Getting Ready for Payroll in QuickBooks Online

Getting Ready for Payroll in QuickBooks Online

If you’re planning to do your own payroll in QuickBooks Online, you’ll need lots of setup time – and perhaps our assistance.

Payroll setup and processing is probably the most complex, challenging set of tasks
you’ll encounter in QuickBooks Online.
While all of the work you do on the site needs to be thorough and accurate, you’re not
just dealing with customers and vendors when you manage your payroll. Your
employees, of course, count on you to compensate them correctly for work done. And
external organizations like benefits providers and the IRS require absolute precision.
We don’t mean to scare you, but we do want you to understand that this is a particularly
challenging process, no matter how you accomplish it (do-it-yourself, paper and Excel,
software, or outsourcing). QuickBooks Online provides a whole payroll setup area,
which helps you understand what information is needed and provides countless screens
for entering it. But we strongly recommend that you let us step in and help with setup.
We’ll take a quick look here at how QuickBooks Online helps you get ready to start
paying your employees. Click on the wheel icon in the upper left and select Payroll
Settings (you’ll be allowed to use the payroll features for 30 days for free; after that,
you’ll pay monthly fees).



Figure 1: This is your home base for payroll setup in QuickBooks Online.


As you can see, this will be a lengthy process. It’s not necessary to go through it in
order, but the links that run horizontally across the top are a good starting place. Once
you’ve completed those screens, you’ve made a good dent in your setup duties.
As you enter payrolls, QuickBooks Online calculates your federal and state payroll tax
obligations and maintains a running tally. When it’s time to submit a payment, you can
do so electronically if you’ve made connections with your company’s bank account(s).
The preparation for this process is done by clicking the Electronic Services and Tax
Setup links.
You’ll also want to tell QuickBooks Online about your Pay Policies. By filling in blanks
and selecting from drop-down lists, you’ll define your:

  • Pay Schedule. How often are employees paid? What is the next payday, and
    what period does this cover? You can create multiple pay schedules if needed.
  • Vacation and Sick Leave Policies. Here, too, you can set up more than one of
    each type if employees have varying requirements for earning sick and vacation



Figure 2: If employees earn time off at varying rates, you can establish multiple policies in QuickBooks Online.


Besides calculating payroll taxes, QuickBooks Online will do additional withholding
necessary to pay for benefits like health insurance and retirement plans. The site
calculates what’s taken out for each employee (and from you) every pay period so that
when you need to pay the benefits provider, you’ll know what’s owed. The actual
process of setting up these Deductions, as well as Employee Garnishments, is
similar to the one you used to define pay policies.
Some of the links displayed below this top row will take you to the same links you’ve
already visited. Others let you define additional preferences in areas like Accounting,
Paycheck Printing, and Time Sheets. One signals your next step, though: Overview |



Figure 3: Once you’ve set up variables like Pay Policies and Deductions, you can use that information in individual employee records.


QuickBooks Online makes it easy for you to create records for each employee once
you’ve set up the background information required. You can see in the image above that
you can even edit withholdings, frequency, and pay method; add additional pay types
(like overtime and bonuses); and add, edit, and delete deductions by clicking the links
next to each icon.
We’ve provided a very broad overview of QuickBooks Online’s Payroll Settings here.
You’ll encounter a great deal of required details when you actually get in and start
working with this element of the site. QuickBooks Online makes the actual mechanics
easier. We can help make setup easier and ensure system-wide accuracy.


  1. I didn’t know that I could use Quickbooks to set up a payroll system and keep track of employee hours and schedules and everything. I am thinking about opening up a small storefront and would have a few employees. Since I don’t know much about it, getting a professional to help me out with the software would probably be a good idea if I do decide to start this business.

    • Jenna,
      You are so right! We have many posts all about payroll and how to get started on the right foot. If those do not hold all the answers you need, we would love to talk to you more in-depth and personally!

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