QuickBooks Online Payroll Makes Life Easier

QuickBooks Online Payroll Makes Life Easier

This post is all about QuickBooks Online Payroll, but before we dig in, I want to mention that as I’m writing this (in January 2023), I have a newfound appreciation for just how freaking easy QuickBooks Online Payroll makes payroll at year end. I promise I’ll tell you why in a bit; before I tell you how it’s making my life better, I want to go over some general features of QuickBooks Online Payroll.

(Yes, I am aware that I haven’t written a blog post in a Very Long Time; the last few years have been sort of… weird. I found that I needed to focus on mental health and I ended up spending a LOT of time in northern Michigan camping, hiking, and biking in 2022. BUT I’M BACK BABY SO LET’S TALK ABOUT QUICKBOOKS ONLINE PAYROLL!)

QuickBooks Online Payroll is Intuit’s online payroll solution, and after at least a decade of using Intuit’s Online Payroll for Accountants, I moved all of my payroll clients to QuickBooks Online Payroll when Intuit discontinued that product. One of my complaints about payroll as a general topic is there is never a vacation from it. I can take a week off and go up north camping, then catch up on the other services I provide clients when I get back, but with payroll that’s just not an option.

Here’s where my longtime love of Intuit’s online based software comes in, and for what it’s worth, in this video from another lifetime ago (that green eye shadow… gahhh), I’m logging in to look at payroll while on my bike, and it wasn’t staged. I did actually get a message while filming this and had to stop, login and reply.

QuickBooks Online Payroll offers a bunch of features to help make processing payroll accurate and efficient; the best part is that I can manage it from anywhere: my home office, a library, or even with my phone in my rooftop tent:

Ford F150 pickup with a rooftop tent on a bed rack

Some of the features that I love for my clients are the expert set up that comes with the Elite subscription level (I’ll share pricing at the end of this post), the tax penalty protection and the 24 hour and same day direct deposit. I love being able to tell clients that YES, we can process a paycheck TODAY and have the direct deposit hit TODAY. Another feature for Elite subscribers is the HR Services; these are delivered through a 3rd party partner called Mineral, Inc. Just recruiting and hiring is difficult enough, so to be able to have tools like handbook templates and help with setting policies or managing conflicts is a relief. For some of my small businesses, being able to offer health and 401k benefits via the QuickBooks Online Payroll HR Advisor actually makes the recruiting part easier!

For my client’s employees, logging into Workforce allows them to view paystubs and make changes to their tax withholding and direct deposit account.

My clients can also use the contractor payments feature as well


The features that I love for me, as someone who is entering the payroll and creating the paychecks for my clients, are the integration with QuickBooks Time (or even the default time tracking in QuickBooks Online), and automatic tax calculations. QuickBooks Online Payroll uses real-time tax rates and rules to calculate payroll taxes; I can say that I’ve never had an issue with taxes being miscalculated, unless it was because a state unemployment rate didn’t get updated in time. (And when that happens, QuickBooks Online Payroll makes the adjustments needed so that the employer is compliant in paying what is owed.)

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, QuickBooks Online Payroll is making payroll year end so, sooo much easier for me with the automatic tax calculations, automatic tax filing and liability payments. Why do I love this so much? Because I don’t have to worry about making sure all the 941s, 940s, W2s get efiled on time. I just need to make sure everything ties out before that happens!


I don’t have to send PDFs of the W2s to clients, or make sure they’ve mailed them out to their employees. Between the automatic tax filing and payments and the employee access to Workforce, it’s all taken care of – and my clients can access all of it whenever they need to by logging into QuickBooks Online!

Now we get into the costs; there are three different plans to choose from, each with its own set of features and pricing.


QuickBooks Online Payroll Core is the bottom tier at $45/month plus $5 per employee. It includes the automated tax filing/payment, auto payroll, 1099 E-File & Pay and next-day direct deposit.

QuickBooks Online Payroll Premium is the most popular, mid-range option at $75/month plus $8 per employee. It includes everything that Core does, plus you get QB Time and same day direct deposit.

QuickBooks Online Payroll Elite is the top tier at $125/month plus $10 per employee. This has all of the bells and whistles! It included everything in Core but also expert set up, the HR Advisor and tax penalty protection.

Employers can start at any level and upgrade or downgrade as needed.

For my fellow ProAdvisors: QuickBooks Online Accountant users get the highest tier – QuickBooks Online Payroll Elite free for their firm! There is also pricing for ProAdvisors to offer their clients as well as a revenue share option.

One last thing I want to talk about, is the improvement of support. I’m VERY picky about my support options. I prefer for any app to have an online support page – Intuit’s QuickBooks Community Knowledge Base is AMAZING, but they’ve also made some major changes to Accountant support by providing product experts with prior tax and accounting knowledge and requiring support agents to get certified as part of their training/learning path. They are also working on standardizing the Tier2 support model as well ramping up staffing and social media engagement.

For what it’s worth, I freaking LOVE the QuickBooks Online Payroll chat support. If I can’t find the answer online, I have quite a lot of options to get help by clicking the help icon in the top right corner of any page when logged into QuickBooks Online.


Screen shot 2023-01-13 at 7.28.57 am

If you just need payroll, or you want to keep it separate from the QuickBooks Online account, the stand alone option is available and transactions exported to QuickBooks Online.

With all of this,QuickBooks Online Payroll is saving me time and reducing my stress level this January!! It’s comprehensive, affordable, and the fact that it’s built right into QuickBooks Online makes it so easy!!

You can keep up to date on all things QuickBooks Online Payroll by bookmarking their updates/product news page here.

This post is sponsored by Intuit and QuickBooks Online Payroll.

Import into QuickBooks Online from Google Sheets

Import into QuickBooks Online from Google Sheets

Early in the pandemic, I bought a new MacBook. I decided not to put MS Office on it because I use GSuite for my business. Intuit recently introduced the ability to import into QuickBooks Online from Google Sheets and I gotta say… I love it so much that I wish I could snuggle with it.

To start the process to import into QuickBooks Online from Google Sheets, I recommend first downloading the template from QBO. The good thing is – you’ll only have to this part one time, for each of the types of lists (Items, Customers, Vendors, Chart of Accounts)

NOTE: You cannot import into QuickBooks Online for invoices (only available in QBO Plus and QBO Advanced); you must use a csv file for Invoices.

To do this, click the Gear Icon, then choose Import Data and you’ll get to this screen:



Now click on the icon for Products and Services, and in the screen below, click the link that says “Download a sample file”. (Because I’m lazy, I’ll be referring to these as ITEMS from now on, when I am able, because that’s a lot less letters to type than P R O D U C T S A N D S E R V I C E S.)



Save the file to wherever, you can leave the name as the default, which in my case was “QuickBooks_Online_PnS_Sample_File_SS_ESS.xls”. Then upload it to Google Drive.

Once it’s in Google Drive, I would suggest renaming it; you’ll be able to use this template. What I usually do is make a copy and rename it for each client, then share it with that client so that they can enter the data, or so that I can copy/paste data from a spreadsheet they’ve already given me.

Once I rename it, I save it as a Google Sheets by clicking File > Save as Google Sheets:



Edit your spreadsheet to include the items you would like to import into QuickBooks Online from Google Sheets:


We’re ready to iImport into QuickBooks Online from Google Sheets!


There are a couple ways to get to the screen to do this. You can go Gear Icon > List Menu > All Lists > Products and Services.


The other way is to click on Sales from the left nav, then choose Products and Services:



Once you’re at the Products and Services list, click the green action button drop down in the top right corner and  choose “Import”:



We’re back to this screen, only now we’re going to click the button that says “Connect”:



You’ll get a pop up asking you to choose a Google account to which you want to import from:

Then grant permission:



Aaaaand confirm that:



Now we can choose the file. This screen is one of the reasons I suggest making a copy that is specific to the QBO account, it makes it easier to search for and select it:



Click the file name and then click the blue “Select” button in the bottom left:



You’ll be brought back into QBO so that you can import into QuickBooks Online from Google Sheets. Since our Google Sheets file only has one Sheet in it, we don’t have to select one, and we can click the green “Next” button in the bottom right corner:



The next screen is asking us to map fields in the sheet to QBO fields. Since we used the QBO template, ours all match, so we can click that green “Next” button in the bottom right. Yay!



The next screen we see shows us the data from the Google Sheet, where we can verify and/or make any changes to the data before we import into QuickBooks Online from Google Sheets. It all looks good to me, so we can just click the green “Import” button in the bottom right corner:



If the import is successful, you’ll get a little message that says it was. I was too slow in trying to get the screen shot. Oops!

Just click the X in the top right corner to close this screen, and we’ll go look at our newly imported items in the Products and Services list (if you’re logged into QBO right now, you can click right on this link to take you to that screen: https://app.qbo.intuit.com/app/items)

Here are our newly imported items:


In this piece, I only did two items… and if you already have the template uploaded to Google Drive, using this tool to import into QuickBooks Online from Google Sheets for even just two is faster than manually entering them into QBO. At least it feels like it to me… I haven’t actually ever timed it 🙂

P&L by Job in QBO with Timesheets and QuickBooks Online Payroll

P&L by Job in QBO with Timesheets and QuickBooks Online Payroll

For businesses using QuickBooks Online Plus or Advanced, here’s how to get labor costs on a P&L by Job in QBO with Timesheets and QuickBooks Online Payroll. As an added bonus, we’ll make the time entered for each employee billable. Yay!

This post assumes that there is an active QBO Plus or Advanced subscription as well as an active QuickBooks Online Payroll (QBOP) subscription, and that employees, customers and sub customers/jobs are already set up.

NOTE: All time entered here is via the default time entries in QBO. We are not using QuickBooks Time (formerling TSheets) to enter employee’s time.

There are two ways to enter time in QBO. One is to click the +New button, then select “Single time activity”:




Below, is time via a single time activity. The employee entered 3 hours and marked them as billable to the customer; this rate can be hidden from Time Tracking Only users. We’ve left Division (location) and Class tracking blank because they’re not applicable to this article. Cost rate would be used for labor costing if Projects was being used and QBOP was NOT being used.




Time can also be entered by clicking the +New button and then choosing “Weekly timesheet”. Below shows time entered for multiple days and multiple sub customers/jobs:



The billable time gets added to invoices:




The time entered via Single time activity and Weekly timesheet flows to payroll, which can be seen by choosing Payroll from the left nav, Employees, then clicking the green “Run Payroll” button:




The Run Payroll screen shows a total of all time entered via time activity and timesheets for the employee; verify then click the green “Preview payroll” button in the bottom right:


Create the paychecks on the next screen by verifying the paycheck details, then clicking the green “Submit payroll” button in the bottom right.











Last, print paystubs and then click the green “Finish payroll” button:




To recap, we’ve entered time, marked it as billable to the customer/job, created the invoice and added time, and run payroll. Now it’s time to look at the P&L by Job in QBO with Timesheets and QuickBooks Online Payroll.

QBO gives us a default P&L by job by going to Reports > Business Overview > Profit and Loss by customer.


P&L by Job in QBO with Timesheets and QuickBooks Online Payroll






With some customization, we can look at what we just did. Click the “Customize” button after the report opens. The screen shot below shows the date range  has been changed to “This month” and the Customer field is filtered to show the two sub customers/jobs to which billable time was assigned and invoices created:




Looking at the report, we see the income from the invoices, and the expenses from the wages.

Remember: labor expenses will not show up in a P&L by Job in QBO with Timesheets and QuickBooks Online Payroll until the payroll has been processed and the paycheck created.

Using Tags in QuickBooks Online Essentials for Job Costing

Using Tags in QuickBooks Online Essentials for Job Costing

If you use QuickBooks Online Essentials, you may know that you cannot assign expenses to customers or jobs (what QBO calls sub-customers); this is a feature that is only available in QBO Plus or Advanced. What if I told you that you can get a Profit & Loss by job by using tags in QuickBooks Online Essentials for Job Costing?

I swear, you can do this, and I’ll show you how.

The first thing is making sure that we have tags turned on in two places.

Go to the Gear Icon > Account and settings > Sales tab and in the Sales form content section, click the pencilicon, then toggle Tags to on. Click the Save button:



Now, in the Expenses tab, click the pencilicon in the Bills and expenses section, and toggle Show Tags field on expense and purchase forms to on, then click Save:


Once you do that, click the Done button in the bottom right corner of the Account and Settings screen to exit.



Great! Now we need to make sure we have our customers and jobs entered. I’m not going into detail about that, but you can check out this page in the QuickBooks Community for a video and instructions, if you’ve never entered a customer into QBO.

We have ours all set; a parent customer with two sub customers/jobs:



Get Profit and Loss reports in QBO Essentials by using tags in QuickBooks Online Essentials for Job Costing


You’re probably wondering: “I thought this was about using tags in QuickBooks Online Essentials for Job Costing?” – and this is the part where we set up the tags. To do this, from the left nav, click Banking > Tags. (FYI, I don’t know why Tags are in Banking…)



You can also get there this way:




Because we know we have one customer and two different projects that we’re working on for them, we’re going to create a Tag Group that is the same name as the parent customer, and a tag for each of the sub customers/jobs. We’ll click the green New button from the Tags center, then choose Tag group and enter the customer name:




We add the name and (I love this!) get to choose a color for this tag. While we’re in this screen, we have the option of adding our tags for each of the sub customers/jobs as well, but only after we click the green Save button:




Once I hit that save button, I can now add tags without leaving this screen but entering the name (the same as the sub customer/job I’ve already added) and clicking the Add button:


Just click the green Done button in the bottom right to get back to the Tag list/center.


Tags can also be added from the Tag list by using the green New button like we did when adding the Tag group, or by dropping the arrow down in the Action column for the Tag group in which you want to add the Tag and choosing Add Tag:




Now that we have our tag group (Customer name) and tags (sub customers/jobs) set up, we can start adding tags to transactions. Be aware that there are limits: 40 Tag groups and 300 tags, regardless of what subscription level of QBO you have.




We can’t add tags to specific line items, but you can add multiple tags. So if you have a transaction that needs to split between two customers or sub customers/jobs… you’ll have to enter two separate transactions and tag accordingly. Not ideal, but using tags in QuickBooks Online Essentials for Job Costing is a workaround for users that don’t have QBO Plus or Advanced so…   ¯_(ツ)_/¯  

Here’s an invoice with a tag assigned:




And here is an expense with a tag assigned:




As you work on each job, you’ll assign the tag for any expenses related to the project, and the reporting is available from the Tag List (Center?) by choosing Run report from the action column:




Reports can also be accessed by going to Reports > Business Overview > Profit & Loss by Tag:


A couple of notes about reporting:

  1. When generating Tag reports from the Report Center,  the reports came up blank, even when the date range is set to All Dates. This is because the default report filters by “Ungrouped tags”. This can be remedied easily enough by clicking on the Customize button and then selecting the Tag Group from the drop down in the “Group by’ field. See image below for this customization.
  2. Clicking “Run Report” on the Tag group from the Tag list will open a Transactions List by Tag Group report
  3. Clicking “Run Report” on the Tag from the tag list will open a Profit and Loss by Tag Group report, filtered for just that tag (yes, the report says “Tag Group” even though it’s filtered




Below you can see the beautiful Profit and Loss report by sub customer/job that using tags in QuickBooks Online Essentials for Job Costing will produce.This report was created from the report center and customized as mentioned in #1 above; the title has also been changed to show the parent customer:

Payment Links in QuickBooks Online

Payment Links in QuickBooks Online

One of my new favorite things of mine is Payment Links in QuickBooks Online.

As a long time QB Payments (sometimes referred to as Intuit Merchant Services, QuickBooks Merchant Services) user, I was so sad a few years ago when Intuit decided to drop Intuit Payment Network (IPN). This was such a great tool – it allowed a user to request funds with just a link – without having to create an invoice in QuickBooks.

Why would one do such a thing? I’ve had clients want to give bonuses or tips outside of monthly fees, and it’s VERY handy when, say, you travel with a group of colleagues and it’s a big pain to split a restaurant tab, but there’s a per diem limit. Sending links with IPN was very handy for that.

Anyhoo, back to Payment Links in QuickBooks Online.

This is a slick little tool if you’re using QB Payments and I’ll walk you through it. From the left nav bar in QBO, click Sales > Payment Links, then the “Create My Link” button:



You could also just click on Sales, then choose Payment Links from the menu:



A “drawer” will open on the right side, where you’ll be able to add the amount, a description, then choose the customer:



You can create a custom URL for your payment links in QuickBooks Online


One cool thing – at the top of the screen to Create and send a payment link, you’ll see a link to Customize URL. I highly recommend this: this is what it looks like when you click on that and create a unique URL for your payment links in QuickBooks Online:


Once you get your URL set, add your description, choose the customer, check the box(es) for bank and/or credit card payments, and make sure the email is correct, it’s time to click that green action button that says: “Send payment link”.

QBO then shows you the link, as well as a QR code:


Your customer sees this in their inbox:


And then can pay you using the payment link in QuickBooks Online:



Once they pay they’ll see this:


Now, what the SENDER sees in QBO, after using payment links in QuickBooks Online is this the screenshot below. Descriptions can be edited and links can be deleted as long as they haven’t been paid. Once they are paid, they can only be viewed.



And if we click on that one that shows paid or we click on View from the action column on the right, we’ll get another drawer that opens, with a link to the Sales Receipt that QBO creates when a payment is made via payment links in QuickBooks Online:



Here’s the Sales Receipt in QBO, with a note in the memo field stating it was “auto-generated”:



Now, what happens if this link is just used by someone, without sending it from QBO? Well… It just doesn’t work that way. If a user sends the custom URL out, this is what a visitor sees:


While I would LOVE for the Custom URL to work that way with payment links in QuickBooks Online – it would be great for non-profit organizations to request donations –  right now the link must be created in QBO first, for a specific amount for a specific customer in QBO.

Since it’s still faster than creating an invoice, I highly recommend payment links in QuickBooks Online.

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