Setting Up QBS Payroll: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Running payroll is one of the most crucial aspects of any business, and ensuring it’s done accurately and efficiently can be a daunting task. Fortunately, QuickBooks offers a comprehensive payroll solution that simplifies the process, saving you time and effort while keeping you compliant with federal and state regulations. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps to set up QuickBooks Payroll, making it a breeze to manage your employees’ paychecks.

Step 1: Sign Up for QBS Payroll

The first step is to sign up for QuickBooks Payroll. If you’re already using QuickBooks for accounting, you can easily add the payroll feature to your existing subscription. If not, you’ll need to create a new QuickBooks account and select the appropriate payroll plan that suits your business needs.

Step 2: Gather Necessary Information

Before you can set up payroll, you’ll need to have the following information handy:

  • Employee Details: Full legal names, addresses, social security numbers, hire dates, and compensation information (hourly rates, salaries, or commissions) for each employee.
  • Company Information: Your Employer Identification Number (EIN), business address, and any applicable state tax information.
  • Payroll Schedules: The frequency at which you pay your employees (weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly).

Having this information readily available will make the setup process smoother and more efficient.

Step 3: Enter Employee Information

Once you’ve gathered the necessary details, it’s time to enter your employee information into QuickBooks Payroll. This process is straightforward and can be done in a few simple steps:

  1. Navigate to the “Employees” section in QuickBooks.
  2. Click on “Add Employee” and fill in the required fields, such as name, address, social security number, and hire date.
  3. Select the appropriate compensation type (hourly, salary, or commission) and enter the corresponding rate or amount.
  4. Repeat this process for each employee on your payroll.

QuickBooks will then use this information to calculate withholdings and deductions, ensuring accurate paychecks for your team.

Step 4: Set Up Payroll Schedules and Preferences

Next, you’ll need to configure your payroll schedules and preferences. In QuickBooks Payroll, you can:

  • Choose the frequency of your payroll runs (weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly).
  • Set up automatic payroll reminders to ensure you never miss a pay period.
  • Customize payroll preferences, such as pay period start and end dates, and pay dates.
  • Enable direct deposit for your employees, making it easier and more convenient for them to receive their paychecks.

By taking the time to set up these preferences correctly, you’ll streamline your payroll process and minimize potential errors or delays.

Step 5: Calculate and File Payroll Taxes

One of the greatest advantages of using QuickBooks Payroll is its ability to accurately calculate and file payroll taxes on your behalf. During the setup process, you’ll need to provide your Employer Identification Number (EIN) and any applicable state tax information.

QuickBooks will then use this information to calculate the correct federal, state, and local payroll taxes for each pay period. It will also generate the necessary tax forms (such as Form 940 and Form 941) and file them electronically with the appropriate agencies, saving you time and ensuring compliance with tax regulations.

Step 6: Run Your First Payroll

With all the setup completed, you’re now ready to run your first payroll in QuickBooks. The process is straightforward and user-friendly:

  1. Navigate to the “Payroll” section in QuickBooks.
  2. Select the appropriate pay period and click “Start Payroll.”
  3. Review and approve the payroll calculations for each employee, making any necessary adjustments for hours worked, bonuses, or deductions.
  4. Choose your preferred payment method (direct deposit or printed checks).
  5. Submit and finalize the payroll.

QuickBooks will then handle the rest, ensuring your employees are paid accurately and on time, while also taking care of all necessary tax filings and payments.

Step 7: Monitor and Maintain Your Payroll

Once you’ve successfully set up and run your first payroll in QuickBooks, it’s important to stay on top of ongoing maintenance and monitoring. This includes:

  • Reviewing and updating employee information as needed (e.g., address changes, compensation adjustments).
  • Staying informed about changes in payroll tax rates and regulations.
  • Generating and distributing year-end tax forms (such as Form W-2).
  • Backing up your payroll data regularly for safekeeping and record-keeping purposes.

By keeping a close eye on your payroll process and making updates as necessary, you’ll ensure continued accuracy and compliance, while also providing a seamless payroll experience for your employees.


Setting up QuickBooks Payroll may seem daunting at first, but with this step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to navigate the process with ease. By following these steps, you’ll not only streamline your payroll operations but also gain peace of mind knowing that your employees are being paid accurately and on time, while you remain compliant with all relevant tax regulations. QuickBooks Payroll truly is a game-changer for businesses of all sizes, simplifying a complex process and allowing you to focus on what truly matters: growing your company.

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