Selecting the Ideal Payroll Service Provider: A Checklist

Even if you’re a one-person operation working from home, payroll is an important aspect of your business. Unpaid taxes can result in heavy fines and penalties, something no one needs while trying to optimize every penny that comes in. Keeping up with federal, state, and local employment tax law is a time-consuming task for the small business owner whose skills and expertise lie elsewhere.

Rather than doing payroll entirely on your own, it’s a good idea to consider a payroll service provider to make your life easier.

A payroll service provider can help you spend time where you have the most impact!

Here is a checklist to help you select the ideal payroll service provider for your situation:

Range of Service Options

Good payroll service providers give you several service options to best meet your needs. At the most basic, you can choose to just have the service calculate the required taxes and generate the paychecks you need. At the other end of the spectrum is full service. This requires you to only confirm hours, and the service does the rest. They calculate deductions, generate paychecks, and also file and pay your federal, state, and local payroll taxes for you.

Some payroll services also offer a menu of items between these two extremes. For example, they might also complete your required tax forms, although they don’t file them or make payments. Obviously, there is also a range of fees for these options, so be sure to determine which is a good value for your needs.


Pricing is now competitive in the payroll service market, and be sure to check out all payroll service providers to compare price. However, balancing quality, company history, and market share against price is key to evaluating good value — not just fees.

Technical Support

If you are not a financial or accounting expert, technical support will be essential to choosing a payroll service provider. While most offer some level of technical support, be sure it isn’t only email with several days’ delay before you get a response. Free live support is not uncommon and will prove important since payroll is time-sensitive, especially if you have a few employees.

Link to QuickBooks

A real time-saver is the payroll service provider that links to QuickBooks. The industry-leading accounting software for small business has been integrated into a number of services, giving you increased accounting accuracy and reduced data entry work. Seamless integration saves time both in actual work and in worry about data migration!

Direct Deposit

For a small business owner on the go, direct deposit is an important feature of any payroll service. With more and more virtual offices and employees working from remote, home locations, producing paper checks is not viable. Direct deposit is efficient and lends itself to this whole new workplace model.

Mobile Platforms

Now, payroll service providers also offer mobile platforms to make completing payroll while on the road easier than ever. So don’t forget to look for mobile apps as part of the package. In many cases, these are free and expand your capability to work virtually.

Mobile apps let you direct payroll through your service provider whether you’re on business travel or at the beach!

All in all, sourcing a payroll service provider can save time and money, as well as increase peace of mind regarding tax compliance. Using this checklist, you can quickly get help handling payroll so that you can focus on the parts of your business where you have maximum expertise and impact!

Sarah Boisvert is an author who covers business topics, especially for small business and entrepreneurs including marketing, sales, and finance.

Photo Credits: Stuart Miles via, arztsamui via

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