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7 Best Free Payroll Software 2019…

Free payroll software calculates business payroll and helps you keep track of employee deductions like workers’ compensation, insurance, and taxes. Some free payroll software offer features like direct deposit, but most lack tax filing and state compliance, which is why some businesses choose paid alternatives. Most payroll software you pay for comes with a free trial.

Over one-third of small businesses calculate payroll taxes incorrectly, costing them time, money, and legal problems. Gusto is an all-in-one payroll and HR solution for small businesses that helps you avoid payroll headaches by calculating, filing, and paying your payroll taxes automatically. And it’s free for up to 30 days.

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Top 7 Truly Free Payroll Software 2019

Free Payroll Software

Best For

(Best Overall) For small businesses; free if fewer than 25 employees (or contractors).

Global companies that want payroll processing and other HR features for free.

Multi-location businesses or those with less than 50 employees needing to track time & payroll.

Businesses that want to calculate one-off paychecks for free.

Alternative for one-off free paycheck calculations.

Free forever for businesses needing to pay only 1099 contract workers.

Businesses using Excel for bookkeeping and payroll.

How We Evaluated Free Payroll Software

When you search for “free” payroll software, what you’ll often find is software that has a free trial, not software that’s free to use forever. We consider that a marketing ploy. Instead, we wanted to provide you with software options that you could use for a longer time period (at least six months) for free, or software that is free forever, even if it requires you to manage tax filings yourself.

If you’re looking for software that has more options than free software can provide, such as mobile apps, built-in accounting software integrations, or the ability to add employee benefits, consider reading our Best Payroll Software buyer’s guide.

The criteria we used to evaluate the best free payroll software include:

  • Price: Free forever, free for a limited number of employees, or for a longer time frame. We excluded those that offer less than a six-month free trial.
  • Ease of use: Easy for a non-accountant to input earnings and deductions. Some are a bit more complex as they require you to input tax rates yourself.
  • Security: Payroll software that secures your confidential banking and employee data.
  • Legal and tax compliance: Federal and state tax calculations for correct deductions, and unique state laws like overtime, sick leave, and pay stub requirements can be added.
  • Payment methods: Cash, payroll checks, direct deposit, or bank card options.
  • Software integration and reports: Import time data or export to a CSV file; provide detail and summary payroll and tax reports. (A few integrate with accounting tools.)
  • Customer support: Resources to get support via email, phone, online chat, or through self-help user guides, blogs, or community forums.

Using the criteria above, and the fact that it’s free forever if you have fewer than 25 employees, we recommend as the best overall free payroll software for small business. While it won’t give you everything the best payroll services (that come with fees) have to offer, it does provide the best overall experience to small businesses if you absolutely need a free payroll software. Best Overall Free Payroll Software logo

We recommend to businesses on a budget because you get full functionality for payroll software free. It’s available in all 50 states and you have the ability to pay employees with direct deposit or paper checks. will calculate all of your tax liabilities and give you prepopulated forms to submit to the government, including W2s and 1099s. Pricing costs nothing if you have 25 or fewer employees. Once you exceed 25 employees, it costs $35 per payroll run and the price goes up as your business grows or you add on services. If you pay annually, you can get a 20% discount.

To keep its payroll software free, the provider places small banner ads in the web-based software. It has paid add-ons, like direct deposit and tax services, starting at $12.50 per month. Features

In addition to processing payroll, can help you find a workers’ compensation policy at no extra charge; you’ll be able to pay for it through the program. You can even manage paid time off (PTO) with accrued vacation balances in It also provides your employees with an online portal to view their pay stubs and tax forms.

Here are some additional features of Payroll4Free:

Ease of Payroll Processing & Payment Methods lets you input employee hours worked, earnings, and deductions, and determines the tax withholding needed based on the states your employees work in. You can pay employees with a paper check or set them up for direct deposit by inputting each employee’s bank account information. Deductions like 401(k) and garnishments can be included too.

Supported Tax Filing & Compliance will calculate the taxes you need to withhold and pay. But unless you upgrade, they won’t pay the taxes for you. That means you’ll need to create accounts in your accounting software and make sure you file your quarterly and annual taxes on time for each state in which your employees work.

Software Integration & Reports integrates with QuickBooks, and you can import your time clock data from any system that provides an export file. In addition, has extensive reporting options.

Customer Support offers unlimited customer support, even to free software users. You can contact them by phone, email, or directly from their website.

What Is Missing

For free payroll software, isn’t missing much. In fact, clients rave about the service. Of course, it doesn’t file your taxes free or provide year-end W2s and 1099s free, but neither do any of the other free payroll software options. User Reviews

Small business users like the cost (free) and customer service, although one user commented that free users aren’t necessarily the priority when paid users also need support. Others don’t like the complex setup process. Read our Review for more information.

How to Sign Up for

You can get started on by using your company name and email address or contacting them using the phone number available under the “Contact Us” menu item on their website. They’ll email you with instructions and request you complete and send them setup documents with your company and employee information. Best Free Payroll Software for HR Worldwide logo is a full human resource management system (HRMS) that’s free and includes payroll processing for clients across the globe. It’s the best free payroll software for businesses with international staff and has no limits on how many employees you can have. It also includes many important HR features that you may want as your business grows, including document workflow, timekeeping, and leave management. Pricing is free forever, regardless of your company size or geographic location. It’s supported by crowdfunding. Similar to, it also earns revenues by having on-screen ads. Features provides basic payroll and provides employees with a web account so that they can view their pay stubs (which refers to as payslips). Salary changes are made in the salary adjustment feature, and you manually add deductions and bonuses. Once you set up (or import) a new employee and “invite” them to, they’ll get a welcome email to sign in.

Here are some additional features of

Ease of Payroll Processing & Payment Methods

Setting up is not as easy for U.S.-based users as it doesn’t include tax tables for states and localities. You set up your earnings, deductions, pay cycles, and bank accounts manually. However, running payroll once you’ve set it up takes nothing more than the push of a button. Employees can be paid via cash, check, or bank deposit.

Supported Tax Filing & Compliance

There is no tax filing or U.S. labor law compliance built in. However, with, you can configure it to calculate overtime and sick leave. You can manually input federal, state, and local tax rates. And be sure to stay on top of employment law changes like sick leave, minimum wage, and overtime, as their free payroll software doesn’t have those rules built in.

Software Integration & Reports

Data can be imported and exported in XLS or CSV format using You can import your time clock data after formatting it to an international date format.

Customer Support

There’s no user guide and support is online only. However, if you’re experienced with other payroll software, you’ll figure it out eventually.

What Is Missing is highly configurable, but being based in Malaysia, it lacks the built-in U.S. labor law compliance of, or of low-cost software like Gusto that can also provide employee benefits, for example. With, like most free payroll software, you have to manage and pay employee taxes, garnishments, and benefits yourself. And, with, if you have a question, your only support option is the online blog. User Reviews

Other than testimonials from overseas users of, who love having a free payroll option, we didn’t find many U.S. user reviews. One review site gave it 4 out of 5 stars. We don’t yet have a review of on our payroll reviews page.

How to Sign Up for

Signing up for requires you to input your email address, create a password, and select your home country, which can’t be changed after you create your account. You’ll then get an email confirmation and will have access to the system in minutes.

TimeTrex: Best Free Payroll Software for Hourly Workers

timetrex logo

We recommend TimeTrex as the best free payroll software for businesses that schedule and track time of hourly workers because it integrates timekeeping into its payroll software. TimeTrex offers an open-source community edition of their Workforce Management software that includes scheduling, attendance tracking, payroll, and HR management. It works through a web browser and is supported by a network of volunteers worldwide.

TimeTrex Pricing

The community edition of TimeTrex is free. Paid packages with additional features like a mobile app, job costing, expense tracking, and recruitment start at $30 per month for up to ten employees. To get a price for your business, you’ll need to fill out a quote form with information about your company size and industry, and subject yourself to a sales pitch.

TimeTrex Features

TimeTrex offers features on par with, but adds time and attendance features as well. The reason it didn’t make the top of the list is that it can’t file taxes for you (even if you pay extra) like, and won’t have updated labor law compliance for state and local regulations in the U.S. However, it does provide common U.S. and Canadian tax forms.

Here are some additional features of TimeTrex:

Ease of Payroll Processing & Payment Methods

Payroll processing is easy with TimeTrex because you won’t have to rekey your employees’ work hours. In addition, payroll is run via the click of a button, and payroll deductions like tax withholding are calculated for you. You can also set up any custom deductions, and pay employees via check or direct deposit.

Supported Tax Filing & Compliance

No automated payroll tax filing is provided for you, and the software is not guaranteed to be compliant with labor laws, such as what to include on a pay stub and sick leave requirements that vary by state.

Software Integration & Reports

Tax reports are provided, and TimeTrex integrates with other payroll providers like ADP, which makes it nice if you later want to upgrade to paid software to get more compliance benefits and automated tax filings. You can also import and export data using a CSV file format.

Customer Support

Support for the community edition of TimeTrex is done through their support forum, which is sorted into topics such as Installation Help, FAQs, and Feature Requests. If your question isn’t resolved, they’ll suggest you purchase a support package. Paid packages provide email support only, unless you purchase phone support by the hour.

What TimeTrex Is Missing

Unlike, TimeTrex doesn’t automate tax filings and payments to your 401(k), benefits providers, or other third parties. And like, free support is available online only.

TimeTrex User Reviews

The paid versions of TimeTrex have nice reviews in the 4 to 5 out of 5-star range. However, the community edition isn’t rated as highly, and there are few reviews overall.

How to Sign Up for TimeTrex

To sign up for the community edition, you have to download the software either as a cloud-hosted option or onsite via your web server. No credit card is required.

eSmart Paycheck: Best Free Payroll for eFiling

esmart paycheck logo

If all you need is a way to calculate a one-off check, that service is completely free. You simply input data like the tax year, state, earnings, and deductions, and a pay stub is provided. eSmart Paycheck used to have a forever free plan for their payroll software as well. However, their free plan now lasts for only three months.

eSmart Paycheck Pricing

If you choose to only use the paycheck calculation feature, that’s always free. After that, you’ll pay a small annual fee that starts at $50 per year for every five employees (for example, 20 employees would cost $200 per year). Like, they’ll provide tax deposits and e-filing for a small fee, e.g., federal tax filings and forms cost $2 to $25 per year.

eSmart Paycheck Features

eSmart Paycheck allows you to run payroll anytime. It is tax compliant in the U.S., and if you upgrade to the payroll subscription, you can get tax filings and year-end tax documents. It also can manage 1099 payments for independent contractors.

Here are some additional features of eSmart Paycheck:

Ease of Payroll Processing & Payment Methods

The payroll processing is done by entering data for each employee and then pressing a button to process the net pay. Or, you can process all employees at once using the Payday Wizard. However, the only payment options are cash or check. To print the checks, you’ll need a laser printer and three-part check stock that matches their layout.

Supported Tax Filing & Compliance

The free payroll calculator includes tax tables and compliance so that your federal and state calculations will be correct. However, local tax rates and your unemployment rates aren’t included, and you’re on your own for tax filing. If you upgrade to a paid plan, you’ll have the option for state and federal tax filing and e-filing where available.

Software Integration & Reports

No reports are available in the free paycheck calculator. Standard payroll tax reports are provided and you can export data to a CSV file format in the paid plan only, which is available for a three-month trial period.

Customer Support

Support is provided by phone, fax, mail, and email. You can find this information under the “Contact” menu tab on their website.

What eSmart Paycheck Is Missing

The free calculator doesn’t save the data you entered after you leave the browser. Even if you upgrade to a paid package after your three-month trial, they don’t provide direct deposit.

eSmart Paycheck User Reviews

Third-party websites give eSmart Paycheck 4 out of 5 stars. We don’t yet have any eSmart Paycheck reviews on our reviews page.

How to Sign Up for eSmart Paycheck

You can go to the eSmart Paycheck website and choose from their free payroll calculator by selecting “Start Now,” or you can sign up for their payroll product (free for three months) by choosing “Register” from the upper right-hand side of the menu.

Paycheck Manager: Free Tax-compliant Paycheck Calculator for One-off Paychecks

paycheck manager logo

Paycheck Manager, like eSmart Paycheck, provides its paycheck calculation service for free, making it fine for one-off paycheck processing. It’s easy to use and allows you to calculate paychecks on the fly. This is great if you don’t run payroll often, or your business needs to pay one or two people seasonally. It can also be used for any business in a state that requires immediate payroll processing with a paycheck provided to employees who are terminated.

Paycheck Manager Pricing

Using the Paycheck Manager payroll software free calculator is free for one-at-a-time paycheck calculations—as many as you want. They also offer a three-month trial on their Basic Service, which costs $5 per employee, per month (you file your own taxes), or their Managed Service, which costs $12 per employee, per month plus a $10 setup fee and files taxes for you.

Paycheck Manager Features

The free Paycheck Manager calculator works much like eSmart Paycheck. You choose the tax year and state, and manually input data into each field. Adding earnings and deductions is easy, and if you register for a paid plan, they’ll save the paycheck data. Otherwise, the data will disappear as soon as you close your browser.

Here are some additional features of Paycheck Manager:

Ease of Payroll Processing & Payment Methods

Using the free calculator, you manually input data (which is time-consuming if you have more than one employee). You’ll have to determine your own unemployment insurance deductions (if required) and local tax rates as well—just like eSmart Paycheck.

To manage a large number of employees, it would be much easier to use a cloud-based small business payroll software like Gusto. In fact, Gusto allows you to input timekeeping data from Homebase, which is free. It also provides employee on-boarding, health insurance, and an employee dashboard for one low price. You can try Gusto free for 30 days.

Supported Tax Filing & Compliance

Federal and state tax compliance are included, but local taxes, unemployment insurance, and labor laws are not. The system doesn’t track tax payments but will use your payment information to prepare your tax forms. If you upgrade to Paycheck Manager’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment Service, you’ll be able to submit tax payments directly from your online account.

Software Integration & Reports

No reports are available in the free payroll calculator tool. If you upgrade to a paid version of the software, you can export paycheck data to a CSV file and get basic tax reporting.

Customer Support

You can obtain support from Paycheck Manager via email, phone, fax, or mail. They also have a searchable blog and frequently asked questions (FAQs) on their website.

What Paycheck Manager Is Missing

Paycheck Manager is missing the same things that eSmart Paycheck lacks. If you use the free calculator, your data isn’t saved. Even if you upgrade to the Basic package, you have to file your own taxes, and local tax tables aren’t included.

Paycheck Manager User Reviews

Other than our own, we found few reviews on Paycheck Manager. We therefore suggest the best option is to try the service free to see how you like it before committing to an agreement, or use the online payroll calculator free. Read more in our Paycheck Manager Review.

How to Sign Up for Paycheck Manager

The easiest way to get started is to pull up the Paycheck Manager page and start entering data for a paycheck. You’ll quickly get a feel for how easy it is to use, and can decide, once you’ve entered some data, whether you want to sign up for a three-month trial or not.

Wave: Best Free Payroll for 1099 Contract Employees

wave logo

Wave is the best free payroll software for paying contract employees if your business is in need of a full accounting software solution also. That’s because Wave accounting software is free, and includes 1099 payment processing. If you want to add employee payroll, it doesn’t cost much extra and can provide tax filing in a few states.

Wave Pricing

Wave accounting software is free and can be used to track payments to independent contractor workers with a 1099-Misc. They charge for bank payments, credit card processing, and payroll, starting at $20 per month plus $4 per active employee. And if your business has employees in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas, or Washington, they can file state taxes too—for $15 per month extra.

Wave Features

If you’re only using Wave to process 1099 payments, it’s as easy as inputting the name of the account payable (the contractor name) and payment information, similar to any other accounting software. You can start and stop the service at any time, which will save you money if your contractors are seasonal and only work during certain months of the year.

Additional free payroll features within Wave include:

Ease of Payroll Processing & Payment Methods

You can pay contractors with cash, check, debit card, or even through PayPal. Otherwise, there’s no formal payroll processing needed, as you’re not required to take deductions for independent contract workers.

Supported Tax Filing & Compliance

Wave accounting software supports 1099-Misc tax filing but only in certain states—California, Florida, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. It also offers no labor law compliance unless you upgrade to the payroll software.

Software Integration & Reports

Through Zapier, Wave can integrate with over 1,000 other business apps. They offer about a dozen standard reports.

Customer Support

Wave provides a blog, a community, and a help center. Otherwise, to get help, you have to first choose a topic, like payroll, before you then enter additional information into the help center online request form.

What Wave Is Missing

The big thing Wave is missing is free payroll processing for W-2 employees, which is the kind of worker that most small businesses hire. But if you’re only paying contract employee with a 1099-Misc, Wave is a great free option. And when you’re ready to add direct-hire employees, you can add on Wave’s payroll service integrating your payroll and accounting data in one system.

Wave User Reviews

Wave earns 4 to 4.5 stars on third-party websites, although our small business users give Wave apps and Wave payroll software only 3 to 4 stars. The biggest complaints are about it being slow and about their customer service being slow too.

How to Sign Up for Wave

To sign up for Wave, you can input your email address and create a password, or you can sign up with your Google login ID. There’s no cost to use the software. Sign up now to start using payroll software free with Wave. Best Free Payroll for Businesses Using Excel

excelpayroll logo is free payroll processing software that uses an Excel worksheet to manage your payroll. If you’re already using Excel, and you’re pretty savvy with its features, this software saves you from having to create your own payroll software. After keying in your employees, earnings, and deductions, you can run your calculations. That’s easier than manually keying in paycheck data into a calculator each pay period, but not as easy as using free or paid software that assists you with the setup. Pricing is free. There’s no monthly fee, no payroll fee, and no download fee. However, you’ll want to pay close attention to the download instructions, as all but one of the files are locked with a password. Features provides a spreadsheet-based software to manage your payroll process. It can do earnings and deductions and can calculate overtime as well as vacation accruals. It can also generate accounting entries for you to import into your accounting software.

Other features of using are:

Ease of Payroll Processing & Payment Methods lets you set up payroll processing on any cycle you like. You simply enter the data and run your calculations. You can then print checks using your own laser printer and valid bank check paper stock. Data is stored in the spreadsheet if you want to reference it later.

Supported Tax Filings & Compliance

You will have to manually ensure that you are compliant with federal, state, and local taxes as well as all labor laws, such as sick leave and overtime laws, for any states in which you do business.

Software Integration & Reports

Data can be imported and exported in any format that Excel accepts, such as CSV and XLS. In addition, tax compliance and workers’ compensation reports are available.

Customer Support

Customer support is available via email only. They provide instructions on their home page.

What Is Missing isn’t a great option if you’re not familiar with spreadsheets, as it relies on accurate data entry and understanding of how Excel works. It’s not the best if you have 50 or more employees because there aren’t any ACA compliance options (although you may be able to program them into the system). Furthermore, its website is not secured (HTTPS), so you’re taking a chance downloading it (as you may be whenever downloading from any non-secure website). User Reviews

The users who use it like it and like that it’s free. But there are many who find the download process frustrating, or who try to open the wrong (password protected) files.

How to Sign Up for

To get’s free download, you can go to their website and follow the instructions, which will require you to unzip four files. Most importantly, scroll down on the left-hand side of the website home page screen and read the instructions they provide. Without that, you may find yourself unable to use the files or may find that it doesn’t calculate correctly.

Best Alternatives to Free Payroll Software

Payroll software free versions can help with simple payroll. But free payroll software doesn’t always have all the features you want, especially as your company grows larger. If you need other payroll functions such as direct deposits, time card integration, and automatic tax filing, it’s worth investing in a paid platform that can handle those tasks.

Gusto Payroll

Gusto is payroll processing software that helps small businesses streamline their payroll, track worked hours, manage employee benefits, and automatically calculate and file payroll taxes. Gusto also offers employee self-onboarding and payments via direct deposit and generates year-end W-2s and 1099s. Plus, it’s super-intuitive for you and your employees to use.

Gusto Payroll Pricing Table

gusto logo
$39 per month + $6 month per employee

Free 30-day Trial

# of Employees
Direct Deposit
Calculates & submits payroll taxes
Supported In
All 50 states

Gusto also offers a Concierge package with dedicated HR support, including unlimited access to certified HR professionals ($149 per month plus $12 per employee, per month). That’s a great alternative to hiring a full HR person at $50,000 per year or more.

What Gusto Payroll Is Missing

While Gusto’s Core package is one of the most affordable payroll solutions available ($39 per month plus $6 per employee, per month), you really need to sign up for the Complete package ($39 per month plus $12 per employee, per month) to get some of the best features, including employee self-onboarding, PTO management, org chart, and an employee directory. Check out our Gusto payroll review.

How to Sign Up for Gusto

Getting started with Gusto is easy. On their website, you input your first and last name and email address and then start your 30-day free trial. If you choose to purchase Gusto, your data will remain with your account and your first month using the payroll software is free.

Visit Gusto

Square Payroll

Square, the company that has revolutionized payment processing for small merchants, also offers payroll. You can use Square to track employee hours and pay them with direct deposit. So if you already use Square for your POS, then adding payroll makes sense. In addition, Square manages all state and federal taxes and new hire reporting—including year-end W2s and state tax forms, whereas, with Intuit and most of the free payroll software, you would have to prepare tax forms on your own.

Square Payroll Pricing

Square logo
$29 per month + $5 month per employee

Free 30-day Trial

# of Employees
Direct Deposit

Calculates & submits payroll taxes

Supported In

What Square Payroll Is Missing

The only real downside to Square Payroll is that they’re currently only available in 32 states. They’re more expensive than Intuit QuickBooks payroll, and they don’t provide benefits insurance offerings like Gusto does. Check out our Square payroll review.

How to Sign Up for Square Payroll

If you’re already using Square POS, you can add the payroll option directly from their website. If you’re a first-time buyer of Square, you’ll input your email address on their site, and they’ll contact you to get set up by adding your business information and team member data. Get a free trial.

Visit Square Payroll

ADP Payroll

A leading name in the payroll provider space, ADP offers a variety of payroll and tax services for small businesses, including online payroll processing, healthcare benefits management, and tax compliance—much like Gusto. ADP lets you run payroll online by phone or via a mobile app, calculates and pays payroll taxes automatically, and offers 24/7 access to experienced payroll professionals.

ADP Run Pricing Table

adp logo


Pricing varies ($25 setup fee)

Free 30-day Trial

2 months free
# of Employees
Direct Deposit
Calculates & submits payroll taxes
Supported In
All 50 states

What ADP Payroll Is Missing

One drawback is that ADP charges per pay period, as compared to Gusto, which charges per month regardless of your pay schedule. Pricing is also confusing, and you will have to request a quote directly from ADP. However, once you speak to a representative, you can easily negotiate for competitive pricing and waiving of the setup fee. Check out our full ADP payroll review.

How to Sign Up for ADP Payroll

ADP doesn’t provide their pricing online, so you’ll have to go to the website and input your email address along with the size of your company. You can then start a quote and will receive a sales call from one of their representatives, who can match you with the correct payroll product. At the time of this article, ADP was offering a two-month free trial.

Visit ADP

Top 9 Free Payroll Software Alternatives


Best For

Free For

Startups and small businesses that want HR, payroll, and employee benefits.

1 month

Businesses using Square for their point-of-sale (POS) system.

1 month

Businesses with 100 or more employees wanting custom software configuration options.

2 months

QuickBooks users who can manage their own tax filings.

30 days

Businesses using Xero for their accounting software.

2 months

Service businesses that schedule appointments, as it includes payroll through QuickBooks.


PC-based payroll software that starts at $499.

60 days

Canadian PC-based businesses with accounting experience.

1 year

Free Canadian payroll software for business with up to 20 employees


Bottom Line

Most of the free payroll software options in this article have limitations that can be problematic for small businesses that don’t have a full-time HR employee or payroll expert. Don’t forget to read all our payroll software reviews if you’re shopping for a robust, small business payroll software solution that does more.

If you haven’t guessed by now, we really like Gusto as an affordable, all-in-one payroll and HR solution for small businesses. Gusto allows you to run payroll in minutes, automatically calculates and files payroll taxes, and lets employees self-onboard; it manages direct deposits, benefits, and more. Sign up to use Gusto’s payroll software free for 30 days.

Visit Gusto

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