Best Free Payroll Software for Small Businesses - March 2021

The best free payroll software, along with key features, benefits, recommendations, and many more.

If you’re visiting this page, you are likely a startup or small business owner that can’t afford to spend money on the market’s most popular payroll vendors - all of which require recurring payments. The good news is, there are several free payroll software solutions that you can use without breaking the bank. 

Some of those products offer a free tier to complement their paid subscriptions, while others are completely free of charge. They can calculate payroll for your hourly and salaried employees, handle tax calculations and other deductions, as well as print checks and pay stubs. Depending on where you live, a few of those products even offer tax filing and direct deposit services.

Read this guide to learn what those free payroll solutions products are, along with their features, benefits, pricing insights, international alternatives, and more to make an informed decision.

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We track thousands of HR Tech solutions. Here are the best free payroll platforms as of March 2021

Payroll4Free provides a full range of online payroll services to small businesses with 25 employees or less at, you guessed it, no cost at all. For a free platform, it packs an impressive range of features including payroll processing, direct deposits or paper checks, tax calculations and forms, vacation tracking, 3rd party integrations, reporting, and more.

Payroll4Free

Stats

Payroll4Free launched in 2012.

Payroll4Free

Pricing

All of Payroll4Free’s basic features and services are available to use for free (as long as you are paying 25 individuals or less). Payroll4Free also offers two paid services that are completely optional:

  • Payroll4Free can deposit and file all of your payroll taxes on your behalf for $15 per month. 
  • For another $15 per month, Payroll4Free can also let you use their bank (instead of your own bank) to transfer direct deposit funds to your employees.

Best For

Small companies (with 25 employees or less) looking for a free payroll processing solution with tax calculation functionality and services.

Worth Checking Out:

You’ve probably used spreadsheet-based payroll templates before to manage and keep track of your employee payroll. If you’ve ever wished your spreadsheet acted more like payroll software, you’ll definitely appreciate ExcelPayroll. This tool runs on Microsoft Excel and allows you to do all sorts of tasks, including printing tax forms and checks, viewing workers’ compensation reports, and recording both tax and non-tax deductions.

ExcelPayroll

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ExcelPayroll

Pricing

ExcelPayroll is free to use; it doesn’t have any monthly or per-user fee. However, it does exclusively run on Microsoft Excel, which is a paid product.

Best For

Small businesses (between 1-5 active employees) that have access to Microsoft Excel and want a payroll solution that behaves with a spreadsheet format.

Worth Checking Out:

If you’re looking for a free workforce management solution, TimeTrex’s open-source Community edition is worth checking out. The Community edition packs several features at no charge, including payroll processing, HR management, employee scheduling, time and attendance tracking, as well as leave management.

TimeTrex

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TimeTrex

Pricing

TimeTrex’s Community edition is free of charge, supported by a network of volunteers from over 50 countries. TimeTrex also has 3 paid plans (i.e. Professional, Corporate, and Enterprise) that offer more features including job costing, GEO fencing, document management, invoicing, expense tracking, and applicant tracking. Contact TimeTrex’s sales team for more information on their paid offerings.

Best For

Small businesses that want a free integrated payroll and time-tracking solution.

Worth Checking Out:

Owned by C&S Technologies, the same company that runs eSmart Paycheck, Paycheck Manager is an affordable complete small business payroll software. Though this is a paid product, they do offer a whopping 3 month free trial of their offerings. Not only that, but Paycheck Manager’s paycheck calculator is a free service available for anyone, and no account is required for use. Users input their business payroll information, including salary information, state, pay cycle (weekly, semi-monthly, monthly, etc), marital status, allowances, and deductions. Then, they are provided with a detailed analysis that gives estimated payroll taxes and net income.

Paycheck Manager

Stats

  • Paycheck Manager has been in business for over 20 years.
  • With Paycheck Manager, paychecks can be prepared and printed in 10 minutes or less.

Paycheck Manager

Pricing

  • Free: Paycheck tax calculation and printing (unlimited use)
  • Basic service: This plan packs all the features needed for a business to run payroll and handle payroll taxes on their own. The pricing of this plan starts at $5 a month - no setup fee required. 
  • Managed service: With this plan, Paycheck Manager’s team runs your payroll and manages your payroll taxes. This plan has a base price of $12 per month, plus $2 per employee per month, plus a $10 setup fee.

Note: Both of Paycheck Manager’s paid plans can be trailed for free for up to 3 calendar months.

Best For

Small businesses looking for an affordable payroll solution

Worth Checking Out:

HR.my is a free payroll platform that’s available to users in an impressive 65 languages in addition to English. Not only does it allow users to process payroll, but the platform also features tools for time and attendance tracking, claims tracking, team collaboration, knowledge management, and more. Employees can access the platform too to submit claims and leave notices.

HR.my

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HR.my

Pricing

HR.my is completely free, forever. This is possible through its user community that crowd-funds it.

Best For

Small businesses that require multi-language support from their payroll platform.

Worth Checking Out:

Owned by C&S Technologies, the same company that runs Paycheck Manager, eSmart Paycheck is an affordable small business payroll software. Though this is a paid product, they do offer a 3 month free trial of their offerings. Not only that, but eSmart Paycheck’s payroll calculator is a free service available for anyone to use without needing to create an account. This calculator lets you input the pay period, hours or salary, note dependents and withholdings such as 401(k)s and other deductions, and calculate the taxes and paychecks. When that’s done, you can proceed by printing pay stubs or paychecks.

eSmart Paycheck

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C&S Technologies, Inc. (dba eSmartPaycheck) has been an IRS-authorized payroll e-file service provider since 2000.

eSmart Paycheck

Pricing

The pricing of eSmart Paycheck’s payroll tasks depends on the number of employees you have:

  • 1-5 employees: $50 annually
  • 6-10 employees: $100 annually
  • 11-15 employees: $150 annually
  • 16-20 employees: $200 annually
  • 21-30 employees: $250 annually
  • 31-40 employees: $300 annually

eSmart Paycheck also offers add-on services, including:

  • Deposit federal taxes automatically: $25 annually
  • Deposit state taxes (where applicable): $25 annually
  • Print or e-file state forms (where applicable): $15 annually
  • e-File of W-2 to states (if required): $20 + $2 per employee
  • Print and mail W-2s (including envelope & stamp): $2 a form

Note: eSmart Paycheck’s paid features can be tried for free for up to 3 calendar months. As previously mentioned, their payroll calculator is free of charge.

Best For

Small businesses looking for an affordable payroll solution with a free paycheck calculator.

Worth Checking Out:

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Final Thoughts

All businesses, regardless of size and industry, can benefit from payroll software to streamline how they pay employees and ensure they are handling taxes and other deductions in a compliant manner. That said, not every payroll software on the market is compatible with the needs and budget of your business. The good news is, we’ve put in the time and effort to research those software solutions so you don’t have to, and our final advice is this: 

If you’re a small business, the free payroll software we’ve listed in this guide would make a good, cost-efficient addition to your tech stack for now. As your business grows, however, you should definitely consider investing in a best-in-class payroll software (for as little as $14 per employee per month) as they bring more automations and are built to handle complex needs.

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