Knit vs QuickBooks Desktop Payroll

Payroll Comparison

Want a copy of our Guide to the Best Payroll in Canada? Download the full 45-page guide, including our handy comparison chart, by clicking here.

Payroll may not be the most exciting part of running a small business, but with the right software, it can at least be a quick and easy. Of course, this means choosing the right payroll provider for your business, which is no small feat.

To make the process of choosing a new payroll provider a little easier, we’ve conducted a head-to-head comparison of one of the biggest players in the industry, Intuit’s QuickBooks, and the payroll software startup, Knit. To find out how they compare, we’ll look at Knit vs QuickBooks Desktop Payroll on the basis of software, payroll features, HR and benefits, customer service, and cost.

Note: You might have noticed we’re writing about the difference between our service and someone else’s. We’ve done our best to give them a fair shake because we want you to make an informed decision. That said, we think we offer the best payroll service in Canada. Want to give Knit a try? Find out how to get started here.

Knit vs QuickBooks Desktop Payroll: An Overview

Knit QuickBooks Desktop Payroll
Cost Starting at $40 + $6/employee per month Starting at $66/month with QuickBooks Desktop Pro
Direct Deposit ✓(via Telpay)
The Provider Files ROEs and T4s ✕(assisted, but not automatically filed)
Bonus Handling
Auto-Run for Salary Payroll
Stat Holiday Pay Calculations(Automated)
Multiple Bank Accounts
Can Pay Contractors ✓ (T5018s yes, T4As no)
Employee Onboarding
Accountant/Bookkeeper Dashboard
Self-Serve Employee Portal
The Provider Automatically Remits to CRA
HR Modules
Performance Modules
Recruitment Modules
Benofits Management
Time-Tracking ✓(TSheets) ✓(TSheets)


When choosing a new (or your first!) payroll program, one of the first things to consider is whether you need a cloud payroll solution or a desktop solution.

Knit is a cloud-based payroll solution, which means that instead of storing information on a single computer, information is stored over the Internet—much like online banking. This is a great feature for business owners in any industry because it means their data is accessible from virtually anywhere, at any time, as long as there is an Internet connection. It also means they can run payroll at home, in the office, or even on vacation if they need to.

While most businesses appreciate the flexibility and security of a cloud payroll solution, there are some businesses that prefer to physically keep all their data in one place. In this case, business owners may prefer a desktop payroll solution like QuickBooks Desktop Payroll. With a desktop program, your payroll information is stored locally on one computer’s hard drive and can only be accessed from that specific computer. This means that you generally only need an Internet connection when updating the software or when sending data to banks and tax institutions.

While there are pros and cons to both cloud and desktop payroll solutions, it is important to note that desktop programs come with some unique challenges. For example, with cloud-based programs, your data is automatically backed up to the cloud, so you are never at risk of losing your information. However, with desktop programs, you must carry out these backups yourself or risk losing your information to computer glitches, theft of physical damage. Moreover, when software issues arise, desktop programs require an in-person visit by an IT specialist because the information is only accessible on one computer. However, with a cloud-based program, software issues can be addressed remotely. Finally, any updates to desktop programs require installing software ‘patches.’ In some cases, especially with older computers, the payroll program can become outdated because the update patches cannot be applied—an issue that does not occur with cloud-based programs.

Payroll Features

Although the software itself is important, the main thing you want to know is how well a program runs payroll. At its most basic, payroll software is designed to take care of the math for you, so that you can stay on top of your taxes and ensure that your payroll is accurate and CRA-compliant. While both Knit and QuickBooks Desktop Payroll take care of those tricky payroll calculations for you, this is where the similarities between the two programs end.

With QuickBooks Desktop Payroll, you simply enter the hours each employee worked and then the program will calculate the federal and provincial taxes for you. However, QuickBooks Desktop Payroll does not actually file and remit those taxes automatically. This means that you still have to do the work of filing and paying taxes each time payroll is run. This not only means a bit more work on your part, but also more vigilance to ensure your remittances are properly taken care of. This also means that you will need to manually file any T4s and ROEs as well.

In contrast, Knit is designed to handle the entire payroll process from start to finish. Not only does Knit calculate your payroll taxes, but it also automatically files and remits payroll taxes, such as EI and CPP, to the CRA every time they’re due. Knit also takes care of year-end forms such a T4s for you, and automatically prepares and files ROEs for you when an employee leaves. This auto remittance feature not only means less work on your part, but it also makes the payroll process easier, faster, and more accurate.

Beyond remittances, Knit also boasts a number of other useful payroll features that QuickBooks Desktop Payroll does not include. For example, Knit offers auto-run for salaried employees so you can essentially “set it and forget it.” Knit also boasts a handy employee portal that allows employees to go in and view their payroll history, their salary information, and access important documents such as paystubs, T4s, and ROEs. While these features are not necessarily “must-haves” for every business owner, they can make payroll process more manageable and more accessible for both employers and employees.

HR & Benefits

Both Knit and QuickBooks Desktop Payroll are designed to handle most business payrolls. However, like many other payroll providers on the market, Knit goes a step further to integrate HR and benefits into the same platform. Some of Knit’s standout HR features include an employee database, e-signature documents, employee performance reviews, employee onboarding, a cloud-based document repository, and vacation tracking. All of this is integrated with Knit’s payroll platform to allow for easy employee management and to remove the burden of double data entry.

On the other hand, QuickBooks Desktop Payroll does not offer integrated HR and benefits. While this is not a deal-breaker for many companies, having HR integrated with payroll can make it easier to sync up data about each employee and their salary—something that becomes increasingly important as a company grows.

Customer Service

Great customer service is important when it comes to any small business solution, but it’s particularly important when it comes to time-sensitive processes such as payroll.

Both Knit and QuickBooks are well aware of the importance of addressing payroll concerns as soon as possible. Both companies employ customer support teams of trained payroll specialists, who are equipped to handle most questions and concerns.

However, as mentioned above, desktop programs like QuickBooks Desktop Payroll often require an in-person visit from an IT specialist to resolve any software-related issues. In contrast, any software issues or glitches with cloud-based payroll programs can be solved remotely.


While cost is not always a deciding factor, it is certainly an important consideration when it comes to choosing a new payroll provider.

Because it is a desktop program, QuickBooks Desktop Payroll cannot be purchased as a stand-alone payroll solution. Instead, business owners must choose to buy the QuickBooks accounting software with payroll added on. The cost for QuickBooks Desktop Pro with Payroll starts at $66 per month for one user. The more robust version of the program, QuickBooks Desktop Premier with Payroll, starts at $83 per month for one user. While this price may seem higher than other payroll programs, remember that this is because it also includes the QuickBooks accounting software.

In contrast, Knit starts at $39 plus $4 per employee per month. This price includes the full use of Knit’s payroll platform, as well as most of its HR features. For the full HR suite, the cost is $39 plus $6 per employee per month. While Knit does not include accounting functions beyond payroll, it does offer the security and flexibility of cloud computing.

The Bottom Line

While there are a number of differences between Knit and QuickBooks Desktop Payroll, the biggest difference is that Knit is a cloud-based program, while QuickBooks Desktop Payroll is a desktop software.

For business owners that prefer the freedom to access their payroll information from virtually anywhere, a cloud-based solution is the best option. Not only is data easily accessible, but any software updates or bugs can be addressed remotely, without the need for an on-site visit from an IT specialist. Cloud-based software is also a more secure option as data is constantly backed up to the cloud and not at risk of physical damage or theft like a computer hard drive is.

While cloud-based payroll platforms like Knit offer great flexibility, some business owners prefer the peace of mind that comes from keeping all their information in one place. Those already familiar with QuickBooks desktop accounting software may also appreciate the familiarity of QuickBooks Desktop payroll.

To find out how Knit stacks up against other payroll providers, read our full Guide to the Best Payroll Software in Canada.