7 Best Online Tax Software for the Self-Employed

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Tax return check

Updated 3/23/16

When you’re self-employed, filing taxes can be a nightmare. In lieu of W-2s, multiple 1099s start trickling into your mailbox. If you’re a sole proprietorship or solo LLC, you’ll have to tackle Schedule C. If you run an LLC with your spouse, depending on your business structure, and filing status, you may be looking at filling out Schedule K-1.

You have deductions to take, and credits to find. Tax preparation software should make the process easier, guiding you through each step as it sorts out the complicated jargon, and identifies the various additional forms you’ll be required to file.

Unfortunately, when you start venturing into all those additional forms, many tax software programs will start charging you additional fees, or, worse yet, not have the forms or support available to help you meet your tax-filing needs.

With those unique needs in mind, we’ve compiled a list of online tax preparation products that support the self-employed. Every product will have its pros and cons; your decision will likely boil down to how much support you need versus how much you’re willing to spend. Listed in ascending order according to price, these prices are subject to change throughout the tax season, especially for bigger brands.

For the sake of simplicity, ‘Price’ refers to the upfront cost (which includes filing your Federal return), and we make note if the State return is an additional charge as well as any alternative pricing options. The below tax preparation software is ranked based on price.

1. OnLine Taxes

Price: Free
State Return: $9.95
Alternative Pricing Structure: Pay $7.95 for the Premium version with live chat, phone support, audit support, year-over-year comparison, and get your state return for $7.95.

Pros

  • This is the cheapest option that made the cut!
  • The free package includes email as the only option for customer support, but paying the small fee to upgrade to premium gives you access to live chat and phone support.
  • Basic software that gets the job done, especially for those who feel confident filing with limited guidance.

Cons

  • Additional fee of $29.95 for paying for OnLine Taxes’ services through your refund instead of upfront.
  • No app available.
  • This program is no frills. You input your data into forms through the interview process, and your information will be applied to your returns for you to review. While customer support is available, you will not get a lot of help from the product itself.

 

2. FreeTaxUSA

Price: Free
State Return: $12.95
Alternative Pricing Structure: Pay $5.95 for the Deluxe version with audit support, live chat customer support options, and unlimited amended returns. State returns still priced at $12.95

Pros

  • Incredibly affordable.
  • This software takes you through the entire process, starting with an interview that is built to help you find write-offs, and including prompts for various deductions and credits.
  • Speedy reply time for email support. Guarantee of 2 days, but most people report getting an answer within an hour.

Cons

  • Customer service options are restricted to email. If you purchase the Deluxe package, you will also have access to live chat, but no phone-in help is available.
  • No app available.
  • No fancy calculators.

 

3. TaxACT Premium

Price: $29.99
State Return: $19.99
Alternate Pricing Structure: Pay $29.99 for the Ultimate bundle package, and get your state return for free.

Pros

  • Quite possibly the best value on our list, especially if you go for the Ultimate.
  • Customer service is available through email and phone.
  • As you file, you’ll be inundated with tips and explanations to help you through the process.

Cons

  • No app available for filing current year’s taxes at this level.
  • No audit support outside a collection of online articles.

 

4. OnePriceTaxes.com Premium

Price: $39.95
State Return: Free (included in price)

Pros

  • What you see is what you get; there are no hidden fees. If you order the $39.95 Premium package, you won’t pay anymore for add-ons or filing fees.
  • Live chat customer support, though it is often deferred to email that is answered within 24 hours. As more people start filing, that wait time may become longer.
  • While there is no interview, the program does hold your hand through the filing process, offering explanations along the way, and offering deduction tips to maximize any refund.

Cons

  • No phone support.
  • No app available.
  • No audit support.
  • Limited guidance on additional forms such as Schedule C. While these forms are available, the instruction is not there, and questions will have to be filed through customer support.

5. 1040.com Premium

Price: $39.95
State Return: $19.95

Pros

  • Customer service available through live chat, though it is typically deferred to email.
  • Mobile capabilities, but no app to actually file your return.
  • Guidance through the filing process, with links to applicable articles on their robust blog.

Cons

  • No phone support available. Customer service tends to rank lack luster when compared to other programs.
  • No filing app available, though you can file via mobile.
  • No audit support.
  • Additional fees may apply. For example, if you want to pay for 1040.com services out of your refund, you’ll have to pay extra.

 

6. H&R Block Premium

Price: $74.99
State Return: $39.99

Pros

  • Customer support available via email, live chat, and phone.
  • Live, in-person audit support.
  • Detailed guidance throughout the filing process.

Cons

  • Users report difficulty navigating when an error is found.
  • You may be subject to some additional fees, especially if you opt to receive a refund on MasterCard’s Emerald card.
  • App is available, though it is difficult to use and gets poor ratings.

 

7. TurboTax Home & Business

Price: $79.99
State Return: $39.99

Pros

  • Automatic import of W-2 and 1099 data from participating employers.
  • During the 2014 tax season, TurboTax users were up in arms as they were charged extra fees to file additional forms like Schedule C, or denied the capability to do so. TurboTax heard the uproar, and has reverted to old functionalities including these forms for the 2015 tax year.
  • Help is available on-screen with a live agent who can see your screen as you ask your question. Additional help is available via forums, where questions may be answered by TurboTax or fellow users.
  • Comprehensive app.

Cons

  • TurboTax has a solid product, but has been raising their prices year after year. This is the most expensive option on our list.
  • If you want to pay for TurboTax out of your refund, you may be charged a processing fee. If you want TurboTax MAX, which includes audit assistance, tax identity restoration, and limited wait times when you call in for help, you will have to pay an additional fee, as well.

 

While price doesn’t necessarily indicate a superior product on our list, those who feel more comfortable with tax terminology and procedures are likely to find their best fit near the top amongst the cheaper options. Those who need intense assistance may wish to pay more for products with advanced features located at the bottom of the list.

When you’re self-employed, tax season can be overwhelming. The good news is that there’s no shortage of options to help you meet your filing needs.

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