No one enjoys tax time and not everyone has a personal accountant to track expenses and search for write-offs. Luckily, there are a host of affordable tax programs to help self-employed individuals maximize their annual savings.
Self-employed professionals can benefit from cataloging expenses and tracking income with tax software. Take a look at our review of the best tax software for self-employed individuals to get started.
Best Tax Software For Self-Employed
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From minimizing your capital gains tax payments to tracking down every possible tax credit and deduction, tax programs do more than just help you stay organized. The software can also help extend the life of your business by saving you time and money.
We’ve collected and reviewed some of the best tax programs available for self-employed professionals, along with some additional tips that you can use to identify a great tax preparation software.
What is Tax Prep Software—and Do You Really Need It?
Self-employed men and women often have more complicated tax returns. There are a host of 1099 forms to compile and enter and self-employment taxes to pay.
Tax software can make filing your taxes easier. It can even analyze returns and expenses to find deductions that lower your tax burdens. All types of self-employment are not created equal.
Special and more in-depth tax software is also available for users who have particularly complicated returns. You might require special tax software if you:
- Own Rental Property. Investment taxes, particularly those related to rental properties, are some of the most complicated in the tax code. A tax program with specialized content can help you work within the bounds of the law by locating and helping you pay taxes that you might not even be aware that you owe—as well as locating all deductions related to your property.
- Had a Major Life Change: Whether you’ve tied the knot, had a baby or recently switched careers, major life changes also come along with major changes to your tax documents. A tax program can help introduce you to the new taxes you’ll have to pay, as well as the new deductions you can now take advantage of.
- Recently Became Self-Employed: If this is your 1st time handling your taxes as a self-employed individual or small business owner, a comprehensive tax program can be reassuring—and save you a massive amount of time and stress.
Best Tax Prep Software Qualities
The quality and features of tax prep software vary. Double check to be sure yours has these basic features:
- Quarterly tax payment support. As a self-employed individual, your taxes are not automatically deducted from the checks you receive like your counterparts who work for a larger employer. In addition to an annual tax payment, you are expected to make estimated quarterly payments on both the state and federal level.
While these payments don’t have to be 100% accurate (they’re called “estimated payments” for a reason!), you may have to pay a penalty to Uncle Sam if you neglect to make them entirely. The best tax software programs for the self-employed can help you set up quarterly payments for the next year that are automatically deducted from your account every 3 months.
- An easy-to-use interface. As an independent contractor or a small business owner, you’re busy enough as it is. Trying to work through a confusing or non-intuitive tax software isn’t just annoying—it can also increase the likelihood that you make expensive mistakes or miss a deduction.
Check out a few YouTube tutorials before purchasing a specialized tax software program to make sure that the interface is easy to understand and at your level of technical skill.
- Guiding questions. Every self-employment situation is unique, and you need your tax software to ask you a comprehensive set of questions to ensure that you’re tracking down every deductible possible. The best tax software providers offer a long list of questions and use A.I. to cater to your individual situation.
The Best Tax Software for Self-Employed Individuals
Take a look at the tax software that made the list and get started with your self-employed tax return today.
1. TurboTax Premier
Intuit’s TurboTax is 1 of the most widely-recognized lines of tax software currently on the market. It offers both powerful and easy-to-use programs in an aesthetically pleasing package.
TurboTax’s design and flow are what makes the software shine. The software scrolls through a dynamic set of questions that change depending on how you answer them, much in the same way that a tax professional would conduct an in-person consultation.
The Premier version offers a particularly in-depth version of TurboTax’s standard software. It’s best if you’re self-employed. Premier has additional options for calculating brokerage taxes and taxes associated with buying and selling stocks, as well as taxes and deductions associated with owning and maintaining rental properties.
TurboTax Premier can also quickly calculate capital gains taxes and import entries from GainsKeeper.
The paid versions also support online chat options. And veteran TurboTax users will love how easily the software can pull information from last year’s data.
2. H&R Block Self-Employed
H&R Block offers a less expensive alternative to TurboTax without sacrificing functionality. Like TurboTax, H&R Block’s software is friendly and easy-to-use. But some users have complained about the software’s inability to interpret answers.
H&R Block offers additional assistance handling self-employment taxes and navigating the deductions for a contractor or business owner. It also provides audit support to help you understand any notice from the IRS.
H&R Block also prides itself on 100% accuracy. It’s willing to reimburse you for any penalties due to error.
TaxAct is a budget-friendly alternative with packages that range from its free version to special software for freelancers and the self-employed. Prices range from $0 to $49.95.
TaxAct offers a money-back guarantee. Accuracy is guaranteed with up to $100,000 in compensation for errors.
The lower price point means you lose some of the bells and whistles that guide H&R Block Premium and TurboTax. But the system is more than capable of handling most types of self-employment.
The Life Events section is particularly useful if you’ve undergone a major life change this year. It hones in on factors that differ from your previous return like filing status, property ownership or tax bracket. Then it clearly explains how this change will affect your return.
TaxAct loses points for its interface. It’s a bit more cluttered than its competitors, but the software still shines if you need a cheaper alternative.
TaxSlayer is a family-owned, cloud-based tax prep platform. It offers simple technology and step-by-step instructions to file state and federal taxes.
TaxSlayer keeps it simple but efficient. You won’t be unpleasantly surprised with add-on fees for obscure deductions or needed tax forms.
You can choose between 4 subscription packages, which all cost less than $50. And if you’re an active duty military member, you can file your federal taxes completely free of charge. State returns will cost you an additional fee. TaxSlayer also offers a completely free version of its software for simple, straightforward tax returns.
Take advantage of TaxSlayer’s resources to keep up with changing tax laws and reforms. It guarantees you’ll get your largest possible refund using its software and tax reform calculators.
Tax Software Makes It Easy
Tax software can help you track your expenses throughout the year, so reporting is easy when tax season rolls around. You might be surprised to learn just how many deductions and write-offs you’re eligible for. You could even deduct a portion of your mortgage, utility bills or even vehicle payments .
If you’re self-employed, Benzinga is here to support your financial goals—whether you’re looking to grow your business or just make it through this tax season. We offer a wealth of resources to help you. Check out our guide to saving for retirement when self-employed to get started.