Best Self Employment Tax Software for 2024

Best Self Employment Tax Software for 2024

If you’re self-employed, you get to be your own boss – but that also means you’re on the hook for paying your fair share of taxes to the IRS and your state, if applicable. Business expenses, multiple 1099-Misc and 1099-NEC forms, Schedule C, and the federal self-employment tax are just some of the complications small business owners, freelancers, and gig workers face that can make filing taxes a pain – not to mention expensive.

Some tax software options require pricey upgrades for access to the necessary IRS forms freelancers and gig economy workers need, though those extra costs sometimes come with help and support from self-employment tax experts. If your taxes are particularly complicated or you need personalized advice, finding a local CPA or tax expert can help. But there are also several online tax software options available to help file your return without uprooting your budget. Read on to find our top picks for tax software for freelancers, gig workers, and other self-employed tax filers.

What does tax software do?

Online tax software helps you complete and file your tax return with the IRS by the filing deadline while simplifying complicated tax laws and industry jargon. Most tax software options walk you through the tax filing process in an interview format. As you enter details from your tax forms, the software will fill in the corresponding tax forms on your behalf. Many also provide comprehensive FAQs menus to answer pertinent questions as you file. The best tax software will take into account all the tax rules and laws to keep a running calculation of your tax refund.

Tax software will either file your tax return with the IRS electronically or allow you to print your tax return for mailing. Tax programs also let you enter your direct deposit information so that the IRS can send money straight to your bank account. You can also receive a check in the mail or have your funds added to a prepaid debit card.

Why do freelancers need to use tax software?

If you freelance, have a side hustle, or own your own business, you’re responsible for paying your share of income tax, along with self-employment tax. Freelancers typically do not have taxes withheld from their earnings, and figuring out the exact amount you owe can be tricky. It’s important to keep track of all income streams and expenses related to your freelance work in one place. Tax software can help guide you through your tax requirements during tax season if you have freelance income.

You may also be eligible for a variety of self-employment tax deductions, including the cost of office supplies, travel costs, industry subscriptions, and more. You may need to itemize your expenses, and the right tax software can help streamline this process.

It’s worth noting that if you have multiple streams of freelance income, your self-employment tax responsibility has become more complex, or you feel unsure about what you should be tracking and reporting for tax filing purposes, it may be less expensive and more helpful to hire a CPA instead of using tax software.

How to choose tax software if you’re self-employed

When filing your self-employment taxes, you want to make sure you use tax software that’s appropriate for your tax situation and has all the tax forms and features you need. Audit protection and access to a tax expert may be crucial when filing complicated tax returns. Here are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing the right self-employment tax software:

Ease of use

You want to make sure the tax software you choose has an intuitive interface that makes it easy to navigate the tax filing process. With self-employment taxes, it may also be important to have access to a live chat or frequently asked questions that help you troubleshoot any issues along the way. While TurboTax and H&R Block have clean, easy-to-use interfaces, we also think TaxSlayer, our top pick for self-employed individuals, is simple to navigate.

Cost

This is a major factor you should consider before buying tax software. Most tax software options offer tiered payment plans – and if you have self-employment income, you typically have to pay for the most expensive tier, which can cost hundreds of dollars. One reason why we selected TaxSlayer as our top choice for self-employment taxes is that as of March 25, it costs just under $103 to file a state and federal return for this tier. H&R Block charges just over $160 for state and federal self-employment taxes, while TurboTax starts at around $178 for this tier currently.

If you want support, you’ll also pay even more, depending on the tax software you use. We recommend considering a CPA if you have complicated or self-employment taxes since they can offer specialized support and are often the same price – sometimes even less – than tax software plans with expert support.

Customer support

If you want to have a tax expert double-check your return or want on-demand support while filing your taxes, it’s important to compare the different customer support options and pricing available. Some tax software companies offer online chat support while others have a phone number you can call with pressing tax questions. But this support often comes with a higher price tag. Compare your options between price, support, and ease of use before signing up to determine if tax software or an accountant makes more sense for your filing situation.

FAQs

Methodology

CNET reviews tax software by comparing products across a set criteria. We use the software to prepare personal tax returns, examine tax products’ terms and offers, communicate with software representatives to resolve questions about products, compare feature sets, and analyze each software’s effectiveness in common tax situations.

We consider the features and functionality of the tax preparation software, the user experience, the software interface, website performance, quality of help and support, and the value based on price. We are also looking for and evaluating specific features, including file importing or photo capture of forms, the number and type of available IRS forms and schedules, contextual help, desktop and phone/tablet compatibility and syncing, professional tax assistance, maximum refund and accuracy guarantees, live support, and security protections.

Specifically for the best tax software for freelancers, we consider the number and types of IRS forms and schedules related to freelance work that are included with tax software, the level of support and help directed toward freelance tax filers, and the additional cost required of self-employed tax filers.

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