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Grow Your Business Technology

5 Things You Didn't Know QuickBooks Self-Employed Could Do

5 Things You Didn't Know QuickBooks Self-Employed Could Do
Credit: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock

QuickBooks is one of the most popular small business accounting software solutions on the market. Intuit now offers eight versions of its accounting software, including one specifically for self-employed workers. The SaaS solution for solopreneurs starts at just $5 a month for the first three months and costs $10 per month after that. While some side-hustlers and contractors may reason that they don't need QuickBooks because they don't have advanced accounting needs, this version of QuickBooks offers the functionality almost any self-employed worker can benefit from.

Here are just a few reasons you should consider using QuickBooks Self-Employed.

Most business accounting software allows users to sync with bank accounts, credit cards and payment accounts, but QuickBooks makes the process ideal for self-employed people. Many freelancers, especially those who work from home, miss out on opportunities to flag business expenses that straddle the line between professional and personal, like phone or internet service. Luckily, when you view an itemized list of expenses in QuickBooks Self-Employed, you can choose to flag each item as business, personal or split (you may also disregard them). [Read related article: Which Version of QuickBooks Is Right for Your Business?]

The split expense option is a game-changer for freelancers because it allows you to split expenses based on dollar amount or percentage of total transaction. You can also set up ongoing rules for split transactions so that recurring expenses used for professional and personal purposes are automatically filtered correctly and you don't miss out on any deductions.

QuickBooks Self-Employed is easy to connect to your bank account. While you may review an itemized list of transactions and flag them as business, personal or split, you can also create rules for expenses and revenue. Rules are typically built around client or vendor names, so this may not work as well for side-hustlers who get paid by personal check (you have to manually select a category for those transactions), but for ongoing costs or revenue, it really streamlines the accounting process. Best of all, like in other Intuit products, you create rules with point-and-click menu selection, zero coding required. If you can order pizza online, you can set up rules in QuickBooks Self-Employed – it's that easy.

One of the biggest stressors freelancers face is calculating taxes. When a deposit transaction is flagged as business, QuickBooks Self-Employed automatically predicts the taxes owed, which you can view on the dynamic dashboard at any time. This saves a lot of time spent predicting taxes on your own and makes it much easier to plan for payment.

The only downside to QuickBooks' take on predicting taxes is that you cannot flag a deposit transaction as business if the taxes have already been taken out, or it will throw off your predicted taxes. In other words, if you flag something as a business deposit, QuickBooks assumes no taxes have been paid. This is unfortunate, since many freelancers work part-time or even full-time jobs (where taxes are taken out of income) as well as one-off jobs (where taxes are not taken out of income). Until QuickBooks adds more functionality, the best option is to log any deposit transactions that have already been taxed as personal income, keeping in mind that the dashboard will not show this income as part of your business profit. 

The QuickBooks Self-Employed dashboard does not look like a dashboard in a $10-a-month product. The clean design makes it easy to navigate, and the main menu in the upper left corner of the screen allows quick access to Home, Transactions, Miles (useful if recording mileage plays a role in your self-employment), Taxes, Reports and Invoices. The snapshots on the dashboard include the same items covered in the main menu, as well as Profit and Loss, Expenses, Accounts (which shows banking and credit balances), and Estimated Taxes Due.

When you log in to the dashboard, there's also a to-do list for anything pending, which might include checking recent transactions or filling in additional tax information. Since QuickBooks is an Intuit product, it's easy to sync with TurboTax, and a lot can be accomplished in tax prep directly through QuickBooks. The dashboard even has a time-sensitive Tax Checklist so you're never stuck paying an accountant to input your taxes for you at the last minute.

Tracking the payment progress of different invoices is a necessary but unexciting aspect of freelance life that QuickBooks streamlines beautifully. Not only can you issue invoices directly from QuickBooks, you can also set due dates for those invoices and process payments online. If you choose to set up online bill pay, you can allow account transfers, credit card payments or both. Any recipients of your invoices can easily click directly from the invoice email to pay you.

When an invoice is not marked as paid and the due date has passed, QuickBooks automatically categorizes it as overdue under the main Invoices tab as well as on the dashboard. From there, you can select the option to resend the invoice or follow up with the client separately.

QuickBooks Self-Employed isn't a perfect product, but it's close. The functionality this SaaS solution offers for just $5 to $10 a month (Intuit offers 50 percent discounted rates for the first three months of usage for each product) makes it a no-brainer buy for freelancers and side-hustlers who want to take their business organization to the next level. For TurboTax users, there's the added benefit of making the tax prep process faster, and the ability to predict the taxes you owe automatically saves major time and stress. [Interested in other small business accounting solutions? Check out our best picks.]

If you're looking for an all-in-one solution to your accounting needs, give this one a try. If you need additional functionality in the future, you can always upgrade to a small business version of QuickBooks, like Simple Start ($15 per month after the three-month mark) or Essentials ($40 per month after three months).

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Mona Bushnell

Mona Bushnell is a New York City-based Staff Writer for Tom’s IT Pro, Business.com and Business News Daily. She has a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and has previously worked as an IT Technician, a Copywriter, a Software Administrator, a Scheduling Manager and an Editorial Writer. Mona began freelance writing full-time in 2014 and joined the Purch team in 2017.