Best Free Payroll Software for 2024

Discover the best free payroll software with features and reviews. Includes comparisons between top picks Gusto, TriNet Zenefits, and QuickBooks Payroll.

Updated on January 6th, 2024

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Free payroll software helps small businesses automate the time-consuming process of paying employees without having to cut into their budget. It's also a way to systemize the payroll process, making errors less common.

Best Overall


5.0 out of 5 overall

  • Easy tracking for PPP loans.
  • Unlimited payrolls.
  • Automatic tax filing.
Also Great

TriNet Zenefits

5.0 out of 5 overall

  • PTO tracking.
  • Year-round record keeping.
  • Compliance management.
Most Versatile


4.5 out of 5 overall

  • Use with QuickBooks suite.
  • Easy to use.

Why We Chose Gusto, TriNet Zenefits, and QuickBooks Payroll:

Gusto is our top pick overall for payroll software. It offers affordable and highly reliable payroll solutions to suit businesses of various sizes. Although TriNet Zenefits offers more features, Gusto stands out as the most user-friendly platform and is not short on payroll and HR solutions. Key features include lifetime accounts, unlimited pay runs, and multi-state payroll.

TriNet Zenefits is our next best pick and offers the widest range of features of all the software we reviewed. While TriNet Zenefits only offers paid HR base plans, users can get a full year of free payroll when signing up for the Growth or Zen packages on an annual basis. With excellent customer reviews and an impressive feature profile, TriNet Zenefits presents an attractive option.

QuickBooks Payroll is our third best pick. Unlike TriNet Zenefits, QuickBooks Payroll is available as a standalone payroll product but also integrates seamlessly with other QuickBooks solutions. While TriNet Zenefits offers more features, QuickBooks Payroll has some that TriNet Zenefits doesn't, such as net-to-gross calculations and tax penalty protection.

Things to Consider When Evaluating Free Payroll Software:

  1. Most free offers are either for a limited time or for a limited number of employees.
  2. Most offers include essential features like automated taxes, automated payroll, and leave tracking, but only a few offer advanced features like FICA tip credit, digital signatures, and lifetime accounts.
  3. Factor in time spent as a cost. If one software service is less expensive but lacks a feature that would save you hours on payroll each month, it may cost you more in the long run.

Best Free Payroll Software:





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Free 30-day trial.

Gusto is an affordable option with the most extensive range of capabilities, including rare features like lifetime accounts.

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TriNet Zenefits

Limited free trial.

A feature-packed payroll option with a wide range of additional services included, such as year-round record keeping. Has great customer reviews.

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QuickBooks Payroll

Free 30-day trial.

A reputable brand that offers payroll software with a solid feature profile and integrates with other QuickBooks tools.

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Free and paid options.

Great for small businesses that need to save money but lacks advanced features such as compliance management, flexible payment schedules, and digital signatures.

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Free and paid options.

Offers user-friendly payroll software with unlimited pay runs, off-cycle payments, and compliance management. The software is designed for businesses in Canada.

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While this simple solution lacks the convenience of automated payroll systems, it is completely free and runs on Microsoft Excel.

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3-month free trial.*

Offers a solid feature profile but lacks a few advanced functions, such as expense integration and digital signatures. It's also competitively priced and has excellent user reviews.

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Patriot Software

Free 30-day trial.

Very affordable after the free trial but lacks many advanced features, including expense integration, year-round record keeping, and digital signatures.

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CheckMark Payroll

Free 60-day trial.

Offers competitive pricing but lacks several key features, such as automatic payments, net-to-gross calculations, and workers' compensation.

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Free 30-day trial.

PenSoft offers a range of packages with attractive features but isn't as comprehensive as TriNet Zenefits. However, the software is competitively priced and easy to use.

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Free 30-day trial.

This solution is cost-effective and offers the essentials for managing payroll. However, the software is designed to be used by businesses in Canada only.

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Free and paid options.

While reasonably priced with a good feature profile, this software is only intended for the Canadian payroll market.

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7-day free trial.

Offers a decent range of features but lacks advanced functionalities such as easy payroll cancellations, FICA Tip Credit for restaurants, and lifetime accounts. The free trial is relatively short.

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Wave Payroll

Free and paid options.

Includes solid features that make it easy for small business owners to manage and automate payroll processes and offers affordable pricing plans.

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Ready Pay by ePayroll

Free 30-day trial.

Has a reasonable feature profile, including compliance management and general ledger integration, and low pricing after the free trial. However, it is intended for use in Australia only.

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Free 60-day trial.

Offers a decent range of features for the price. The software is designed for businesses in the U.K. and Ireland.

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Limited free trial.

While simple and user-friendly, Salaroo offers a comparatively low number of features for the price and is not suitable for businesses in the U.S. as it only offers versions tailored to users in Malta and Libya.

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AccountEdge Pro

Free 30-day trial.

While affordably priced, this software is primarily designed for small business accounting purposes and lacks several common payroll software features, such as multistate payroll and reimbursements.

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PayDirt Payroll

Free and paid options.

This user-friendly software includes a long trial and offers a reasonably priced lifetime license. However, it only runs on Windows, lacks a range of features, including flexible payment schedules, off-cycle payrolls, and integrated pre-tax benefits, and is designed for Canadian payroll users only.

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Free offers reviewed and updated November 2023.*OnPay's free trial is for customers who signed up on or after October 10, 2023.

Payroll Feature Comparison:

Check out our detailed comparison of features for all of the free payroll software we reviewed. Our Google sheet includes 56 different features and is viewable from your mobile or desktop.

Pros and Cons:


  • Free payroll software presents an inexpensive way to take care of payroll.
  • Payroll software makes payroll processing faster and more accurate.
  • Many software solutions handle payroll taxes automatically.


  • Most free plans have a time limit or only allow for a small number of employees.
  • Advanced features are often only available on paid plans.

Read our guide on how to choose the best payroll software for your business. If Excel is all you need for payroll, check out our guide to Excel payroll forumlas.


Is there any free payroll software? offers completely free online payroll software for businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

Is there a way to do payroll for free?

Yes, you can use free payroll software to process your payroll. While some payroll software providers offer a free plan, many only include a free trial.

How can anyone offer payroll software for free?

Most of the companies we found offer free trials of their software. One offers it for free for up to 25 employees, so they're likely hoping that by using their payroll for small businesses free of charge in the beginning, your company will grow, and you'll be able to pay as you grow.

Do payroll programs typically offer free trials?

Most payroll software we looked at offers free trials. The typical small business payroll software free trial lasts 30 days.

Where can I find a free payroll software download?

ExcelPayroll is the only platform we found that offers an offline payroll program that is free to download.

Are there any free online payroll services?

No, payroll services typically include someone who actually runs payroll for you. It's one thing to find a payroll app for free but another to find someone to do the day-to-day work without charging.

Is there any payroll check software that is totally free?

Yes, offers check printing as part of its free package. The software is totally free for up to 25 employees.