What’s the Difference Between a Payroll Company and Quickbooks?

by Paul Devlin

QuickBooks software is the most widely-used accounting application for small businesses, according to Forbes. For decades, QuickBooks has been a popular option for small business owners and finance professionals to use on-premise, usually with one individual taking sole responsibility for accounting and payroll internally. More recently, QuickBooks has released a cloud-based version named QuickBooks Online, and along with it have come several new competitors in the online payroll and accounting software space.

While many of these platforms have similar features, relying on these accounting and payroll Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications also has many potential drawbacks for small business owners. The following are some of the things small business owners should take into consideration when choosing between a platform like QuickBooks or outsourcing these services.

The biggest difference between using a Payroll Provider and Quickbooks is that by using Quickbooks, you still maintain the liability and still do most of the ‘heavy lifting’ of inputting your data.


There are numerous versions of QuickBooks accounting software (beyond on-premise and online), depending on the depth of features that your organization needs. However, the monthly pricing that QuickBooks offers can be misleading, as it often doesn’t include add-on costs that are essential to doing business.

Specifically related to payroll, QuickBooks currently offers at least two add-ons for “Enhanced Payroll” and “Full-Service Payroll” that each require an additional fee per month, in addition to a monthly per-employee fee. While these “add-ons” may seem like optional features, they include essential functions like direct deposit, online tax filing, the option to print and file W-2s, and possibly the most important feature of them all: the transfer of your existing payroll information.

Key Points

  • Cheaper
  • Easy setup and user-friendly interface. 
  • On the desktop version, it is important that you buy new software every 3 years
  • With the online version, you will pay approximately $70 a month, and you will still have to do much of the manual process yourself.
  • With both Quickbooks systems, you will maintain the liability of paying and submitting your payroll taxes on time.  Should your company not be on the same pay schedule every week, it could become extremely time-consuming for the person left in charge

Outsourced Payroll Company

Using an outsourced payroll company can help you retain control and flexibility of payroll, reduce risks and costs, and increase the overall efficiency of the payroll process. Even better, a provider can offer a dedicated payroll specialist, which can be beneficial for answering complex financial questions and free up a significant amount of time formerly being used for data entry and ongoing training.

Key Points

  • Competitive pricing
  • Saves numerous manual processes, thus increasing efficiency 
  • Takes on liability for tax submissions and quarterly reports
  • Personalized support

Still have questions?

Schedule a demo to talk to a real person about how APlus Payroll can help your business.