Encountering the PS038 payroll error in QuickBooks can happen during tax table updates or when generating payroll forms or reports. Typically, this error arises due to inaccurate system date and time settings, causing issues like stuck paychecks or hurdles in accessing payroll information. Another common trigger is when a paycheck in the payroll system is stuck as “Online to send.” Additionally, various other factors can contribute to the occurrence of the PS038 error code in QuickBooks, including:

  • Data corruption within the QuickBooks company file
  • Connectivity problems with internet settings
  • Incorrect configuration of Internet Security or Firewall applications
  • Absence of necessary files or components for updating payroll
  • Failure to authenticate digital signatures
  • Running multiple instances of QuickBooks simultaneously on the same system
  • Discrepancies arising from payroll items in QuickBooks
  • Use of outdated QuickBooks versions lacking support for certain payroll features due to discontinuation
  • Deactivation of FCS (QuickBooks File Copy Service)

Preparatory Steps Before Troubleshooting QuickBooks Error PS038

Before delving into troubleshooting QuickBooks Error PS038, it’s crucial to undertake certain preparatory steps to facilitate a smooth and effective resolution process. These preparatory actions are essential for successfully addressing the issue:

  1. Check QuickBooks Version: Ensure you’re using an Intuit-supported version like QuickBooks 2021, 2022, 2023, or 2024. Using the correct version guarantees your software is up-to-date and ready for efficient troubleshooting.
  2. Update Payroll Tax Tables: Keep your QuickBooks payroll system updated with the latest payroll tax tables. This update is essential for accurate payroll calculations and compliance with current tax regulations.
  3. Limit Rebuild Data Usage: Avoid excessive use of the Rebuild Data function, as it can complicate your data file, making troubleshooting more challenging.
  4. Operate in Single User Mode: Utilize QuickBooks in Single User Mode during troubleshooting to create a controlled environment, minimizing the risk of conflicting operations from Multi-User Mode and ensuring a focused and effective troubleshooting process.

By following these key steps, you’ll establish a robust groundwork for efficiently addressing QuickBooks Error PS038, increasing the likelihood of achieving a prompt and successful resolution.

How to Resolve QuickBooks Error PS038?

The QuickBooks payroll update error PS038 may arise if you attempt to download the updates without administrative privileges. Ensure that you’ve chosen the “Run as Administrator” option when launching the QuickBooks Desktop application. Additionally, incorrect system date and time settings can also impede the updates. Verify and adjust your system’s date and time accordingly. If the issue persists, follow the methods outlined below.

Method 1: Check Internet Security Software or Firewall Settings

The error may also arise from incorrect port numbers or configuration settings in the Firewall. Review and adjust the Firewall settings for QuickBooks Desktop, ensuring that ports such as 80 and 443 are enabled.

Method 2: Check Internet Connection Settings

The PS038 error may occur if payroll updates fail to download because of incorrect internet connection settings. To resolve this issue, you can verify your internet connection settings. Follow these steps:

  • In QuickBooks, select Internet Connection Setup.
  • Choose “Use my computer’s Internet connection settings to establish a connection when this application accesses the Internet”.
  • Click Next. Click Advanced Connection Settings.
  • Under the Advanced tab, select Restore Advanced Settings.
  • Click OK, then Done.

Method 3: Update your QuickBooks Desktop

It is possible to get payroll update error PS038 if your QuickBooks Desktop software is outdated. Here are some steps to check and update your QuickBooks Desktop software:

  • Find Help and click on Update QuickBooks Desktop.
  • Select Update Now, then click Get Updates.
  • After the update finishes, click Close, then reopen QuickBooks.
  • QuickBooks will prompt you to install the updates. Follow the on-screen instructions.

Now, Download the Latest payroll tax table using the below steps:

  • Go to the Employees menu and select Get Payroll Updates.
  • Verify your tax table version by checking the number next to “You are using the tax table version” option.
  • Click on Latest payroll news and updates to ensure it’s the correct version.
  • Select Payroll Update Info for additional details about the tax table version.
  • Then, click Download Entire Update and update to acquire the latest tax table.
  • An information window will appear with a “download is complete” message.

Method 4: Check and Fix the Stuck Paychecks

In QuickBooks Desktop, PS038 can also occur if your paycheck in payroll is stuck as “Online to send”. You can check the stuck paychecks in the paycheck report/paycheck list report. Here’s how:

  • In QuickBooks, navigate to the left pane and click on the Reports menu.
  • Select Check Detail Report.
  • Click Edit, then choose Find.
  • Click Advanced.
  • Go to the Choose Filter tab and select Detail Level from the Filter list.
  • Choose Summary Only.
  • Return to the Filter list, select Online Status, then choose Online to Send.
  • Click Find.
  • This will display all unsent paychecks.
  • Note the number of matches on the Find window, then close it.
  • Next, run the Verify and Rebuild tool in QuickBooks. This will identify stuck paychecks.
  • Once the Verify Data tool finishes, proceed to rebuild your data file.
  • Go to Utilities, then select Rebuild Data.
  • An information window will appear. Click OK.
  • You’ll be prompted to create a backup of the company file. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the backup.
  • After the backup process, the tool will automatically start rebuilding the file.
  • Wait for the rebuilding process to finish, then click OK.

Method 5: Check your QuickBooks Payroll Service Subscription

A missing or corrupt tax table file might cause an interruption in payroll updates, resulting in a PS038 error. Check your payroll service subscription by following these steps:

  • To begin, close the QuickBooks company file.
  • Now, open your QuickBooks application.
  • Navigate to Employees, then click My Payroll Service and select Manage Payroll Service Key.
  • The Service Keys window will appear.
  • Check the Service status; it should be active. If inactive, click Edit, then verify the service key number. If incorrect, enter the correct service key.
  • Click Next.
  • Uncheck the Open payroll setup field, then click Finish.

Method 6: Check Issues with Payroll Data/Usage Data

When you try to process payroll data, QuickBooks error PS038 may appear. It is possible to determine the cause of the issue by analyzing the payroll data. This is done by sending the payroll or usage data into QuickBooks. Here are the steps:

  • In QuickBooks, go to Employees and select Send Payroll Data.
  • The Send/Receive Payroll Data window will appear. Click on Send All.
  • If prompted, enter the payroll service PIN.

Method 7: Repair your Company File

The QuickBooks error PS038 can be caused by corrupted or damaged payroll data in the QuickBooks company file. Run the QuickBooks File Doctor to repair the corrupted company file.

  • To begin, download, install, and open the latest version of QuickBooks Tool Hub.
  • In Tool Hub, select Company File Issues.
  • Choose Run QuickBooks File Doctor.
  • In the QuickBooks File Doctor window, click on the affected company file.
  • You’ll be prompted to enter the QuickBooks Admin credentials. Enter the password and click Next.
  • The scanning process may take a few minutes, depending on your company file size.
  • Once the scan is complete, verify if the error has been resolved.

Method 8: Switch the Stuck Paychecks

In case the above method fails to fix the issue, then try toggling/switching the stuck paychecks as follows:

  • Open the stuck paycheck you wish to address.
  • Select Paycheck Detail.
  • In the Review Paycheck dialog box, input the earnings items identical to the last ones listed under Earnings.
  • You’ll encounter a Net Pay Locked message; select No.
  • Ensure there are no changes to tax amounts and net pay, then click OK.
  • If a Past Transaction message appears, click Yes.
  • Click Save, then Close.
  • If prompted with a Recording Transaction warning, click Yes.
  • Reopen the paycheck.
  • Select Paycheck Details.
  • Delete the recently added earnings items from the Earnings field.
  • Ensure tax amounts and net pay remain unchanged, then click OK.

If the issue persists or QuickBooks File Doctor fails to repair the company file, try Dancingnumbers for QuickBooks. Dancingnumbers is a professional third-party tool for repairing corrupted QuickBooks files. A free trial version of the software is available for you to review the tool. It repairs company files and shows you a preview of recovered data before saving them. Download it on any Windows computer.


It is possible for QuickBooks payroll error PS038 to occur for a variety of reasons. You can try the above methods to fix this payroll error. You can repair the QBW file by using for QuickBooks if the error is caused by corrupted payroll data in the company file. All versions of QuickBooks are compatible with this QuickBooks repair tool – from 2007 to 2023. It has advanced features that can help repair even severely corrupted QuickBooks files.