February 2, 2023

Best Free Payroll Software

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Doing payroll manually can quickly become tedious, and the errors rack up fast. After a couple of pay periods, many people begin to wonder: Is there a way to do payroll for small businesses without breaking the bank? For your company, the answer may lie in free payroll software.

To guide your search, we’ve compiled a list of currently trending free payroll software solutions. If none of these solutions meet your needs, explore our Payroll Software Guide to browse other products that might be a better fit.

What is the best free payroll software?

Payroll4Free.com is the best choice for Windows users.

TimeTrex is the best choice for teams that need integrated time tracking and payroll.

Hr.my is the best selection for non-US businesses looking for a multilingual platform.

ExcelPayroll is the best solution for businesses that already have an Office 365 license.

eSmartPayroll is the best tool for free payroll calculations.

Payroll4Free.com: Best for Windows users

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Payroll4Free.com is a downloadable software that allows you to pay up to 25 employees for free. This comes with a catch, however: You must be able to download the Windows app in order to use it. Despite the name, there is no cloud or web-based option, and if you are a Mac user then you must be running Windows on your Mac in order to use Payroll4Free.com.

The upside is that Payroll4Free.com comes with one of the most well-rounded feature sets of any free payroll software for small businesses. Functionality includes tax support, free direct deposit, employee self-service portal, and time tracking. 

If you already own a PC (or a Mac that runs Windows) and you need free payroll software, Payroll4Free.com should be one of your top choices.

Payroll4Free.com pros and cons


  • 2048-bit SSL encryption
  • 1099 contractor payments possible
  • Automatic tax calculations


  • Macs must run Windows to use the software
  • Monthly fee if you want the company to handle your taxes
  • User interface is outdated
  • No native time-tracking app

TimeTrex: Best for integrated time tracking

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Unlike Payroll4Free.com, TimeTrex does not cap the number of employees that you can pay for free. Not only that, TimeTrex’s “community edition” is completely free in perpetuity. However, TimeTrex makes it tough to find the free forever version of the software, instead pushing website visitors to sign up for a free trial of the paid version of the software.

The community edition is available in both a cloud-hosted, web-based portal and a downloadable version (you should be aware that the downloadable version requires PHP, a web server, and a database of your own in order to get it up and running). Both can be found on this page on the TimeTrex website.

As the name suggests, TimeTrex also includes a native time-tracking app in addition to payroll, a helpful integration that makes it even easier to run payroll. Other features include scheduling, HR management, and more tools in addition to payroll. TimeTrex also offers the option to integrate with other (paid) software like ADP and Quickbooks, should you decide to switch to them for some reason.

TimeTrex pros and cons


  • No cap on the number of employees you can pay
  • Integrated time tracking and attendance
  • Automatic scheduling function


  • No tax filing (only generates tax forms)
  • No direct deposit
  • Pricing is not transparent and the free trial is difficult to find

HR.my: Best for non-US businesses

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Similar to TimeTrex, HR.my offers free payroll functionality without any headcount limitations. HR.my is a crowd-founded and ad-supported software that includes payroll as part of its diverse feature set. The ads can get annoying sometimes, but the tradeoff is worth the inconvenience for many users looking for a free payroll solution.

One of the app’s big distinguishing factors is the fact that it supports 67 different languages, which is great for international companies with employees in multiple countries. While the idea of free multilingual HR software sounds great (and it is), potential users should know that HR.my isn’t based in the US, so it isn’t inherently compliant with US labor laws. This can make calculating taxes and other required deductions more tedious, which is why we recommend the software for non-US businesses.

HR.my features include payslip generation, salary record keeping, time tracking and attendance, expense claim management, and too many others to list here. But even with all its features, this free software still can’t compete with full-fledged HRIS systems and other paid HR software stacks, so adjust your expectations accordingly.

HR.my pros and cons


  • Manual spreadsheet entry required
  • No tax filing or direct deposit
  • No extra features beyond payroll
  • No cloud option or employee portal


  • Ads can be annoying
  • No payroll tax calculations or filing
  • No direct deposit

ExcelPayroll: Best for Office 365 users

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With ExcelPayroll, you can do payroll for up to 50 active employees each month; nonprofits can request an exemption for more. While ExcelPayroll is a free downloadable add-on for Excel, it does require that you have an active license for Office 365, so it’s not technically 100% free.

This is why we recommend ExcelPayroll for business owners who are already paying for Office 365, so you don’t have the added expense of the license. If you’re already using an Excel spreadsheet to do payroll, then ExcelPayroll will automate the calculations and make everything a little bit easier for you. But if you’re not used to doing payroll in a spreadsheet, or don’t already have an Office 365 license, then one of the other free options on this list may make a bigger impact on your business operations.

Given that it is an add-on for Excel spreadsheets, ExcelPayroll is pretty stripped back in terms of functionality. Its features are focused narrowly on preparing payroll, so you won’t find a lot of extra bells and whistles. Features of note include vacation time accrual, workers’ compensation reports, wage garnishments, and other deductions.

ExcelPayroll pros and cons


  • Tax form printing
  • Bookkeeping entry generation
  • Check printing
  • Multiple options for tax computations


  • Manual spreadsheet entry required
  • No tax filing or direct deposit
  • No extra features beyond payroll
  • No cloud option or employee portal

eSmartPayroll: Best for free payroll tax calculations

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eSmartPayroll supports an unlimited number of employees, but only the web-based payroll calculator is free. For this reason, eSmartPayroll is a good choice for employers who are confident doing payroll manually but want an automatic calculator to check their math. 

Paid features offered by eSmartPayroll include printing paychecks and pay stubs, adjustable pay cycles, and a federal withholding calculator. If you want these features and more, then you can sign up for a 3-month free trial. After that, annual subscriptions start at $75 per year.

eSmartPayroll pros and cons


  • Free paycheck preparations
  • State-specific calculators
  • Basic tax form printing and filing


  • Very limited feature set
  • No direct deposit
  • No saving payroll information so you have to do it from scratch each time

How can I do payroll myself for free?

Many small business owners have good reasons to keep doing payroll for free. First of all (and perhaps most compelling), they may not have the budget for paid software. If they are used to doing payroll manually, learning a new software program may not seem worth the hassle. Extensive feature sets on paid software can also be overwhelming, especially if the business is paying on a couple of contractors.

When it comes to doing payroll for free, your two main options are manual calculations and free payroll software. However, some solutions — namely, ExcelPayroll — straddle the line between these, offering a blend of manual and automatic payroll calculations. Manually calculating payroll is very time-consuming and prone to error, so most people find it helpful to have some kind of software support whether free or paid.

Generally speaking, free payroll software has more limitations and fewer features than the paid versions. There’s often a cap on the number of employees and the functionality of the tool is restricted. Most free payroll solutions are also either online-only or desktop-only (not both) and often lack integrations with other software as well. In other words, if you don’t have the money to invest in paid software, you will probably end up spending more time running payroll manually, even with the help of free payroll software.

How to choose free payroll software

Forever-free payroll software options like the ones in this guide may meet your business’s short-term needs. However, the limitations that come with free tools often outweigh the cost savings, and businesses tend to outgrow them quickly.

Fortunately, there are also plenty of low-cost payroll software platforms that provide robust functionality without breaking the bank. Head over to our Payroll Software Guide to discover affordable, highly-rated solutions for small businesses.

1 Rippling

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Rippling is the first way for businesses to manage all of their HR, IT, and Finance — payroll, benefits, computers, apps, corporate cards, expenses, and more — in one unified workforce platform. By connecting every business system to one source of truth for employee data, businesses can automate all of the manual work they normally need to do to make employee changes.

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2 Paycor

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Payroll can be a time-consuming, administrative task for HR teams. Paycor’s solution is an easy-to-use yet powerful tool that gives you time back in your day. Quickly and easily pay employees from wherever you are and never worry about tax compliance again. Key features like general ledger integration, earned wage access, AutoRun, employee self-service and detailed reporting simplify the process and help ensure you pay employees accurately and on time.

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3 OnPay

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Payroll and HR that move you in the right direction. We give you everything you need to navigate payroll, HR, and benefits — so you can keep running your business smoothly.

Get your first month free, or join a demo to see everything we can do!

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