TurboTax Self-Employed Review

TurboTax has become one of the most popular tax preparation services on the market today. Owned by Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks, TurboTax offers a variety of plans to choose from.

Quick Hits

What We Like

  • Good selection of plans available
  • User-friendly navigation
  • Option to access real-time live tax experts

Could Be Better

  • Pricing is higher than competitors
  • Additional charges tacked on to fees
  • Free support options are limited

The Blueprint Score

Determined and ranked by our resident expert based on firsthand knowledge and unbiased research.

Ease of Use 10/10
Support 8/10
Pricing 7/10
Features 10/10
9.0 out of 10
Updated January 16, 2020

In 2019, 40 million taxpayers used TurboTax to file their tax returns.

Developed more than 30 years ago, TurboTax has evolved from personal tax return software to now offer a Self-Employed plan designed for freelancers, sole proprietors, and self-employed. TurboTax online offers the Self-Employed plan, but if you prefer a desktop solution, TurboTax Home & Business is basically the same application in downloadable or CD format.

TurboTax also offers a corporate version designed for C and S corporations.

Overview

Who is TurboTax Self-Employed for?

TurboTax Self-Employed is designed for freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, and small business owners who currently operate without corporate status.

Along with handling your personal tax information including homeowner expenses such as interest and property taxes, education credits, and charitable contributions, TurboTax Self-Employed includes Schedule C preparation, the form that all business owners, sole-proprietors, and freelancers need to include in their tax return.

Features

TurboTax Self-Employed features

TurboTax offers excellent tax return preparation for small business owners, with numerous features designed to benefit both personal and business tax preparation. Here are some of the features that are included in TurboTax Self-Employed:

  • Asset depreciation
  • Unlimited employee tax forms
  • Mileage tracking for rideshare drivers
  • Bitcoin and cryptocurrency gains and losses
  • Donation deductions
  • Homeowner deductions
  • Education tax credits
  • Automatic importing of W-2s
  • Mobile app for both iOS and Android devices
  • Comprehensive review of return prior to filing

TurboTax Self-Employed includes numerous stand-out features. Here are some of the more important ones.

Schedule C preparation

As a small business owner, perhaps the most important form you will need to complete is Schedule C: Profit or Loss From Business (Sole Proprietorship). Schedule C is part of your tax return, and reports how much money your small business made or lost throughout the year.

If you receive 1099s for your work, you will need to file a Schedule C. Schedule C is used for any business that is not set up as a separate legal business entity such as a partnership or corporation.

You will need to set up your business in TurboTax Self-Employed. Once this is completed, you can begin to enter 1099 information, as well as any related business expenses, with TurboTax guiding you through the entire interview-style process.

Deductions

If your business is brand new and this is the first year that you’ll be filing a combined (personal/business) return, TurboTax will help you take advantage of any deductions available to you. In addition, TurboTax looks for both industry-specific deductions as well as self-employed tax deductions.

It will search more than 450 tax deductions in a variety of areas including retirement plans, home office deductions, automobile expenses, and depreciation expenses. It quickly identifies common business expenses such as advertising expenses, bank service fees, travel, and meals and entertainment.

Integration with QuickBooks Self-Employed

TurboTax Self-Employed offers seamless integration with QuickBooks Self-Employed, which tracks invoices, helps separate personal expenses from business expenses, tracks mileage automatically, and helps track any quarterly taxes due.

Any information tracked in QuickBooks Self-Employed can be easily exported into TurboTax, eliminating the need to re-enter the information.

Employee tax forms

One of the nice features in TurboTax Self-Employed is the ability to prepare an unlimited number of W-2 and 1099 forms if you have employees or use contractors.

Using the Quick Employer Forms option, you can click on the Create W-2s and 1099s link, which will start the creation process. All created forms can be printed as a PDF and mailed to recipients by the deadline.

All created forms are stored for easy future access, though you will have to purchase the most recent version of TurboTax Self-Employed in order to access forms created in a prior year.

Rental management features

For those who own and manage rental properties, TurboTax allows you to easily set up new rentals, report rental income, and even help you determine the fair market value of your properties.

In addition, TurboTax helps to simplify the depreciation process on any rentals that you currently own, allowing you to calculate and take a depreciation deduction on your rentals.

Ease of Use

TurboTax Self-Employed ease of use

Once you’re set up in TurboTax Home & Business, you can complete your personal details. The navigation screen to the left offers quick access to the Tax Home screen, as well as access to each part of the tax return process, which includes My Info, Federal, State, Review, and File options.

TurboTax recently enhanced their navigation system, making it easier to navigate than ever before.

Those new to TurboTax will be guided through an interview process, which lets you choose from a variety of displayed tiles that apply to your particular situation.

TurboTax form with option to select life events

TurboTax lets you choose the life events that apply to your tax situation.

You can choose to follow the guided method of entering your financial and business details, or jump ahead to specific sections, and then navigate back to those you missed.

Most of the entry screens offer detailed information that explains exactly what the program is asking for and more importantly, why it’s necessary. An excellent knowledge base is also available to further explain any details that you may not understand.

One downside to TurboTax is their attempts at upselling, though upselling is more prevalent in the Free and Deluxe plans.

Pricing

TurboTax Self-Employed pricing

From the beginning, TurboTax makes it easy to determine which plan is right for you. TurboTax options include the TurboTax Free plan, which is only suitable for the most basic returns.

TurboTax pricing chart

TurboTax offers a variety of plans, including the online Self-Employed plan for small businesses.

Both the Deluxe and Premier plans offers more extensive features, but if you’re a small business owner, sole proprietor, freelancer, or contractor, you’ll want to purchase the Self-Employed plan, which offers you all the features you need to complete an accurate return for your small business.

Plan Price - Federal Price with Live Price - State
Free Edition $0 $79.99 $34.99
Deluxe $59.99 $119.99 $44.99
Premier $79.99 $169.99 $44.99
Self-Employed $119.99 $199.99 $44.99

Remember to check with TurboTax in early 2020 for updated pricing, as their pricing changes frequently.

Support

Working with TurboTax Self-Employed support

If you’re okay with tutorials, an online community, and a comprehensive knowledge base to serve as your support network, TurboTax will work for you. However, if you prefer to talk to a live person, you’ll have to pay up to $80 extra by subscribing to TurboTax Live, which provides real-time access to a CPA or enrolled agent throughout the tax preparation process.

A subscription to TurboTax Self-Employed Live also provides you with a review of business income by a CPA or EA before you file. With the Live subscription, you can also set an appointment or just contact them when you need some expert advice.

TurboTax list of questions with links to answers

TurboTax Self-Employed support options include access to common tax questions.

There is also a special Self-Employed Support Center, where you can access a variety of topics directly related to your business.

In addition, links to numerous tax tools and informational articles are available from the community forums page.

Benefits of TurboTax Self-Employed

If you are a new TurboTax subscriber, you’ll also receive a free one-year subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed accounting software which allows you to track expenses in real-time, including the ability to snap a photo of a receipt and later export the image directly into TurboTax Self-Employed.

If you are a rideshare driver, you can log each trip using your mobile device, and later upload the information to TurboTax Self-Employed.

Final thoughts on TurboTax Self-Employed

While preparing your taxes may not be the most enjoyable activity, there’s no reason why it can’t be easy. Believe it or not, TurboTax really does make the process easy, particularly for small business owners who may be struggling with completing a Schedule C for the first time.

Not only does TurboTax Self-Employed make it easy to complete the necessary forms and schedules, but it also helps to locate deductions you may not even know about.

Though pricier than the competition, TurboTax Self-Employed offers easy navigation, solid in-product help, and all the information you need to prepare your personal and business taxes for the year.

FAQ

TurboTax Self-Employed Frequently Asked Questions

Is there really a free version of TurboTax?

Yes, there is, but it can only be used for very simple returns. You will still have to pay for any state filing.

Do I need a special plan to file my business taxes?

If you choose to use TurboTax, you will need to purchase the Self-Employed plan (for online access) or the Home & Business plan (for desktop access) in order to prepare the necessary schedules and forms such as Schedule C.

Can I talk to a support person if I have questions?

If you purchase the ‘Live’ version of TurboTax Self-Employed, you will have access to CPAs and enrolled agents who can answer any tax-related questions. For regular product support, you can access the knowledge base or TurboTax user community.

How TurboTax Self-Employed Compares

Product Mobile App Live Support Imports Tax Document Images Maximizes Deductions
TurboTax Self-Employed Yes Yes Yes
H&R Block Self-Employed Yes Yes Yes Yes
TaxSlayer Self-Employed Yes Yes Yes
eSmart Tax Yes Yes Yes
TaxAct Self-Employed Yes Yes Yes

File your self-employed taxes for freelancers and sole proprietors with TurboTax.