Being self-employed is rewarding, but there are some caveats, one of which becomes more obvious at the end of each year — while you’re preparing to file your taxes. As an entrepreneur, and self-employed individual there’s a lot you must consider come tax time and the process is a lot different than doing a simple file. You have to keep track of your personal and business expenses and get your records in order, as well as review all of the tax deductions and credits, choosing what matches your experiences. At least, that’s the case if you do it all alone.
Of course, there are some alternatives. You can enlist the help of a tax professional, but that would mean printing all of your documents and bringing them into an office — or sharing the digital lot. You can also take advantage of the best tax software for self-employed professionals. These tools will guide you through the filing process and help you maximize your deductions and credits. The best part is you can stay home the entire time, or work from wherever your office is located. We’ve taken the time to research the best tax software, whether you’re a freelancer claiming some of your side gigs, or a small business owner claiming your profits for the quarter.
Here are the best tax packages we evaluated.
1. TurboTax Self Employed
Best for wanting broad software compatibility
Perhaps the most recognizable name in tax software, TurboTax, owned by Intuit, proposes the Self Employed version for both those who are actually self-employed and for those who run a small business. The package is $89 for your federal filing and $39 for each state, if you choose to use it for state taxes.
As with most offers, you can start working on Self Employed for free; you only pay once you’re ready to file.
Among the primary differentiators for Self Employed is the inclusion of support for Schedule C/C-EZ, the main form for profit and loss from a business. In addition, home business expenses, health coverage, and small employer pension forms are included.
TurboTax boasts functions for industry-specific deductions, such as for real estate, construction, or even ride-sharing.
Intuit emphasizes the fact that it is ready for the new 1099-NEC form, the form you either use to pay your sub-contractors or the form you receive as a contractor from your client. You can snap a picture of your 1099-NEC with your phone and have it automatically uploaded to the software. The software also pledges to make it “a breeze” to enter data on the money you’ve earned from Uber or Lyft ride-sharing jobs.
TurboTax also comes with a live service that will connect you with a human tax expert. The company emphasizes that this can be an advantage for preparing quarterly taxes, as you can draw upon these individuals on an on-demand basis, year-round.
TurboTax has the broadest platform support among software, with downloads available for Windows 7 through 10, Mac “Mavericks” through “Big Sur,” iOS, Android, and Chromebooks.
- Most extensive handholding to smooth your way through income and expense itemization.
- Most extensive platform support for downloads.
- Pricier than many other offerings
- Features such as uploading tax documents can be hard to locate.
- Self Employed version at $89 is the most expensive of the packages
2. TaxSlayer Self-Employed
BEST FOR: ROBUST TAX PREP SOFTWARE
In a prior year, more than 40 million taxpayers filed their taxes with TurboTax. On the market for more than 30 years, TurboTax is designed to take you through the entire tax preparation process quickly and painlessly.
Especially well-suited for those preparing taxes for their small business for the first time, TurboTax also provides shortcuts for those comfortable with the tax preparation process. Some of the features found in TurboTax include the following:
- Asset depreciation
- Mileage tracking for ride-share drivers
- Charitable contributions
- Unlimited employee tax forms
- Education tax credits
TurboTax also integrates with QuickBooks Self-Employed, which can help sole proprietors with tasks such as invoice tracking, separating personal expenses from business expenses, and tracking quarterly tax payments.
TurboTax is one of the higher priced options for preparing your business tax return. But one of the benefits of using TurboTax is a free one-year subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed. A mobile app for both iOS and Android devices is available and can be used to snap receipt photos that can be imported into TurboTax if desired.
- Good selection of plans available
- User-friendly navigation
- Option to access real-time live tax experts
- Pricing is higher than competitors
- Additional charges tacked on to fees
- Free support options are limited
3. eSmart Tax Self-Employed
eSmart currently supports Schedule D, which means that S Corporation owners can use the application to prepare and file their business tax return.
Other features available in eSmart Tax include the option to have their prepared return reviewed by a tax pro, as well as the ability to visit a Liberty Tax office to obtain additional assistance if needed.
eSmart Tax users can easily access their Tax Resources page, which provides access to Taxes 101, ACA forms, and filing instructions, as well as state and federal tax help.
Benefits of using eSmart Tax include lower pricing, the ability to file an S Corporation return, and free audit assistance. eSmart Tax does not include a mobile app, though you can access the application using a web browser on your mobile device.
- Includes Schedule D for S Corporations
- Offers good tax resources for filers
- Good expense deduction capability
- Help options within the application are limited
- No mobile app
- Free plan omitted from website offerings
4. TaxAct Self-Employed
Founded in 1998, TaxAct is a reliable alternative to the more popular tax preparation applications. Better suited for those who are familiar with the tax preparation process, TaxAct Self-Employed is a good fit for small business owners, sole proprietors, and freelancers, and currently guarantees the maximum tax benefit for its users.
One of TaxAct’s most useful tools for small business owners is the Deduction Maximizer, which uses a step-by-step process to uncover deductions specific to your particular business. Data importing options are also available, including the option to import not just W-2s but donation receipts as well.
TaxAct makes tax preparation easy with the use of assistants including the following:
- Donation Assistant: Helps you create a donation event and add details on items donated.
- Stock Assistant: A must for those that own stock. The Stock Assistant helps you easily calculate your gains or losses on any stock transactions.
- Forms Assistant: Provides easy access to all available tax forms using the links provided in the Forms Assistant.
- Topics Assistant: The Topics Assistant is great for when you get stuck, or just want additional information on any tax topic.
TaxAct Self-Employed’s cost is competitive with the market, but not the cheapest. There are also separate pricing plans available for Partnerships, C Corporations, and S Corporations.
TaxAct benefits users as it’s priced lower than its competition. Its Assistants can be very helpful during the tax preparation process. TaxAct also offers a mobile device for both iOS and Android devices.
- Easy to use interface
- Affordably priced
- Includes excellent help & support
- Data entry screens can be loaded down with text
- Free plan has no email or phone support
- State filing fee is high
Best for wanting to maximize value for dollar
FreeTaxUSA emphasizes the value provided for free federal filings, including Schedule C and 1099 income and deductions, which it contrasts to the need to purchase upgrades from TurboTax and others. State form filing is $14.99 per state. The company promises that “customers get the same business write-offs, the same calculations, and the same tax refund as more expensive services.”
The web-only online forms completion task guides users through a narrative set of questions about their business, such as “Do you need to enter information for another business?” when filling out business income.
FreeTaxUSA will import prior-year returns from TurboTax or H&R Block rather than users having to key those in.
Similar to other services, TaxFreeUSA offers guarantees. They include refunding your fees and giving you a credit to future service if you can show another online service is able to get you a larger refund. The company also pledges to pay penalties and interest if any are incurred via the service.
FreeTaxUSA also offers a Deluxe add-on option, for $6.99, that adds the ability to get priority in a chat queue for online support, and assistance with audits, and unlimited amended returns.
- Cheapest of any offering
- Lack of mobile, downloadable offerings
- Lack of extensive human assistance.
6. Jackson Hewitt Online Tax Pro
Best for complex returns needing professional input
Unlike most online tax offerings, Online Tax Pro from, either as a web form or a mobile app, gives you a real, live human being to assist you via telephone or a secure chat channel, for an unlimited number of sessions, rather than leaving you in a do-it-yourself process.
Online Tax Pro began during the pandemic, on the premise that you still want an office visit, but you can’t get there. The company apparently found that true, so they’ve continued the mixture of online filing with human assistance.
Jackson Hewitt emphasizes the time savings, the certainty, and the flexibility of the human element.
Online Tax Pro this year has ditched tiered pricing in favor of an all-you-can-eat $99 fee. The company pledges to handle a return of any complexity with that fee.
The company offers a “lifetime accuracy guarantee,” with reimbursement for penalties and interest in the case of a preparation error; and a “maximum refund guarantee,” refunding the fees plus $100 if another preparer can show you deserve a higher refund.
In addition to the web version, you can use the mobile app for iOS or Android to step through the process.
- Simple pricing
- Extensive network of physical offices should you want to have a real, live meeting with a preparer
- Partnership with Walmart allows for drop-off of your returns.
- Lack of mobile, downloadable offerings
7. H&R Block Self Employed
Best for business owners needing hand-holding
H&R Block may be known best for its in-office tax professionals, but the company stresses you can both file and even run your payroll using its software.
Self Employed is the top of Block’s online filings option, costing $84.99 for federal filings plus $36.99 for each state filing. As with TurboTax and others, you can start free and pay when you file.
The primary differentiator here from other Block offerings is the itemization of business expenses and depreciation of assets. Block emphasizes both the breadth of its deductions expertise encoded in the software, as well as tax classifications pertaining to businesses, such as non-profit or trust.
The user interface of the web forms is nicely laid out in terms of annotating each step of the way with additional information in a fairly easy-to-read format.
If you decide you want help from a pro, you can add online help from a live tax expert. Self-Employed Online Assist starts at $144.99. You can also drop-off your forms at an office without meeting face-to-face.
As an alternative to the web version, Block offers downloads. Premium and Business software for Windows, for $79.95, is the version it recommends for small businesses. That package has additional capabilities, such as the option to manage your payroll year-round.
- Simple, straightforward pricing
- Extensive network of offices if you decide you want to meet with a human
- Downloadable and mobile apps
- Self Employed package at $84.99 is among the most expensive
How To Choose an Online Tax Software Provider
Ease of use, price and customer service are three broad areas to look at when choosing the best platform for you.
Ease of Use
We know filing your tax return might be challenging. However, some tax software providers can help you ease through the process. Before selecting a tax software provider, consider the following questions:
- Does the product have easy navigation menus to identify where to input tax filing forms?
- Is there a Q&A tax interview that asks the right questions to guide you to the tax forms required to complete your tax return?
- Are there multiple support options, including phone, email, live chat, and tax expert assistance, to help you through the process?
- Is it possible to take a test drive before paying for the product?
Costs and Fees
Selecting a product that not only fits your needs but doesn’t break your budget is key. It’s a good idea to review the price of each product and consider the following:
- Which tax forms does the product include? For example, can you file for free if you have a student loan interest deduction?
- What add-ons does the product include? For example, consider whether the product consists of support, a tax deduction finding tool, or a tax expert if needed.
- Is there an additional fee for state tax filing? If so, how much? Does the product include a flat fee for multiple states, or will you be charged per state?
Free Filing Options
If you have a simple tax return, including a W-2 and a few tax deductions, you’ll likely be able to file your taxes for free. Many online tax software providers offer free filing for simple returns on their website. While these tax online software products provide these advertised versions, you may also qualify for the IRS Free File Program’s tax options (discussed later in our FAQ section).
Here are questions you should consider before selecting your product:
- Which forms does the tax online software provider allow you to file?
- Is there an additional cost for state tax return filing?
- Are there any income restrictions for those who may qualify?
- Are there support options available?
Customer Support Options
If you need extra hand-holding while completing your tax return, make sure you review support options. Here is a listing of questions to consider before selecting your product:
- Is there a way to contact support via phone? If so, what are the company’s operating hours?
- Does the product provide live chat or email service while completing the tax return?
- Is there an up-charge for additional support? If so, how much?
- Does the product provide a tax expert option to assist with filing taxes?