Best Payroll Software for Small Businesses in California 2022

July 1, 2024

The Best Payroll Software for Small Business in California in 2022: An Overview 

Managing payrolls manually is a tedious task. Small business owners or new entrepreneurs can relate to it quite well. When you add the busy lifestyle of California and places like Silicon Valley or LA to the mix, the equation becomes even tougher to solve.

Miss a payroll, and you could risk losing your employees’ loyalty. I don’t have to tell you how disastrous that could be, considering how much competition there is.

So, I’m here today with the best payroll software for small businesses in California of 2022! I’m going to break down the features and benefits of each software so that you can make an informed decision by yourself. 

Quick Picks: 


The Best Payroll Software for Small Businesses in California for 2022: In-Depth Review 


Gusto: A Well-Design Payroll Provider with Free Year-End Tax Filing 

Gusto is typically one of the top choices for a payroll software for Californians. Whether your company is based out of the breakneck-paced lifestyle of Silicon Valley, or is more comfortable elsewhere like Sacramento or San Diego, you need good payroll to be effective.

It is one of the most popular choices for a payroll software. It is suitable for companies with no HR personnel because 

You can set up the payroll with a few clicks. The software dashboard is well designed. It includes general payroll, worker’s comp, employee benefits, etc. features all in one place. All of the data is updated in real-time to save you time and money in the long run. 

Some of the best features of the payroll software include automatic tax filing for W-2s and 1099s. Since California’s tax laws are a little different and more liberal than others, it pays to be careful. Gusto integrates the different local, state, and federal laws and tax reporting. 

The available employee benefits options include HSA, FSA, college savings, and so on. Health, Dental, and other types of insurance can also be managed through Gusto.

Gusto’s pricing plan is a little bit expensive. For starters, if you only have contractors rather than employees, only costs $6 per contractor. On the other hand, 

It’s something very few payroll software providers can claim. Although the pricing plan is on the expensive side, it still beats other providers if you consider long-term added charges.

Moreover, you get 24/7 support from a team that has professional payroll experts, insurance brokers, HR specialists, and so on. They will guide you through the setup process. For its integrated approach, Gusto has won multiple awards over the years. 

To know more about Gusto, please read our in-depth review!

You’ll Really Like: 

  • Automatic tax filing
  • A pool of professionals to guide you
  • Informative dashboard 

You Should Look Out for: 

  • Relatively expensive monthly subscription 
  • Limited HR management features 

Get Gusto Now!


Paychex: Amazing Customer Support combined with HR and Payroll Software 

You might have a growing business that is still too small or not profitable enough to warrant a full-on HR department. In that case, Paychex might be the ultimate digital tool you’re looking for. For small-medium businesses, it integrates the features of an HR software with the payroll suite to create a balanced work environment for you. 

Paychex is a cloud-based payroll software that offers payroll tax filing, new-hire status reporting, employee wellness programs, etc. You get superior control over your dashboard about how you want to customize it. Tons of different types of reports are available to cover every aspect of the business.

One of the biggest benefits of Paychex is scalability. As it operates on the cloud and the data is synced in real-time, you can include as many employee tabs as you want! 

The support team of the payroll software includes over 600 HR professionals and over 200 compliance experts from all regulatory levels! It’s probably one of the most accurate payroll providers out there!

From the moment you sign up for Paychex, you will get the benefits of this support team. They are always available for video calling and consultation.

Apart from the HR and payroll benefits, you also get Time & Attendance Management, Health & Benefits management, and 401(k) & Retirement plans for your employees! 

Read the full Paychex review to understand how you can use Paychex to grow your business beyond imagination! 

You’ll Really Like: 

  • Combined HR & payroll services 
  • Cloud-based operation for maximum accuracy and real-time throughput 
  • Flexible plans for different business sizes
  • Extremely thorough tutorials and guidance

You Should Look Out for: 

  • Higher add-on fees 
  • Steeper learning curve 

Get Paychex Now!


ADP RUN: The Most Comprehensive Ultimate Payroll Software for Small Businesses

ADP is the biggest name in HR and Payroll software in the US. The ADP software package is extremely comprehensive, meant for companies with hundreds or thousands of employees. As a small business owner, you don’t really need that kind of scaling.

But if you still want the various functions and features they offer, then ADP RUN is the best option. RUN is a compact version of ADP’s full suite, targeted at small businesses. Almost all the functions are still there, but the program is simpler and easier to use. For small businesses without dedicated HR personnel or departments, this is the perfect solution.

RUN features a dashboard where you can carry out the majority of payroll tasks. You will be guided through each task. Clear step-by-step instructions and explanations are given, making the software extremely easy to use even for those with no clue about HR.

Any recurring tasks can be fully automated. They will be carried out automatically at the scheduled time.

RUN also handles all taxes and deductibles. It always uses the latest tax details from the Federal laws and Florida’s state laws. W-2s, 1099s, health insurance, benefits, and everything else are automatically calculated and filed.

ADP has a marketplace filled with hundreds of add-ons and modules developed by third parties. These modules add extra features to RUN in order to streamline HR and Business Administration work. Browse through the modules to see if there are any that would be particularly useful!

The pricing is not given publicly. There are four packages – Essential, Enhanced, Complete, and Pro. I recommend getting the Enhanced package at least since it opens up unemployment tax filing and background checks. Since you are getting all other tax filing tools, it is only sensible to complete unemployment tax alongside them.

We have a full, detailed review of ADP RUN. As it could end up costing you a lot, please check out the review before going ahead!

You’ll Really Like

  • Detailed, Step-By-Step Instructions for everything.
  • Automatic payroll tasks carried out at regular intervals
  • Automatic calculation and filing of W-2s, 1099, etc.
  • Huge Numbers of additional features and functions available as add-ons on the market.

You Should Look Out For

  • Information and feature overload. Even if RUN is a simplified version of ADP, there are a lot of features.
  • Pricing is not given and must be quoted. The salesperson might be pushy and try to sell you the app.

Get ADP Now!


Coastal Payroll: Customized Combined HR and Payroll Solutions for Everyone

Coastal Payroll is a local Californian payroll provider. Their services are focused around Southern California, but they also offer the same quality of service as any huge national payroll provider.

In fact, their services might even be better for a small business in California. As a local payroll and HR service, they know exactly how to deal with everything California.

The services include all basic Payroll processing services. They have specialized Payroll types for different types of businesses. For example, for a restaurant, the payroll processor actually takes the Tips into account.

Their payroll platform is known as iSolved. In addition to basic payroll processing, it handles garnishments such as arrears and ACH payments, plus Workers’ comp. 

It also supports tax filing. There are actually three options for tax filing. The first is that they will file the taxes for you. The second is that prepare all the documents and reports, leaving it up to the business owner to file. The last option is to let the business owner handle any taxes.

Another useful feature is benefits accrual and management. As your employee’s health insurance, dental insurance, 401(k)s, Paid Time off, Sick Leave and Study leaves, etc accumulate, they need to be managed. Coastal Payroll is well equipped to manage these all.

When it comes to payments you don’t want any interruptions, right? That’s where Coastal Payroll’s payment services come in! They can ensure that direct deposits are paid out on time. If you wish to pay by check instead, they will automatically prepare them.

Some employees might want the company card. Paychex can set up the SOLE Visa Payroll Card for employees to use.

For bookkeeping, Coastal Payroll actually provides you with their custom general ledger. It is quite easy to transfer data from the other bookkeeping software into this. Instructions are given and you can get their help at any time.

Prices and packages must be quoted.

You’ll Really Like

  • Flexibility in Tax Filing for your convenience.
  • Easily integrates their services into the existing system.
  • Offers HR services as well as Payroll.

You Should Look Out For

  • The software provided looks old. The user interface is not attractive or friendly.
  • Pricing is not given and must be quoted, meaning there is less transparency.

Get Coastal Payroll now!


PayrollCentric: A Payroll Provider that Puts People First

When you spend too much time crunching numbers and reports, it is easy to forget that businesses are ultimately made up of people. However, PayrollCentric will keep that in mind.

PayrollCentric is a payroll and HR service provider based out of LA. They offer a lot of services relating to payroll processing.

They will process payrolls and ensure that all garnishments, bonuses, benefits, unemployment, compensation, etc, are handled appropriately. They give you several options for how you want to pay out, such as Direct Deposit, Checks or a Debit Card.

They also have a document portal for storing all reports and payroll-related documentation. Employees can self-service part of the work, such as clocking and setting up their debit cards.

PayrollCentric also handles all tax-related work. They are experts at handling California state taxes, and also have experience with federal taxes.

In terms of HR service, they have an HRIS (Human Resources Information System) software. This software makes it extremely easy to track new applicants, onboard them, and then set them up with the company’s systems.

Employee vacations, leaves and reviews are also handled through this software. You can get a demo of it before purchasing their services.

You’ll Really Like

  • Simplified and personalized payroll processing.
  • Developed human resources information system software
  • Miscellaneous services like background screening and labor law compliance checks.

You Should Look Out For

  • Must schedule a demo in order to learn about pricing.
  • Limited area of service, focused around LA only instead of all of California.

Get PayrollCentric now!


The Bottom Line: Best Payroll Software for Small Business in California for 2022

When it comes to California, your options to choose payroll software are limitless. There are scores of providers who offer their services nationwide or even internationally. Similarly, there are lots and lots of local firms that offer payroll and HR services.

Due to unique tax laws and other regulations in California compared to other states, you need to be careful with the selection. That’s why I’ve picked the 5 best payroll software for small businesses in California for 2022. 

If I have to choose one, I’d say go with Paychex Flex. It’s affordable and it covers the most number of tax forms on our list. Gusto would be another great option for Californians.

Top 3 Payroll Services

Our Score
  • 1 month free trial
  • Trusted by over 200,000 businesses
  • All-in-one payroll and HR solution
  • Best for small businesses
  • “Autopilot” runs payroll itself
  • 6 months free with signup
  • Trusted by 850,000+ businesses
  • Dedicated customer service
  • Also offer HR and benefits management
  • 3 months FREE with signup
  • Trusted by 700,000 companies
  • Over 45 years of experience
  • All-in-one platform

What was covered on this page?

John Smithson

John Smithson

38, a small (but growing) business owner in the IT field.
I love to look for exciting and modern ways to keep my business ticking along, my employees happy, and most importantly, the business growing. I love researching the best software online to help me - and other businesses - achieve these goals.

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