As a small business owner, your overall tax strategy should be to avoid penalties and audits while maximizing your credits and deductions. If you’re not working with a professional tax preparer, you’ll need to find tax filing software you can easily navigate. Here are five business tax software providers to consider.
1. Intuit TurboTax ®
Our friends at FitSmallBusiness.com named TurboTax ® as the best small business tax software provider in 2018. Many others agreed and user reviews are positive overall. “Ease of Use” is generally named as the best feature. For the price, TurboTax offers the most features and users can tailor TurboTax to their specific needs.
There’s a self-employed edition, a business edition and even extra guidance for new businesses, showing startup tax deductions. TurboTax runs an accuracy check on every return to make sure everything is filled out and will alert you if anything seems amiss before filing. The company guarantees 100 percent accuracy.
2. H&R Block ®
If you’re e-filing self-employed or small business taxes, H&R Block is a good alternative to TurboTax because of its lower price. A unique feature of this software is the ability to create payroll tax returns. You also have the ability to store your tax documents and returns for 6 years.
Technical support by chat is offered. The price for the small business and self-employed tax edition is lower than TurboTax. Like TurboTax, you don’t pay until you file.
3. TaxAct ®
The TaxAct website touts their software as "the best deal in tax". Price is a big upside for small business owners on a budget. However, TurboTax and H&R Block allow you to file multiple returns for one price. TaxAct charges you for each additional return.
Because of the lower price, some features are not necessarily as good as others. The customer support is limited, as are the importing capabilities. Users have reported that the navigation might hinder your ability to work through a return.
4. TaxSlayer ®
Right upfront you should know that TaxSlayer only supports Schedule C filers. If you’re an S Corp, C Corp or multi-member LLC, you’ll need to explore other options. The software does cost less than H&R and TurboTax so if you’re filing Schedule C and looking to save money, TaxSlayer might be a good fit.
The big advantage of TaxSlayer is the support from tax professionals available via chat, phone or email. There’s also a comprehensive database of frequently asked questions that’s easy to navigate.
5. eSmart Tax ®
eSmart Tax is Liberty Tax's online tax filing service that uses a straight-forward, easy-to-use interview style. The interview style means that you’re asked a series of yes-or-no questions used to evaluate your tax situation and determine what you need to complete your return. eSmart Tax allows you to prepare and e-file multiple tax returns.
An often mentioned disadvantage of eSmart Tax is that support is not as robust as other tax filing software. They do have a live chat feature and email support but it can take up to three days to get an email response and the live chat isn’t available 24 hours.
Overall, eSmart Tax is best for those comfortable with the filing process who are looking for an affordable option.
6. FreeTaxUSA ®
FreeTaxUSA is a business tax software for small businesses that’s extremely low-cost or, sometimes, entirely free. With FreeTaxUSA, your federal tax return will almost always be free, and state filing costs just $14.99 per state. For advanced services such as priority customer support and tax expert audit assistance, you can pay an additional $6.99. Even for multi-state filing with advanced services, FreeTaxUSA remains incredibly affordable.
FreeTaxUSA also ranks among the best business tax software for its modern user interface and 100% accuracy and maximum refund guarantees. That said, for small business owners who prefer tax prep platforms that can be downloaded instead of used solely via web browser, FreeTaxUSA won’t be a fit. Arguably, though, free prep for federal taxes and low-cost prep for state taxes are worth switching to browser use.
7. Liberty Tax ®
Although the Liberty Tax website’s homepage heavily promotes the company’s in-person services, its e-filing tools are highly regarded as well. Like FreeTaxUSA, Liberty Tax prides itself on 100% accuracy, but unlike FreeTaxUSA, hands-on customer service and audit assistance don’t come at an extra cost. That said, Liberty Tax isn’t free, but its $44.95–$89.95 price range is competitive.
Liberty Tax allows you to transition from online to in-person at a Liberty Tax office if you run into problems. This is a major advantage that not every online platform offers. However, one reason that Liberty Tax lets you transition might be that its user interface appears somewhat more outdated than its competitors. The interface is far from unusable, but it might not be ideal for everyone.
8. eFile ®
eFile aims to help small business owners prepare and file their taxes for less money than its big-name competitors. When comparing itself to TurboTax and H&R Block, it focuses primarily on how much money it can save you. Indeed, its prices are lower at every tier, ranging from $29 to $39. And unlike most competitors, it charges a flat fee ($28) for state returns no matter how many state tax forms you file.
The catch with eFile is that it mostly distinguishes itself from its competitors on price alone. As features go, very little about eFile is remarkably different from other business tax filing software platforms. One exception is that eFile offers audit assistance that TurboTax and H&R Block lack (though FreeTaxUSA and Liberty Tax offer this feature too). Additionally, the eFile user interface looks a bit clunky, which can make using it feel less seamless.
9. Jackson Hewitt ® Online
Jackson Hewitt is geared primarily toward small business owners, and it boasts a highly user-friendly website and tax filing portal to boot. You’ll pay one flat fee for both state and federal taxes with Jackson Hewitt, though it doesn’t explicitly state its prices. Whatever the price may be, you’ll also get guarantees of 100% accuracy, a maximum refund (with real-time refund amount updates throughout the filing process), and overall satisfaction.
Certain small business owners also qualify for free W-2 data imports with Jackson Hewitt. You’ll also get free storage for three years’ worth of tax returns to make next year’s tax filing even easier. The downside is that some experts say Jackson Hewitt lacks the ability to help small business owners with complicated tax situations. It also lacks the audit assistance services common among its competitors.
How to find the right tax solution for your small business
To decide which tax products and services are right for your small business, take the following steps:
- Read customer reviews. Often, you can find reviews and testimonials directly on a company’s website. Chances are, though, that the company has highlighted these reviews since they speak of it favorably. You should counter this bias by reading reviews on third-party, user-sourced websites such as Capterra ® and TrustPilot ®.
- Sign up for free trials. Many of the best business tax software platforms offer free trials during which you can get to know the software. This period is ideal for testing out the software and seeing whether it meets all your expectations. If it does, you can transition to the paid version. If not, there’s nothing wrong with moving on from that company and continuing testing as many others as possible.
- Conduct additional research. The recommendations in this article and ones like it, not to mention customer reviews, should comprise most, but not all, of your research. You should also read journalist and expert reviews of each company. A simple online search for “[company name] review” should pull up several lengthy rundowns by people well-equipped to assess the service. Compare what you find in these articles with info from guides like these and customer reviews to help you arrive at a sound decision.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The SmartBiz® Small Business Blog and other related communications from SmartBiz Loans® are intended to provide general information on relevant topics for managing small businesses. Be aware that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide specific recommendations to you or your business with respect to the matters addressed. Please consult legal and financial processionals for further information.