Payroll for small businesses

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What is Gusto?

Gusto is a cloud-based payroll processing solution formerly launched as ZenPayroll in December of 2012. Gusto payroll offers a wide variety of payroll management tools and currently serves over 100,000 small businesses across the U.S. When it comes to payroll services for small businesses, Gusto is the best bet.

In 2013, Its payroll software system boasted special features supporting contract employees by including the ability to issue 1099s, a unique perk that gave Gusto an edge over competitors. Since that time, Gusto has significantly broadened its payroll software to include a full suite of HR tools that include managing benefits such as health insurance and workers’ compensation. With Gusto, you can also sync with service providers to include additional benefits such as 529 college savings plans and 401K retirement accounts.

If you require more comprehensive small business management support, Gusto offers a Concierge service level that gives clients access to certified HR experts. A significant advantage of this cloud-based payroll solution is that Gusto is easily accessed from anywhere.

Why do I need Payroll Software?

Managing payroll can be a tedious and time-consuming project for a small business owner. For instance, consider a couple running a rural bed and breakfast with a handful of employees. They’ve been in business for many years and have always managed payroll for their modest staff on timecards, with logbooks and complicated excel spreadsheets.

What they don’t realize is their antiquated payroll method is most likely costing them a bundle of financial mistakes. Small things like typos or a missing decimal point can wreak havoc on a merchant’s bottom line. With the use of payroll software, that same proprietor could save time and effort currently spent monitoring sick days and figuring out tax withholdings to instead focus on increasing occupancy rates and improving guest satisfaction. 

Payroll software simplifies everything from time and attendance tracking to accurate benefit calculations. A merchant who uses payroll software benefits from the peace of mind that comes with tracking and managing payroll accurately and effortlessly. It’s a solution that helps a business owner with tax filings and employee benefits with an added perk of eliminating costly penalties and fees that stem from inaccurate bookkeeping.


Why Gusto over other Payroll Services?

If you’re a start-up entrepreneur, it’s important to consider the long-term goals and size of your business when choosing a payroll product. There are many payroll software options, including QuickBooks Payroll, OnPay, Square Payroll, and SurePayroll to name just a few. When it comes to payroll for small businesses, Gusto is the best best. 

Some payroll systems are better for small or local businesses with limited staff, while others can handle hundreds of employees. If your business plan includes expanding nationwide, you’ll have additional factors to consider compared with a smaller boutique shop. It makes sense for either size start-up to choose the option that gives you the biggest bang for your investment buck. 

Gusto offers impressive features and tools including HR support that can simplify managing the payment needs of staff across 50 states. Set-up is free and allows employees to build their own employee payment profiles. Gusto includes employee survey tools and a staff directory as some unique additional perks.

In addition to Gusto, Intuit QuickBooks Payroll has a full-service payroll and HR solution. They offer additional support for set-up, including access to a team to help you get up and running. However, when considering your start-up’s payroll needs, your business plan may include both salaried and hourly employees. Gusto has the flexibility to cover both payroll types, but QuickBooks is limited in that it can only handle salaried workers. 

Gusto’s HR tools can report new hires at the state level and handle workers’ compensation filings of your employees. With QuickBooks Payroll, you’ll have to print out a new hire report to file manually. QuickBooks does offer a workers’ compensation management feature, but you can only get it with one of the premium package plans.

Payline Data and Gusto Payroll

As you can see, Gusto Payroll is an exceptional payroll processing solution for a wide variety of businesses, whether it be a small local shop or a nationwide merchandiser. They offer full-service benefits, including HR support to employers, and they also support employees with added paycheck management features.

Payline Data has a partnership with Gusto and offers referrals for their services. Our partner form can be found here. We feel that the best payroll service for small businesses is Gusto. 

Other Payroll Solutions

Square Payroll offers payroll software for small and medium businesses. They provide a wide range of payroll tools with a simple set-up procedure that’s free of cost. Square payroll includes add-ons for a few of the employee benefits that Gusto covers, such as health insurance and 401K management. However, Gusto goes further with the ability to manage employee flexible spending accounts, commuter benefits, and 529 college savings plans. 

OnPay is another cloud-based system offering payroll services with relatively affordable pricing. However, OnPay is specifically designed for small shops of up to 10 employees. They also charge extra fees for features like direct deposit and processing W-2 forms. 

SurePayroll is another online payroll system geared towards small businesses with less than 10 staffers. Its enrollment is relatively quick and easy to set-up, but it will take approximately 5 business days to start paying employees. SurePayroll doesn’t publish standard tiered pricing; instead, the company quotes prices for individual packages based on how often payroll is processed. Additionally, they charge extra for year-end filings and provide 1099s and W-2s to employees and contractors.

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With the Gusto Core plan and above, employees have access to a digital wallet called Gusto Wallet. It’s a free app that allows employees the ability to manage their paychecks and build savings goals. Users can even borrow money from a future paycheck with Gusto Cashout’s help. 


For hourly employees with fixed schedules and salaried employees, Gusto offers a unique feature called AutoPilot® that enables the software to run your payroll automatically on pre-defined paydays. You will receive a notification the day before so you can make any adjustments or changes to individual employee records.

At tax time, Gusto provides the ability to file local taxes in addition to federal and state filings, which may be an issue depending on where your business will operate. While most payroll software can handle federal and state taxes, not all payroll software includes calculating and collecting taxes at the local level. For instance, QuickBooks Payroll doesn’t offer this function. 

Tools offered with each Gusto package are outlined below:


Gusto offers 4 different pricing packages that include the following tools:

Gusto Basic – $19 per month + $6 per person

  • Employee self-service with profiles
  • Complete payroll in a single state
  • Direct deposit within 4 days
  • Paid time-off policies
  • Workers compensation administration
  • Outstanding customer support service


Gusto Core – $39 per month + $6 per person

  • All Basic package features including complete payroll in 50 states
  • Direct deposit within 2 days
  • Health Insurance administration
  • Time tracking and accounting integrations
  • Tools to onboard employees
  • Gusto Wallet access for employees
  • Document management and special offers for employees
  • Payroll Autopilot


Gusto Complete – $39 per month + $12 per person

  • Complete package features including full-service payroll in 50 states
  • Next day direct deposit
  • Customizable employee features
  • Time off requests and PTO management
  • Surveys for staff and an employee directory
  • Time and project tracking with cost of workforce management

Gusto Concierge Service – $149 per month +$12 per person

Gusto Concierge service includes everything that comes with the Complete service package but with the added bonus of live help from certified HR pros and their HR resource center. The HR professionals can offer advice on employee onboarding, performance issues, and they can talk you through any workplace crisis that may arise. You can reach their pros via secure messaging or email, or you can call directly for a more personal experience.

An employer who enrolls with Gusto Concierge service will also benefit from professional training on complex issues like employee termination and employment law.


QuickBooks Payroll Pricing

Core Package – $22.50 per month + $4 per person

Basic features include:

  •   Full-service Payroll
  •   Next day direct deposit
  •   401K and Health plans
  •   1099 E-file and payments

Premium Package – $37.50 per month + $8 per person

Core package features plus:

  •   Same day direct deposit
  •   Worker’s comp management
  •   HR Support Center
  •   Expert set-up support and review
  •   Time tracking on-the-go

Elite Package – $62.50 per month + $10 per person

Premium package features plus:

  •   Onsite expert set-up
  •   Personal Tax Advisor
  •   Tax penalty protection
  •   24/7 product support


Square Payroll Pricing

Pay employees and contractors – $29 per month + $5 per person

Basic features include:

  •   Full-service payroll for employees and contractors
  •   Tax calculations
  •   Direct deposit/check payment/Cash App
  •   Unlimited pay runs per month
  •   All tax filings and payments
  •   Mailing of 1099’s and W-2s
  •   U.S. Customer Support
  •   No Cancellation fees

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OnPay Pricing and Features    

Single Package – $36 per month + $4 per person

Basic features include:

  •   Full-service payroll for employees in multiple states
  •   Account set-up and data migration
  •   Tax calculations
  •   Direct deposit/check payment/debit card
  •   Unlimited pay runs per month
  •   All tax filings and payments
  •   Automatic filing of 1099’s and W-2s
  •   Time tracking and accounting integrations


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