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Best Tax Software for Business 2017

Best Tax Software for Business 2017
Credit: Melpomene/Shutterstock

If you're doing your own business taxes, you need a good tax software program. Whether you want to maximize your credits and deductions, or avoid penalties and audits, you need to be sure you're partnering with a great company. Incomplete forms and inaccuracies are unforgivable when it comes to taxation, so it's important to select software that's going to do the job right the first time.

To help you choose the right product, Business News Daily reviewed the industry leaders and selected the best online tax software for businesses. Here's a roundup of our top choices and an explanation of how we chose them.

Already prepared to choose an online tax software? Here's a breakdown of the rest of our coverage:

Intuit's TurboTax is our choice for best overall tax software for business because of its comprehensive and powerful features. TurboTax runs a double accuracy check through your forms and identifies hundreds of deductions and credits you might qualify for.

Although it's slightly more expensive than comparable software, TurboTax makes up for it with quality service and robust features. The business package, for example, includes a "W-2 Snapshot," which allows the user to upload a photo of a previously completed W-2 for the software to parse and extract information to fill out new forms. The software is available for download or online use and is compatible with mobile devices so you can check in on the go. And should you be hit with an audit, TurboTax offers specialized audit support to make the process less painful.

Read our full review here.

Thomson Reuters' tax solution, ONESOURCE, is designed specifically for corporations and can easily navigate the most complex regulations, even for global businesses. It maintains a rules database covering all U.S. and Canadian compliance regulations as well as 180 additional countries. In addition, ONESOURCE runs entirely online, supports a wide array of filing forms and files in every state, boasts robust reporting options, and automates the most arduous and time-consuming aspects of tax season. The one caveat is that mom-and-pop operations or even smaller startups probably won't need this level of support; it would be overkill for smaller operations. But mid-size companies and beyond will find ONESOURCE a highly reliable, accurate and powerful tax software.

Read our full review here.

H&R Block provides some of the simplest, most effective tax software we've come across. It returns accurate forms, easily corrects human errors and effectively automates the most complicated parts of the tax-filing process. We chose it as our best pick for online tax software for the self-employed and for pass-through entities like LLCs because H&R Block's tax professionals are available in thousands of locations across the U.S. if you need further assistance. However, the software itself is so simple it's unlikely you'll need outside assistance, except in extraordinary circumstances. H&R Block's pricing is about the average for the level of service the company offers. For an additional fee, H&R Block offers more helpful services, like audit assistance and even representation before the IRS, if necessary.

Read our full review here.

TaxAct offers a quality product that holds its own against leading competitors at a more affordable price. While some of the more automated aspects of other tax software are not present, TaxAct is still helpful in ensuring completion and accuracy of your tax documents. The free version offers exceptional service for 1040A and 1040EZ filers; those who have more complex tax needs would have to upgrade, but to do so is relatively inexpensive ($47 for premium service).

Read our full review here.

Drake Tax serves as a customizable, centralized service center for tax preparers and professionals. Where it truly excels is in reducing the paper burden of tax practices and finance departments, helping you go paperless in every aspect of the process, from gathering source materials to filing documents with the IRS. Moreover, Drake Tax comes with access to client write-up software and document management systems, which enhance the functions of the general practice management component. Drake Tax also offers comprehensive planning tools to help you better advise clients and help them navigate their financial future, including tax planning, archiving previous returns, and amortization schedules.

Read our full review here.

To choose the best online tax software for businesses, we created a list of 40 reputable tax software companies. Our selection was based on other online review lists as well as customer feedback and Better Business Bureau ratings. From there, we eliminated vendors that catered primarily to individual taxpayers rather than business owners.

After narrowing our initial list, we examined the features of each service and the needs of the average small business owner. We also took part in free trials when available. Finally, we were left with a final pool of candidates to consider for our best picks: 1040.com, Avalara AvaTax, BNA Corporate Analyzer, Drake Tax, FreeTaxUSA, eSmartTax, H&R Block, Intacct by Sage, Intuit TurboTax, IRS Logics, Liberty Tax, Jackson Hewitt, TaxAct, Tax Slayer and Thomson-Reuters ONESOURCE.

To select the final candidates, we analyzed the following factors:

  • Pricing: While it wasn't the sole factor in our search, price was considered alongside other aspects of the software. If the price was higher than other comparable companies, we looked to see if the software made up for the difference by offering something unique or particularly powerful.
  • Ease of use: How easy to use are these programs? If a particular software application was confusing, clunky or aesthetically displeasing, it rated lower on ease of use.
  • Disbursement options: How can you get paid using these programs? Many taxpayers are likely to be entitled to a tax return after filing, so how can you collect it using this software? Does it include direct deposit, paid debit cards or virtual accounts, or can you only receive a check by mail? Disbursement flexibility factored into our final decision.
  • Filing options: How robust are the filing options with this service? Which forms are included and are state returns free or an additional cost? Are essential forms only available at higher pricing tiers? Those services with more access to more tax forms and deductions/credits scored higher here.
  • Online/software/mobile: Is the software downloadable, web-based or mobile-friendly? The more platforms this software could be used on, the better.
  • Tax preparers: Does this software come with access to human tax experts? Can you consult with them if you run into trouble? This feature was a must-have for top picks.
  • Technical support: Companies scored higher for highly accessible support that addressed questions sufficiently and in a timely manner.
  • Customer service: We posed as a potential customer and called the customer service departments of each finalist. Our qualitative experiences were included along with the other factors in making our decision.

Here is a comprehensive list of online tax software and a summary of what each company claims to offer. This alphabetical list also includes our best picks.

1040.com – 1040.com offers DIY tax filing with an interview-style filing procedure and free updates from prior filings. This software offers accuracy checks, e-filing with direct deposit for fast refunds, autocomplete state returns and encrypted data security. Additionally, 1040.com allows users to pay the balance with the refund for an additional fee. https://www.1040.com/

Avalara AvaTax – Avalara provides cloud-based tax services for businesses of all types and sizes. Services include a real-time, advanced rate tax calculator, automatic returns filing, full multiple-entity support for every location and department across your organization as well as product taxability and address validation. For an additional charge, customers can access global calculation for international compliance, consumer use tax and landed cost calculations and automated returns filing. Avalara also offers integration with your POS, CRM, CMS software and shopping carts. https://www.avalara.com/

BNA Corporate Tax Analyzer – BNA Corporate Tax Analyzer automates and manages complex federal taxes. This corporate income tax management software provides a depreciation calculator, a multifunctional engine to calculate and track carryovers and carrybacks for complex tax attributes, and comprehensive, multiyear analysis for planning and decision-making. This solution includes tax and financial documentation to meet financial requirements, such as 10K, FAS 109 and FIN 48 and the ability to accelerate or fast-track the IRS audit process with optimal results, compliance documentation assurance. https://www.bna.com/bna-corporate-tax-p17179917942/

Ceridian – Ceridian's payroll tax-filing services provide access to annual changes in regulatory and tax laws. The service also improves compliance with access to current payroll and tax rules and understanding of those changes to mitigate any risks. Ceridian facilitates correct and on-time payroll tax filing and customizes a business strategy with available add-ons and related payroll tax services. http://www.ceridian.com/products/payroll-tax-filing/index.html

Community Tax – Community Tax provides full-service tax assistance as well as their specialty of debt relief. Clients receive a dedicated tax preparer with an IRS power of attorney. The company uses IRS tax records to ensure no income or expenses are missed and members of the Community Tax review team analyze the returns to ensure quality. All returns include an audit guarantee. http://www.communitytax.com/

Credit Karma – Credit Karma offers free federal and state e-filing for an array of common filing forms. The free software employs a Q&A style interview format to walk users through the tax process in a way that is simple to follow. Credit Karma is likely best employed by users filing for personal income tax. https://www.creditkarma.com/

Drake Tax – Whether you're in the finance department of a company or run a tax practice, Drake Tax offers strong tools for completing tax returns, planning for the future and running a practice of your own. Drake Tax also includes a number of features which help transition to paperless tax preparation. https://www.drakesoftware.com/

eFile – eFile's tax service offers a FILucator to determine if filing is necessary and a tax calculator to ascertain if and how much of a refund may be available. eFile offers three tiers of service: from a basic return for free to the deluxe service processing returns with dependents, mortgages and retirement. The third tier includes self-employed taxpayers, itemized deductions and all other forms and schedules. http://www.efile.com/

eSmart – eSmart is an extension of Liberty Tax Services. This tax service provides a credit maximizer, electronic W-2 import and live customer support online (both on the phone and in person). eSmart imports previous taxes to simplify filing and offers professional audit assistance. With eSmart, taxpayers choose from four tax-filing solutions, ranging from Free, Basic (for families), Deluxe (for investors) and Premium (for business owners). https://www.esmarttax.com/

ExacTax – ExacTax offers 1040 Individual, 1120 Corporation, 1065 Partnership, 1041 Fiduciary, 706 Estate Tax, 709 Gift Tax, 990 Exempt Organizations, 5500 Benefit Plans, all state returns, multistate returns, e-filing and more. http://www.exactax.com/

Express Tax Refund – Express Tax Refund offers free customer support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An IRS-authorized e-file provider, Express Tax Refund uses the most current security to ensure client privacy. http://www.expresstaxrefund.com/

Free 1040 Tax Return – Free 1040 Tax Return offers online tax-filing service with expert customer support and systems designed with your security and privacy in mind. E-filing makes filing returns quick and safe, and receiving your refund via direct deposit fast and simple. http://free1040taxreturn.com/

Free Tax USA – Free Tax USA offers federal filing services at no cost. This free service includes all federal filings from simple to advanced returns and everything in between. Free Tax USA processes all major tax situations: joint filing, dependents, home ownership, itemized deductions, self-employment and more. State returns are included for a small fee. The service offers a deluxe option, at an additional charge, with audit assist, phone support and amended returns. https://www.freetaxusa.com/

H&R Block – H&R Block provides clients with three different options for tax filing – in an office with a Tax Pro, online e-filing or at home with one of four tax preparation software products. With accuracy checks, easy document imports, data security and maximum refund guarantees, H&R Block offers options for all taxpayers. https://www.hrblock.com/

Intuit TurboTax – Intuit TurboTax offers clients tax preparation software with a maximum refund guarantee, a comprehensive review of completed returns and accurate calculations. With four products available, Intuit TurboTax services include data imports from other software and step-by-step help. Upgraded options included a state return, help finding deductions and valuing donations, and even creating W-2s and 1099s for employees. https://turbotax.intuit.com

Jackson Hewitt – Jackson Hewitt provides clients in-office or online filing for qualifying returns. Jackson Hewitt offers a maximum refund and accuracy guarantee. https://www.jacksonhewitt.com/

Liberty Tax – Liberty Tax offers personal and business tax preparation and the opportunity for online filing. This company guarantees maximum refunds, accurate calculations and a free double-check of returns from other providers. Liberty Tax provides year-round support and correspondence and audit assistance. https://www.libertytax.com

ONESOURCE – The ONESOURCE platform offers user-friendly corporate tax software designed to save time, reduce errors and ensure consistency. ONESOURCE simplifies compliance issues. The software provides global supply chain and data management and analytics. https://tax.thomsonreuters.com/products/brands/onesource

Online Tax Pros – Online Tax Pros provides two levels of tax services: Standard and Deluxe. The tax company provides free e-filing of federal taxes and customer support. For a small fee, clients can also file state returns and have returns reviewed by a tax professional. https://onlinetaxpros.com/

Power Tax – Power Tax ensures accurate tax service by keeping employees trained in the latest tax law, along with IRS training. This agency offers quick and accurate returns and refunds. From a courtesy review of the previous year's return to a computer-generated analyzation of the final return, Power Tax's professionals strive to find all the applicable deductions for your return. http://www.powertaxservice.com/

ProtaxLink – ProtaxLink offers IRS compliance training and updating along with ensuring tax preparers are efficiently trained for tax season. http://www.protaxlink.com/

Quicken – Quicken offers several different software options to plan a budget as well as simplify, minimize, and organize taxes and deductions. https://www.quicken.com/

Real Asset Management – Real Asset Management supplies fixed asset management software. The Series4000 product range includes modules for fixed asset accounting, asset tracking, lease accounting and maintenance management. http://www.realassetmgt.com/

Sigma Tax Pro – Sigma Tax Pro serves tax professionals, providing professional tax software, including technical and tax prep support. With three options of software, Sigma Tax Pro covers services ranging from easy-to-use forms-based inputting, support for all federal and state forms, file conversion, coverage for all filing statuses, prediction mode, and instant, real-time calculations. https://sigmataxpro.com

TaxAct – TaxAct offers step-by-step, online tax preparation with three pricing options. Data import options, free customer service and audit risk reduction are a few of the features offered. https://www.taxact.com/

TaxAudit – TaxAudit provides audit defense through TurboTax. In the event of an audit on a covered return, Audit Defense allows TaxAudit professionals to handle all aspects of the process for clients. Representatives are highly trained, experienced specialists who, with the audit defense service, communicate with the IRS. https://www.taxaudit.com

TaxMaster – TaxMaster, from Revenue Solutions Inc., is a tool that supports all processes of the field audit. The software features data gathering, employer data reviews, audit decisions and computations recording and more. http://www.revenuesolutionsinc.com/taxmaster/

TaxSlayer – TaxSlayer online tax preparation software provides e-file capabilities from multiple platforms: laptop, tablet and smartphone. Professional representatives are on standby to help with questions and check returns to ensure accuracy and quick processing. https://www.taxslayer.com

Ultimate Tax – Ultimate Tax provides professional tax software for novice and seasoned tax preparers. All plans include launch pad, daily service availability and context-sensitive help. Interview mode is an included option. http://www.ultimatetax.com/

Ultra Tax – From Thomson Reuters comes Ultra Tax, professional tax software for tax preparers. Timesaving tools, multiple monitor flexibility, a checklist for instant preparation, data-sharing between returns and efficient asset entry simply the tax preparation process. https://tax.thomsonreuters.com/cs-professional-suite/ultratax-cs/

uTax – uTax employs the front line of today's technology in tax software. With a built-in document manager, multioffice and multiplatform capabilities as well as a mobile application, uTax brings cutting-edge solutions to tax preparation. https://www.utaxsoftware.com/

Vertex SMB – Vertex SMB offers income tax solutions to businesses. Automating and streamlining tax management across the tax lifecycle helps simplify income tax management on a global scale. For tax planning, Vertex Tax Accounting uses breakthrough technology, increasing accuracy and efficiency in a secure manner. Vertex Tax Performance Engine collects detailed combinations of data with an advanced data management technology. http://www.vertexinc.com/solutions/income-tax-solutions

Adam C. Uzialko

Adam received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Journalism & Media Studies at Rutgers University. He worked for a local newspaper and freelanced for several publications after graduating college. He can be reached by email, or follow him on Twitter.