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With so many different free payroll software solutions available, figuring out which is right for you is tough. You know you want to manage payroll, tax, and compliance workflows on a budget, but need to figure out which tool is best. In this post, I'll help make your choice easy, sharing my personal experiences using dozens of different payroll tools with small teams and businesses, with my picks of the best free payroll software overall.

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The 10 Best Free Payroll Software Comparison Chart

Here’s a comparison chart that summarizes basic details about each of my free payroll software selections. You can view the terms of their free versions plus additional pricing details side-by-side to help you find the best software that works for your budget and business needs.

Tools Price
Deel Flat rate user pricing, with a free version for businesses with up to 200 people
Papaya Global EOR from $650/employee/month or $2/contractor/month; Global payroll from $3 to $12/employee/month
OnPay From $6/employee/month + $40/month base fee
Homebase From $20/month (payroll add-on is $6/user/month + $39/month)
Paycor From $5/employee/month + $99/month base fee
Zoho Payroll From $19/month plus $3/employee/month
TimeTrex Pricing upon request
CheckMark Payroll One-time fee of $509
SurePayroll Pricing upon request
HR.my Free to use
Preview Image - <h2 class="c-block__title b-summary-table__title c-listicle__title h3" > Compare Software Specs Side by Side</h2>

Compare Software Specs Side by Side

Use our comparison chart to review and evaluate software specs side-by-side.

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How to Choose Free Payroll Software

As you work through your own unique software selection process, keep the following points in mind:

  • Business Size and Scalability: Different payroll software solutions cater to various business sizes, from small startups to medium-sized businesses. It's crucial to select a tool that not only fits your current needs but can also scale with your business. For instance, a small business might start with a simple, free solution for managing a handful of employees but will require more complex features as it grows, such as advanced reporting and compliance management. Consider whether the software can accommodate an increasing number of employees and more complex payroll configurations without significant cost increases.
  • Compliance Features: Payroll involves strict compliance with tax laws and regulations, which vary by location. The ideal free payroll software should automatically update to reflect current tax rates and legal requirements, reducing the risk of penalties for non-compliance. For example, businesses operating in multiple states or countries must manage payroll taxes according to local laws, making automated tax updates and filings a critical feature.
  • Integration Capabilities: Seamless integration with existing systems such as HR management, time tracking, and accounting software streamlines payroll processes. This consideration is crucial for minimizing manual data entry and ensuring accuracy. A tool that integrates well with other software can automatically import hours worked, calculate overtime, and deduct benefits, thereby simplifying the payroll process. For businesses already using other management tools, choosing a payroll solution that integrates easily with their current systems is key.
  • Security and Data Protection: Payroll data is sensitive, containing personal and financial information of employees. High-level security features, including data encryption and secure login protocols, are essential to protect this information from breaches. Software buyers should look for solutions that emphasize security measures, including regular security audits and compliance with data protection regulations, to safeguard against data theft and ensure privacy.
  • User Support and Resources: Effective customer support and access to user resources can significantly impact the user experience, especially for businesses without a dedicated payroll specialist. Look for software that offers detailed guides, FAQs, training videos, and responsive customer support. This support is invaluable for troubleshooting, understanding best practices, and staying updated on new features. Whether it's through live chat, email support, or an online knowledge base, having reliable support can make a big difference in how smoothly payroll operations run.

Choosing the right free payroll software involves careful consideration of these factors, ensuring the solution not only meets your current payroll needs but also supports your business as it grows and evolves.

Overviews of the 10 Best Free Payroll Software

Here you’ll find detailed descriptions of each free payroll software that made it into my top 10 list. I’ve summarized their key features, explained which features are free, and included a screenshot for each to give you a snapshot of their user interface too. Plus, I’ve included an additional 14 bonus options below if you’d like even more choices to consider.

Best global HR platform with a free plan for up to 200 employees

  • Free demo available
  • Flat rate user pricing, with a free version for businesses with up to 200 people
Visit Website
Rating: 4.8/5

Deel is an all-in-one global HR platform with advanced multicountry payroll functionalities. Their platform allows companies to hire and pay remote team members or contractors from anywhere in the world, with measures in place to ensure total compliance.

Why I picked Deel: Deel's platform is a great choice for small businesses because they offer their services for free to businesses with less than 200 employees. The free plan’s payroll capabilities are limited when compared with that of their paid plans, but the free plan still has enough features to help small businesses manage their payroll.

Deel Features and Integrations:

Features include the ability to run your payroll process for employees, contractors, and employer of record hires on autopilot; handle taxes; provide benefits; eliminate manual admin tasks with automated invoicing; give the team flexibility with over 15 global payment options; and have local, legal, tax, and accounting expertise.

Integrations are available natively with Ashby, BambooHR, Expensify, Greenhouse, Hibob, Netsuite, Okta, OneLogin, Quickbooks, SCIM, Xero, Workday, and Workable.

What's Free: Deel's platform is free to use for businesses with less than 200 employees. Beyond their free plan, Deel offers paid plans with flat rate pricing, as well as a free demo.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • You can pay employees in over 150 currencies, including crypto
  • Includes up to $25,000 coverage if a misclassification or legal case arises
  • Also offers employer of record (EOR) services

Cons:

  • No mobile app available
  • No free trial available

Best payroll and end-to-end workforce management in 160+ countries

  • Free trial available
  • EOR from $650/employee/month or $2/contractor/month; Global payroll from $3 to $12/employee/month
Visit Website
Rating: 4.5/5

Papaya Global is an online payroll and employee management software global hiring. It provides end-to-end global workforce management tools, with everything from employee onboarding to cross-border payments in over 160 countries.

Why I picked Papaya Global: This software manages all types of employees, including full-time and contractors, and can also serve as an EoR. It can send payments securely to remote and global staff, whatever type of employee they are. Payment delivery is guaranteed within 72 hours.

The software's bank rails were built in partnership with JP Morgan and Citibank with high reliability and compliance standards. Payroll anomalies and issues can be detected with the software’s artificial intelligence (AI), which automatically notifies admins. The reporting and analytics tools offer detailed payroll and business intelligence, and give you a real-time view of your funds.

Papaya Global Standout Features and Integrations:

Features include solutions for automating payroll and payments, tools to understand your total payroll costs, workforce planning tools, a dedicated HRIS system including onboarding tools, AI-based compliance verification features, international employee benefits administration, and assistance with global immigration issues.

Integrations include BambooHR, Expensify, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Namely, NetSuite, Priority Software, SAP Business One, SAP Concur, and SAP SuccessFactors. An API is also available to support additional custom integrations.

What's Free: While no free-forever plan is available, several pricing tiers are available to suit the needs of all business sizes. A free trial is also available so you can give it a test run before purchasing.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Advanced forecasting features to predict costs
  • Payments can be made in virtually any currency
  • Extensive knowledge base

Cons:

  • Employee profiles could be more detailed
  • No free-forever plan

Best full-service payroll software that tracks your spending using custom reports

  • 30-day free trial
  • From $6/employee/month + $40/month base fee
Visit Website
Rating: 5/5

OnPay is a full-service payroll and HR software designed to help small business owners save time when managing their company. The solution has a clean interface and is easy to navigate, allowing users to schedule and run payroll and automate their tax and payroll calculations. 

Why I picked OnPay: Their software helps you create custom payroll reports so you can easily track your spending and your team’s activity. The tool’s mobile-friendly self-service portal allows your employees to access and update their information on the go. 

OnPay Features and Integrations:

Features include unlimited pay runs, tax filings and payments, employee self-service, automated onboarding, direct messaging, PTO management, and benefits management.  

Integrations include Deputy, Guideline, Mineral, PosterElite, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Time, Vestwell, When I Work, Xero, and others.

What's Free: OnPay is free to use for 30 days. After that period, their paid plans start at $6/employee/month plus a $40/month base fee.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Custom reports
  • Built-in notifications
  • Simple payroll scheduling

Cons:

  • Mobile navigation can be improved
  • No payroll automation
  • It takes about five days for employees to receive their pay

Best free scheduling and time tracking software with additional payroll services via an add-on

  • Free plan available (unlimited employees)
  • From $20/month (payroll add-on is $6/user/month + $39/month)
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Rating: 4.2/5

Homebase is a versatile HR platform that helps small businesses manage work schedules, time clocks, and payroll, all-in-one. It automates the payroll process and converts timesheets into hours and wages, calculates taxes, and sends correct payments to employees.

Why I picked Homebase Payroll: Their payroll system reduces data entry since the solution instantly calculates an employee’s regular hours, breaks, and overtime through their time clock and timesheet feature. This makes it easy for small businesses to run payroll without needing to double-check all the data.

Homebase Payroll Features and Integrations:

Features include automated tax payments and filings, access to W-2 and 1099 forms, employee self-onboarding, e-sign payroll forms, direct deposits, unlimited payroll runs, and free payroll transfer services.

Their mobile app gives employees access to their hours, schedules, earnings, and W-2 forms, and even includes communication tools so employees can help each other trade and cover shifts.

Integrations are available with a handful of popular HR platforms, including ADP, Gusto, Paychex, Quickbooks, Rippling, Square Payroll, and SurePayroll, as well as with several point-of-sale providers.

What's Free: Homebase's Basic service plan is free forever for unlimited employees at one work location, making it an ideal solution for small businesses (paid plans begin at $20/month). Their payroll services are available as an add-on to their free package, starting at $6/employee/month plus a $39/month base fee. New Homebase Payroll customer also receive their first three months for free when they add their payroll integration to any of their plans.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Free plan covers timesheets/time clocks, scheduling, messaging, and hiring tools
  • Includes early wage access for employees to help with unexpected, emergency expenses
  • Mobile app is user-friendly for employees

Cons:

  • Payroll functions are only available as an add-on
  • Purpose-built for USA-based organizations

Best online payroll service provider with multiple payroll options

  • 90-day free trial + free demo available
  • From $5/employee/month + $99/month base fee
Visit Website
Rating: 4.1/5

Paycor is an online payroll services provider that enables you to optimize your payroll process with automation. The software integrates with accounting and human resources solutions, allowing you to manage employee benefits, run payroll, and file taxes with ease.  

Why I picked Paycor: Their payroll software includes a mobile-friendly employee portal your team members can use to access their pay stubs, benefits information, and other documentation. The software allows you to choose from multiple payroll options, so you can set up direct deposit, on-demand payments, or send money directly to a credit card.  

Paycor Features and Integrations:

Features include a self-service portal, time & attendance tracking, recruitment and onboarding, performance management, tax filing, PTO management, automation, and analytics.

Integrations include Aetna, Beacon, iCIMS, CloudPay, Epicor, Fidelity, Human Interest, Indeed, LinkedIn, MassMutual, Payfactors, TurboTax, and others.

What's Free: Paycor is free to use for 90 days. After that, their paid plans start at $5/employee/month plus a $99/month base fee. 

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Helps you manage on-demand pay
  • Custom reporting features

Cons:

  • Time tracking only available as an add-on
  • Onboarding process could be improved
  • Self-service portal can be buggy at times

Best free payroll software for small teams with up to 10 employees

  • 30-day free trial + free plan available
  • From $19/month plus $3/employee/month
Visit Website
Rating: 4.1/5

Zoho Payroll is a payroll solution that helps small businesses with payroll processing and employee onboarding. The tool offers a self-service portal where employees can check their payslips and documents. 

Why I picked Zoho Payroll: Their software automatically calculates earnings, deductions, taxes, and allowances. The software allows you to create recurring payroll routines and complete one-time payments in any pay period. The software’s termination payroll helps you manage the employee’s notice pay and other exit requirements. 

Zoho Payroll Features and Integrations:

Features include automatic payroll calculations, direct deposits, income tax collection (IRS & CRA), detailed payroll reports, digital payslips, alerts, salary revision tools, predefined user roles, and employee loan management features.

Integrations are available with other Zoho tools, and with other solutions through a REST API. 

What's Free: Zoho Payroll offers a free-forever version with limited functionalities for one work location with up to 10 employees. For larger teams, the software costs from $19/month plus $3/employee/month. A 30-day free trial is also available.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Manages multiple payroll organizations
  • Detailed employee database
  • Easy to make salary adjustments

Cons:

  • Not currently available in all U.S. states
  • Notes cannot exceed 200 characters, which can make it difficult to keep accurate records over time
  • You cannot edit a single employee in a payroll that has run, so you have to reverse it entirely and run it again

Best for a free and open-source Community Edition of their payroll software

  • 30-day free trial + free plan available
  • Pricing upon request
Visit Website
Rating: 3.8/5

TimeTrex is a workforce management and payroll solution that helps you with federal, state, and local tax calculations in Canada and the US. The software integrates attendance tracking and payroll, and allows you to pay your team via direct deposit or checks. 

Why I picked TimeTrex: With TimeTrex, you can automate your time and attendance policies with custom rules regarding overtime, premiums, and multiple pay rates. The software helps your team members allocate their working hours to four levels of cost centers, so you can create different structures for people who work in the office or in the field, and so on. 

TimeTrex Features and Integrations:

Features include a payroll calculator, direct deposit, garnishments, PTO tracking, time & attendance tracking, electronic pay stubs, tax reports, and full-service payroll support if you want payroll off your desk completely.

Integrations are available with several apps, including ADP, Ceridian, Sage, Paychex, and QuickBooks. 

What's Free: TimeTrex offers a Community Edition that is open-source and fully free to use. They also offer a 30-day free trial of their Professional Edition with more advanced features. If you're happy with their software, they can provide you with custom pricing details after your free trial upon request. 

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Simple time and attendance tracking
  • Good automation features
  • Versatile self-service portal

Cons:

  • Navigation could be improved
  • Platform can lag at times
  • Mobile app looks outdated

Best payroll solution for managing unlimited databases and companies

  • 60-day free trial
  • One-time fee of $509
Visit Website
Rating: 4.5/5

CheckMark Payroll is a payroll solution that allows small business owners to pay their employees via direct deposit or checks. The software’s check printing feature allows you to create branded checks for your business. 

Why I picked CheckMark Payroll: Their payroll system allows you to create unlimited databases and companies, which can be helpful for small business owners managing multiple locations or accountants. The software is easy to set up and use, and offers all the instructions you need to set up your first payroll. 

CheckMark Payroll Features and Integrations:

Features include unlimited employees, unlimited payroll runs, direct deposit or the ability to print checks, printed or e-filed W2s and W3s, and US-based customer support.

Integrations are available with multiple apps, including E-Syst, PROFITSystems, SilentPartner, TimeWolf, and Virtual TimeClock. 

What's Free: CheckMark Payroll is free to use for 60 days. After that, the software charges a one-time fee starting from $509 making it a very affordable option for small business owners looking to avoid monthly SaaS subscription fees.  

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Supports an unlimited number of employees
  • Simple interface
  • Little to no learning curve

Cons:

  • Making changes on checks can be difficult
  • App can sometimes glitch on Macs
  • Limited report customization options

Best cloud-based payroll software with time-saving payroll automations

  • 60-day free trial
  • Pricing upon request

SurePayroll is a cloud-based payroll service dedicated to helping small businesses thrive. The software enables you to set up payroll without difficulty and run it automatically on certain dates.

Why I picked SurePayroll: Their software helps you pay your team on time via direct deposit. The solution’s dashboard allows you to access status reports and previous payrolls, and track employee benefits from a central location. The tool comes with a dedicated mobile app that enables you to run payroll from anywhere, and gives your team access to their payslips. 

SurePayroll Features and Integrations:

Features include automatic payroll, tax calculations, payroll tax filing, direct deposit, easy setup, mobile access, and live US-based customer support,

Integrations are available with multiple solutions, including QuickBooks Online, Timesheets, WebHR, and Xero. 

What's Free: SurePayroll is free for up to 60 days. After your trial period, the software offers custom pricing upon request.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Dedicated mobile app
  • Great customer support
  • Good integration options

Cons:

  • Managing W-2s and 1099s costs extra
  • Onboarding could be better
  • Self-service may lag at times

Free payroll and HR solution for businesses of all sizes

  • Free to use
  • Free to use

HR.my is an online HR management and payroll system that offers a variety of helpful features. The software is completely free and easy to navigate. It allows you to track employee attendance, handle PTO, manage expense claims, and run payroll. 

Why I picked HR.my: Their time-tracking features allow you to check your staff’s activity via geolocation and selfies, so the software is a good fit for organizations with field-based workers. The tool’s payroll feature supports multiple pay schedules and allows you to set custom reminders to complete various payroll tasks. 

HR.my Features and Integrations:

Features include tools for expense claim management, leave management, and attendance and time clock system, free payroll processing, workflow approvals, employee self-service functions, workforce planning tools, attendance and vacation leave visibility, a digital document workflow, team collaboration and knowledge management features, shared documents and digital forms, an announcement board, an employee web portal, employee educational credential tracking, built-in alerts, unlimited data storage, and role-based user access control.

Integrations are not specified on their website. However, their cloud-based software is easily accessible on any digital device, including Mac, Windows, Android or iPad devices, with no download necessary.

What's Free: HR.my is completely free to use for an unlimited number of employees.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Supports an unlimited number of employees
  • Good time and attendance tracking
  • Mobile app

Cons:

  • In-app adds
  • No tax filing services
  • No live support

Other Options

Here are some other affordable payroll software options that are also worth considering:

  1. Sage Payroll

    Best online payroll solution with time-tracking and leave management tools

  2. Patriot

    Best simplified payroll software with a three-step payroll process

  3. Ceridian Powerpay

    Best mobile-friendly small business payroll software for Canadian businesses

  4. Payroll4free.com

    Best free payroll processing service for small businesses of up to 25 members

  5. ExcelPayroll

    Best free spreadsheet-based payroll software for businesses with up to 50 employees

  6. QuickBooks Online

    Best for payroll and other financial management tools

  7. Wave

    Best payroll software for paying employees and contractors with automatic tax calculations

  8. Planday

    Best staff management solution for employee schedules, PTO, and running payroll

  9. UZIO

    Best HRIS and payroll solution that helps with benefits administration, time tracking, and payroll processing

  10. Gusto

    Best combined payroll, HR, and benefits management tool for hybrid or remote teams.

  11. GoCo

    Best payroll software with additional HR features

  12. Zenefits

    Best HR tool for managing and paying a small to medium-sized team

  13. Push Payroll

    Best payroll software for the hospitality and restaurant industry

  14. Keka

    Best small business payroll and HR solution for onboarding new employees

If you still haven't found what you're looking for here, check out these other tools that are related to payroll software, that we've tested and evaluated.

Selection Criteria for Free Payroll Software

When selecting free payroll software, I base my evaluations on a combination of functionality and how well each tool meets the needs of businesses seeking free payroll support. Through my personal trials and research, I've identified an evaluation criteria designed to highlight solutions that not only fulfill basic payroll functions but deliver added value. Here is my evaluation methodology:

Core Functionality: 25% of total weighting score

To be considered for inclusion on my list of the best free payroll software, the solution had to support common use cases, like:

  • Automated tax calculation and compliance for federal, state, and local taxes.
  • Direct deposit capabilities to employee bank accounts.
  • Customizable deductions for various employee benefit programs.
  • Pay stub generation and distribution.
  • Integration with time and attendance software for accurate payroll based on actual hours worked, and integrations with business tax software to manage tax deductions and reporting.

Additional Standout Features: 25% of total weighting score

  • Advanced compliance management tools to effortlessly navigate tax law changes.
  • Mobile access for managing payroll anytime, anywhere, highlighting tools that bring exceptional flexibility to payroll management.
  • Reporting tools that go beyond basic payroll history to offer strategic financial insights.
  • Data security measures that surpass industry standards, ensuring employee information is protected with the latest encryption technologies.

Usability: 10% of total weighting score

  • The balance between comprehensive functionality and simplicity, prioritizing tools that offer a streamlined experience without sacrificing power.
  • Interface design that is not only visually appealing but also intuitive, such as role-based access dashboards tailored for ease of use in payroll management.

Onboarding: 10% of total weighting score

  • The availability of resources like training videos, templates, and interactive product tours that facilitate a smooth transition to the new system.
  • The presence of support mechanisms such as chatbots and webinars designed to expedite the learning curve and value realization.

Customer Support: 10% of total weighting score

  • Responsiveness and effectiveness of customer support channels.
  • The breadth of support offered, including live chat, email, and phone support, to ensure users can quickly resolve issues.

Value For Money: 10% of total weighting score

  • How the tool's offerings compare to its free or subscription model, ensuring users receive maximum benefits without unnecessary costs.
  • The presence of scalable options that allow businesses to grow without significant jumps in price.

Customer Reviews: 10% of total weighting score

  • Overall satisfaction rates and feedback from current and past users regarding functionality, usability, support, and value.
  • Specific praise or criticism that repeatedly emerges, as this can indicate areas where the tool either excels or needs improvement.

By carefully weighing these criteria, I aim to recommend free payroll software that not only meets the essential requirements of payroll processing but also enhances the overall payroll management experience.

In 2024, the landscape of free payroll software is undergoing significant transformation, driven by advances in technology and evolving user expectations. Through reviewing product updates, press releases, and release logs from leading tools, a clear picture of the trends shaping this sector emerges. Below, we delve into the key trends shaping what free payroll software offers to businesses today:

Trends in Free Payroll Software

  • Increased Automation for Efficiency: Automation remains a cornerstone, with enhancements aimed at reducing manual input and errors. This includes automatic tax calculations and filings, showing a commitment to simplifying complex payroll tasks.
  • Enhanced Employee Self-Service Features: Platforms are expanding their self-service capabilities, allowing employees to access payslips, manage benefits, and update personal information online. This trend reflects a move towards empowering employees and reducing administrative burdens on payroll staff.
  • Advanced Security Measures: As cyber threats evolve, so do security features within payroll software. The latest updates show a heightened focus on data encryption, secure access controls, and compliance with global data protection regulations, underlining the importance of safeguarding sensitive information.

Emerging and Declining Features

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) Applications: The application of AI and ML for predictive analytics, anomaly detection, and personalized recommendations is becoming more prevalent. This novel functionality offers businesses insights into payroll trends and potential issues before they become problematic.
  • Declining Emphasis on Manual Data Entry and Reporting: With the rise of automation and advanced reporting tools, the reliance on manual data entry and traditional reporting methods is waning. Businesses are increasingly seeking solutions that offer real-time analytics and dashboard overviews, moving away from time-consuming manual processes.

These trends underscore a significant shift towards making free payroll software more intuitive, automated, and secure. For HR professionals, these advancements mean access to tools that not only streamline payroll processes but also contribute to broader strategic goals like improving employee satisfaction and ensuring compliance.

What is Free Payroll Software?

Free payroll software is any payroll software that offers a free plan or trial. Freemium versions of payroll software typically have limitations in features, functionalities, or users. This type of software automates the process of managing employee payments, deductions, and tax filings, and are commonly used by small to medium-sized business owners, accountants, and HR professionals seeking to streamline payroll tasks.

Implementing payroll software helps businesses to efficiently process payroll, ensure tax compliance, and manage employee financial records in a cost-effective manner. Features like automated tax calculations, direct deposit setups, and customizable pay stubs support the accuracy, efficiency, and transparency of payroll processes. Ultimately, the value of these tools lies in their ability to reduce administrative burdens, minimize errors, and save money on payroll management.

Features of Free Payroll Software

Choosing the right free payroll software is crucial for effectively managing your business's payroll tasks. It's essential to look for software that not only meets your basic needs but also comes with features that streamline and automate your payroll processes. Here are the most important features to look for:

  1. Automated Tax Calculations: Automatically calculates federal, state, and local taxes to ensure accuracy and compliance. This feature saves time and reduces the likelihood of errors in tax filings.
  2. Direct Deposit Functionality: Enables businesses to deposit wages directly into employees' bank accounts securely and efficiently. This convenience is now expected by most employees and saves on paper and processing times.
  3. Customizable Deductions: Allows for the setup of various deduction types, including retirement plans, health insurance, and garnishments, tailored to each employee. Customization ensures accurate payroll processing according to individual employee agreements.
  4. Pay Stub Generation: Automatically generates detailed pay stubs that can be distributed electronically to employees. This transparency helps in maintaining trust and reducing queries about wage calculations.
  5. Compliance Management: Keeps up with changing tax laws and regulations to help ensure your business remains compliant. This is crucial for avoiding penalties and maintaining good standing with various tax authorities.
  6. Time Tracking Integration: Seamlessly integrates with time tracking systems to accurately compensate employees for hours worked, including overtime. This integration ensures that payroll reflects actual hours worked, preventing disputes and ensuring fair compensation.
  7. Reporting Tools: Offers comprehensive reporting capabilities for payroll history, tax payments, and other relevant financial information. Good reporting tools aid in strategic planning and financial management.
  8. User-friendly Interface: Features an intuitive and easy-to-navigate interface to minimize the learning curve and reduce payroll processing time. A user-friendly interface can significantly enhance efficiency for those managing payroll.
  9. Mobile Accessibility: Provides access to payroll functions from mobile devices, allowing for payroll management on-the-go. This feature offers flexibility and ensures payroll tasks can be completed anytime, anywhere.
  10. Data Security: Ensures high levels of security for sensitive payroll and personal information through encryption and secure data storage. Protecting this data is paramount to maintaining employee trust and complying with privacy laws.

Selecting free payroll software that encompasses the right set of features can transform how you manage payroll, making it more efficient, compliant, and error-free. It's about finding a balance between comprehensive functionality and ease of use to best meet your business's needs.

Benefits of Free Payroll Software

Free payroll software offers several key benefits that can streamline operations, enhance accuracy, and improve employee satisfaction. Whether you're a small startup looking to manage your payroll expenses or a growing business aiming to optimize your payroll processes, understanding these benefits can guide your decision-making process:

  1. Cost Savings: Dramatically reduces payroll processing expenses. By utilizing free payroll software, businesses can save on the costs associated with traditional payroll services or premium software solutions, allowing for better allocation of resources toward growth initiatives.
  2. Time Efficiency: Streamlines payroll processing time. Automation of calculations, tax withholdings, and paycheck generation means payroll can be completed more quickly and accurately, freeing up time for HR and accounting teams to focus on other tasks.
  3. Compliance Assurance: Simplifies tax compliance and reporting. Free payroll software often includes features that help businesses stay compliant with local, state, and federal tax regulations, reducing the risk of costly penalties and legal issues.
  4. Employee Access: Provides employees with direct access to their payroll information. An employee self-service portal allows workers to view their pay stubs, tax documents, and PTO balances, enhancing transparency and reducing HR inquiries.
  5. Accuracy and Reliability: Reduces errors in payroll processing. Automated calculations and integrations with time tracking systems help ensure that payroll is accurate and reliable, minimizing discrepancies and the need for corrections.

By selecting a solution that aligns with your organization's specific needs, you can enjoy these benefits while also providing a better experience for your employees. This strategic move not only supports your company's financial health but also contributes to a more engaged and satisfied workforce.

Costs & Pricing For Free Payroll Software

Payroll software platforms typically offer a range of plans to accommodate the diverse needs of businesses, from small startups to large enterprises. It's important to note that while free plans are available, they may come with limitations in features, the number of users, or functionality. Alternatively, some platforms offer free trials, allowing users to test the software before committing to a paid plan. Understanding the structure of these plans and their pricing can help you make an informed decision that aligns with your business's needs and budget.

Plan Comparison Table For Payroll Software

Below is a table outlining the pricing and plan structures commonly found in payroll software, designed to give you a clear comparison of what each plan typically offers.

Plan TypeAverage PriceCommon Features
Free$0Basic payroll processing, limited to a certain number of employees, basic tax filing
Basic$10-30 per monthPayroll processing for a larger number of employees, tax filing, some reporting capabilities
Professional$30-60 per monthEnhanced payroll features, multi-state tax filing, advanced reporting, integration with other software
Enterprise$60+ per monthCustom payroll solutions, dedicated support, advanced security features, unlimited employees

Choosing the right plan requires careful consideration of your business's size, payroll complexity, and the specific features you need. Keep in mind that while higher-priced plans offer more features, the best choice for your business balances cost with the functionalities most critical to your payroll processes.

Free Payroll Software: FAQs

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions you may have about payroll software and how it works:

What is payroll software?

Payroll software is designed to streamline the time-consuming tasks associated with paying employees, including tracking employee work hours and allocating employee pay based on their hourly rates or annual salaries. Payroll software also automates payroll deductions, including federal, local and state taxes, and workers’ compensation contributions.

You can also use payroll software to automate deductions for benefits like health insurance, monthly parking space rentals, or any other additional fees you may need to deduct from your staff each time you process payroll.

For a more comprehensive rundown of payroll software see Payroll Software—What It Is And 10 Key Benefits.

Is payroll software considered HR software or financial software?

Payroll software is considered both an HR solution and a form of finance and accounting software. As such, it is often used by a combination of in-house accounting staff and HR professionals.

For a more in-depth review of payroll users, see Who Should Handle Payroll In Your Organization to give you a better understanding of these key roles.

Why is some payroll software free?

Free payroll software is usually offered as a reduced feature plan (called a freemium plan) by many payroll software vendors as a way of drawing you in to test out their product, with the hope that you will eventually scale up to a paid plan. Some payroll providers may also offer free payroll software in the form of a lengthy free trial to help you determine if the payroll system is a good fit for your needs.

If you’re running a startup or a small business, you may be able to get away with using a free version of payroll software. You might also benefit from using it in combination with a free employee scheduling software, to line up hours worked with hours scheduled. However, paid plans will always give you more advanced features and better customer support.

If you’d like to take a look at some more advanced payroll options, take a look at my list of the best payroll software too.

Do more expensive payroll providers offer better features?

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you’re using free software or a low-cost system, you can’t reasonably expect it to have comparable features to other premium payroll options. If you have more complicated needs, there are plenty of other payroll providers out there that have more sophisticated features.

Some advanced features you may want to consider include:

  • Integrated time-tracking: This is a useful feature that links your employee work hours directly into your payroll modules so you don’t have to manually transfer data from a separate time-tracking system into your payroll software.
  • Compensation management: More advanced payroll systems offer tools to compare staff salaries against industry benchmarks to ensure you’re paying your staff at fair market value.
  • Advanced reporting & analytics: Basic payroll systems should include some form of basic payroll reports, however, when you’re paying for a system, you can expect a greater ability to customize these reports to your individual needs, rather than using built-in templates that cannot be changed.
  • Earned wage access (EWA): This is an advanced payroll feature that allows companies to grant employees access to a portion of their earned wages before their next official pay day. It’s a modern offering that can help employees manage unexpected cash flow situations. It’s also been shown to increase employee retention and satisfaction, while reducing stress related to financial challenges.

As you can see in my review, not all payroll software is created equal. If you want to find the perfect payroll tool for your company’s needs, you should first consider what’s important to your organization’s activity. Read our article outlining the key features of payroll software for a more in-depth analysis of the different features.

More Advanced Payroll Options

If the free payroll providers in this list aren't quite satisfying your needs, don't fret. There are plenty of more sophisticated payroll options out there to choose from:

Other Resources & Payroll Tips

Take a look at our other payroll resources to help you brush up on best practices:

Final Thoughts

Using a payroll solution is important because it enables you to pay your employees on time, which helps keep them motivated. As John Boitnott, Inc. journalist, said:

"Money isn't the only thing that motivates someone to perform well at their job, but it certainly factors in heavily."

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By Kim Behnke

Kim Behnke is an HR Tool Expert & Writer for People Managing People. She draws on her 9 years of human resources experience and her keen eye for systematic processes to support her analyses of the top HR tools on the market. She is passionate about maximizing efficiencies and streamlining workflows to ensure internal systems run smoothly. Kim's HR experience includes recruitment, onboarding, performance management, training and development, policy development and enforcement, and HR analytics. She also has degrees in psychology, writing, publishing, and technical communication, and recently completed a Certified Digital HR Specialist program through the Academy to Innovate HR. When away from her desk, she can usually be found outside tending to her ever-expanding garden.