO management, including automated accrual calculations per pay period
  • Industry compliance management and reporting 
  • Invoicing, time-tracking, and timesheet management 
  • Integrations with mobile apps and other business applications, including accounting software, ERP applications, and other types of HR software

On-premise and cloud-based payroll systems do much more than print checks, pay employees, compute payroll tax filings, direct deposit, and time clock management. Automated payroll HR solutions help streamline most aspects of payroll processing for a small business

Why is Payroll Processing Automation Essential For My Small Business? 

Depending on your industry, the number of employees, and the location, there are a lot of federal, state, and local regulations governing payroll administration and tax filings

Using intuitive automated payroll options can help your small business avoid unnecessary penalties and free up your human resources department from spending hours on a Microsoft Excel sheet. Additionally, payroll HR solutions provide the following benefits: 

  • Increased productivity for the accounting, IT, and HR departments 
  • Secured employee payroll data 
  • Reduced errors during payroll processing 
  • Employee self-service portals 

Continue reading to learn the pros and cons of using the best free payroll services on the market. 

Advantages of Using Free Payroll Software

Using a payroll solution’s free plan or an open-source payroll solution can benefit new small business owners and start-ups in many ways. Generally, a few advantages of using the best free payroll software on the market include: 

  • Cost-Effective – Since it’s free, you can allocate your resources to other areas of need. That’s especially true if you have fewer employees (i.e., less than five).
  • Basic Payroll Functions – Most free versions of free payroll services can do basic payroll calculations, automated direct deposits (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.), basic year-end tax calculations, and more. 
  • User-Friendly – The most popular online payroll software is easy to use and typically has a robust online community for support. 
  • Centralized Payroll Data – Having employee information, payroll data, and tax information can be helpful for all departments. 

If you have a larger number of employees, are in a regulation-heavy industry, or have complex payroll needs, then using a free plan might not be the best option for your company. Continue reading to learn the disadvantages of using free payroll services for your small business

Disadvantages of Using Free Payroll Software

Payroll processing and management are essential aspects of a business. With that in mind, before you commit to using a free version of payroll software, there are a few drawbacks you should be aware of. They include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Limited Functionality – Free payroll software options usually lack the advanced functions that many businesses require. 
  • Lack of Customization – Suppose you want to send customized invoices or there are certain payroll functions you need to hard code into the software. In that case, free plans are likely not your best payroll option
  • Reduced Customer Service – Most open-source and free versions of online payroll software lack 24/7 customer service. That can prove detrimental when your business runs into issues with the software. 
  • Inability to Integrate With Popular Software – Sometimes, the free plan of payroll software doesn’t support seamless integrations
  • The Cost of Add-Ons – In many cases, you can opt for the free plan and pay for add-ons as needed. However, long term,  this can prove more expensive than paying a consistent monthly fee

If you’re unsure whether a free payroll service is best for your start-up or small business, trying a free trial for one to three months before deciding on the best applications for your company can be helpful. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About The Best Free Payroll Software

The days of payroll consisting of physical pay stubs and paychecks are long gone. With that in mind, you likely have a few questions about using the best free payroll software for your small business. We’re here to help. Learn the answers to the most commonly asked questions about free payroll services in the sections below.

How Can I Do Basic Payroll Myself For Free?

If you’re not sold on using a payroll service, you can still do basic payroll without using payroll software. This requires calculating employee wages, payroll deductions, payroll taxes (i.e., state, federal, FICA, etc.), and ensuring employees are paid the right amount on time. If you have 1 – 5 employees and you have basic payroll knowledge, DIY payroll processing is a feasible option. However, it can be time-consuming regardless of the number of employees.

What is The Best Program to Use For Payroll? 

There are countless payroll solutions. The application that’s best for your small business depends on many factors. However, if you’re unsure which solution fits your needs, you may want to try one of the following free payroll software (including free trials and 100% free programs):

What is the Easiest Payroll Program? 

The easiest payroll program for your small business depends on your current payroll and accounting knowledge, your industry, payroll regulations, and more. Generally, the payroll apps widely regarded as user-friendly include but are not limited to the following: 

How Much Do Payroll Services Cost For Small Businesses? 

Nearly half of all small businesses use payroll services. Recent surveys suggest that most spend between $100 – $500 per month on payroll services. Businesses with a more robust payroll and a large number of employees can expect to pay closer to or more than the higher end of the spectrum. If you’re not ready to commit a budget to payroll, that’s okay. Browse our recommendations for the best free payroll software at the top of this page.