Best Small Business Tax Software in 2021

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Let’s face it, as a small business owner, you’ve got a lot on your plate, and filing your taxes seems like an overwhelming task on your long to-do list. However, you can save time and money with the right online tax return software.

Tax software programs let you complete the sign-up process online so you don’t have to deal with the back and forth of working with an accountant. And if you’re not a tax professional, don’t worry – these services will walk you through the sign-up process so you can tick all the boxes before you hit File. If you would like advice on your tax situation, many online software programs offer the option of upgrading to receive live support, which may include one-on-one assistance from a tax advisor.

CNBC Select evaluated popular tax return software programs that offer plans for small business owners, including the general self-employed, freelancers, sole proprietorships, and those with a sideline (or two). We rated these programs on a number of features, including cost, user experience, expert tax assistance, and Better Business Bureau rating. (Read more about our methodology below.)

Here are the best small business tax programs so you can file your taxes before April 15th.

Best tax return software for small business owners

Best control software overall

TurboTax

On the safe site of TurboTax

  • costs

    $ 90 or $ 170, $ 40 or $ 50 per state (see breakdown by plan below)

  • App

  • Live support

  • Better rating from the Business Bureau

benefits

  • Step-by-step guide with an easy-to-follow Q&A format
  • TurboTax Live offers on-demand advice and a final review by a tax professional or CPA
  • Live Full Service has your tax return prepared, signed and submitted by a tax expert
  • 100% Accuracy Guarantee or TurboTax will pay your IRS penalties
  • Maximum refund guarantee or TurboTax will refund the plan fees you paid
  • Exam support that provides free assistance when getting an IRS or other tax return

disadvantage

  • More expensive than other software programs
  • Live expert support plans cost $ 80 more for federal and $ 10 more per state
  • Live Full Service charges an additional $ 90 for state and state

Breakdown of costs according to plan:

  • Self-employed (for personal and business income and expenses): $ 90, $ 40 per state
  • Live independently (includes help from tax experts): $ 170, $ 50 per state

runner up

H&R block

On the safe side of H&R Block

  • costs

    $ 67.99 or $ 144.99, $ 36.99 per state (see breakdown by plan below)

  • App

  • Live support

  • Better rating from the Business Bureau

benefits

  • Simple step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow
  • Unlimited on-demand chat or video support with online assist plans
  • Ability to speak to a tax professional who has an average of 10 years experience (costs extra)
  • 11,000+ physical locations so you can meet with a tax professional in person
  • The Maximum Refund Guarantee, or H&R Block, will reimburse the plan fees you paid
  • Audit Support Guarantee that provides free assistance when you receive an IRS or other tax bill
  • 100% Accuracy or H&R Block will reimburse you for penalties or interest up to $ 10,000

disadvantage

  • Plans that include speaking to a live tax expert cost $ 77 more for federal returns
  • One of the more expensive software programs

Breakdown of costs according to plan:

  • Self-employed (for personal and business income and expenses): $ 67.99, $ 36.99 per state
  • Online Assist Self Employed (includes help from tax professionals): $ 144.99, $ 36.99 per state

Best free tax software

FreeTaxUSA

On the FreeTaxUSA secure website

  • costs

  • App

  • Assistance from tax experts

  • Better rating from the Business Bureau

benefits

  • The federal filing is free
  • With the Deluxe Edition, an audit defense is available to assist you with a representative when the IRS reviews your federal tax return
  • The Maximum Refund Guarantee, or FreeTaxUSA, will reimburse the plan fees you paid and provide a voucher for a free amended tax return
  • 100% accuracy or FreeTaxUSA will reimburse you for all penalties / interest fees

disadvantage

  • W-2s cannot be imported so you will have to enter the information manually
  • State filing is not free, although it costs only $ 12.95
  • Priority customer support and live chat are only available with a Deluxe Edition upgrade and cost $ 6.99

Best affordable software

taxpayer

On the secure website of TaxSlayer

  • costs

    $ 30.55, $ 32 per state (see details and promo code below)

  • App

  • Assistance from tax experts

  • Better rating from the Business Bureau

benefits

  • Cheaper plan that makes this a cheaper choice when you don’t have an easy ROI and need an upgrade
  • Low government filing fees
  • One-on-one assistance from real tax experts with Ask a Tax Pro
  • 100% Accuracy or TaxSlayer will reimburse you for any penalties or interest fees
  • Maximum Refund Guarantee or TaxSlayer will reimburse the plan fees you paid
  • Guaranteed IRS inquiries and audit support

disadvantage

  • You need to enter a discount code to benefit from lower prices

Breakdown of costs according to plan:

  • Self-employed (for personal and business income and expenses): $ 30.55, $ 32 per state

File for 35% discount with code SLAYIT35The above prices reflect the discount.

Best for the accuracy guarantee

TaxAct

  • costs

    $ 64.95 or $ 109.95, $ 44.95, or $ 49.95 per state (see breakdown by plan below)

  • App

  • Assistance from tax experts

  • Better rating from the Business Bureau

benefits

  • Up to $ 100,000 accuracy guarantee that will reimburse IRS / state penalties or interest if TaxAct software causes a miscalculation on your return
  • Cheaper than other paid software
  • One-on-one support from real tax experts (costs extra)
  • Maximum Refund and 100% Accuracy Guarantee or TaxAct will reimburse the plan fees you paid and pay a difference in refund or tax liability and cover all legal or audit costs up to $ 100,000

disadvantage

  • Xpert Help Self-Employed Plan costs $ 75 more for the federal government

Breakdown of costs according to plan:

  • Self-employed / sole proprietorship (for personal and business income and expenses): $ 64.95, $ 44.95 per state
  • Xpert Help self-employed (Includes help from tax professionals): $ 139.95, $ 44.95 per state
  • Partnership, C Corporation or S Corporation: $ 109.95, $ 49.95 per state

FAQs

When are taxes due?

Taxes are due on Thursday April 15, 2021. There are currently no plans to repeat last year’s extension until July 15.

While you may need to file a tax return by the filing date each year, you may also need to file your taxes and make estimated tax payments quarterly. According to the IRS, small business owners are generally required to make estimated quarterly payments if they owe at least $ 1,000. Quarterly filing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, you can make four smaller tax payments for one large tax payment.

Here are the estimated tax payments due:

  • First quarter (January 1 to March 31): April 15, 2021
  • Second quarter (April 1 to May 31): June 15, 2021
  • Third quarter (June 1st to August 31st): September 15, 2021
  • Fourth quarter (September 1 to December 31): January 18, 2022

You can make estimated tax payments through online tax software, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), or by submitting a completed 1040-ES form with your payment. If you’re submitting your payment by mail, it must be postmarked by the due date to avoid penalties.

What if I miss the tax deadline?

If you miss the April 15th deadline, file your taxes as soon as possible. Filing too late may incur a fee that only gets more expensive the longer you wait. If you file late and owe tax, a fee will apply. However, you will not receive a penalty if you owe nothing and receive a tax refund instead. That said, there is no way of knowing whether or not you owe taxes, so filing in a timely manner is important.

How much does it cost to file taxes?

Most small business owners have to pay for their tax preparation. Unlike individual tax returns, there are very few free programs. The most expensive plan, TurboTax Self-Employed, is $ 90 for the federal government plus $ 40 per state. And that doesn’t include plans with live tax assistance, which range from $ 139.95 to $ 170 plus $ 44.95 to $ 50 in state fees.

Our methodology

To find out which tax software was the best way for small business owners to file their taxes, CNBC Select compared each program to a number of features, including:

  • costs
  • User experience
  • Competent tax assistance
  • Accuracy and maximum refund guarantee
  • Better rating from Business Bureau (BBB)
  • Customer reviews, if available

Cost was one of the most important factors. While one of the services offers free filing with the federal government, many business owners may want to benefit from robust software and so pay to file their taxes. We’ve evaluated the price per plan and weighed the features you get such as: B. the ability to maximize deductions and credits. The more money you make, the higher the rank of a service.

Whether you are new to tax filing or you are a seasoned professional, user experience is key to getting your return completed and filing quickly and with little frustration. The services we selected had to be relatively easy to use.

The ability to speak to a tax professional or support agent was a huge plus. All five of the best tax software offered some form of assistance.

And when a service provided consumers with a generous level of accuracy and a maximum refund guarantee, it would rank higher.

We also took into account the Better Business Bureau rating associated with the software. BBB ratings can help you determine if a company operates responsibly and if it helps resolve customer complaints in a timely manner. Customer ratings were also taken into account.

After reviewing the above features, we sorted our recommendations by the best for general tax return, second place, free tax software, cheapest and best guarantee of accuracy.

The federal and state registration fees for the software programs mentioned above can be changed without prior notice. Many programs don’t charge you until you submit the file. As a result, there is a chance the fees will change from the time you start your return to the time it is delivered.

Editor’s note: The opinions, analysis, ratings, or recommendations expressed in this article come solely from the CNBC Select editorial team and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any third party.