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QuickBooks Payroll Update Error PS038

QuickBooks Payroll update error PS038 occurs mostly on the older versions of QB desktop i.e. 2017 and lower. Updating your application may resolve the error or follow this guide for a solution.

QuickBooks Troubleshooting Guide:

QuickBooks Payroll update error PS038
QuickBooks Payroll update error PS038 (2)

Are you facing the QuickBooks payroll update error PS038 message while trying to download or update payroll in QuickBooks? This is a common error for users with QuickBooks versions from 2017 or previous years. Intuit was able to permanently fix this issue with the launch of the 2018 QB Desktop, however users continue to get messages such as “QuickBooks payroll won’t update error PS038; validate payroll subscription” which maybe caused due to a different reason.

This being said, you can either upgrade to the latest version of QB, or just follow our article and learn how to resolve QuickBooks error PS038 avoid being stuck with your paycheck “online to send” in a couple of very simple steps.

What is QuickBooks payroll update error PS038?

The QuickBooks payroll update error PS038 is an error that primarily occurs while trying to send paychecks online. but then the paychecks get stuck as „Online to Send“. The error message says: „QuickBooks payroll won’t update. Error PS038. Valid Payroll subscription.“ This makes it impossible to send payroll data to employees and therefore you may be unable to continue with your current accounting operations.

Another reason for payroll error PS038 could be a damaged company file or the retrieval of the latest payroll update when recovering a current QuickBooks payroll update and validating the payroll subscription.

Resolve QuickBooks payroll update Error PS038 for QuickBooks Desktop 2017

Note: Do not forget to back up your company file and all your payroll data    before beginning with the troubleshooting!

Make sure that your QuickBooks Desktop has the latest updates of payroll tax tables installed.

Fix No. 1:   Update QuickBooks Desktop

  • Update your QuickBooks Desktop to the latest release.
  • After the successful update, restart your computer.
  • Open QuickBooks and click on My Payroll Services in the Employees
  • Click Send Usage Data.
  • If you are able to send the data, go ahead and update the payroll again.
  • Should you still receive the PS038 error message, continue with the next step.

Fix No. 2:   Paychecks stuck as „online to send“

In case you have paychecks stuck as „online to send“, you don’t have to edit or delete them. Just note down the Number of matches, which you can find in the bottom right corner of the Find window. Make sure to note down the oldest and newest stuck checks for further reference later. Follow the below steps to determine your stuck paychecks:

  • Click on Edit, and then Find.
  • Click on the Advanced tab and find the Choose Filter
  • Select Detail Level from the list Filter, and then click on Summary Only.
  • Go back to the Choose Filter section, and click on Online Status from the list Filter.
  • Now select Online to Send in the drop-down menu.
  • If you click on Find, you will see the paychecks that haven’t been sent successfully.
  • Run a verify data to see which paychecks are stuck.

Fix No. 3:   Rebuild data to remove stuck paychecks

  • Backup your QuickBooks company file.
  • Run Verify data.
  • In case the Verify Data shows your stuck paychecks, run a rebuild data. Now the rebuild should show the fixed paychecks.

Why the rebuild isn’t able to remove the stuck paychecks?

  • Perhaps an Accountant Copy is still pending. In this case you can merge the Accountant’s changes, or cancel it to continue. This would require a new Accountant Copy to be made if the accountant still needs to make changes.
  • It is possible that a Condense Data was performed on the QuickBooks data file for the specific dates that also include your stuck paychecks.
  • Even though it will not cause the PS038 error message, maybe your stuck paychecks are beyond the oldest date for billing.


If you are running into the error PS038 while trying to update payroll on your QuickBooks Pro, Premier or Enterprise desktop application than make sure to update your software to see if the problem is resolved or diagnose with the following troubleshooting steps mentioned in this article to resolve the Payroll Update Error PS038.

We hope that this article has enabled you to permanently resolve the QuickBooks Payroll Update Error PS038 with just a few clicks. However, if you should still receive the error message, don’t risk the loss of data, since payroll data contains sensitive information and we would rather advise you to contact our Help desk for reliable and thorough support. Our Experts are available through out Pacific standard time from 9.00 am to 8.00 PM. Get easy access to our team by dialing on +1 971 205 3827.

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