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Set up a prior payroll

Learn how to set up a prior payroll for Online Payroll.

Do you have a prior payroll you need to add to QuickBooks Online Payroll Enhanced or Intuit Online Payroll? We explain what you need to know about prior payrolls. And show you how to set prior payrolls.

What you need to know about prior payrolls

Enter prior payrolls if you have paid wages during the current calendar year before using our Online Payroll services. This is to ensure accurate year-to-date(YTD) totals on your pay stubs going forward, and correct W-2 information at the end of the year.

You don't have to enter prior payroll if...
  • You're a new business, and paying employees for the first time.
  • You're an existing business, but running your first payroll of the calendar year.
  • You've recently changed your business entity (Employer Identification Number, FEIN), and are running the first payroll for the new entity.


  • Only prior payrolls from within the current calendar year can be recorded.
  • It's important to include all employees, including terminated employees who've been paid within the current calendar year.
  • If you already have paychecks created, but would want to enter prior payrolls, please contact Payroll Support for assistance.

Part 1: Get started with payroll

To set up a payroll account in QuickBooks Online Payroll Enhanced, follow these steps. (Scroll down for instructions for Intuit Online Payroll.)

  1. Select Workers, then Get Started.
  2. To help you set up your payroll account, there are few questions you need to answer:

    Get started with QuickBooks Payroll in three steps

    1. Have you paid W-2 employees in the current year?
      • Yes, I've paid employees in 2018: Select this option if you want to record the payrolls you have so far in the current calendar year.
      • No, have not paid employees in 2018: Select this option if you are a new employer who doesn't have any payrolls to record yet.

      (See Have you paid W-2 employees in the current year for more details.)

    2. When will you first run payroll with QuickBooks Online Payroll?
      • Choose a date. Dates given vary on the signup date. In the example image, sign up date is within quarter 3.
    3. How did you pay your employees?

      (See Enter gross up prior payrolls in Online Payroll for assistance.)

Part 2: Add employees

Now it's time to add employees. This includes terminated employees paid during the current calendar year. Gather the following employee informaiton:

  • W-4 information
  • Pay information
  • Pay history

Once you have all the information needed:

  1. Select Add an employee.
  2. Enter employee's basic information and pay information.
  3. In the employee's profile, an option to enter payroll history appears, select Enter 2018 prior pay details.
  4. To help you enter the employee's information, we would like to know when was the employee got paid.

  • Questions vary on the sign up date. Your answers in step 1, determine what needs to be entered in step 2.
  • If there are missing payroll items such as other pay types, deductions, or contributions, just select Cancel to go back, and add them.
  • Make sure all the amounts you enter are correct as this information reflect on your payroll reports and tax forms.
  1. In the example below, sign up date is quarter 3. Select Yes or No if you have paid your employees on the give period.
  2. Depending on your answers in step 1, enter the year-to-date totals of the employee, broken down by pay type and tax type. Use the payroll details report you have gathered from your previous payroll provide.

    Add employee pay information in QuickBooks Payroll

    1. Why QuickBooks Online Payroll asks you if you have paid and employee as you add them?
    2. Enter paycheck totals for your W-2 employees.
    Payroll items Description
    a. Regular wages Total employee compensation (salary or hourly) in $ amount.
    b. Federal Income tax Also known as federal withholding or FIT.
    c. Social Security and Medicare Both are know as FICA taxes
    d. State Income tax Also known as state withholding or PIT/SIT.
    e. State disability Ins. This tax item only shows if the state has SDI.
    f. Net pay This is optional as it automatically calculates after you select Continue.
  3. Repeat Part 2 and keep adding employees and their payroll information as needed.
  4. Select Continue to proceed with the tax setup.

Part 3: Set up tax information

Add and confirm the following information:

Business information Federal tax information State tax information
  • Business name
  • Filling address
  • Type of business
  • FEIN
  • Type of filer
  • Deposit schedule
  • State EIN
  • SUI rate
  • Tag along tax rates if any
  • Deposit schedule

Part 4: Enter company totals

To help us calculate your payroll accurately going forward, enter the company totals for the current quarter. Current quarter payrolls should be entered by pay date.

  1. Select Add pay date to enter company totals for the current quarter. (See Add prior payroll totals by paycheck date for more details.)

    Add pay date in QuickBooks Payroll

  2. Enter company payroll totals by pay date.

    These are the total payroll of employees you have paid broken down per pay date. Select Done. We need your current quarter taxes by paycheck date so we can produce accurate tax forms.  Review this report to find these totals.

    See  Enter company payroll totals for the current quarter for more details.

    Provide payroll totals in QuickBooks Payroll

  3. Add more pay dates as needed and then Continue.
  4. Enter Paycheck history quarterly detail, and then select Continue.

    See Paycheck history quarterly detail for more details.

    Paycheck history quarterly detail in QuickBooks Payroll

  5. You have successfully entered your prior payrolls and ready to run your first payroll.

    All done you're ready to run your first payroll in QuickBooks Payroll

Set up payroll with Intuit Online Payroll

If you have Intuit Online Payroll follow these steps.

  1. Gather the payroll information per employee, including terminated employees.
  2. Select Edit in the Employees column, and add the employees you have paid in the current calendar year, including terminated employees.
  3. Enter the information needed (e.g., name, w-4 information, pay schedule, pay rate, pay types, or deductions), and select Continue.
  4. Complete tax setup first to enter prior payrolls.
  5. Choose an answer to the following questions:

    Set up payroll in Intuit Online Payroll

    • Have you paid any W-2 employees in (year)? - Your answer to this question will determine the path the Prior Payroll Setup Interview will take.
      • No, I haven't paid any employees this year: Do not choose this option unless you have not paid employees this year. Selecting this option will bypass the Prior Payroll entry screens and you will not have the opportunity to enter Prior Payrolls . If you have already paid employee's this year and create new paychecks without first entering prior payroll, your taxes will not calculate accurately and this could result in penalties.
      • Yes, I've already paid employees this year: Choose this option if you have paid employees this year. You will be given the opportunity to enter the Prior Payroll details.
      • No, I've paid 1099 contractors, but not W-2 employees. Select this option if you currently do not have w2 employees and pay 1099 contractors only.
    • How did you pay your employees?
      • Paychecks (direct deposit or check with taxes taken out): In the next section, you will use the payroll and tax reports you have obtained from your previous payroll provider to enter the payroll details for the year.
      • Lump sum payments (cash or check, with no taxes taken out): If you have paid employees with a lump sum and have not withheld taxes you must contact payroll support before proceeding. An agent will help you locate resources you will use to calculate the amounts you should have withheld.
  6. Select the employee's name to start entering prior payroll.
  7. Select Yes if you have paid the employee on the given date range, or No if you haven't.

    The questions vary on the signup date. In the example below, the questions were if they have paid employees in quarter 1 to quarter 2 and on or after the 1st day of quarter 3 since the signup date is within quarter 3.

    2018 pay example in Intuit Online Payroll

  8. Depending on your answer in step no. 7, enter the YTD totals per employee. Use the payroll details report you have gathered from your previous payroll provider, and then select Continue.

    Payroll details report in Intuit Online Payroll

    • YEAR-TO-DATE TOTALS AS OF TODAY:  These are the total payrolls from July 1st up to current, broken down per pay type, tax type, or deductions and contributions if any.
    • YEAR-TO-DATE TOTALS AS OF JUNE 30:  These are the total payrolls from January 1 to June 30, broken down per pay type, tax type, or deductions and contributions if any.
  9. After entering prior payrolls to all employees, select Done with Employee Totals

    Employees you've paid in 2018 report in Intuit Online Payroll
  10. Enter Company Payroll Totals. These are the total payrolls of employees you have paid broken down per pay date. Select Continue.

    Company payroll totals in Intuit Online Payroll
  11. Enter YTD totals for Company-paid Taxes, and select Continue.

    Employer paid taxes in Intuit Online Payroll
  12. You can now start running your first payroll. Select Continue.

    Completing paycheck history in Intuit Online Payroll

Frequently Asked Questions

Get the payroll reports from your previous provider, or review employees paychecks. YTD payroll totals usually show on their paychecks. If you were manually tracking payroll, gather all the reports you have.

Basic Information

  • Hire date
  • Gender
  • W-4 info:
    • Name
    • Address
    • SSN
    • Marital status
    • Withholding allowance (federal and state)

Pay Schedule

  • Weekly
  • Bi-weekly
  • Monthly
  • Semi-monthly

Pay Rates

  • Hourly rates
  • Salary

Other pay types

  • Deductions/contributions
  • Year-to-date payroll details

  • Quarter 1: January 1 - March 31
  • Quarter 2: April 1 - June 30
  • Quarter 3: July 1 - September 30
  • Quarter 4: October 1 - December 31

Year to Date Totals for Each Employee

  • Gross Wages (by paytype such as Salary, Regular, and Pay)
  • Tax Amounts (by tax type such as Federal Withholding and Social Security)
  • Deduction Amounts (by deduction type, pre-tax and after-tax such as 401(k), health insurance)
  • Net Pay

Year to Date Totals for Each EE as of the last paycheck in the previous quarter

Report should include:

  • Gross Wages (by paytype)
  • Tax Amounts (by tax type)
  • Deduction Amounts (by deduction type, pre-tax and after-tax)
  • Net Pay

Payroll totals for the current quarter by pay date

Report should include:

  • Pay Period & Date
  • Gross Wages (by paytype)
  • Tax Amounts (by tax type)
  • Deduction Amounts (by deduction type, pre-tax and after-tax)
  • Net Pay

Year to date and quarter to date totals of company-paid taxes

This includes employer taxes such as:

  • FUTA Employer
  • Social Security Employer
  • Medicare Employer
  • State Unemployment taxes

All tax payments paid this year

Transaction Receipts should include:

  • Type of Tax Payment
  • Total Taxes Paid
  • Date of Payment

Yes. If they are paid on the current calendar year, you need to add them and their payroll information.

Discrepancies between what was entered at the employee level and entered at the company level will be highlighted on this screen. Select Show details for further information.

In the example below, an extra $0.50 was entered in the Total by Company table. To resolve this discrepancy, you would need to decrease one of the pay date totals (either 11/15/2012 or 11/29/2012) by $0.50.

Correction needed from prior payrolls in QuickBooks Payroll

Common errors include but are not limited to:

  • Omitting a paycheck on an employee's YTD total.
  • Omitting a company-total payroll in the current quarter.
  • Adding a duplicate payroll at the employee or company level.
  • Transposing tax types or amounts.
  • Typographical errors.

For more details, see Employee totals and company totals do not match .

Need help?

Contact Payroll Support for assistance.

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