Updated August 26, 2023

Free Payroll Software

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An efficient payroll system doesn't have to cost a lot. Some are even free. Which of these no-cost payroll software options is best for you?

Payroll mistakes can be costly. But payroll software can cost a lot too. If you have a lot of employees, the price could be thousands of dollars a month.

That's where free payroll software can help.

It can give you a functional payroll system without costing anything.

If you're looking for one for your business, keep reading to learn about the top 5 options you can try. Below you'll also find some low-cost paid options.

When to Consider Using Free Payroll Software

Free payroll software solutions usually offer fewer features than paid services, which may only work for some businesses. But using one can be a good choice in the following situations:

  • You just need a simple service to process payroll.
  • You have a limited budget or want to save on costs.
  • You want to try payroll services without immediately committing to a monthly plan.

Free versions are also better if you only run payroll occasionally, like during specific months or once a year. That way, you won't have to pay monthly for something you barely use.

Some paid payroll companies, like Gusto, also have contractor-only plans. These allow you to only pay per employee instead of a monthly subscription. This can be a good option if you want more advanced features at a lower price.

You can read more details about Gusto and other low-cost paid plans below.

Is there any free payroll software?
Yes, there is. All these free payroll options are "forever-free," so you will never have to pay to use their services. But some companies, like TimeTrex and Payroll4Free, offer paid subscriptions if you need more features.

5 Best Free Payroll Software

Managing a payroll can be difficult, especially if you have to do it manually. Using payroll software can help simplify things. But not everyone has the budget for paid services.

1. Payroll4Free: Best Overall


  • Free up to 25 employees
  • Easy to enroll employees
  • Free to run your taxes


  • In-app ads
  • Outdated interface

Payroll4Free is a free-to-use payroll software for small businesses with few employees. It also offers a good selection of features for a free service. This makes it ideal for small businesses that need a working payroll system for little to no cost.

Here are some of its features:

  • Guided employee enrollment
  • Tax calculations (for local, state, and federal taxes)
  • Access to printable tax and business forms (e.g., W-2 and 1099 forms)
  • Vacation time-tracking
  • Direct deposits or check payments
  • Detailed and customizable payroll reports
  • Third-party integrations

Payroll4Free also offers direct deposit and payroll tax services for $25/mo each. But you only have to pay $30/mo if you get both as a bundle.[1]

Why We Like It
Payroll4Free is an excellent small business payroll solution because it gives small business owners a simple yet effective payroll system. It offers all the essential features you need to pay employees and comply with tax requirements and labor laws.

And it's entirely free for up to 25 active employees. This makes it a great choice for business owners with a few employees who want to save time and money on payroll.

You can also integrate it with other business tools like accounting, time-tracking, and banking software. This helps synchronize everything, so you don't have to manually input the same data repeatedly.

Which is the best free payroll software?
The best overall software is Payroll4Free. They offer a good selection of basic and more advanced features. You can add 25 employees for free, and the onboarding process is easy to understand.

This software is easy to use thanks to its guided employee enrollment process. You just have to follow the step-by-step guide when adding new employees to your payroll. What's more, you can pay them quickly via direct deposits or checks.

You can also check and analyze your employees' performances with personalized and detailed payroll reports.

Besides the free features, they also offer two paid services:

  1. Direct deposit
  2. Payroll tax services

The first allows you to use their bank for direct deposits instead of your own. With the second, they will file and pay local taxes on your behalf.

Payroll4Free's main drawback is the in-app ads. The company runs advertisements in its software to fund the business. It also has a somewhat outdated user interface, affecting your overall user experience.

If you want to avoid ads, check out the next option on this list.

2. TimeTrex: Best for Hourly Employees


  • Easy to track time and attendance
  • Easy to run payroll
  • Optimized for mobile


  • No tax filing feature
  • Outdated interface

TimeTrex is a workforce management solution that caters to small and mid-sized businesses. They have a community edition payroll software, which is open-source and free to use. It's developed and supported by volunteers in more than 50 countries.

Some of its features are:

  • Integrated time-tracking and attendance features
  • Direct deposits and check printing
  • Third-party integrations
  • Payroll tax calculator
  • Access to different tax forms (U.S. and international)
  • PTO management
  • Basic HR management tools (e.g., performance reviews and personal information management)

You can also upgrade to a paid subscription if you want more advanced features. But they only offer quote-based pricing.

You have to contact them here to get a quote. You can also request a free demo of their paid services if you want to try them out before upgrading.

Why We Like It
TimeTrex is the ideal free payroll software for businesses with hourly employees. Their integrated time-tracking and attendance features make it easier for companies to synchronize attendance records with payroll. This can guarantee that your employees are being paid accurately.

It also simplifies the overall payroll process. You can set up and run payroll with just a few clicks. And TimeTrex integrates with other payroll services like QuickBooks, ADP, and Paychex.

TimeTrex gives you a more centralized system for your business transactions. Plus, if your payroll provider isn't supported, you can contact them to add it to the list.

Free Payroll Software vs. Payroll Software with Free Trials
Free payroll software will always be free. But their features are usually limited compared to paid services and might not have regular updates. You also may have to endure in-app advertisements or an outdated interface.

That's why some paid payroll software might be better for your business. You can even find payroll software with a free trial. Gusto is one option, and these paid options typically have more features with better support and regular updates.

In addition, you can easily access your account via their cloud-based platform. It's also optimized for mobile devices. So you can manage your payroll, even while on the go.

It's helpful for employees too. They can check their data and digital pay stubs via their online dashboard.

For help with taxes, you gain access to their tax form library, which covers the U.S. and other countries worldwide. They even have a handy payroll tax calculator that helps you calculate payroll taxes. You can add custom deductions (e.g., benefits, garnishments, insurance, etc.) for better accuracy.

TimeTrex offers a robust set of features for a free service. But they lack one crucial feature: tax filing services. With TimeTrex, you still have to file and pay taxes yourself.

Another downside is that the software's interface is somewhat clunky. There are too many options for each function, which can confuse and intimidate some users. For a better design, check out the paid payroll options that let you start inexpensively.

3. HR.my: Best for Multilingual Support


  • Supports 60+ languages
  • Supports unlimited employees
  • Run multiple pay schedules


  • No tax filing feature
  • In-app ads

HR.my is another free payroll software that offers business owners a great selection of both payroll and HR features. It relies on crowdfunding instead of subscriptions to keep the platform going. But you can become a paid sponsor ($5/mo) to enjoy additional perks.[2]

A few of its features include:

  • Multilingual support
  • Role-based user accounts
  • Expense claim management
  • Time-tracking and attendance
  • Leave management
  • Employee information management
  • Discussion boards/forums
  • Mobile apps (iOS and Android)

If you're a paid sponsor, you also get ad-free accounts, additional 3.5GB of storage (7GB for annual sponsorships), and one extra HR role.

Why We Like It
HR.my offers an impressive range of features for a free service. You can also become a paid sponsor for a low monthly fee if you want to enjoy additional features.

This free payroll software allows you to add an unlimited number of employees. You can even run multiple pay schedules, which other free services don't usually offer. And everything's protected by advanced security measures. You can rest assured all your private data is safe and secure.

Is there a free app for scheduling employees?
There are a bunch of no-cost employee scheduling apps. But they each tend to specialize in a few features. For instance, Homebase is great for open shift scheduling, 7Shifts is best for restaurants, and SocialSchedules is right for sales-focused businesses.

The most unique future of HR.my is its multilingual support. The software supports 60+ languages, making it a great choice for non-English speakers or businesses with overseas employees. You can also ask them to translate the software into your preferred language if it's not already available.

Lastly, HR.my is regularly updated to give you the best possible service. They also allow customers to contribute to the software's improvement by taking suggestions. Customers can even request new features for free.

One drawback is that HR.my doesn't offer tax filing services, even for paid sponsors. You still have to handle that aspect of payroll yourself. And like Payroll4Free, they run in-app ads to keep it free for everyone.

4. ExcelPayroll: Best for Excel Users


  • Supports up to 50 employees
  • Integrated with Excel
  • Run multiple pay schedules


  • No tax filing feature
  • Excel is required

ExcelPayroll is a payroll service designed for students and small businesses. It uses Microsoft Excel as its base, making it perfect for those already familiar with the program. And it's free to download and use for up to 50 active employees.

ExcelPayroll offers the following features:

  • Multiple pay schedules
  • Batch payroll processing
  • Access to printable business forms (e.g., W-2, 940, 941, etc.)
  • Check printing services
  • PTO accrual tracking
  • Automatic calculations for deductions (e.g., taxes, benefits, garnishments, etc.)
  • Accounting entry generation
  • Workers' compensation reports
  • Customized timecard and withholding options

You can also get updated state tax tables as paid add-ons. The exact cost depends on the state (generally around $50). You can opt for annual renewal plans if you want to save more. The lowest plan costs $40/yr.[3]

Why We Like It
ExcelPayroll combines all its calculations with Microsoft Excel's functions. So if you already know how to use Excel, you won't have to worry about learning a new program just to run payroll.

It's also completely free for up to 50 active employees. But their database can store up to 1,000 entries at a time. For batch payroll processing, it can store up to 200 employee names at once.

How does a business pay payroll taxes?
Depending on your business structure, you'll probably have to report employee compensation to the government. The most popularly-used forms are: Forms 940, 941, 943, 944, and 945. You can file with hard copies or online with the IRS.

Aside from these, it can run multiple pay schedules. This allows you to automate your payroll, even if you pay your employees on different dates. It even offers PTO accrual tracking, so any vacation time is automatically considered before your employees are paid.

You also get access to printable business forms for your convenience. It even allows you to print checks directly from the software.

As a free program, there are limits to how frequently you can use it since it's designed for small businesses only. But if you're a non-profit organization, you can request to exceed these limits for free.

ExcelPayroll's main downside is that you need Microsoft Excel to run it. Since Microsoft charges clients for their software, you still have to pay something if you want to use this payroll service.

It also lacks basic HR features, like employee self-service portals or onboarding tools. Plus, they don't offer tax filing services. Getting updated state tax tables will also cost you extra.

5. eSmart Paycheck: Best for Ease of Use


  • Free advanced payroll calculator
  • Custom pay schedules
  • 3-month free trial of paid plans


  • No free tax filing feature
  • No direct deposits

eSmart Paycheck is primarily an online paycheck calculator instead of a full-service payroll. This lets you know how much you have to pay your employees without manually computing everything.

Its main features are:

  • Paycheck and tax calculations
  • State-specific tax calculators
  • Pay stubs and paycheck printing
  • Calculations for pre- and after-tax deductions

You can also subscribe to their paid services for more features. You get the first 3 months free if you're a new user. Some of the extra features you gain access to include:[4]

  • Access to printable business forms (e.g., W-2, 941, 940, etc.)
  • Electronic filing for federal payroll taxes

They also offer add-ons like automatic tax deposits, electronic state tax filing, and W-2 form printing and mailing for extra costs.

Why We Like It
eSmart Paycheck is one of the easiest-to-use free software solutions because you don't have to worry about a complex setup process. You can readily access their free paycheck calculator online.

What's more, you can easily personalize the information included in the calculations. You can add the required deductions and extra earning items (like commissions and overtime) for more accurate results.

What is the easiest payroll software?
eSmart Paycheck is the easiest-to-use payroll software solution on this list. You don't have to install anything to maximize its features. ExcelPayroll is also a good alternative if you're already familiar with Microsoft Excel.

It even has state-specific tax calculators that automatically integrate the necessary tax data into your computations. This saves you the time and effort of researching the information yourself.

You can also choose specific pay cycles for each employee. This ensures you're paying your employees accurately and on time.

While some payroll features, like tax filing, are only available in a paid subscription, their prices are still affordable. They even give you a 3-month free trial if you want to check out what it offers before paying anything.

Although it's convenient, eSmart Paycheck still has a few downsides. For one, they don't offer direct deposits, even in the paid version. They also charge extra for electronic state tax filing. And the number of states they support is limited.

5 Best Paid Payroll Software

Free software solutions are great if you just need basic payroll functions. But as you grow, the right paid service could save you money. They have more advanced features like tax filing services or employee benefits administration.

1. Gusto: Best for Contractors


  • Simple and easy-to-use interface
  • Has a contractor-only version for lower costs
  • Affordable monthly subscription fees
  • Feature-rich service with optional add-ons
  • Only charges you after you run your first payroll


  • In-house benefits can be expensive
  • Limited customer support availability

If you're planning to switch to a paid payroll service, Gusto is one of the best options for small businesses. Their services offer a great balance between features and price. They even have a contractor-only plan, so you don't have to pay a monthly base fee. It's only $6/mo per employee.

Besides their contractor-only plan, they also offer 3 standard plans:

  • Simple - $40/mo base fee + $6/mo per employee
  • Plus - $80/mo base fee + $12/mo per employee
  • Premium - custom pricing (contact their sales team for a free quote)

Is there a free trial? Gusto also offers an instant free demo on their website. This allows you to check out their entire platform without immediately committing to a monthly subscription. In fact, you don't have to pay anything until you run your first payroll.

These are some of the features included in their plans:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Direct deposits
  • Multiple pay rates and schedules
  • PTO policies and holiday pay
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Basic hiring and onboarding features
  • Third-party integrations

They also have paid add-ons like international contractor payments, workers' compensation insurance, and state tax registrations.

2. QuickBooks Payroll: Best for QuickBooks Users


  • Native integration with QuickBooks Online
  • Affordable monthly fees for feature-rich services
  • Next- and same-day deposits are available
  • Has a 30-day free trial
  • Automatic payroll tax filing for each plan


  • Only accommodates up to 150 employees
  • Time-tracking only available in the higher-priced plans

QuickBooks Payroll is another great option if you're considering switching to a paid payroll service. What's notable about it is that it integrates seamlessly with Intuit's popular accounting software, QuickBooks Online.

This allows you to easily synchronize your bookkeeping records with payroll for more accurate payments. But you can still use QuickBooks Payroll as a standalone service if you don't need or use their accounting software.

They offer 3 types of plans:

  • Core - $45/mo base fee + $6/mo per employee
  • Premium - $80/mo base fee + $8/mo per employee
  • Elite - $125/mo base fee + $10/mo per employee

Is there a free trial? If you're unsure whether this is right for your business, QuickBooks Payroll has a 30-day free trial. You can use this to explore what they offer before paying for a subscription.

Each plan has the following standard features:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Automatic paycheck and tax calculations
  • Next-day deposits
  • State and federal tax filing
  • Automatic payroll tax calculations, filing, and payments (state and federal)
  • Garnishments and deductions management
  • Detailed payroll and tax reports
  • Workforce portal

They also offer same-day deposits for the Premium and Elite plans. And if you choose the Elite plan, you can enjoy tax penalty protection for up to $25,000.

3. Square Payroll: Best for PoS Users


  • Affordable subscription fees with flexible terms
  • Freezes your billing when not in use (seasonal inactivity)
  • Synchronizes everything with your payroll
  • Natively integrates with other Square PoS products
  • On-demand payments are available


  • Doesn't have a free trial as of writing
  • Limited scalability for future growth

Square Payroll is a full-service payroll service that offers comprehensive features for small to mid-sized businesses. Their time-tracking feature is especially convenient if your employees are paid hourly.

It also natively integrates with other Square PoS (Point of Sale) products. This gives you an all-in-one solution for your business. But you can still connect it with third-party services like QuickBooks.

You can learn more about their services in this in-depth Square Payroll review.

Square Payroll only has 2 types of subscriptions:

  • Pay Employees and Contractors - $35/mo base fee + $5/mo per employee
  • Pay Contractors Only - $5/mo per employee

Is there a free trial? They currently don't offer free trials for their payroll service. But you can opt for their contractor-only plan if you only want to pay for the services you use.

Plus, thanks to their free seasonal inactivity, you can freeze your billing when you're not using their services. This prevents you from being charged even when you're not running payroll.

They also have flexible terms for their subscriptions. You can end your plan anytime without worrying about expensive early cancellation fees.

Here are some of the features they offer:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Automatic payroll tax calculations, filing, and payments
  • Multi-state payrolls
  • Timecards and employee apps
  • Multiple payment options (checks, direct deposits, or cash app payments)
  • On-demand payments
  • Free seasonal activity
  • Third-party integrations

Unlike other services, they don't offer add-ons. But you can subscribe to their other services for a more comprehensive business system.

4. ADP: Best for Full-Service Businesses


  • Accommodates future growth with its excellent scalability
  • Multiple ways to process your payroll
  • Has extra perks like Wisely debit cards and employee discounts
  • The first 3 months are free
  • Centralizes all your payroll needs in one platform


  • Quote-based pricing only
  • No unlimited payroll runs - charges per frequency instead

ADP is well-known for offering a broad selection of services for all types of businesses, including a full-service payroll system. They even have one designed specifically for small businesses called "ADP Run."

ADP Run accommodates up to 49 employees. And you can use it independently or bundle it with their HR support services. This detailed ADP review talks more about their offers. Check it out to learn more about them.

They offer 4 different plans:

  • Essential
  • Enhanced
  • Complete
  • HR Pro

Take note that ADP only offers quote-based pricing. You have to contact them to learn how much a monthly subscription would cost. To get a quote, you just have to fill up this form.

But if you want to get a feel for their platform first, you can enjoy the first 3 months for free.

Important Note
ADP doesn't offer unlimited payroll runs. They charge per frequency instead.

Some of the features included in their plans are:

  • Multi-platform payroll processing (mobile, online, and phone calls)
  • Detailed online payroll reports
  • Third-party integrations
  • Automatic payroll tax calculations, filing, and payments
  • Payroll check deliveries
  • Multi-jurisdiction payrolls
  • New-hire onboarding tool

You can customize your plan by getting add-ons like time-tracking, employee benefits, workers' compensation, etc.

5. Rippling: Best for Overseas Employees


  • Has U.S.-based and global payroll services
  • Integrates with 500+ third-party software
  • Great selection of employee benefit plans
  • Connects seamlessly with their HR and IT solutions
  • Accommodates small and large businesses


  • No free trials - only a 30-minute free demo
  • Lack of transparent pricing on their website

Rippling can be the ideal choice for paid payroll software if you have employees or contractors overseas. They have a feature-rich global payroll service that allows you to pay your employees in their local currencies.

You can also combine your payroll with their different HR and IT tools for an all-in-one business system. And their services can accommodate both small and large businesses.

Rippling charges their clients monthly per user instead of a base fee + per employee fee. Their prices start as low as $8/mo per user. You can get more accurate pricing by requesting a custom quote via this online form.

Is there a free trial? Unfortunately, they don't offer a free trial. But you can schedule a 30-minute free demo if you want to check out their services first.

Some of the features they offer include:

  • Multi-state and international payroll processing
  • Automatic tax calculations and filing
  • Pay-as-you-go workers' compensation
  • Multiple pay rates and job costing
  • Time and PTO accrual tracking
  • Third-party integrations with 500+ apps

How to Choose Free Payroll Software

Finding the right free payroll software for your business is usually easier said than done. But you don't need to commit to a monthly subscription to have a running payroll system.

Here are some tips that can help you find the right employee payroll solution for your business:

  • Evaluate its features. Most free payroll software only have basic features. So double-check if they have what you need for your business. If not, a paid service might be better.

  • Verify if it's really free. Some payroll software solutions are only free to try. After the free trial, you have to pay for a monthly subscription. Make sure it's actually free, so you don't get hit with surprise charges later on.

  • See if you need other software to run it. Some free options require you to have an existing program to run their software (e.g., ExcelPayroll with Microsoft Excel). So consider that when deciding on what free payroll software to get.

  • Check its security. Your payroll software will handle sensitive information like employee data and banking details. Ensure your chosen software is well-protected to prevent cybercriminals from gaining unauthorized access to your information.

Our Methodology

Not all free payroll software solutions are the same. And some services might not have what you need for your business.

That's why we considered the following when choosing what to include on this list:

  • Available features: We wanted to make sure you have what you need without breaking the bank. These services offer a good selection of features, even as forever-free services.

  • Service reliability: We chose companies that offer reliable services, so you don't have to worry about payroll issues disrupting your business operations.

  • Security: You shouldn't have to worry about your company's information falling into the wrong hands. These services use advanced security measures like encryption methods to protect your data.

  • Upgrade options: Most also allow you to get more advanced features for an added cost. But these add-on prices are still more affordable compared to paid services.


  1. How can I do my own payroll for free?
    The best way to do payroll yourself for free is by using free payroll software like HR.my, Payroll4Free, or TimeTrex. With these apps, you don't have to pay anything to process payroll.

    Of course, you can also check out paid payroll apps with free trials (like QuickBooks Payroll or ADP). But you'll have to pay the full subscription price after the free trial ends.

  2. What basic features are included in free payroll software?
    Most free payroll apps have the following features:

    • Payroll processing and management
    • Automatic deductions and calculations
    • Tax calculator and reports
    • Self-service employee portal
    • Direct deposits and check payments

    Some payroll apps, like TimeTrex and Payroll4Free, also have time tracking and PTO management features.

  3. Is free payroll software safe?
    Legitimate free payroll apps (like the ones on this list) are safe because they have advanced security measures to protect your data. Some examples are data encryption methods, secure storage, automated timeouts, etc.

  4. Why is some payroll software free?
    In most cases, free payroll apps aren't actually free. They're usually just a free trial of a paid app. Or they're forever free but with limited features.

    If it's a free trial, you need to pay the full price to continue using the app after the trial ends. While you have to upgrade to a premium version for more features if it's just free software.

  5. What is the best payroll software for payroll calculation?
    eSmart Paycheck is your best bet if you just need a free tool to help with payroll calculations.

    Although you can't go wrong with choosing any of the free tools on this list because they can all calculate payroll.

    Bottom Line

    Payroll software can simplify payroll processing and save you valuable time, effort, and resources. But if you have a tight budget, using free payroll software can be a fantastic and cost-effective solution.

    Just make sure you choose one with the features you need and is secure enough to keep your personal information private and safe.


    1. ^ Payroll4Free. Fee Schedule, Retrieved 1/14/23
    2. ^ HR.my. Crowdfunding Campaign, Retrieved 1/14/23
    3. ^ ExcelPayroll. Program Renew, Retrieved 1/14/23
    4. ^ eSmart Paycheck. Price, Retrieved 1/14/23
    5. ^ Gusto. Pricing, Retrieved 1/14/23
    6. ^ QuickBooks. Payroll Pricing, Retrieved 8/26/2023
    7. ^ Square. Square Payroll Pricing, Retrieved 1/14/23
    8. ^ ADP. Small Business Payroll, Retrieved 1/14/23
    9. ^ Rippling Pricing, Retrieved 1/14/23

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