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Online payroll pricing can be confusing and it can be hard to know if you’re comparing apples or oranges. For the sake of comparison we looked at the four options currently highlighted on Xero’s Add-On Partner pages for Payroll: iPayroll, Smart Payroll, FlexiPayroll and Crystal Payroll and found some big differences. 

The main factors to watch for are around ‘Who is going to file your PAYE returns with the IRD’ and ‘Who is actually going to pay your staff’. Once you understand these differences you can take a reasonable stab at which system presents you with the best value for money. And take note: GST is never included in the advertised figures, it’s always extra.


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All four of the payroll providers compared here charge a few dollars to get you set-up, with variations between $50 and $250, but that’s okay as they’re a one-off charge. It’s the on-going costs you really want to look into – so you clearly understand what is included. 

Smart, Flexi and iPayroll offer one service option only – ‘All Inclusive’. With this service you just have to login and complete your timesheet data each pay period and they do the rest; Calculating leave, PAYE, Kiwisaver, etc and then they file for you PAYE returns with the IRD and pay your staff. Sound’s handy, but it’s not for everyone – and costs do vary. 

Crystal is the only online payroll provider here to offer you some choice. They too have an ‘All Inclusive’ option – called Basic Bureau – but they also offer lower cost options for those of us who remain Do-It-Yourself at heart.

If you’re considering a shift away from the older style of traditional PC-based software (such as Ace Payroll, IMS or MYOB) then you’ll be used to managing your own IR Filing (your monthly PAYE returns) and paying your own staff. You’ll probably then appreciate that, for a few dollars less, Crystal Payroll’s Agency Service will include management of your PAYE filing but leaves you to manage paying your own staff – while their lowest cost Self Service account is fully DIY (You pay your staff and you file your PAYE with the IRD just as you’ve always done).

We got our calculators out and here are some examples: 

 * Say you have 5 employees and pay them monthly. The annual costs for an ‘All Inclusive’ account with Smart are just $251, Crystal $319, iPayroll $508 and Flexi $600. However you could choose a Self Service account with Crystal for only $199 as long as you don’t mind paying your staff yourself – and Crystal will still do your (PAYE) IR Filing for you at this price.

* Or you may have 10 employees and pay weekly. Your annual cost with Smart is $967, Flexi $1200 and with iPayroll $1313. Crystal can do the same ‘All Inclusive’ for $815 – or you could just use their system for Self Service at only $299  – or let them include management of your IR Filing for $419 (Agency Service). Whatever works best for you.

* Alternatively you may have 20 employees and pay fortnightly. Smart will do it all for $1097, iPayroll for $1313 and Flexi for a whopping $2400. Crystal will do it all for $913 or you could chose Agency Service for $709 or Self Service for $529.

Obviously it’s worth doing a little bit of math before committing yourself – and remember: Price shouldn’t be the most important factor when you are weighing up your options. Service and Ease-of-Use should also be strongly considered. Just be sure to choose with a clear understanding of all your possible options…

View Crystal Payroll’s service options here