As federal tax return deadlines move closer, we set out to find affordable and time-friendly online tax filing solutions for business owners. The majority of tax preparation services are aimed at consumers, but most also offer a self-employed or small-business tax preparation service. Here are five that you should consider.
Intuit, the makers of the ubiquitous QuickBooks accounting software, also owns TurboTax. The tax filing software conveniently integrates with your QuickBooks data. The Home & Business package is available for $100 (for sole proprietors and single-owner LLCs) and a full Business package for $130 (for S corps, C corps and partnerships).
CompleteTax offers a premium level edition for $34 that handles just about every form that a small business might need, from Schedule C to Schedule SE. It tool is also beneficial for real estate investors and those earning royalty income. It also provides a few services on an a-la-carte basis, including one-on-one help from a tax pro, audit protection and help with preparing and filing state returns, to name a few.
TaxAct has a business package for each of the common business structures, like partnerships and C corporations, and includes e-filing options for most of them. You can download the software from their website. Plus, they have tax experts on hand to offer free phone help if you get stuck on a tax question. Pricing starts at $40. Federal and state editions are sold separately. State editions cost an additional $15.
H&R Block's Premium & Business tax software
H&R Block has a Premium & Business tax filing solution that starts at $80 and targets small-business owners. It also offers a lower priced version for the “self-employed” and “rental property owners.” The pricing was not entirely clear and varied a bit depending on how I navigated to each page. However, I have a high degree of confidence in H&R Block's software, given their longstanding reputation as a tax preparation service. Worth exploring.
Jackson Hewitt has its own online small-business package, starting at $45, and also offers tax preparation locations that you can visit in person. It wasn't easy to find specifics on their small-business offerings, but they have a "premium" edition available online that's specific to business owners. And in addition to their standalone retail locations, they have a new kiosk-type setup at participating Walmart stores (contrary to what you might think, the one I went to appeared to offer some privacy).
Avalara is not a tax preparation service, but if your business deals with sales tax in one state or across multiple state lines, this Web-based service is worth a look. Their AvaTax 1099 service will be particularly useful to any company that has to deal with the hassle of 1099 reporting.
Greatland is a 1099 and W-2 filing service that small-business owners will appreciate as it has an online and desktop version to help you file your federal and state requirements.
If you're doing your own taxes, you'll want to read this document from CPA Trendlines, a firm that serves the professional accountant and CPA: The Top 12 Tax Return Preparation Errors. Of course, you could share this with your tax preparer and avoid future challenges with the IRS by avoiding these errors.
There is no shortage of tax filing services online, but several were eliminated from this review if they did not offer transparent pricing. Many of them had “authorized IRS” badges and appeared to have good security protocols. However, we limited ourselves to major, well-known brands.
Which services do you use and why?
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TJ McCue runs TechBizTalk.com, a review, how-to and tutorial site to help you discover the top new web-based applications and services for your growing company.
Photo credit: Jackson Hewitt