- About This Article
- How to Pick the Best Business Tax Software
- The Options
- TurboTax Review
- H&R Block Review
- TaxAct Review
- E-file Review
- Jackson Hewitt
- Comparison Chart
Are you excited to complete and file your business taxes? Okay, so that is a silly question – no one is ever excited about doing their taxes. While they might not be a fun part of doing business, taxes certainly are a necessary part of any business venture. If you want to keep your business running successfully well into the future, you are going to need to file your taxes in an accurate and timely manner.
To do so, you are going to want to have the right business tax software on your side – which is why we are here. In this article, we are going to take an in-depth look at some of the best tax software products on the market in 2017. By the end of this piece, you should have a great idea of which is going to be the right pick for your business.
About This Article
One of the biggest challenges in writing an article such as this one is the widely varying needs of those who will be reading the article. Sure, we have narrowed down the title of ‘best business tax software’, but even that is a rather wide category. Businesses take on all different shapes and sizes, meaning it is impossible to recommend just one piece of tax software as the ‘best’ for every single business. The tax needs of a small retail store, for example, are going to vary dramatically from the tax needs of a mid-size construction company. Therefore, as you read this article, it is important to always keep in mind the specific needs of your business. We have attempted to provide you with all the information you need to pick out the right tax software – but that selection is still going to be up to you in the end.
Also, it needs to be pointed out that this article is only going to cover business tax solutions that are available as online-based software. Working ‘in the cloud’ has become standard for many individuals and businesses these days, and most quality tax software options are available in this format. As long as you are comfortable working with an online-based software, you should have no trouble picking out a capable option from our list of contenders.
How to Pick the Best Business Tax Software
Before you set out to pick the business tax software that you are going to use to complete your returns in 2017, it will be helpful to think about some of the features that you need to consider. With so many worthy options on the market these days, you can quickly become overwhelmed if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for in a piece of software. Following is a list of points that you want to keep in mind as you browse –
- Price. Of course, this is always going to be a key component when you are shopping for any kind of good or service. Depending on the size (and profitability) of your business, you will need to settle on a budget that you can use as a limit for this purchase. However, it is important to note that price should not be the only deciding factor in the tax software that you select. Going with the least-expensive option might seem like a no-brainer, until you realize that the cheapest software doesn’t actually do everything you need it to do. Keep the price of the software in mind as you shop, but don’t make your final decision only on this point. First and foremost, you need a tax software that is able to do everything you need it to do for your business.
- Number of businesses. Many business owners don’t just own one business, but rather a collection of businesses. If that sounds like your situation, make sure you pick out a tax software that is able to handle multiple businesses all in one place. You don’t want to have to do everything from scratch for all of the companies that you own, so bring things together into a bundle by picking a program that has this capacity.
- User interface. Believe it or not, a great user interface can make all the difference between a quality tax program and one that is difficult to use successfully. Most – if not all – of the business tax software programs on the market are going to be able to calculate your taxes accurately (based on accurate inputs, of course). So, one of the biggest differentiating factors is going to be the user interface that is presented by the software. Is it easy to follow along with where your information should be entered? You don’t want to waste time searching around for the right fields to enter your data, so be sure to pick a program that places an emphasis on a high-quality user experience.
- Live customer service. Even the best tax software isn’t going to be able to cover all possible tax scenarios that could come up in your business. The tax codes are simply too complicated for every potential situation to be covered. With that in mind, you want to look for a tax software company that offers live, over-the-phone support when you need assistance. Good customer support on the phone can make all the difference in quickly finishing your taxes and having to spend all night trying to solve a simple problem.
- All necessary forms. Depending on the kind of business you run, where you run it, and how many employees you have, there are a number of various forms that you may be required to file. For instances, forms W-2, 1099-INT, 1099-MISC, and more may need to be prepared for those who work for you throughout the course of the year. Most business tax software programs are going to allow you to create all of these forms, but be sure to check on this point just in case. You don’t want to get part way through the process of doing your business taxes only to learn that your chosen software comes up short in this area.
The five points above are going to cover most of the key points that you should watch for while shopping for business tax software. However, there are other points that need to be considered as well, depending on the needs of your business. Some of the other factors to keep in mind include having the option to e-file, the availability of audit support, asset depreciation, and more.
Our research into the topic of the best business tax software for 2017 has led us to settle on five options that we believe you should consider. In no particular order, those options are as follows –
The five options listed above are going to have a lot of features in common – but they also have some important differences as well. To make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed choice on this topic, we are going to provide a detailed review of each of the five options below. Also, you will find a helpful chart to quickly compare these options head to head.
If you have spent any time at all looking into tax software options, you are certainly familiar with the TurboTax brand. An Intuit product, TurboTax is the leader in online tax filing. While you don’t want to automatically go with the industry lead just because of name recognition, it would be a mistake to skip over TurboTax entirely. As one of the best business tax software options for 2017, this option is at least worth your careful consideration.
Right off the top, it is the ease of use that is going to appeal to most businesses owners when considering TurboTax. This is perhaps the best user interface in the entire market, with a well-designed site making it easy for you to enter all of the relevant information for your business. Intuit has obviously gone to great lengths to create a beautiful and functional interface for this software, and it shows. Whether you are a seasoned business tax preparer or this will be your first time, TurboTax makes it easy to feel comfortable and confident as you work.
If the biggest benefit of choosing TurboTax comes in the form of its beautiful user interface, the biggest drawback is easy to spot as well – the price. You are going to pay for the opportunity to use this well-designed software, as TurboTax comes in above most of the other options on the market today. The exact price that you will pay is going to depend on the specific features that you need (such as state filings), but expect to spend at least $89.99 on this product. Fortunately, TurboTax has many notable benefits to make that price point a little easier to swallow.
One of the many reasons TurboTax is such a popular piece of software is the way that it walks you through the complex tax reporting and filing process. Most likely, you are not an expert in taxes, even if you are a business owner. Most business owners got into business because they wanted to be their own boss and do something they love – not because they liked filing taxes. After all, if you loved doing taxes, you would likely be a CPA. So, with that in mind, TurboTax makes for a great pick for the average business owner because it understands that you are probably not any kind of tax expert.
It is the guiding filing system within TurboTax that makes it so easy to use. Rather than asking you what forms you need to file – a question to which you might not have the answer – it will ask you questions that lead to the right answers. For instance, it will simply ask you if you have any full-time employees. If the answer is yes, the proper information will be collected to fill in the necessary forms. You will be walked through the entire filing process in this fashion, making it easy to cover all of your bases with very little tax knowledge on your side.
Of course, even if you are experienced and knowledgeable with tax filing, you can still use TurboTax effectively. You don’t have to follow along with the step-by-step system, so you can ‘jump around’ to various areas of your taxes as you desire. In this way, TurboTax manages to be a useful piece of software for a wide-range of business owners.
Checking Your Work
It should go without saying that you want your tax returns to be completely accurate before they are officially filed. One of the benefits of choosing TurboTax is the way the software will review your work to check for possible errors. Your return is guaranteed to be 100% accurate when it is filed, and the software will even attempt to track down additional deductions that you may be able to claim. Filing your taxes is always something of a nervous time, so it is nice to know that the TurboTax software will be hard at work with your best interests in mind.
Other Key Features
There are many different features which make TurboTax an attractive option for those who need to file business taxes in 2017. Among the top features you will find include the following –
- Import last year’s return. If you decide to use TurboTax from year to year, you can import your data from the previous year to streamline the overall process.
- Store your documents. Should you need to quickly access your tax documents for any reason, you will be able to find them through the TurboTax interface.
- Access to assistance. If you need help along the way, you can get help from a credentialed CPA. Also, there are self-help tools that you can access 24 hours a day
- Other financial situations. Those who own rental properties, stocks, bonds, and more will have the ability to take care of those tax situations within TurboTax.
Overall, it is easy to recommend TurboTax as one of the leaders in this space. This brand has developed into a leader not only because of its association with Intuit, but also because it simply makes it easy to get the job done. If the goal is to complete your business taxes both quickly and correctly, TurboTax is a great tool to have on your side.
H&R Block Review
If you were to select your business tax software of choice only by name recognition, you would almost certainly select one of the first two options on our list. TurboTax and H&R Block are the two most-recognized in this market, and for good reason. Each offers an impressive list of features, and they are both capable of helping you file your taxes quickly and easily. We outlined above how many features and benefits come along with the TurboTax software – as you will see below, many of those same features and benefits can be found when you opt for H&R Block.
It is not a coincidence that one of the biggest strengths of the H&R Block software matches up with the strength of TurboTax – both are easy to use. When you turn to an online tax software product for assistance with your filing needs, you want the process to be as easy and straightforward as possible. If it were too complicated, you would simply decide to hire an accountant to file your taxes, which you could have done in the first place. You are here because you need a simple, easy-to-use self-filing system, and H&R Block certainly hits on that point.
One place where you are going to immediately see that H&R Block has an advantage over TurboTax is in the area of price. Where you are going to need to spend up around $90 to use the right TurboTax offering for your business, you should be able to get a similar package from H&R Block for under $60. A savings of $30 shouldn’t be enough to settle your decision, but it certainly is a factor to keep in mind. Everyone likes saving money around tax time, and opting for this software over one like TurboTax will help you do just that.
A Bold Guarantee
One of the common fears held by individuals who are filing their own taxes is that they will inadvertently leave money on the table by not taking the appropriate deductions or credits. In fact, many people turn to an accountant for just this reason – to maximize their refund (or, at least, to make sure they don’t pay more than necessary). With H&R Block, however, you won’t have to worry so much about this point. This software comes with a Maximum Refund Guarantee, which states that your return will be free if you find that another service provides you with a bigger refund.
Are you going to take advantage of this feature by checking around with all of the other tax preparation software options? No – probably not. However, it says a lot about the confidence that H&R Block has in their service that they would be willing to offer this feature. If you decide to go with H&R Block as your software of choice, you can do so with confidence knowing that the software is going to work hard to find you every possible deduction and credit available.
In addition to the fear of leaving money on the table, another concern of tax filers is winding up with an audit. Going through the audit process is something that everyone would like to avoid, but you can actually get some help through H&R Block if you do wind up being audited. Having the assistance of H&R Block might not make the audit fun, but at least you won’t need to respond to the IRS all on your own.
In addition to this handy audit response service, there are a few other notable features that come with the H&R Block tax preparation software which should be mentioned.
- Importing information. If you have previously used other software, including TurboTax, you can import your information into the H&R Block system for free. This is a nice time saving feature if you are thinking of making a switch.
- Tax advice. As an H&R Block customer, you get access to a tax expert who can help to answer any specific questions you may have. This is not a feature which is unique to H&R Block, but it is still nice to know that it is available if needed.
- Other reporting needs. Should you need to report income through a variety of different channels, such as rental income or investment income, the H&R Block software is ready to help you with those matters as well.
So, with all of these positive points to touch one, where does H&R Block fall a bit short? The one notable drawback is the cost of state filings when using this service. You will have to pay around $30 for a state filing, making the overall cost a bit higher than it appeared at first. If you are going to need to file a state return in addition to your federal return, keep this additional cost in mind.
Overall, it is easy to recommend H&R Block as a worthy competitor to TurboTax for the best business tax software in 2017. Each of these two industry leaders offers a very similar list of features and services, and both have countless loyal customers already in place. We have led off our list with two of the best options available, and for many people, the winner is going to come from one of these two powerful choices.
Although it might not have the same name recognition as a TurboTax or H&R Block, there are still plenty of reasons to give TaxAct a close look as you sort through your tax software options. Specifically, TaxAct is going to be an attractive option for those who are shopping mostly on price. As one of the lowest priced options on the market today, you will be able to use the Premium version of the TaxAct software for the impressively low price of just $30. Even when you add the $25 rate on top of that for state filing, you will still be left with a very affordable tax solution. If keeping costs down is one of your primary concerns, be sure to give TaxAct your attention.
You might think that the TaxAct experience would be rather sparse given the low price that they offer. That really isn’t the case, however. This is a rather solid piece of tax filing software, which provides you with many of the same features as the more-expensive choices. Does it offer everything that you will find with TurboTax or H&R Block? No – not quite. With that said, you may not need all of the functions and services offered by those choices, so you could wind up paying for things you don’t use.
So where does TaxAct match up nicely with the two previous pieces of software on our list? Check out the following points which are included in their service.
- As you would expect, e-filing is included when you use the TaxAct software
- There is mobile access for you to work on your taxes while on the go
- Professional audit defense is available in the unfortunate case of an audit
- 100% accuracy guarantee provided
- Like H&R Block, TaxAct also guarantees to find you the largest possible return
- With the Premium version, you will be able to import last year’s return to expedite the process (assuming you used TaxAct the previous year as well
Overall, you are going to find that most of what you need to complete your taxes is present within the TaxAct system. The software will help you track down potential business deductions, it will allow you to account for your charitable deductions, and more. For many people, TaxAct is all the software necessary to file accurately and in a timely manner.
With all of these positives, you might be looking for the negative part of the story with regard to TaxAct. After all, if they offered all of the same functions and services, would they come in at the same price point as well? Of course. The biggest difference that you are going to find between TaxAct and leaders like TurboTax and H&R Block is the support available as you prepare your taxes. For instance, you won’t have access to a helpful forum that can be used to answer simple questions. However, you will have the opportunity to receive TaxAct support via email or phone, so it is not as if you are all on your own when you go this direction.
In total, there really is a lot to like about TaxAct. It may not quite be as full-featured as the two leaders in this category, but it doesn’t come with their price tags, either. This is a more affordable option for the tax filer who doesn’t have a complicated tax situation to consider. If you would like to use a tax software program that is going to help you get the job done efficiently and for a low cost, TaxAct is very much a viable option.
At this point in our review, we are going to get into some of the lesser-known options for filing your taxes in 2017. That doesn’t mean that these options can’t get the job done, but they aren’t going to have the reputation of some of the other contenders. Such is the case with e-file.com. As was true with TaxAct, this is a very affordable option for filing your taxes. E-file only charges $35 for the use of their Premium Plus package, and just another $19 for state returns. Anyway you look at it, that prices makes E-file an option to at least consider.
So what do you get for your money? Well – that’s where it gets a bit tricky. The information E-file provides about their service is a bit ambiguous, so you may not know exactly what you will be able to do with the software until you get started. This much we do know – the Premium Plus package claims to support business and personal income, it allows for itemized tax deductions, and it supports all credits and deductions. Of course, those are all things that are done by every one of the other options on our list, so there is really nothing here to separate E-file from the pack.
It is safe to say that you will have far less support available to you if you select E-file as compared to most of the other options. It doesn’t appear that chat support or forums are available, meaning you will need to turn to other sources to have your tax questions answered. In all, it is hard to recommend E-file with any kind of confidence based on the lack of information that they provide about their services. Yes, they do offer a very competitive price, but most tax filers will be better served by spending a bit more on an established service.
Here we find another name that has created a fairly notable reputation in this space. Jackson Hewitt is a brand that has been around for some time – it was founded in 1982 – and it has prepared tax returns for millions of Americans. Their online tax preparation software may not rank as one of the most well-known options, but it does come from a reputable business and is certainly worth your time and consideration.
To start our look at this online filing option, we should compare it from a price standpoint to some of the other contenders. You will find that Jackson Hewitt comes it right around the middle of the pack on this point. Their Premium software is priced at $55, which is reasonable enough, although their state filing rate of $37 is one of the steepest we have seen. Overall, you aren’t going to get a great deal when opting for Jackson Hewitt, but you aren’t going to break the bank either.
When you dive into the list of features offered by Jackson Hewitt for the price above, you see many of the same benefits that come along with services from TurboTax, H&R Block, etc. For instance, you will see a 100% accuracy guarantee, a maximum refund guarantee, free e-filing, live chat support, and more. One of the nice inclusions in the Jackson Hewitt product is the ability to import last year’s tax return from a variety of services – not just Jackson Hewitt. So, for instance, if you filed last year with TaxAct or TurboTax, you should be able to import that return into your Jackson Hewitt account. This function will not only save time but it will also make it more likely that your information is accurate when it is submitted.
If you do a close comparison between Jackson Hewitt and our other top options, you are going to see that there is very little missing from this software option. Things like mortgage interest and property tax are handled, as well as self-employment concerns, and student loan interest. Phone support is also included if you would rather talk with a customer service representative instead of text chatting over the web.
Overall, there is little to complain about with regard to the online Jackson Hewitt filing software. If you are looking for a negative, it should be noted that audit assistance is not included in the package, where you do find that benefit with other services. Another potential drawback is something that actually may be seen as a positive at first. Since Jackson Hewitt has so many physical locations throughout the country – more than 6,000, in fact – you can go in to ask for help in person if necessary. That sounds great, but it does kind of defeat the purpose of filing online to begin with. If you are going to visit an agent in a physical location, you may just decide to skip the online process and turn your taxes over to a pro.
It would be a mistake to discount a respected and trusted tax preparation name such as Jackson Hewitt. This software option checks off most of the boxes that are checked by the other big players in the market, and their price is competitive as well (although high for state filing). Unless you are determined to pick a software with audit support included in the package, you should keep an open mind and review everything that Jackson Hewitt brings to the table.
With a name like FreeTaxUSA, you might think that you already know how much this final option on our list is going to cost. However – you would be wrong. While it is free to file with FreeTaxUSA when you use their basic plan, anyone with business interests is going to require their Deluxe software in order to get the job done. Of course, that doesn’t mean you are going to have to blow through your budget just to file your taxes. Incredibly, filing a Deluxe return through FreeTaxUSA is going to cost you just $7. That is obviously the lowest price on our list, and it just may be the lowest you can find anywhere on the web. If you need to file a state return as well, that will cost you only an additional $13. For the budget minded, FreeTaxUSA is an option that warrants plenty of attention.
But does it deliver all of the functions and services you need for your tax filing requirements? Well, that depends. With the Deluxe package, you can e-file directly to the IRS, you have access to live chat support, Audit Assist, and you can even file amended returns. As with other software options, calculations done by the software are guaranteed to be 100% accurate, and you will have access to backup files of your returns.
So, at this point, this all sounds a little too good to be true. Is it really possible to file business taxes in 2017 for just $7? It certainly is possible – after all, FreeTaxUSA claims to have filed more than 18 million returns. Of course, there is the notion of ‘you get what you pay for’ to consider with this product. There are a limited number of forms that can be filed with this software, so you won’t be able to use it successfully if you have a slightly complex tax situation. Also, the lack of phone support will be a point of concern for many filers, as the ability to talk to someone on the phone is a nice feature to have available if you find yourself stuck on a particular issue.
Overall, FreeTaxUSA is a viable option – but only for those with very simple and straightforward tax situations. If you have any unique scenarios which will need to be accounted for in your taxes, or if you simply have a diverse portfolio, it may be impossible to use this software successfully. Think about your own tax situation and then decide if FreeTaxUSA is going to be a realistic choice for your needs.
|Turbo Tax||HR Block||TaxAct||E-File||Jackson Hewitt||FreeTaxUSA|
|Federal Return Cost||$89.99||$54.99||$37||$34.95||$54.95||$6.99|
|Additional State Return Cost||$36.99||$36.99||$33||$19||$36.95||$12.95|
|Customer Support Options||Phone
|Import Options||QuickBooks Self-Employed,
|W-2 Import||W-2 Import||No||No||No|
|Business Size||Small, Mid||Small, Mid||Small, Mid||Small||Small, Mid||Small|
|Access Prior Year Returns||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Unknown|
|Rental and Investment Income||Yes||Yes||Yes||Unknown||Yes||Unknown|
As you can plainly see, there are plenty of strong contenders for the best business tax software of 2017. While each of the products on our list is one that you can consider, it is the first two that we feel rise above the rest of the field. Simply put, TurboTax and H&R Block are at the front of this market for a reason. They each offer impressive products with comprehensive support, an easy-to-use interface, and much more. That’s not to say that the other software choices don’t have any merit, but we feel that most who set out to find an online tax filing software will eventually determine that TurboTax and H&R Block are out in front of the field.
Thank you for taking the time to read through our review, and we hope it has been helpful as you search for the right tax software for your needs.