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Intuit

Set up payroll without a subscription

Learn how to set up manual payroll in QuickBooks Desktop.

Don’t have a payroll subscription but want to record payroll transactions? You can easily set up manual payroll where you don’t need any subscription. We’ll show you how.

Note: Setting up manual payroll doesn’t cancel an active payroll subscription. It only turns the tax table update off. If you're looking into unsubscribing, check out how to cancel your QuickBooks Payroll subscription.

Set up manual payroll

Important: If you’re using a cloud-enabled QuickBooks, contact your hosting provider. You might first need to copy your file locally before you set up manual payroll.

If you’re using QuickBooks Desktop 2020, 2018, and 2017:

  1. Turn off your Internet connection or disconnect your computer from the Internet.
  2. Set up your payroll preferences.
    1. Go to the Edit menu, then select Preferences.
    2. Select Payroll & Employees, then go to the Company Preferences tab.
    3. In the “QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Features” section, select Full payroll.
    4. Select OK.
  3. Go to the Help menu, then select QuickBooks Desktop Help.
  4. In the search field, enter “manual payroll.” Then, press Enter.
  5. Select Calculate payroll taxes manually (without a subscription to QuickBooks Desktop Payroll).
  6. Read the article. Once you’re done, in the “Set your company file to use the manual payroll calculations setting” section, select the manual payroll calculations link.
  7. Take note of the reminders. Select Set my company file to use manual calculations if you want to continue.
  8. Close the Help window. Select OK on the QuickBooks Desktop Information window.
  9. Close and reopen QuickBooks to apply the changes.

If you’re using QuickBooks Desktop 2019:

  1. Update QuickBooks to the latest release.
  2. Go to the Edit menu, then select Preferences.
  3. Select Payroll & Employees, then go to the Company Preferences tab.
  4. In the “QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Features” section, select Full payroll.
  5. Select the Manual Payroll checkbox, then OK.
  6. Close and reopen QuickBooks to apply the changes.

Is manual payroll not for you? Reactivate or sign up for a subscription to easily manage your payroll.

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