Best Canadian Payroll Software For Small Business 2021

Best Canadian Payroll Software For Small Business 2021

Written by Chrissy Kapralos
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated October 5, 2021

Running a business costs money – from suppliers to staff, there are countless parties to pay. In addition to making sure all your employees are paid their wage, you may need extra support to help ensure your payments are error-free, timely, compatible with provincial and federal laws, and well documented. Payroll software helps business owners pay their employees while considering all the factors that can affect the process.

Ways To Process Payroll

There are two ways to process payroll, each with varying pros and cons. 

In-House Payroll Processing 

This is done by an internal branch of your business, such as a human resources branch, or accounting section. The people paying your employees are employees themselves, and get paid under the same process. 

  • Less expensive than hiring a third-party processor
  • More control and security over data and updates
  • Labour costs
  • Chance of human error in compliance with government payroll laws
  • Time-consuming for employees who may have other duties

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Third-Party Payroll Processing 

This is done by an external, third-party provider. A business would register with the payroll company and share information such as sign-in sheets and other employee data. Then, the company would take care of paying your employees. 

  • No labour costs
  • Higher chance of compliance with government payroll laws
  • Higher chance of accuracy since the company is experienced
  • Outsource costs
  • Chance of data compromise
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Best Canadian Payroll Software

If you’ve decided to save time and ensure greater accuracy in rolling out your payroll, take a look at some of these great Canadian payroll software providers. 

Wave Payroll

Wave Accounting/Wave Apps

Wave Payroll offers easy-to-use software that focuses on payroll features. Its simplicity makes it a suitable option for smaller businesses with under 25 employees. Since it has many add-ons offered at an additional charge, larger companies might not be well-matched with Wave, if they are looking for an all-inclusive option.

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  • Automatic tax remittances: Automating remittances in a timely fashion ensures you don’t forget to report and you don’t incur any late penalties. 
  • Automatic payroll journal entries: Helps reduce the amount of time you need to spend on manual bookkeeping.
  • Employee access: Wave is applauded for its easy-to-use software for employees to report their time and attendance and to access their pay stubs, banking information, and tax documents. 
  • Payroll employee and contractor: Wave allows you to issue payroll to both employees and contractors with their flexible service. 
  • Direct deposit: You can pay employees directly by depositing funds in their bank account. 


  • 20$/month base fee, additional $6 per active employee and $6 per independent paid contractor


  • 30-day free trial

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Quickbooks Online

Quickbooks Online (QBO)

Integrating with Xero and FreshBooks, Quickbooks Online is a simple payroll software that offers automated payments and tracked CRA deductions. 


  • Track time: Quickbooks offers an add-on timesheet feature that allows employees to fill out their attendance. Then, the payroll software auto-populates the data to save you time in data entry. 
  • File taxes: The software calculates taxes for you and allows you to track your CRA deductions; however, you’re still responsible for remitting the deductions. 
  • Payroll forms: Quickbooks prepares T4 and RL-1 forms and assists you with calculations needed to complete a Record of Employment. 
  • Employee portal: Employees can easily access and track their pay stubs, vacation, and year-end tax forms. 

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  • $20/month + $3 per employee per month for the Essentials Plan. 


  • 50% off the first three months of membership
Simple Pay Canada

Simple Pay Canada

Simple Pay allows for integration with Xero and Quickbooks, and is known for its quality reporting. This program is mobile friendly and designed with the Canadian business owner in mind.


  • Tax remittance: Complies with tax and remittance rules by automatically remitting source deductions every month, to save yourself the hassle.  
  • Timesheet: Ensures accuracy in pay by keeping meticulous records of attendance. 
  • API ready: This allows for seamless integration with other HR and employment systems. 
  • Customizable: Increased flexibility and customization lets you generate mapping options to adjust payroll as needed. 
  • Business Payments: Allows for direct deposit payments to employees, contractors, and the Canada Revenue Agency. 


  • Check out Simple Pay’s business payroll calculator for an accurate estimate of pricing. 
ADP Workforce Now

ADP Workforce Now

ADP Workforce offers a user-friendly payroll service that helps your business deliver payroll in a compliant, accountable way. With impressive analytics, this software gives you unique insights into your business’s HR world. ADP is suitable for small businesses, as well as for larger enterprises with thousands of employees. 


  • Built-in tax management and compliance expertise: This saves you the trouble of ensuring compliance with federal laws around payroll. 
  • Process payroll online: Simple online database with the ability to see real-time calculations before submission. 
  • Insightful Dashboard: Displays analytics to help business owners make evidence-based decisions, as well as T4s, attendance and other information for employees. 


  • Book an appointment and request a quote to find out about pricing for your business’s payroll. 


  • First two months free
Rise People

Rise People

Rise People offers a user-friendly HR software that covers payroll, benefits, company culture, and performance management. This software offers unique reporting to help you understand your business’s finance and HR patterns. 

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  • Automate Payroll: Automation saves you time by taking care of T4s, remittances, discrepancies, benefits, and ROEs. 
  • Taxes: Assured compliance with tax laws and the Employment Standards Act
  • Time and Attendance: Timekeeping software ensures accuracy in attendance recording, and allows for real-time staff scheduling. 
  • Payroll Reports: Clear, extensive and exportable reporting helps you understand your business’ finances. 
  • Customization: Update and change information at your convenience and adjust payroll as needed.


  • Send Rise a message for pricing inquiries. 

Payroll Software FAQs

How do I set up payroll with the CRA?

To set up payroll with the CRA, you are required to set up a CRA payroll deductions program account. If you’re already signed up for another CRA program account and have a business number (BN), you can simply add a payroll deductions account to your existing account. However, if you haven’t signed up for a business number (BN), you’ll need to register for one to open a payroll account. You can register online for a business number, over the phone (1-800-959-5525), or via the mail by mailing Form RC1, Request for a Business Number to a tax service office (TSO) or tax centre (TC).

When must I remit my payroll tax deductions?

Your tax deductions remittance due dates depend on your remitter type. If you report quarterly, you must remit on April 15, July 15, October 15, and January 15. If you report monthly, you must report on the 15th of every month.

What happens If I report my remittance late?

If you report your remittance late, you’ll face penalties. If you’re late by one to three days, you’ll face a 3% penalty on the amounts due. If you’re late by four or five days, you’ll face a 5% penalty. If you’re late by six or seven days, you’ll face a 7% penalty. Finally, if you’re late by more than one week, or if you don’t remit any amount at all, you’ll face a 10% penalty. 

Final Thoughts

Payroll software can use up a big portion of your business’s monthly budget, but it’s often worth the time that you gain back. Additionally, many of these programs help ensure your business is compliant with tax laws, saving you money in potential penalties. Make sure you conduct research and shop around before choosing the right program that meets all your needs and the needs of your business. 

Chrissy is a Toronto-based communications advisor. With an English degree from the University of Toronto and editing courses under her belt from Ryerson University, she has continued her lifelong passion for writing and editing. In addition to working for Loans Canada on a variety of financial topics, Chrissy has a few years of resume writing and editing under her belt, and takes great pleasure in helping people find work that fits with their experience and passions. When she isn't working, you can find her practicing yoga, hanging out with her dog, reading up on financial and real estate news, or planning her next trip abroad.

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