The Best Payroll Software for Accountants for 2024: Compared

Accountants face many unique issues when managing payroll for clients across different lines of business, employment types, and locations. Keeping this information organized and compliant for regular pay runs can be a difficult task, but with payroll software that’s catered to accountants specifically, you can rest assured that your clients are getting the best accounting services you can provide.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the top payroll software solutions for accountants in 2024, but first, we’d like to call out the best overall solution. The best overall payroll software for accountants is Gusto, which effectively combines affordable and robust payroll management solutions with one of the best accountant partner and personal development programs in the market.

The Best Payroll Software for Accountants Ranked

  1. Gusto: Best Accountant Partner Program
  2. QuickBooks Payroll: Best for Current QuickBooks Users
  3. OnPay: Best for Tailored Customer Support
  4. ADP: Best for Reporting and Analytics
  5. Paychex: Best for Year-End Tax Preparation
  6. Rippling: Best for Scalable Automations
  7. Patriot: Best for Small Accounting Firms and Solopreneurs

The Best Payroll Software for Accountants Reviewed

To develop this product comparison guide, we reviewed more than a dozen payroll software solutions, focusing on criteria such as scalability, customer support, automations, tax compliance, and filing features, analytics and reporting capabilities, accounting and other relevant software integrations, and resources designed specifically for accountants and their clients.

Gusto – Best Accountant Partner Program

A screenshot of Gusto's dashboard

Source: Gusto

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Accounting Integrations Reporting
$0 for accounting firms that follow partner program standards ✅, accounting firms in the partner program can get free Gusto Plus access if they onboard at least one client every 12 months • Gusto Pro dashboard
• Gusto Partner Directory
• Extensive third-party integrations

Gusto is a leading payroll, HR, and accounting solutions provider that streamlines many of an accountant’s routine tasks. Its baseline plans are some of the easiest to use on the market for accountants and clients alike, allowing unlimited payroll runs, a range of payment types, and relevant accounting and business integrations.

In customer reviews, Gusto is consistently praised for its range of features and the high-quality customer support the vendor provides.

Compared to competitors’ accountant partner programs, Gusto offers an especially lucrative accounting partnership program that benefits both the client and the firm.

Depending on the number of clients you have, you’ll be able to access the robust Gusto Pro dashboard, referral tools, R&D tax credits, revenue sharing, and tools to build an effective advisory services approach.

Gusto emphasizes professional growth and development with its program, giving accountants the option to be featured in their partner directory, a partner peer community, and webinars and certification programs for upskilling.

Read our full Gusto review.

Gusto Pricing Plans

  • Contractor Only: $0 per month for the first six months, plus $6 per month per contractor. The base price goes up to $35 per month after the first six months.
  • Simple: $40 per month plus $6 per month per person.
  • Plus: $80 per month plus $12 per month per person.
  • Premium: Pricing information is available upon request.

For accountants that join the Gusto for Accountants partner program, R&D tax credits and a discount or revenue-sharing opportunity of 5% to 20% are also available.

While clients will still need to pay for a Gusto subscription, the accounting firm benefits from a free payroll subscription through this partnership.

All of these plans support third-party integrations with common accounting software solutions, such as QuickBooks and Xero.

Pros

  • Free firm access and additional discounts through partner program
  • Relevant accounting and expense management integrations
  • Opportunity to earn CPE credits through Gusto webinars

Cons

  • Expense management only through integrations
  • Little to no payroll tools for international employees
  • Can get expensive for larger clients

QuickBooks Payroll – Best for Current QuickBooks Users

A screenshot of Quickbooks payroll tax center

Source: Quickbooks

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Accounting Integrations Reporting
$0 for accounting firms ✅, access to QuickBooks Payroll Elite is free for accounting firms • Tax penalty protection
• Auto payroll and time tracking
• Revenue share pricing plan

QuickBooks Payroll is a favorite payroll solution for accountants who already use QuickBooks accounting products, which are some of the most popular for firms that work closely with SMBs.

This product integrates seamlessly with other Intuit software solutions while also giving users the benefits of dedicated tax penalty protection tools and strategies, several useful automations, extensive tax compliance and management features in all plans, and next-day or same-day direct deposit in all plans.

In addition to QuickBooks’ hefty portfolio of accounting software solutions and resources, accountants who use QuickBooks Online Accountant can join the ProAdvisor Program, which gives them training rewards, special access to discounts and promotions for clients, and the ability to be listed in the Find-a-ProAdvisor online directory.

Read our full QuickBooks Payroll review.

QuickBooks Payroll Pricing Plans

  • Payroll Core: $45 per month plus $6 per employee per month.
  • Payroll Premium: $80 per month plus $8 per employee per month.
  • Payroll Elite: $125 per month plus $10 per employee per month.
  • Payroll Core + Simple Start: $75 per month plus $6 per employee per month.
  • Payroll Core + Essentials: $105 per month plus $6 per employee per month.
  • Payroll Premium + Plus: $170 per month plus $8 per employee per month.
  • Contractor Payments: $15 per month for 20 contractors and $2 per additional contractor.
  • Contractor Payments + Simple Start: $45 per month for 20 contractors plus $2 per additional contractor.

Accounting firms can access Payroll Elite for free and may be able to pass discounts — 30% off base subscription plus 15% off employee and contract fees through the ProAdvisor accountant partner program, for example — onto their clients. Buyers can choose between a 30-day free trial or a 50% discount for three months with any of these plans.

Pros

  • Free access to Payroll Elite for accounting firms
  • Full-service payroll and tax management on all plans
  • ProAdvisor Preferred Pricing discounts

Cons

  • Primarily designed for smaller businesses
  • Limited third-party integrations
  • Limited time tracking

OnPay – Best for Tailored Customer Support

A screenshot of OnPay's payroll feature

Source: OnPay

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Accounting Integrations Reporting
$0 for accounting firms ✅, free payroll for firms with at least one client • Multiple pay rates
• Free client data migrations
• Granular permissions

OnPay is one of the most intuitive payroll software solutions available, offering a straightforward pricing structure, a simple user interface, and easy customizations to meet the needs of your clients and employees.

Many users select this tool because its reporting and analytics features are more accessible than those from equivalent competitors but are also incredibly configurable, depending on the employee types, pay rates, periods, and other data you want to track.

Though OnPay’s partner program is somewhat smaller than competitors’ programs, including Gusto and QuickBooks, it is ideally suited to smaller accounting firms and those with small business clients.

The program includes free client setup and onboarding, free firm payroll, and marketing resources to grow your business. OnPay consistently receives some of the highest customer support ratings from customers on third-party review sites.

Read our full OnPay review.

OnPay Pricing Plans

  • $40 per month plus $6 per person per month.

Accountants can access additional discounts, ranging from 10% to 20% if they have at least three clients. Discounts can also go directly to clients or come through revenue sharing.

Pros

  • User-friendly interface
  • Experience with restaurants, farms, churches, and other small businesses
  • Configurable user access permissions

Cons

  • Expensive for larger businesses
  • U.S. payroll only
  • Limited automations compared to competitors

ADP – Best for Reporting and Analytics

A screenshot of ADP's analytic tools

Source: ADP

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Accounting Integrations Reporting
$29 per month plus $5 per employee (for Roll by ADP) ❌, though three months of free access is available for Roll by ADP • Smart analytics and benchmarking
• Accounting and other integrations
• Free access to Accountant Connect

ADP is one of the best-known payroll solutions providers and has earned its reputation by supporting businesses of all sizes. Depending on the software and plan you select, ADP’s payroll solutions work for organizations with one to more than 1,000 employees; compared to the other competitors on this list, ADP is the best equipped to handle enterprise payroll requirements.

Through its free Accountant Connect program, accountants can manage all client data, payroll runs, and tax compliance needs from a single interface. They can also benefit from powerful analytics and dashboards, with analytics that focus on compensation benchmarking; payroll, tax, and retirement calculations; and customizable client reports and recommendations.

ADP also offers many accounting software integrations, as well as exclusive discounts with accounting and business technology partners like Avalara, Rootworks, and BizEquity.

Read our full ADP review.

ADP Pricing Plans

  • Roll by ADP: $29 per month plus $5 per employee; the first three months of access are free.
  • RUN Powered by ADP: Four main pricing tiers are available, including Essential Payroll, Enhanced Payroll, Complete Payroll & HR Plus, and HR Pro Payroll & HR. Specific pricing information is available upon request.
  • ADP Workforce Now: Three main pricing tiers, including Select, Plus, and Premium. Specific pricing information is available upon request.
  • ADP HCM: Pricing information is available upon request.

Particularly for accountants working with larger client portfolios or employee counts, ADP Workforce Now or ADP HCM will provide the support they need: Workforce Now is designed for 50 to 1,000 employees, while HCM is made for organizations with 1,000+ employees.

Pros

  • Wide range of accounting software integrations
  • Client insights and smart analytics through Accountant Connect
  • Subscriptions for small businesses and enterprises

Cons

  • Steep learning curve
  • Difficulty with implementation and onboarding
  • Complicated, opaque pricing approach

Paychex – Best for Year-End Tax Preparation

A screenshot of Paychex's dashboard

Source: Paychex

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Accounting Integrations Reporting
In $ lowest price /user/month ✅/❌ (if limitations, use text) • Accountant HQ dashboard
• Support professionals for tax compliance
• General ledger service
✅, though somewhat limited formatting options

Paychex Flex is a favorite of accountants and their clients but also employees because of how many mobile, self-service features are offered directly to them.

The tool is a great option for businesses with multiple employee types and pay rates, as multiple options for payment, including pay-on-demand, are available.

Accountants who join the Paychex partner program gain access to more dedicated support, a more capable dashboard setup for accounting-specific data, new compliance features, and more.

Most significantly, the program includes access to a year-end reference center, which helps accountants and their clients comprehensively prepare for year-end tax deadlines with checklists, guides, notices, and additional resources.

Read our full Paychex review.

Paychex Pricing Plans

  • Essentials: $39 per month plus $5 per employee.
  • Select: Custom pricing information available upon request.
  • Pro: Custom pricing information is available upon request.

A six-month free trial is currently available to new users. For more advanced online payroll processing and tax filing requirements, especially for larger accounting firms and client portfolios, accountants will likely need to choose the Select or Pro plan.

Pros

  • Dedicated accountant service team
  • Accountant HQ customizable dashboard
  • Accountant year-end reference center feature

Cons

  • No accountant-specific discounts or offers
  • Many features require paid add-ons
  • Some difficulties with user training resources

Rippling – Best for Scalable Automations

A screenshot of Rippling's dashboard

Source: Rippling

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Accounting Integrations Reporting
In $ lowest price /user/month ✅/❌ (if limitations use text) • Job-specific pay scales and dimensions
• Partner program discounts for third-party software
• Auto-adjustments and other automations

Rippling is a top payroll software solution that works for both smaller and larger businesses’ payroll requirements. With a deep integration library for both accounting and general business tools, local experts and localization for payroll and tax runs, and the ability to easily manage multiple job codes and pay rates, this is a great solution for accountants working with businesses that have distributed workforces.

To simplify the work an accountant must do to manage a diverse client portfolio, Rippling offers some of the best and most varied automations and auditing features. These include automated error detection, configurable payroll reports, auditable employee records, pay rate adjustments, and tax filing and deduction calculations.

Read our full Rippling review.

Rippling Pricing Plans

  • Starts at $8 per month.
  • HR Cloud solutions, including US and Global Full-Service Payroll, can be purchased a la carte.

On its pricing page, Rippling only indicates that pricing starts at $8 per month, but it does not provide any further detail about whether this applies to Rippling Unity, HR Cloud tool(s), IT Cloud tool(s), or Finance Cloud tool(s). No free plan or trial is available, but users can request a free demo.

Pros

  • Auto-flagging for manual data errors
  • Hardcoded time splits and auto calculations for pay rates
  • Automated tax calculations, deductions, and filing

Cons

  • Little transparency in pricing
  • No free plan or trial
  • Some issues with reporting setup

Patriot – Best for Small Accounting Firms and Solopreneurs

A screenshot of Patriot's dashboard

Source: Patroit

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Accounting Integrations Reporting
$17 per month plus $4 per employee/contractor • Free accountant partner program
• Two-day direct deposit
• Multiple pay rates and flexible rate changes
❌, though there are some custom workarounds and integrations in beta ✅, though somewhat limited formatting options

Patriot is a small-business-focused payroll software provider that works well for accountants who work solely with U.S.-based clients. It is an affordable solution with highly-rated customer support and unique resources that meet the needs of smaller organizations. These include free employee portals, flexible pay rate adjustments, and calculations for accruals and deductions.

Compared to most other competitors on this list, Patriot offers a less comprehensive partner plan but makes up for it with affordability and customization. Many integrations are freely available, including HR software, time and attendance software, accounting software, 401(k), and workers’ comp support.

Read our full Patriot review.

Patriot Pricing Plans

  • Basic Payroll: $17 per month plus $4 per employee or contractor.
  • Full Service Payroll: $37 per month plus $4 per employee or contractor.

These payroll plans also integrate easily with Patriot’s two accounting subscriptions, which cost between $20 and $30 per month. A 30-day free trial is also available.

Pros

  • Affordable and catered to small businesses
  • User-friendly interface
  • Positive user reviews of customer support

Cons

  • Only U.S.-based services available
  • More limited feature set than most competitors
  • Few third-party integrations

The Best Payroll Software for Accountants Compared

Best For Standout Features Accounting Integrations Tax Compliance Reporting and Analytics
Gusto Accountant Partner Program • Gusto Pro dashboard
• Gusto Partner Directory
• Extensive third-party integrations
QuickBooks Payroll Current QuickBooks Users • Tax penalty protection
• Auto payroll and time tracking
• Revenue share pricing plan
OnPay Tailored Customer Support • Revenue share partner program
• Free client data migrations
• Granular permissions
✅, though somewhat limited
ADP Reporting and Analytics • Smart analytics and benchmarking
• Accounting and other integrations
• Free access to Accountant Connect
Paychex Year-End Tax Preparation • Accountant HQ dashboard
• Support professionals for tax compliance
• General ledger service
✅, though somewhat limited formatting options
Rippling Scalable Automations • Job-specific pay scales and dimensions
• Partner program discounts for third-party software
• Auto-adjustments and other automations
Patriot Small Accounting Firms and Solopreneurs • Free accountant partner program
• Two-day direct deposit
• Multiple pay rates and flexible rate changes
❌, though there are some custom workarounds and integrations in beta ✅, depending on selected plan ✅, though somewhat limited formatting options

Conclusion – What Is the Best Payroll Software for Accountants?

While many payroll software providers offer useful features for accountants and their clients, Gusto does the best job of balancing easy-to-use features, flexible payroll and tax filing tools, and a useful partner program for accounting customers.

Compared to other vendors’ accounting partner programs, Gusto does a superior job of offering business growth and professional development resources, as well as peer networking and support opportunities.

How We Test Payroll Software

We tested accounting payroll software solutions, paying attention to these core criteria, metrics, and more to determine our selections:

  • Pricing – Our testing emphasizes scalable affordability, looking at pricing tiers, what’s included in each tier, and any discounts or free access opportunities that are available.
  • Features – For accountants in particular, we paid attention to software with features like accountant partner programs and discounts, advanced analytics and dashboards, tax compliance support, multiple pay rates, and accounting integrations.
  • Integrations – We looked for solutions with integrations to the most commonly used accounting software, as well as integrations with other relevant business applications.
  • Automation – We emphasized tools that offered hands-off automations for payroll runs, tax filing, and quality assurance checks.
  • Ease of use – We focused on customer reviews, looking for any issues with a complex user interface, customer support, integrations, client onboarding workflows, and mobility.
  • Third-party reviews – We read dozens of customer reviews, pinpointing how each tool differentiates itself and how it could improve compared to competitors.

How to Choose the Best Payroll Software

Choosing the best payroll software for your accounting firm or other business type is all about determining what you expect across the following criteria:

  • Budget – Determine your available budget and what features you need at that price. Look for solutions with accounting-specific discount programs.
  • Ease of Use – Look for tools that are easy to set up and use on an ongoing basis. It’s a good idea to pick solutions with strong customer support and client onboarding strategies.
  • Compatibility – Identify solutions that easily integrate with your accounting software and any other relevant tools.
  • Key Features – Closely examine the vendor’s pricing tiers to determine if your most-needed features are available in the pricing plan you can afford. Some features may be limited in lower-tier plans.
  • Scalability – Regardless of your current plan choice, look at how well the software will scale as your needs grow.
  • Customer Support – Look at the vendor’s website to determine support channels and availability, but also read customer reviews to learn about customer support quality.

Read next: The Best Payroll Software for 2024: Compared

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Shelby Hiter
Editor

Shelby Hiter is a technology writer and editor who previously managed editorial strategy for TechRepublic, Webopedia, LinuxToday, and SoftwarePundit. Her work has appeared in online publications such as TechRepublic, eWeek, Datamation, eSecurity Planet, Enterprise Networking Planet, CIO Insight, Project-Management.com, Insurance Thought Leadership, and AllBusiness.com. Over more than five years of working in this space, she has developed particular expertise in artificial intelligence, big data, project management, open-source software, HR, healthcare tech, and fintech. She also specializes in marketing and communication strategies as well as academic writing. Shelby holds a master's degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago. Follow or…