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How to use QuickBooks to pay payroll taxes and other liabilities


This article provides information about how to pay your payroll liabilities with QuickBooks Desktop.

Expected Outcome

You can pay taxes and other liabilities using QuickBooks Desktop.


You are subscribed to Basic or Enhanced payroll service.


To learn about paying your payroll liabilities, read the following knowledge base articles:


Additional tips

Know your tax schedule

Employers have different payroll tax payment and filing schedules, depending on the size of their payroll. You must know your tax schedule, so you can pay your payroll taxes on time. To learn more, see the knowledge base article, How to set your tax deposit due dates.

Do not use the Write Checks window

A common mistake among new QuickBooks Desktop payroll users is to pay payroll taxes and other payroll liabilities with the Write Checks window. Do not use the Write Checks window to pay liabilities. Instead, create payroll liability checks to pay a payroll liability. By creating payroll liability checks, QuickBooks Desktop can accurately track how much tax and other liabilities you've paid, as well as how much you still owe. To learn how to create payroll liability checks, see the knowledge base article, Set up and pay scheduled and custom (unscheduled) liabilities.

Update your SUI and SDI rates

QuickBooks Desktop payroll subscribers in most states must update their state unemployment (SUI) rates themselves. The QuickBooks Desktop payroll tax table does not include updates to these rates because states assign each employer a unique rate. Employers located in states that have state disability insurance (SDI) must also update their SDI rates themselves. Learn how by reading the knowledge base articlel Change state unemployment insurance (SUI) rates.

View the QuickBooks Desktop payroll tax table

At some point, you might decide you want to take a look at the tax table QuickBooks Desktop payroll uses to calculate your taxes. To do this, you can run a Payroll Item Listing report that shows you the tax rates and wage bases for each of your taxes.

To run a Payroll Item Listing report:

  1. From the Lists menu, select Payroll Item List.
  2. Click the Reports menu button, and select Payroll Item Listing.

Checking a rate

The Amount column of the Payroll Item Listing report shows the tax rate of all flat-rate taxes (such as federal unemployment or Social Security). Depending on the tax, the rate either comes from the QuickBooks Desktop Payroll tax table (which is delivered to you via payroll updates) or is one you entered manually when you set up the payroll item (such as a local tax not tracked by QuickBooks Desktop Payroll or your state unemployment rate, which is unique to each employer and therefore not included in the QuickBooks Desktop Payroll tax table).

Checking a wage base

The Annual Limit column of the Payroll Item Listing report shows the tax's current wage base limit, or maximum annual wage subject to this tax. For Social Security, federal and state unemployment taxes, and most other taxes supported by the payroll update, the wage base limit comes from the QuickBooks Desktop Payroll tax.

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