September 26, 2012, 12:24 PM — Nobody pays attention to your payroll system unless it's not working. When you're running a small business, it's no small task to please your staffers every payday and satisfy Uncle Sam at tax time. Larger companies employ payroll personnel to calculate taxes and withholdings, and to manage IRS forms correctly. But if you're responsible for cutting the checks at a smaller company, online services can automate most of the payroll chores.
Both Intuit Online Payroll and RUN by ADP can help you better understand and track the forms and filings required for your employees. Each service lets you access payroll information from a Web browser, smartphone, or tablet. These cloud-based tools also offer employees online access to paycheck details, W2 downloads, and even paid-time-off balances and 401(k) specifics. Which service is better for your business? We took a closer look to find out.
Intuit Online Payroll
Pros: Affordable; simple setup; easier for payroll beginners; live tech support by phone
Cons: Fewer features than ADP RUN; no 24/7 help
Intuit Online Payroll is a great option for small businesses--especially those without prior payroll experience. It starts at $25 per month to manage paying employees and contractors, and rises to $39 per month to support federal and state tax forms. Under either subscription, Intuit charges an additional $1.50 monthly fee for each employee you pay. On top of that, Intuit Online Time Tracking, at a cost of $3 per month per employee, will track hours either via online timesheets that employees can edit, or through a multiuser online time clock.
To better compare its pricing with that of ADP's RUN, I calculated the estimated cost for Intuit Online Payroll for 15 employees. It added up to about $61 per month for the subscription that includes the tax forms, or about $106 per month with employee time-tracking. Intuit Online Payroll starts as a 30-day free trial period, which begins when you run the first pay period.
Intuit Online Payroll Plus ($39 a month) can also help you manage and track your federal, state, and local payroll taxes. It even supports electronic filings and a separate workers' compensation service.
Intuit's wizard-style setup interface asks about your pay schedule, direct deposit information, and vacation/sick-time policies. You can also input older payroll data if you've used another payroll system in the past.