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QuickBooks to axe desktop payroll solution

QuickBooks has told users of its Desktop Payroll software that from April 2020 they will no longer be able to use the product within QuickBooks Desktop packages, and will have to either move to QuickBooks Online or find an alternative solution.

10th Oct 2019
Editor AccountingWEB
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In an email to users, QuickBooks stated that from the new tax year, 6 April 2020, accounting professionals and small businesses will no longer be able to use Desktop Payroll within any QuickBooks Desktop package.

“Our team has already begun working with Desktop Payroll customers to make it easy to move to QuickBooks Online, or another desktop provider, to ensure there is no interruption in getting employees paid,” a QuickBooks spokesperson told AccountingWEB.

In a frequently asked questions page about the product discontinuation on QuickBooks’ support pages, the company recommended that existing users stay with Desktop Payroll until the April switch-off because “April is the end of the tax year, making it the easiest time to switch.”

The vendor confirmed that customers can continue to run QuickBooks Desktop for core accountancy needs.

Existing Desktop Payroll users with questions or concerns have been encouraged to either visit QuickBooks’ support pages or call their customer service team to help them through the process. Advice on exporting data from QuickBooks Desktop can also be found on the support pages.

Wider shift to cloud payroll

The change comes hot on the heels of the American software house’s unveiling of its Advanced Online Payroll product, designed to cater for accountants and payroll bureaus with multiple business clients that have more complex payroll needs.

While one AccountingWEB reader was quick to express their displeasure at the announcement, QuickBooks’ move away from desktop is part of a wider shift in the evolution of the payroll software market.

For a number of years, payroll tools have played second fiddle to cloud tax and bookkeeping solutions, mainly due to the minefield of legislation affecting payroll making development costs prohibitively expensive for new market entrants.

However, 2019 has proved to be a bumper year for new cloud payroll tools. At the start of the year, Kaskflow founder Duane Jackson launched Staffology, a web-based application designed specifically for the UK payroll market. This was soon followed by global HR and payroll services company NGA Human Resources and one of Australia’s leading payroll providers, KeyPay, fully launched in the UK this April and recently laid down a marker with the acquisition of pension fintech pensionsync.

This year’s Software Excellence Awards also saw cloud payroll systems come out on top, with The Payroll Site edging out Capium to win its fourth software award for payroll from AccountingWEB’s members.

However, it should be added that the majority of users polled by the site still favour desktop systems from the likes of BrightPay and Moneysoft, and it may be some years before cloud payroll tools eclipse their desktop rivals in terms of user numbers.

Replies (10)

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By Roy Price
10th Oct 2019 10:24

Having been a big user of the Desk Top Payroll over the past 15 years and having come from a wide back ground of software use (over 40 years) I have always concluded that Quick Books Desk Top including the payroll is one of the finest software products I have ever seen. The Online Quick Books is no where near the standard of the Desk Top although it wins out with other aspects and new payroll is well specified.
I am absolutely incredulous as to how the powers that be at Quick Books can have arrived at this decision. As one of my clients who has a 6 user Quick Books Desk Top system stated: 'We are not pleased with this decision we shall be looking to move software supplier' - they are not interested in the Online Version.

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By rockallj
10th Oct 2019 10:30

Roy Price wrote:

The Online Quick Books is no where near the standard of the Desk Top although it wins out with other aspects and new payroll is well specified.

I agree, QBO payroll is poor. Fine for using at the time, but for historical reports and the like we as accountants may need for bookkkeeping/accounting purposes, it leaves a lot to be desired.

I advise client to use other products, which are much better.

I don't always think that the move to the cloud is necessarily a good one for everyone, as current desktop bkpg & payroll systems have much better detail and reports than online packages.

And if you're looking for something else, use Moneysoft Payroll!

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By dmmarler
10th Oct 2019 10:53

You reaction was the same as mine. No more recommendations to clients to use QuickBooks despite what they have seen in the adverts. May I suggest Adminsoft to everyone instead - a nice easy-to-use free accounting package with payroll.

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Replying to Roy Price:
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By Rgab1947
10th Oct 2019 11:17

All desktop versions, irrespective of provider, are scheduled to be phased out. QB payrolls is but the start. Moving to other desktop software just prolongs the agony.

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By [email protected]
10th Oct 2019 11:03

They must be pretty confident with their new advanced payroll for QBO then, let's hope it provides everything the desktop did, and some!

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By Charlie Carne
10th Oct 2019 11:39

I've not used QB on the desktop for some years, so I don't know how advanced its desktop payroll module has got recently, but the recently launched QBOAP (QuickBooks Online Advanced Payroll) is an excellent product which I'd recommend for all but the most basic of payrolls (for which QBOP - QuickBooks Online Payroll - will suffice). Having said that, it's only worth using QBOAP or QBOP as an add-on to QBO; if a business wishes to retain its bookkeeping solution on any other product (including the desktop version of QB), then there is clearly no point in migrating only its payroll to QBO; in that case, they should use a stand-alone payroll product.

But this is no reason to be angry at QB Desktop. If you want to keep using it, that's fine (though I would recommend taking a good look at the latest incarnation of QBO, as it is much better than it was a few years ago and is up there with Xero as a premium bookkeeping product). Payroll is one process that can quite easily be run in a separate product, as it only requires a single, pre-configured journal to be input into QB each month.

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By RogerMT
10th Oct 2019 12:02

As a user of both QB Desktop (for many years) and QB Online (which was dreadful when it launched, but is now much improved), I get frequent calls from their sales team trying to get me to move all my Desktop clients to Online. It always falls down when it comes to cost. The annual sub for Accountant's Desktop is so much cheaper than any version of discounted monthly subs for all my clients. The conclusion from me is "Desktop is cheaper when I use it exclusively for payroll, so I'll carry on, thanks all the same". The last such conversation can't have been more than 6 months ago. No mention of pulling the plug on QB Desktop Payroll then!
Now I have to waste time hunting round for the most cost effective solution. Yet another admin burden I could do without.

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Replying to RogerMT:
By Charlie Carne
10th Oct 2019 15:33

RogerMT wrote:

The last such conversation can't have been more than 6 months ago. No mention of pulling the plug on QB Desktop Payroll then! Now I have to waste time hunting round for the most cost effective solution. Yet another admin burden I could do without.


But, had they known 6 months ago that they were ceasing support for payroll on QBD, you'd have had to look around anyway. As it stands, you have six months (until April 2020) to find a new payroll solution. Unless you expect every software house to guarantee providing a solution for evermore, I'd have thought that six months' notice was plenty. And the fact that they are not ceasing support mid-year means that everyone can switch at the perfect time, which is at the start of the next tax year.
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By Dandan
10th Oct 2019 13:37

In the real world , Desktop still rules and will continue to do so. I am sure that Intuit knows that.

Almost all medium-size businesses I have been involved with , that are based in the US, currently use Quickbooks Desktop Enterprise. For them , online will never be an option due to the inferior features or lack of features.

In the UK, I have seen clients refuse to go to online simply because they would not be able to continue running their business if they move away from Desktop.

I am aware of the praise for cloud software in the UK ; mainly emanating from small one-man businesses (or small clients with basic simple Purchase Ledgers, Sales Ledgers and basic stock system) and their accountants. Strange that they are able to make big noises and distort the overall picture .

Desktop accounting software will always exist and will always be cherished. The wiser software providers know that. For that reason, I believe Intuit will always be strong and successful. It will , I am sure, carry on producing desktop software alongside online whereas the others are putting all their eggs in the cloud basket.

The discontinuation of payroll on desktop is no big deal. In fact the vast majority of Quickboks Desktop users in the UK never used the payroll feature when it was introduced. They preferred to stick to the stand alone payroll software or use a payroll bureau.

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By carnmores
11th Oct 2019 11:37

people need to check the latest iteration of QBO payroll. I generally agree with Charlie i looked at it carefully in June and was impresses, remember its an online product how many other good online payroll programs are there?

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