Can I Do Payroll Myself for My Small Business?

Managing payroll is a crucial aspect of running a small business. It ensures that employees are paid accurately and on time, which helps maintain morale and complies with legal obligations. However, handling payroll can seem daunting due to the numerous regulations and calculations involved. In this article, we’ll explore whether you can manage payroll yourself for your small business, review free and affordable payroll services, and provide guidance on simplifying the process.


Payroll involves calculating wages, withholding taxes, and ensuring compliance with employment laws. Small business owners often wonder if they can manage payroll themselves to save costs. While it’s possible, it’s essential to understand the responsibilities and challenges involved. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on how to handle payroll for your small business effectively.

Is There a Free Payroll Service?

Free payroll services can be a boon for small businesses with limited budgets. However, completely free payroll services are rare, and most come with limitations or require upgrades for additional features. Here are a few options to consider:

  1. My CPA Dashboard: My CPA Dashboard offers a free plan for its core services, which includes full-service payroll, employee self-service, and benefits administration. While the free plan covers basic needs, additional features require a paid subscription.
  2. Wave Payroll: Wave offers a free payroll service in certain states. It provides payroll calculations, tax filings, and direct deposit services. However, its free plan has limited features compared to paid versions.
  3. Payroll4Free: As the name suggests, Payroll4Free offers a no-cost payroll service for businesses with up to 25 employees. It includes direct deposit, tax calculations, and reporting, but charges a fee for tax filing and other advanced features.

Free payroll services can be a good starting point, but businesses with growing needs may eventually need to invest in more comprehensive solutions.

What Is the Cheapest Payroll Service?

When budget is a primary concern, finding an affordable payroll service that meets your needs is crucial. Here are some of the cheapest payroll services available:

  1. SurePayroll: Starting at around $19.99 per month plus $4 per employee, SurePayroll offers a cost-effective solution for small businesses. It includes payroll processing, tax filings, and compliance management.
  2. Gusto: Gusto’s basic plan starts at $39 per month plus $6 per employee. It offers full-service payroll, tax filing, and employee benefits administration, making it a robust and affordable option.
  3. Patriot Software: Patriot Software offers a basic payroll plan starting at $10 per month plus $4 per employee. The service includes payroll processing, tax calculations, and time-off management.
  4. Square Payroll: At $29 per month plus $5 per employee, Square Payroll is an affordable option that integrates seamlessly with Square’s point-of-sale system. It offers full-service payroll, tax filings, and employee benefits.

Choosing the right payroll service depends on your specific needs and budget. It’s important to compare features and costs to find the best fit for your business.

What Are the Top Payroll Companies?

Several top payroll companies offer comprehensive services that can simplify payroll management for small businesses. Here are some of the most reputable payroll providers:

  1. ADP: ADP is a well-known payroll provider offering a range of services for businesses of all sizes. Its small business payroll solutions include payroll processing, tax filing, compliance management, and employee benefits.
  2. Paychex: Paychex provides payroll services tailored to small businesses. Its offerings include payroll processing, tax administration, HR services, and employee benefits.
  3. Gusto: Gusto is a popular choice for small businesses due to its user-friendly interface and comprehensive features. It offers payroll processing, tax filings, employee benefits, and HR tools.
  4. Intuit QuickBooks Payroll: Intuit’s payroll service integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks accounting software. It offers payroll processing, tax calculations, direct deposit, and employee benefits.
  5. Zenefits: Zenefits provides an all-in-one HR platform that includes payroll processing, benefits administration, time tracking, and compliance management.

These companies are known for their reliability, customer service, and comprehensive features, making them excellent choices for small businesses.

How Do You Do Self-Employed Payroll for a Small Business?

Managing payroll for a self-employed small business owner involves different considerations compared to traditional payroll. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Determine Your Pay Structure: Decide how often you will pay yourself (e.g., weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) and the amount you will draw as salary.
  2. Calculate Taxes: As a self-employed individual, you are responsible for both the employer and employee portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes, known as self-employment taxes. The current self-employment tax rate is 15.3%.
  3. Set Aside Funds for Taxes: Regularly set aside a portion of your income for federal, state, and local taxes. Consider using separate accounts to manage these funds.
  4. File Estimated Taxes: Self-employed individuals must file estimated taxes quarterly. Use IRS Form 1040-ES to calculate and submit your payments.
  5. Keep Detailed Records: Maintain accurate records of your income, expenses, and tax payments. Use accounting software to streamline this process.
  6. Consider Hiring a Professional: If managing self-employment taxes and payroll becomes overwhelming, consider hiring an accountant or using a payroll service.

Self-employed payroll requires careful planning and diligent record-keeping to ensure compliance with tax regulations and avoid penalties.

What Is the Easiest Way to Do Payroll for a Small Business?

The easiest way to manage payroll for a small business is to automate as much of the process as possible. Here are some tips to simplify payroll:

  1. Use Payroll Software: Invest in reliable payroll software that automates calculations, tax filings, and direct deposits. Software like Gusto, QuickBooks Payroll, and Square Payroll can significantly reduce manual work.
  2. Set Up Direct Deposit: Direct deposit eliminates the need for paper checks and ensures employees are paid promptly. Most payroll services offer this feature.
  3. Automate Tax Filings: Choose a payroll service that handles tax filings and payments automatically. This reduces the risk of errors and ensures compliance with deadlines.
  4. Maintain Accurate Records: Use accounting software to keep detailed records of payroll transactions, employee information, and tax payments. This simplifies reporting and audits.
  5. Stay Informed About Regulations: Regularly review federal, state, and local payroll regulations to ensure compliance. Subscribe to updates from the IRS and other relevant agencies.
  6. Outsource Payroll: If payroll management becomes too complex, consider outsourcing to a professional payroll service. This allows you to focus on other aspects of your business.

Automating payroll processes and using reliable software can save time, reduce errors, and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

My CPA Dashboard Simplifies Payroll for Small Businesses

My CPA Dashboard, a payroll and HR services provider, offers tailored solutions for small businesses. Here’s how My CPA Dashboard simplifies payroll management:

  1. Comprehensive Payroll Services: My CPA Dashboard handles payroll processing, tax filings, and compliance management, ensuring accuracy and efficiency.
  2. User-Friendly Platform: My CPA Dashboard platform is designed for ease of use, allowing business owners to manage payroll with minimal effort.
  3. Dedicated Support: My CPA Dashboard provides dedicated customer support to assist with any payroll-related issues or questions, ensuring smooth operations.
  4. Compliance Management: My CPA Dashboard stays up-to-date with federal, state, and local regulations, ensuring your business remains compliant with all legal requirements.

By partnering with My CPA Dashboard, small businesses can streamline payroll processes, reduce administrative burdens, and focus on growth.


Managing payroll for a small business can be challenging, but with the right tools and knowledge, it is possible to handle it yourself. Free and affordable payroll services can provide essential features, while top payroll companies offer comprehensive solutions. Self-employed individuals need to manage their taxes diligently, and automation can simplify payroll for all small businesses. Services like My CPA Dashboard offer tailored solutions that ensure accuracy and compliance, allowing business owners to focus on what they do best. By understanding your options and utilizing available resources, you can effectively manage payroll and contribute to the success of your small business.