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Call Now QuickBooks Payroll is offered in both online and desktop versions. Service plans for this software range between $29 and $125 per month, plus monthly per-employee fees. You can add QuickBooks' accounting software to each service plan for an additional fee. This review is for small business owners who are considering using QuickBooks Payroll as their payroll service. After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend QuickBooks Payroll as our 2021 pick for the best online payroll service for small businesses. QuickBooks Payroll is ideal for small businesses because of its flexibility and variety. The service is available in numerous service plans at a variety of prices, so businesses of any size and budget can find a plan to meet their needs. Another feature that makes QuickBooks Payroll a solid choice for small businesses is its integration with QuickBooks' accounting software, which many small businesses already use. Other reasons we recommend QuickBooks Payroll is its ease of use, employee self-service options, range of payroll reports and one-month free trial. To read more about the best options for payroll services, read all our reviews and learn more about the buying process. Editor's note: Looking for information on payroll systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need: QuickBooks Payroll Pricing, Service Plans and Features Part of QuickBooks Payroll's appeal is that the company offers several plan types at a range of prices. Several plans combine the company's accounting software and payroll service. This range of options makes this software a great option for a wide variety of businesses. Below, you'll find a full breakdown of the pricing and features for all of QuickBooks Payroll's plans. Keep in mind that first-time customers are eligible for a 30-day trial on all of these plans, so you can give the software a test-drive before you commit to a monthly or yearly plan. QuickBooks Payroll Plans QuickBooks Payroll is available in a variety of service plans. There are online versions, desktop versions and plans that combine QuickBooks' payroll and accounting software. If you're looking for both accounting software and a payroll service, pairing the two could be ideal for your small business. Every time you run payroll, all of the info – including check amounts, state and federal taxes, and deductions – automatically downloads into your QuickBooks accounting software. Opting for a plan with accounting software also gives you the ability to track income and expenses, maximize tax deductions, run reports and send estimates. QuickBooks allows for invoicing the acceptance of payments. QuickBooks Plus also lets you manage bills, track inventory and manage contractors. Here is a breakdown of some of the options: QuickBooks Online Payroll Plans Core Cost: $45 per month, plus $4 per employee per month Features: full-service payroll, autopayroll, health benefit options and 401(k) plans Premium Cost: $75 per month, plus $8 per employee per month Features: everything in the Core plan, plus same-day direct deposit, workers' compensation administration, mobile time tracking, access to an HR support center and expert setup Elite Cost: $125 per month, plus $10 per employee per month Features: everything in the Premium plan, plus tax penalty protection, customized setup and access to a personal HR advisor With each of these plans, you have the option to get either one month free or a 50% discount for the first three months of service. You can also add QuickBooks Online accounting software, which will cost you between $25 and $150 per month. QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Plans Basic This plan only runs payroll and does not handle any payroll tax obligations. Cost: The base fee is $29 per month, plus there is a monthly fee of $2 per employee. The first six months are offered at a 20% discount. Features and tax services: This package includes the ability to print instant paychecks for W-2 employees and 1099 workers, as well as direct deposit and live support. Enhanced This plan handles all payroll and some tax responsibilities. Cost: The base fee is $45 per month, plus there is a monthly fee of $2 per employee. The first six months are offered at a 20% discount. Features and tax services: This plan includes everything in the Basic package, plus it calculates all federal and state payroll taxes. You are responsible for making all tax payments. Intuit fills in all of the federal and most state payroll tax forms for you, and it gives you the option to pay these taxes electronically. Additionally, this plan includes email reminders for taxes and the ability to print W-2 forms for employees. Assisted This plan handles all payroll and payroll tax responsibilities. Cost: The base fee is $109 per month, plus there is a monthly fee of $2 per employee. The first six months are offered at a 40% discount. Features and tax services: This is the most comprehensive service. The package runs payroll; completes and files all federal, state and local forms; and guarantees that tax payments are correct and on time. If the company makes an error, it will correct the mistake and pay all of the resulting payroll tax penalties. QuickBooks also sets up this package for you by having a company representative enter all employee information into the system before you get started. In addition, the Full-Service package takes care of processing and printing employees' W-2s. At the time of this writing, QuickBooks was offering a 50% discount on all of the above rates for the first three months of service for new customers. The only other cost is for businesses with employees who work in multiple states, in which case there is an added $12 monthly charge per state. A benefit of QuickBooks Payroll is that each of the plans allows unlimited payroll runs for no extra charge, thus giving businesses the option to pay employees weekly, biweekly, semimonthly or monthly, all for the same price. QuickBooks accounting software can be added to any of the plans listed above. It starts at $15 per month and includes four pricing plans that range up to $150 per month. Key takeaway: QuickBooks Payroll offers three online plans and three desktop plans. Prices range from $45 to $125 per month (plus $4 to $10 per employee per month) for the online version and $29 to $109 (plus $2 per employee per month) for the desktop version. Features QuickBooks Payroll has a wide range of beneficial features. Most important, QuickBooks handles all of your payroll processing and payroll tax responsibilities. You can run payroll an unlimited number of times each month. This gives you the freedom to pay employees whenever you want, so everyone doesn't have to be on the same pay schedule. This flexibility can be especially valuable if you have both full-time employees and independent contractors. QuickBooks handles all of your payroll tax needs. It calculates your taxes, fills out the necessary paperwork and makes the payments. For some plans, QuickBooks also offers a tax guarantee, which means if the software makes an error, QuickBooks will correct it and pay any imposed fines. The integration with QuickBooks' accounting software is another huge bonus of this solution. The result is that both software programs work in lockstep. Data is automatically transferred back and forth between the two programs, thus making it simple to run payroll and manage your finances. This can be a huge benefit for small business owners who don't have the luxury of having an in-house payroll specialist and accountant. QuickBooks also offers several HR-related resources, including access to a human resources advisor to turn to when you need guidance on important HR issues. Other services include health benefits by SimplyInsured and retirement plans offered by Guideline. QuickBooks announced in 2021 it is improving its integration with the popular customer relationship management (CRM) tool HubSpot. According to QuickBooks, the new integration will include more data entry automation, reducing the likelihood of error and saving staff members time. It will also feature a centralized dashboard through which users can create financial workflows to suit their needs, as well as move invoices seamlessly across QuickBooks and HubSpot. Did you know? QuickBooks Payroll handles all payroll processing and payroll tax responsibilities. It also allows for unlimited payroll runs, provides access to an HR advisor and integrates with QuickBooks' accounting software. Ease of Use Small business owners will be pleased with how easy it is to use QuickBooks Payroll. It is a cloud-based service that has no software to install or maintain and can be accessed online from anywhere. The easy-to-use platform is clearly labeled and simple to navigate. Running payroll starts by selecting the employees to pay. For hourly employees, you enter the number of regular, bonus, overtime and vacation hours they worked during that pay period. Salaried employees already have their pay rates saved. Then, you review the payroll info. You can see each employee's payroll details as well as your total costs. During this stage, you can also compare the current payroll with the previous one to make sure everything lines up. The last step is to click the Submit to Intuit link. The service confirms that it received the information and processes payroll. Employees who have direct deposit are paid in two business days. You also have the option to print checks from your office. Adding employees to the system is also simple. The software walks you through each step of adding basic details about each employee, such as their pay rate, federal and state tax information and withholdings, tax exemptions, and benefit deductions. Some service plans allow QuickBooks to handle this task for you. You can email or fax your employee roster and information to a QuickBooks payroll specialist, who will enter the details. The system is also accessible via a mobile app for iOS and Android devices. With the app, administrators can run payroll, pay taxes and view company payroll history. Employees can log in to the online system on either a web browser or the mobile app to view their paystubs, pay history and paid-time-off accruals. QuickBooks Payroll users can download a variety of reports, including payroll summaries, payroll details, employee details, tax payments, tax and wage summaries, tax liability, workers' compensation, total costs and contractor payment details. Customer Service You can reach QuickBooks Payroll representatives by phone and email Monday through Friday between 9 a.M. And 9 p.M. ET, and live-chat support is available 24/7. On the website, you'll find payroll guides and advice, training videos, details on how to set up the system and a user community that has answers to questions on all of Intuit's products. We were pleased with the customer service Intuit provided when we contacted the company numerous times by phone and email, posing as a business owner interested in payroll services. Each time we reached out by phone, a representative immediately answered our call. With some of the other large payroll services we considered, we had to wait on hold for lengthy periods before someone was available to speak with us. We were just as pleased with the support we received via email. Many of the representatives we contacted over the phone followed up with an email. Each time we wrote back with a question we had, whether it was the same day or weeks later, we received a prompt and thorough response. The representatives never pressured us to sign up for the service. Instead, they listened to us, answered our questions and encouraged us to call back with any further inquiries. This was a difference from what we experienced with many other payroll providers we contacted. Tip: You can reach QuickBooks' customer support team by phone weekdays between 9 a.M. And 9 p.M. ET or via live chat 24/7. Limitations One potential downside of QuickBooks Payroll is the cost. If you choose one of the more robust service plans, there are base fees of over $100 per month, which is more expensive than many of the other services we considered. However, the more costly plans offer a number of HR-related tools, which some businesses may find appealing. We were also disappointed that only the most expensive QuickBooks plans offer a tax guarantee. Most of the services we examined offered this guarantee to all customers. Another potential negative is the large number of complaints filed against Intuit, QuickBooks' parent company, with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). As of December 2020, more than 1,600 complaints had been filed against the company. While the number of complaints is concerning, it is unknown how many of these complaints are specific to Intuit's payroll service, as the complaints listed on the BBB website encompass all of Intuit's products and services. Despite the complaints, Intuit has an A+ rating with the BBB. Ready to choose a payroll service? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:Gusto is renowned for its low-hassle payroll processing and extensive HR features, but it's not perfect for every business. Gusto can't process international payrolls, and small businesses with robust HR and accounting departments may find its advanced services unnecessary. Prominent Gusto alternatives include Paychex, OnPay, ADP, Rippling, Intuit QuickBooks Payroll and Square Payroll. This article is for small business owners seeking Gusto payroll alternatives in their search for the best payroll service. Gusto's prominence in the payroll world largely stems from its being far more than just a payroll service. The company is renowned for its full-service HR platform that couples payroll with advanced features such as workforce costing and employee handbook templates. At its highest pricing tier, it also offers access to a certified HR professional. But for some small businesses, Gusto alternatives may prove superior. Here's a look at Gusto and its features, along with overviews of six Gusto alternatives that might be right for your business. Gusto overview After launching in November 2011, Gusto quickly rose to prominence among payroll services, given its seamless coupling of payroll processing with high-level HR features. When you choose Gusto to run your payroll, Gusto can also oversee your benefits administration, time and attendance tracking, compliance, and successful onboarding. For small businesses that can't quite afford an in-house HR staff, these features are often game-changing. On the other hand, Gusto's extensive HR features might prove redundant for small businesses with robust accounting and HR departments. Additionally, Gusto can't process payroll for international employees. If either of these facts makes Gusto an improper fit for your company, then one of the below Gusto payroll alternatives should better suit you. As you go through this list, you may want to consult our Gusto payroll review and payroll software best picks list. Key takeaway: When it comes to picking the right payroll service for your business, Gusto payroll alternatives may be better for small businesses with full accounting or HR departments and international employees. 6 alternatives to Gusto These are some prominent Gusto payroll alternatives: 1. Paychex: Best for larger businesses Paychex has been a prominent payroll service provider for half a century, in which time it has developed a specialty for working with larger businesses. It includes basic payroll services alongside features that large teams might need, such as online marketing, time and attendance tracking, and incorporation assistance. If you choose Paychex, you'll also be paired with a dedicated account specialist and receive 24/7 customer support. These are some of the best Paychex features: Basic payroll calculations Payroll tax calculation and payments Direct deposit and pay cards Several hundred payroll reports Numerous accounting integrations New-hire reporting Benefits administration Employee financial wellness program administration Employee training Background screening and onboarding Time and attendance tracking Performance reviews and tracking Unemployment insurance program coordination Secure document storage Online marketing Business incorporation services Paychex is available in three pricing plans: Go, Flex Select and Flex Enterprise. Paychex Go: $59 per month, plus $4 per employee per month. Services include basic payroll processing, tax services and new-hire reporting. Paychex Flex Select: $90 per month, plus custom per-employee fees. Services include income verification, mobile app use, and access to a dedicated account specialist. Paychex Flex Enterprise: $160 per month, plus custom per-employee fees. It includes all the features of the other plans, accounting software integration, state unemployment insurance services, tools for screening and onboarding employees, and an employee handbook builder. Tip: To learn more about Paychex, read our Paychex payroll service review. 2. OnPay: Best for very small businesses Extremely small businesses with fewer employees than can be counted on one hand might lack the resources to oversee payroll directly. OnPay is designed with these businesses in mind. It offers only one pricing tier and feature set, and that's intentional. All OnPay users get equal access to the company's extremely user-friendly payroll processing and tax services, not to mention robust customer service. This all comes free of long-term contracts and hidden fees. All OnPay users get these features: Full-service payroll processing and tax payments Direct deposit and pay cards Full coverage of any tax penalties or interest resulting from OnPay's work Unlimited payroll runs Multiple pay schedules Five levels of employee access New-hire reporting Onboarding services Extensive integrations Paid time off (PTO) tracking Offer letters HR resource center Benefits and workers' comp administration You'll pay a monthly fee of $36, plus $4 per employee, for OnPay. The only other fees that come into play pertain to year-end tax forms. For OnPay to print and mail these forms to your workplace, you'll pay $5 plus shipping. OnPay can also mail these forms directly to your employees for $6 plus shipping. Alternatively, you can print your own W-2 forms for free. Tip: Read our OnPay payroll software review to learn more. 3. Rippling: Best for ease of use Although payroll services are supposed to save you innumerable hours on payroll, taxes and HR, some payroll software platform interfaces complicate the process. Rippling, on the other hand, allows you to run payroll in just 90 seconds. That's why it's our pick for small businesses prioritizing ease of use. These are some important Rippling features: 90-second payroll runs Automated compliance and tax filing Global payroll Multiple pay rates Direct deposit Time tracking software PTO management Customizable payroll reports and templates Job costing Wage garnishments Several hundred integrations Benefits administration (if you register for Rippling HR) Rippling pricing plans start at $8 per user per month. Your actual price will vary based on many factors, and you'll need to get a custom quote to start using the service. Tip: Read more about Rippling in our Rippling HR software review. 4. Intuit QuickBooks Payroll: Best for small businesses Intuit QuickBooks Payroll is a great choice for small businesses of all stripes, given the company's prominence in accounting software. QuickBooks Payroll seamlessly integrates its payroll and accounting platforms, giving you complete control over your employee payments. You also have the option to choose between hosting your software online or on your desktop. These are some of the best QuickBooks Payroll features: Full-service payroll processing Full-service payroll tax filing and payment Direct deposit Unlimited payroll runs Multiple pay schedules Mobile time tracking Full coverage of tax penalties or interest (on select plans) Seamless QuickBooks accounting integration HR services alongside designated account HR advisor Workers' comp administration Health insurance administration through SimplyInsured 401(k) administration through Guideline QuickBooks Online Payroll is available in three plans: Core, Premium and Elite. Core: $45 per month, plus $4 per employee per month. You'll get full-service payroll and benefits administration services. Premium: $75 per month, plus $8 per employee per month. You'll get all Core services plus workers' comp administration, mobile time tracking, direct deposit, HR center access and expert setup assistance. Elite: $125 per month, plus $10 per employee per month. You'll get every service in the other plans plus 24/7 expert product support, tax penalty protection and a personal HR advisor. QuickBooks Desktop Payroll also has three plans: Basic, Enhanced and Assisted. Basic: $29 per month, plus $2 per employee per month, with rates discounted 20% for your first six months. Services include direct deposit, instant paycheck printing and live support. Enhanced: $45 per month, plus $2 per employee per month, with rates discounted 20% for your first six months. Services include everything in Basic, plus tax calculation and the ability to print W-2s. However, you still must pay your taxes manually. Assisted: $109 per month, plus $2 per employee per month, with rates discounted 40% for the first six months. It includes all the above services, along with advanced reports and inventory management, integration with Salesforce CRM, simultaneous access for up to 40 users, and more. Tip: You can read more about the many tiers and services of QuickBooks Payroll in our QuickBooks Payroll review, or read our comparison of Gusto vs. QuickBooks Payroll. 5. Square Payroll: Best for payroll tax prep Square is best known as a leader in credit card payment processing and point-of-sale (POS) systems, and its payroll services are excellent too. In fact, we'd say Square Payroll is your best bet if payroll tax prep is your primary concern. Square Payroll combines payroll data with compliance standards to make sure you hit all your deadlines and avoid fees. It does so through a platform as user-friendly as its beloved payment processing and POS tools. These are some of Square Payroll's features: Basic payroll processing Emphasis on timely, compliant payroll tax payments Automatic tax form creation Employee and contractor payments Seamless POS and time and attendance tracking integrations Employee payment through Square Cash app Phone, email and live chat customer support Team management tools Square Payroll is highly affordable. Its rates start at $29 per month, plus $5 per employee per month. Notice that the phrasing here is "per employee." If you pay contractors only, the base monthly fee disappears. Instead, you'll pay just $5 per contractor per month. Whether you're paying contractors or employees, you won't have to sign any binding, lengthy contracts. Key takeaway: Paying only contractors through Square Payroll, as opposed to full-time employees, is highly cost-effective. 6. ADP: Best for complex payrolls ADP's diversity of payroll and HR services make it an ideal choice for complex payrolls. If your company hires numerous employees and contractors at wildly different pay rates and hours, ADP can handle that. Plus, it's the most popular payroll service: When we surveyed businesses as we researched payroll services, nearly 1 in 4 told us they use ADP. These are some of ADP's features: Complete payroll processing Payroll tax calculation and filing Online, phone and mobile app payroll runs Year-end tax forms Direct deposit and paper checks Paper check signing and stuffing Employee self-service portal Standard payroll reports New-hire reporting Hiring and training services Forms and documents Background checks Employee handbook wizard Applicant tracking Performance management Marketing tools State unemployment insurance management HR professional access Legal assistance All ADP prices are entirely customized. You can choose from among four plans: Essential, Enhanced, Complete and HR Pro. No matter which plan you choose, you'll also pay a flat $200 setup fee. ADP Essential includes basic payroll services with some nice-to-haves such as onboarding and marketing tools. The Enhanced plan adds more services, including paper check stuffing and state unemployment insurance management. The Complete and HR Pro plans add more HR services to the mix, with HR Pro providing legal assistance unavailable with other payroll services we evaluated. To get the full scoop on ADP, read our ADP payroll services review. Learn more about how it measures up to Gusto in our Gusto vs. ADP payroll comparison. Don't be afraid to consider other Gusto payroll alternatives as your search continues – this list is just a starting point.The best accounting software for SMB makes it simple and easy to keep accurate financial records for expenses, profit and purposes. Having the right package is non-negotiable if you're trying to run your own small business business, and the sooner you deploy one of the best accounting bundles the better. While there are standalone platforms for invoicing software and tax software for small businesses, generally your accounting platforms will be more comprehensive. While there are some very good paid-for accounting programs around, there are also a strong number of free accounting software solutions currently available, as well as bookkeeping software. While some of these are simply free tiers for paid software, others are freeware programs you can download and use without charge to help with budgeting. There are also time management apps that can integrate for consultants or freelancers who need to charge by hour. This can be very helpful for start-ups who want to keep their accounts organized without committing to a solution, while also reducing initial costs. Other businesses might simply prefer them because they often allow for a greater control of your data, by running on your own machines rather than on third-party clouds. The best accounting solution will also integrate with any ecommerce software you're running, regardless of the theme installed. Here we'll feature the best accounting software currently available on the market, and also include further options to consider, as you can opt for specific expense tracker apps or even customer accounts. Freshbooks is our best all round accounting software option for small businesses (Image credit: Freshbooks) Best all-rounder for small businesses Reasons to buy +User-friendly interface+Plenty of depth and features+Integrates with many popular services Reasons to avoid -Too many features for some-Complex features need time-More costs for more features FreshBooks is a popular cloud-based accounting service designed specifically for small business owners. The package has plenty of features – invoicing, expense tracking, time tracking, a host of business reports, even an option to take credit card payments – and a straightforward interface aimed at non-accountants ensures you'll be up-and-running right away. Despite the simplicity, there's real depth here. You can bill in any currency, save time by setting up recurring invoices, allow customers to pay via credit card by checking a box, and even automatically bill their credit card to keep life simple for everyone. If you need more power, the system integrates with many other services, including PayPal, MailChimp, Basecamp, WordPress, Gusto, Zendesk and more. Management hassles are kept to a minimum. You're able to access and use the system from your desktop or its free iOS and Android apps, and because it's a cloud-based system there's no need to worry about backups. If this sounds appealing, you can try FreshBooks for 30 days without using a credit card. QuickBooks is perfect accounting software for all small business needs (Image credit: Intuit) Most comprehensive accounting software for small business Reasons to buy +Even basic plan is well-featured+Lots of extras available+Free trial Reasons to avoid -Several versions-Deals change frequently-Lots to learn QuickBooks is an instantly recognizable name in the world of accountancy and bookkeeping. It’s owned by Intuit, which also has other options for small business and large ones too, with a diverse portfolio that includes Turbotax, Mint and Proconnect. QuickBooks also comes in numerous different varieties, from desktop editions through to the hugely popular Online edition. Depending on your requirements, you can choose from QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Self-Employed, QuickBooks Online Advanced, QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping, QuickBooks Desktop for Mac, QuickBooks Desktop Pro, QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise. However, it is possible to create a custom package using the help of the QuickBooks team if you need a more bespoke option. Due to the sheer expanse of QuickBooks-based products it’s best to check out the website in order to get the latest update on pricing, versions available and also any deals that Intuit has on this vast range of accounting solutions. Xero is an excellent option for small businesses that need extra accounting features (Image credit: Xero) Best small business accounting software for extra features Reasons to buy +Temptingly cheap Starter plan+Excellent mobile apps+Fully expandable Reasons to avoid -Basic plan has limitations-Costs start to add up-Some limitations Xero might grab your attention with its low-cost Early plan account but look closely and limitations soon become apparent – like being restricted to sending a maximum of five invoices, entering five bills, or reconciling only 20 bank transactions. Still, if you can live with those restrictions there are some pluses here. The service offers smart expense tracking and management, optionally on your mobile with Xero's excellent app for Android and iOS. There are dozens of configurable reports, simple budgeting, and no limits at all on additional users or the accountants you might want to access the data. If the invoice, bank or billing issues are a problem then the Xero Growing plan looks like a better deal. It's a lot more money, but you can issue as many invoices and enter as many bills as you like. Xero offers plenty of functionality for any small business, including a handy "convert your QuickBooks files" service to help you get started, and it's certainly easy to use. But if you don't quite need all that power, there's better value to be had elsewhere. Sage provides the best small business accounting solution for multiple users (Image credit: Sage) Best small business accounting solution for multiple users TODAY'S BEST DEALS Save 40% Sage Business Cloud Accounting US$10 Reasons to buy +Good value proposition+Neatly presented and easy-to-use+Impressive customer support Reasons to avoid -Basic options quite limited-Paid for means more to learn-Steepish learning curve Sage Accounting makes a good first impression with its clear and gimmick-free pricing. The top Sage Accounting plan offers decent value and there is also a 30-day free trial. For this, you get modules to manage quotes, invoices, handle and submit VAT online, smart bank feeds and reconciliation, cash flow forecasting, some detailed reports, multiple currency support, project tracking and more, all available from your desktop or via a mobile app. All this is well presented and generally easy-to-use. If you run into trouble, detailed web help and video tutorials are only a click or two away, with the offer of “free unlimited 24/7 telephone and email support” that should help make any newbie comfortable. Sage also has a more basic offering called Accounting Start. This doesn't include support for quotes, estimates or vendor bills, and has no cash flow forecasts, but it could be enough for start-ups as well as small businesses. Kashoo delivers the best hassle-free accounting software for small business users (Image credit: Kashoo) Best hassle-free accounting software for small business users Reasons to buy +Multi-currency support+Neatly designed dashboard Reasons to avoid -No Android mobile app-Basic in some areas Choosing an accounting package often involves browsing a complicated comparison table, looking for hidden catches and trying to figure out which is the best product for you. Kashoo avoids all that and delivers just about everything you're likely to need. Kashoo shines when it comes to multi-currency support, an important feature for today’s global economy. It also supports credit card transactions for all the major carriers such as Amex, Visa and Mastercard – at a competitive fee. You also benefit from unlimited invoices and connections to over 5,000 financial institutions to reconcile accounts online. We liked the uncluttered interface of this product, and the dashboard that provides a good summary of your current financial situation at a glance. Kashoo also offers customer support across the gamut of email, phone, live chat and social media – this company will even respond to an old-fashioned letter! One current shortcoming to note, however, is that there is only a mobile app for iOS, leaving Android users out in the cold for the time being. Kashoo offers a 14-day trial for those looking to test the service out. Zoho Books packs the best automated features for small business accounting (Image credit: Zoho) Best accounting software with an automated edge Reasons to buy +Easy to use+Many features and functions Reasons to avoid -Lack of payroll-Basic plan limited Zoho Books is just one small part of a much greater business concern based in India that offers all manner of solutions for anyone and everyone. With its clean and simple cloud-based interface Zoho Books makes a great cost-effective option if you’re a freelancer, sole trader or someone running a small business. While the desktop route is a solid one Zoho Books also has an impressive app presence, making it a good mobile bet too. The basic plan offers a limited number of contacts (as in the maximum amount of customers or vendors you can create transactions for), 2 users (as in yourself and your accountant) and 5 automated workflows. The most popular package is Standard, which comes with up to 500 contacts, 3 users and 10 automated workflows. Professional, meanwhile, is a full bells-and-whistles experience that offers 500 contacts, 10 users and 10 automated workflows. Incidentally, sign up for a yearly package and you get 2 months off. Zoho does offer additional add-ons, more about which you can glean from its website. There’s also a free 14-day trial available. Wave boasts some of the best small business accounting tools for little outlay (Image credit: Wave) Best value accounting software for small business use Reasons to buy +Hugely popular service+Nicely designed and put together Reasons to avoid -Will be too basic for medium-sized firms-Paid for tech support With more than two million users, Wave is one of the most successful online accounting services - and it's completely free for accounting, invoicing and receipts, although if you want personal technical support you'll need to pay for it. Payroll isn't included in the free service either, and you do get the occasional advert – just as you do with pretty much any free online service. It's a very well designed and carefully thought out application, and while it's probably a little basic for medium-sized businesses it's a good option for sole traders, freelancers and small firms. However, note that while Wave is free to use, you still pay per transaction. For start-ups and businesses with low sales volume this may not matter, but for businesses with significant sales volume they may be able to find a more competitive pricing model. KashFlow delivers the best simplified online accounting option (Image credit: KashFlow) Best simplified online accounting option TODAY'S BEST DEALS Kashflow Business & Payroll Reasons to buy +Solid VAT support in UK+Useful payroll option Reasons to avoid -Chargeable video tutorials-Complex structure KashFlow prides itself on keeping things simple, which is always good news when you’re dealing with your accounts and anything tax-related. This cloud-based software solution can be used from anywhere and at any time, just as long as you can get connected. The service comes armed with a full suite of tools, which can not only let you tackle your accounting chores, but can also be used to take on payroll and HR duties too. The Starter package is aimed at sole traders, contractors and small businesses. You can send unlimited quotes and 10 invoices, along with reconciling 25 bank transactions. Although it’s only a single user account it works with bank feeds, has a mobile app along with a customizable dashboard. The Business edition is aimed at growing businesses and limited companies. This has the benefit of allowing unlimited quotes and invoices, plus you can reconcile unlimited bank transactions. It’s multi-user and lets you manage and submit VAT returns online. Finally, KashFlow offers a Business and Payroll package, which has all of the aforementioned features along with added payroll functionality. At the time of writing KashFlow also had more competitive pricing based on an Annual payment plan, rather than the monthly costings shown above. If you’re happy to commit then that might offer savings. Best accounting software: how did we choose? Best accounting software: how did we choose? Choosing our selection of the best accounting software has involved trying out each of the packages featured here over a period of time. Our real world testing scenarios include checking how accounts software performs generally, along with scrutinising all of the features and functions. Best accounting software aimed at SMB users needs to be straightforward and efficient to use too, because not everyone has experience of accounting. Therefore, simplicity and value for money are two major factors we also look out for. Similarly, the best accounting software also has to be flexible and adaptable in order to suit the needs of business users as well as featuring compatibility with other software, apps and cloud-based backup tools. Bookkeeping vs Accounting, what's the difference? Bookkeeping vs Accounting, what's the difference? If you're in business, or even if you just want to keep on top of your financial affairs, it's likely you'll encounter both bookkeeping and accounting. However, they are slightly different in that bookkeeping is the process of keeping tabs on daily financial transactions and recording them. Accounting, on the other hand, is the process of compiling all of that information prior to filing tax returns. In both cases, you can make either task much easier by enlisting the help of bookkeeping and account software. Most packages now let you carry out both jobs and all within the framework of one interface. The other bonus with using software to manage your books and submit accounts for taxation purposes is that the package will invariably come complete with tools for making the job that much easier. In many cases you'll simply need to add in your figures, collated from things like bank statements and receipts. Thankfully that job is made much easier than it used to be because much of the information you need to record is captured digitally. Most bookkeeping and accounting software will allow you to import a lot of this digital data into your chosen program, meaning much less work is needed to stay on top of both your books and your accounts. Best free accounting software Best free accounting software ZipBooks accounting software is a great option if you've got a limited budget to play with (Image credit: ZipBooks) The best free accounting software around... Reasons to buy +Modern interface+Unlimited invoicing Reasons to avoid -Advanced features bundled into paid tiers ZipBooks offers accounting software that has a contemporary interface along with a robust feature set. It promises to make accounting easy so the user can save time, and get on with other tasks. The Starter tier is available for free. It provides unlimited invoices to an unlimited number of customers, making it less restrictive than some other free accounting offerings. It can also be used for unlimited bookkeeping, and can accept payments from credit cards and PayPal. Paid tiers include most of the features you'll ever need, including advanced ones such as smart tagging, with advanced reporting and intelligence. Money Manager Ex is a great option if you're self-employed and on a tight budget (Image credit: Money Manager Ex) Best straightforward free accounting software Reasons to buy +Impressively user-friendly+Plenty of features+Can be used straight from a USB stick Another superb open source tool, Money Manager Ex is well designed and packed with enough features to rival premium software. It's easy to understand, and you'll have your accounts and transactions set up in no time. Money Manager Ex's simplicity makes it a particularly good choice for sole traders or your own home finances. This free accounting software is a portable app, so you can save and use it straight from a USB stick without even needing to install it. There's an Android app for updating your accounts on the move, too. GnuCash offers a simplified accounting software experience (Image credit: GnuCash) Best simple approach option for accounting Reasons to buy +Hugely flexible software+Boasts some payroll features+Handles multiple currencies GnuCash is accounting software designed for individuals and small businesses, and was initially conceived as an open source alternative to apps such as Intuit's Quicken. This app has been around since the late 1990s, and is available for Linux, GNU, OpenBSD, Android, macOS and Windows. It handles invoicing and credit notes, accounts payable and receivable, employee expenses and some payroll features too, and it's quite happy with multiple currencies, cards and accounts. Its sheer flexibility makes it our top choice when it comes to accounting software for kitchen table businesses. VT Software is an accounting package that's simple but effective (Image credit: VT Software) Free bookkeeping software for accounts Reasons to buy +No-fuss accounting+Can be used to prepare VAT returns Reasons to avoid -Graphics are 'no frills' It's not going to win any awards for aesthetics, but VT Cash Book isn't there to look good: its priority is to record day to day cash transactions with the least amount of fuss. It uses Autocomplete to speed up data entry, supports multiple bank accounts and bank reconciliation, can be used to prepare VAT returns and enables you to create profit and loss, balance sheets and ledgers. The free accounting software installs alongside its companion program, the paid-for VT Transaction+, but you don't need to buy the latter to use the former. (Image credit: Adminsoft) Complete accounting software for small business owners Reasons to buy +Free with no strings attached+Handles stock control and more+Even has some HR capabilities Adminsoft Accounts is a software accounting package that's powered by advertising to generate revenue, making it free to download and use. It delivers a surprisingly thorough free accounting system (and an refreshingly honest set of terms and conditions). It can handle not just invoicing and statements but remittance advice, stock control, purchase orders, budgeting and some HR functions too. It's a UK program so the default is pounds sterling, but it works happily in other currencies too. There is a paid-for version you can buy to run the software without advertising with a slightly higher cost if you also want to include AutoManager or Shop/Cafe Manager. Also consider The best accounting software marketplace might be dominated by the big names above, but there are other options if you're a SMB with with additional needs. Alongside bookkeeping software and small business accounting software you might need to track expenses, manage inventory and carry out all of those other tasks related to running a business. Here are just a few of your additional SMB software options. Also worth a look are the likes of Connected Accounting, ZarMoney, Avanquest Bookkeeper and Finsync. Round up of today's best deals Save 40% Sage Business Cloud Accounting
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