QuickBooks Self-Employed Review: Tax Software for Business Owners

You’ve heard a lot about QuickBooks Online. But you’ve been searching for something better, with more features and that’s not as complicated to use. You want a version of Intuit’s accounting software that’s made for self-employed business owners.

Something like, QuickBooks Self-Employed, maybe? BOOM!

It looks like your prayers have been answered. Here is my review of QuickBooks Self-Employed.

Use it to finally understand quarterly taxes and keep both your personal and business finances organized all year long.

Before You Buy: Intuit always offers discounts and promo codes on their products! They are currently offering 50% off QuickBooks Self-Employed for the first 3 months or a Free 30 Day Trial.


What is QuickBooks Self-Employed?

What makes QuickBooks Self-Employed different from QBO? Well, it’s basically a much better and simpler version of QuickBooks Online.

And it has a very specific focus on small businesses and self-employed individuals.

As a sole proprietor, you probably mix your business and personal transactions interchangeably. You are YOUR business (at least for tax purposes) and this fact can get a bit messy at tax time.

And QuickBooks Self-Employed (QBSE for short) provides a solution to this problem!

Speaking of taxes, QBSE helps you estimate and pay your quarterly taxes, which is not a common feature among small business accounting software, so it makes QuickBooks Self-Employed especially appealing.

It automatically imports your transactions from any linked bank accounts or credit card. You can then categorize them into pre-populated Schedule C categories. This makes it super simple to print reports and prepare for tax season.

QBSE is a web-based app and iOS app that you can access anywhere you have an internet connection.

Here’s a brief snapshot of the benefits and features QuickBooks Self-Employed:

  • Track Mileage automatically through your phones GPS
  • Easily Import expenses from your bank account and sort business from personal
  • Snap a quick photo of your receipt and it will categorize it for you
  • Send customers invoices, track open invoices and send overdue reminders from your phone
  • Automatically estimates taxes each quarter
  • Instantly transfer financial data during your tax filing process
  • Cost ranges from $15 – $35per month (and is a deductible business expense)

Related: QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Self-Employed

QuickBooks Self-Employed Plans and Pricing

As I mentioned, you can test out the QuickBooks Self-Employed accounting software for free with their 30-day trial. After that time period, you can save 50% for 3 months.

Here are the current prices you’ll pay.

QuickBooks Self-Employed pricing

QuickBooks Self-Employed: $15 $7.50/month

For just $7.50 (normally $15) a month you can access the basic bookkeeping software features:

  • Send and track simple invoices
  • Separate personal and business expenses
  • Maximize Schedule C deductions
  • Quarterly estimated taxes calculated automatically
  • Automatic mileage tracking

QuickBooks Self-Employed Tax Bundle: $25 $12/month

For just $12 (normally $25) a month you’ll be able to access everything the basic plan offers plus more:

  • Send and track simple invoices
  • Separate personal and business expenses
  • Maximize Schedule C deductions
  • Quarterly estimated taxes calculated automatically
  • Automatic mileage tracking
  • Pay quarterly estimated taxes online directly from Quickbooks
  • Easily transfer into TurboTax
  • One state and one federal tax return filing included in the bundle

Now here’s where it gets really fun!

Notice that last bullet point? When you pay for the QBSE + TurboTax Bundle you get to file your taxes online for free.

Yep, $12 a month for 3 months gives you access to BOTH QuickBooks Self-Employed and TurboTax Self-Employed.

Don’t believe me? I wrote an entire post about how to use this hack to file self-employed taxes for free. And that’s not all!

QuickBooks Self-Employed Live Tax Bundle: $35 $17/month

For just $17 (normally $35) a month you’ll be able to access everything the basic plan offers plus what the tax bundle plans offer plus more:

  • Send and track simple invoices
  • Separate personal and business expenses
  • Maximize Schedule C deductions
  • Quarterly estimated taxes calculated automatically
  • Automatic mileage tracking
  • Pay quarterly estimated taxes online directly from Quickbooks
  • Easily transfer into TurboTax
  • One state and one federal tax return filing included in the bundle
  • Talk to real CPAs when you need it
  • Get unlimited help and advice all year long
  • Have a CPA do a final review of your return before you submit

Get started with QuickBooks Self-Employed

If you’re like me, and you’re not sure if QBSE will work for your freelance business. The good news is that they offer a free 30-day trial so you can test it out and see if it works for you. No stress!

And if you choose to sign up and start a paying subscription, you’ll save 50% in the first 3 months!

1. Link Your Bank and Credit Card Accounts

When you first get started with QuickBooks Self-Employed you’ll be prompted to link your bank accounts.

In the event, you use Mint.com you can import all those transactions for the entire year.

Intuit owns QuickBooks, TurboTax, and Mint so it’s super easy to bridge that gap. And it won’t affect your Mint or TurboTax accounts, so you can still use them for your everyday personal finances.

QBSE syncs with all the major banks and online savings accounts like CIT Bank, Discover as well as PayPal, and other credit card accounts.

You can also add or remove accounts later. It will import all those transactions for the past year.

To link your bank account, just type in your bank’s name in the search field. Then enter your login information and select the correct accounts. The whole process only takes about 30-45 seconds.

2. Categorize Schedule C Transactions

Once your transactions are all imported you’ll have to spend a good bit of time categorizing them. All categories are pulled from Schedule C .

This is nice because you won’t have to reorganize them when tax season comes around.

Here’s a list of the Schedule C categories. You can use this checklist when filing your taxes as a sole-proprietor and self-employed individual.

  • Advertising
  • Assets
  • Car and Truck
  • Commissions and Fees
  • Contract Labor
  • Home Office Expenses
  • Insurance
  • Interest Paid
  • Legal Fees and Professional Services
  • Meals
  • Office Expenses
  • Other Busines Expenses
  • Rent and Lease
  • Repairs and Maintenance
  • Supplies
  • Taxes and Licenses
  • Travel Expenses
  • Utilities

One time-saving feature is that you can create Transaction Rules. When a particular vendor expense clears your bank, or you deposit a check, it will always be categorized the same way.

Depending on how many transactions you have each month, this can save you a ton of time!

The one drawback that I’ve found, however, is that you can’t add different categories if you want to customize your own transactions.

3. Understand Quarterly Taxes

By clicking the Settings button you can access all the features that QuickBooks Self-Employed offers, including your tax profile.

Filling this out will enable the software the more accurately calculate quarterly taxes based on whether or not you’re Married Filing Jointly or single, as well as how many dependents and exemptions you’re claiming.

This is the first accounting software I’ve seen that allows for such an accurate calculation of quarterly taxes.

Most of the time you have to set up an appointment with your accountant to personally calculate your estimated tax payments to get a figure this accurate.

No more overpaying for your QETs come tax time!

Some other awesome tax-related features include the following.

Tax Time Checklist

This is an awesome free checklist report you can generate every quarterly as well as in preparation for tax season. It can be expanded to showcase a summary of all of your business transactions for the year.

It also points out things you may want to address, transactions to review, and deductions to be aware of.

“Tax Day” Countdown Notifications

You also get a notification every time you log in that countdown the number of days until “Tax Day”.

The tax software will also email you notifications when your estimated tax payment is coming up and due.

Actual Income

“Actual Income” is your income minus your spending and taxes paid. This essentially is your net income or your take-home pay.

Next Quarterly Estimated Tax Payment

Every time you log into QuickBooks Self-Employed you’ll also see when your next estimated tax payment is coming up and when the actual quarterly tax payment is due.

This number is determined by your total income minus deductible expenses and takes your personal tax profile into consideration.

If you’ve upgraded to the QuickBooks Self-Employed Tax Bundle you can also PAY your quarterly taxes with just one click.

Clicking on the “Pay Now” link in the program will open a 1040 ES (estimated taxes) Form so you can fill in your information.

Tax Savings

Finally, the Tax Savings report is an estimate of tax savings that you will likely qualify for.

This is based on your income and any identified deductible expenses that have been recorded so far.

You can manually add expenses or adjust your income as needed to create a more accurate picture of your tax savings.

4. Export Transactions and Create Reports

Once you’ve categorized your income and expenses, and set up your tax profile, you can then create and print reports. Or export and download all the transactions to a spreadsheet CSV file.


This can then be shared with your accountant or kept for your records at the end of each month.

QuickBooks Self-Employed offers three types of reports:

  • Profit and Loss – This report summarizes income and expenses, so you can see if you’re in the green or red. It’s also called a P&L or income statement.
  • Tax Summary (PDF) – This is a simple self-employment ledger that summarizes income minus deductions to get your taxable business profit. It then gives totals for spending and deductions in Schedule C and healthcare categories.
  • Tax Details (Excel) – This tax report contains a similar overview of information, like the Tax summary, but also gives detailed transactions by category.

5. Track Business Mileage On The App

If you’re a freelancer who hosts drives a good distance for work-related projects, then you’ll really like this feature.

QBSE helps you save money on taxes by logging and categorizing your business miles for different trips.

Start by adding details about your vehicle, like the make, model, and date you purchased it. Then add your mileage based on actual miles or estimated odometer readings.

You can then track and log your trips automatically via the iOs app, or add them to your dashboard later.

6. Send Professional Invoices On The Go

In October 2016, Intuit announced in a press release that it has added new invoicing functionality to the QuickBooks Self-Employed web and mobile app.

This will make a huge difference in helping self-employed business owners get paid faster.

Invoicing has been the top requested feature from QBSE users, and something I’ve been waiting from them for a long time.

Now, QuickBooks Self-Employed users will be able to take advantage of functionality that QuickBooks Online users have had access to for a while.

This new feature makes it easy to create and send professional invoices with just a few clicks. You can immediately send it to your clients, even if you’re not at home in front of your desktop.

7. Summary of Invoices and Payments

As someone who uses QBSE, you can also view a summary of invoices that have been sent, providing a quick snapshot of the money you’ve been paid or owed.

This can come in extremely handy during tax season when you need to add up your income for the year.

8. Get Paid Faster With Online Payments

No more chasing customers for checks or waiting in the line at the bank! As a QBSE user you can offer your clients many different options to pay their invoice, such as credit card or electronic check, right from the invoice.

9. Follow The Money with SmartInvoice

This new feature is all about helping people get paid in days, not weeks. SmartInvoice will notify you about what’s happening with your client invoices every step of the way.

You’ll know immediately when a client views the invoice and when it’s being processed for payment.

What Size of Business Is Best For QBSE?

While it may seem obvious, QuickBooks Self-Employed really is catered towards the self-employed contractor, freelancer, and small business owners.

But it’s also great for any size of business that works with sites like PayPal and Etsy.

Any eCommerce business (such as Mary Kay consultants) will also find QuickBooks Self-Employed to be a perfect match for the size of their business.

According to Intuit, QuickBooks Self-Employed’s target market is “business owners who may not have separate personal and business bank accounts and need a means of distinguishing between the two.”

If you struggle with keeping your business and personal bank accounts, transactions, expenses and income separate,  QuickBooks Self-Employed is the tax software you need!

What Would Make QBSE Better?

While QuickBooks Self-Employed does offer a lot great features for freelancers and small business owners, it still feels incomplete. There are a couple drawbacks.

It doesn’t have any way of tracking client address and contact info or tracking time spent on each project. It offers no in-depth reports for client management or time tracking.

You also can’t edit the transaction amounts. So if a net payment is deposited, you won’t be able to record the gross amount or get the deduction for the fee you paid.

This can mess up your gross versus net transaction figures and throw off your 1099 amounts at the end of the year.

While QuickBooks Self-Employed boasts the ability to separate your business and personal income, it doesn’t go as far to allow you to categorize them. There are only two income categories: Business and personal, that’s it.

There’s no way for you to distinguish how much you earned from a particular income stream and it doesn’t allow for personal spending categories.

So in essence, QuickBooks Self-Employed is best used for bookkeeping purposes like:

  • Categorizing your income and expenses
  • Creating and sending invoices
  • Preparing financial reports for tax time
  • Calculating and paying quarterly estimated taxes

Is QBSE The Best Tax Software For You?

The short answer is; yes. With the release of some of these new features, QBSE is getting closer to being an all-inclusive accounting program for freelancers and the self-employed.

Plus, when used in combination with TurboTax Self-Employed bundle you can file income taxes for free!

Still, QBSE doesn’t offer state tax help so if you live in a state that requires you to pay state income taxes, you’ll still have to hire an accountant to help you.

This is one downside to be aware of when comparing different tax software.

The one feature that I do think is very appealing for using the QuickBooks Self-Employed software is that you can very accurately calculate and pay your quarterly taxes.

Or perhaps track business miles and streamline your Schedule C tax filing.

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