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Get started with QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Enhanced 

by QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Enhanced Updated 9 months ago

Learn the info needed and process behind how to set up your new QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Enhanced.

Pay your team quickly, accurately, and on time with QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Enhanced. You’ll need to complete a few tasks to get started. 

Step 1: Activate your payroll subscription

Once you purchase QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Enhanced subscription, you need to activate it. The steps to activate depend on if you purchased it online, by phone, or from a retail store.

If purchased online or by phone

If you purchased your payroll online or by phone, you’ll receive a 16-digit service key by email. You’ll enter this key in QuickBooks so you can use the payroll features. 

If you didn’t receive your service key, check your junk or spam folder, or use our automated Service Key Retrieval tool. You'll need to sign in using your Intuit Account login.

  1. Open your QuickBooks Desktop company file. 
  2. Go to Employees, then Payroll
  3. Select Enter Payroll Service Key
  4. Select Add
  5. Enter your service key. 
  6. Select Next, then Finish
  7. Wait for the new Tax Table to be downloaded completely. 

If purchased from a retail store

  1. Open your QuickBooks Desktop company file. 
  2. Go to Employees, then Payroll
  3. Select Install Payroll from Box.
  4. Enter the Payroll License and Product Information in the Payroll Activation page. You can find your license and product info on a yellow sticker on the CD folder inside your box.
  5. Select Continue
  6. Follow the on-screen steps to complete your payroll activation, including entering your service key. 

Step 2: Complete your payroll setup tasks

In these tasks, you’ll add your employees, set up your federal and state payroll taxes, and enter any paychecks and tax payments you’ve already paid this year.

We know it takes time to get your payroll info into QuickBooks. So the setup is designed to allow you to add info at your convenience and save as you go. 

  1. Go to Employees, then Payroll Setup
  2. Follow the on-screen steps to add your employees, set up your company payroll items and taxes, then enter pay history (if applicable).

In this task, you’ll enter your employees’ info, and you can invite your employees to enter some of their own info through our free QuickBooks Workforce product if you use QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Enhanced.  

Info you’ll need for each employee:

  • Completed Form W-4 and any state equivalent forms if applicable
  • Hire date
  • Birth date
  • Pay rate
  • Any paycheck deductions such as contributions to insurance, retirement, or wage garnishments
  • Bank account or pay card info for direct deposit (if applicable)
  • Sick, vacation, PTO accrual rates and balance (if applicable)

Check out this video to learn how to add your employees:

In this task, you can select from a preset list of pay items, insurance benefits and retirement deductions, or you can set up customer items.  If you offer your employees paid vacation and/or sick time off, you can add those too. 

Once you’ve set up your payroll items and time off, you can use the Assign to employees button to apply the items to multiple employees at once. 

Watch this video to learn how to set up your company items:

In this task, you’ll add your federal and state payroll tax info. If you use QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Enhanced, you can also set up to pay your payroll taxes electronically. 

Info you’ll need:

  • Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
  • State Withholding and/or Unemployment account numbers: Contact your state agencies to register
  • Federal and state deposit frequencies:  how often you are required by the IRS and state to pay your taxes
  • State tax rates: Unemployment, surcharges, state disability, paid family leave, etc.

Check out this video to learn how to set up your payroll taxes

If you've already paid employees this year, you'll need to add those paychecks and any tax payments you've made.  This info is included on your employees’ W-2s at the end of the year. 

If you haven’t paid employees yet this year, you won’t need to complete this step. 

Info you’ll need:

  • Pay stubs or payroll reports for each of your employees paid this year (including any no longer with your business) 
  • Tax liability reports or tax payment receipts or statements

Check out this video to learn how to add your pay history

Check out this video to learn how to enter tax payments you've made this year

In this task, if you entered pay history, you’ll enter federal and state tax filing details for closed quarters.  QuickBooks will review all the pay history info and check for errors.  This ensures your employees’ W-2s are correct at the end of the year. 

Info you’ll need: 

  • Quarterly federal and state payroll tax forms for closed quarters (941, State Unemployment Insurance, etc)
QuickBooks Payroll Enhanced

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