QuickBooks Self-Employed Review 2022

We spent several days diving into the ins and outs of QuickBooks Self-Employed, including its features, user interface, mobile app, pricing, and tax add-ons.
Best for tax-conscious freelancers
Quickbooks
QuickBooks
3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6
  • Starting at $15.00/mo.
  • pro
    Excellent, user-friendly interface
  • pro
    Mobile tax and mileage tracking
  • con
    Limited accounting features

Data as of 8/9/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

We are committed to sharing unbiased reviews. Some of the links on our site are from our partners who compensate us. Read our editorial guidelines and advertising disclosure.

The bottom line: With its user-friendly interface, mobile accounting app, and accurate quarterly tax estimation, QuickBooks Self-Employed is a useful bookkeeping tool for tax-conscious freelancers. But the software lacks many freelance-friendly features, including invoice customization and project tracking. Honestly, the limited features don't quite justify its high starting price.

As a result, QuickBooks Self-Employed isn't our top self-employment accounting software recommendation for most contractors or freelancers. But if you're extremely tax conscious and want to focus on maximizing your business expense tax deductions, QuickBooks Self-Employed could still work for you. 

Pros
pro Extremely user-friendly software and app interface
pro Mileage tracking, receipt scanning, and automatic expense categorization
pro Schedule C tax deduction maximiation
pro Quarterly tax estimation
Cons
con Limited accounting and bookkeeping features
con Higher starting price than many competitors
con Expensive tax-bundle plans
con Limited third-party app integrations, including ecommerce integrations

QuickBooks Self-Employed review: Table of contents

Info
QuickBooks Self-Employed: Savings and discounts

QuickBooks Self-Employed starts at $15.00 a month ($180.00 a year). But as with most QuickBooks plans, you can try Self-Employed free for 30 days or get your first three months at a reduced price—usually 50% off, but up to 70% during seasonal sales. With QuickBooks, you can't choose both options: if you opt for 50% off, you waive your free trial, and vice versa.

QuickBooks Self-Employed plans and pricing

Plan name
Starting price
Key features
Get started
QuickBooks Self-Employed$15.00/mo.Mileage tracking, quarterly tax estimates, business expense tracking, basic invoicing
Self-Employed Tax Bundle$25.00/mo.Self-Employed + TurboTax (one state and one federal annual tax return filing)
Self-Employed Live Tax Bundle$35.00/mo.Tax Bundle + year-round financial advice and end-of-year tax filing review

Data as of 8/9/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Key QuickBooks Self-Employed features

Due to its emphasis on tax savings, we primarily recommend QuickBooks Self-Employed to freelancers with uncomplicated finances, a relatively small client base, and a fair amount of work-related expenses.

First of all, QuickBooks Self-Employed includes built-in mileage tracking—a crucial feature if you plan to include business travel as a tax write-off. For instance, if you're an independent contractor who travels between worksites, the QuickBooks Self-Employed mobile app tracks your miles and generates IRS-accepted receipts, which simplifies your end-of-year tax filing process. 

The software also automatically—and very accurately—sorts your business expenses by tax category, which makes tax deductions easier to tally at the end of the year. It also saves you time and stressful tax guesswork: since the app deals with tax categorizations for you, you don't have to worry as much about claiming the wrong expenses or overlooking crucial tax-saving opportunities. 

Finally, most self-employed workers are required to file quarterly estimated taxes. Predicting your own taxes based on an annual income you haven't yet earned is hard, to say the least. QuickBooks' accurate estimations and deadline reminders help ensure you're submitting the right tax amount—meaning an amount you can afford and an amount that won't leave you owing thousands of dollars at the end of tax season based an a misestimation.

Beyond tax deductions, though, QuickBooks Self-Employed doesn’t offer much. Its invoicing feature is basic at best. While you can import bank transactions to track expenses, you can’t generate detailed financial reports that help business owners set concrete financial goals or expand their businesses.

It also lacks features that many independent contractors and sole proprietors need, like project and income tracking.

QuickBooks Self-Employed vs. top competitors

Brand
Starting price
Built-in mileage tracking
Third-party app integrations
Get started
$15.00/mo.
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon No  DarkLimited
$12.00/mo.
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes (1,000+)
Free for life
Icon No  DarkNo
Icon No  DarkLimited
$0.00/mo.*
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
$15.00/mo.
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes

Data as of 8/9/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Available only for businesses with an annual revenue beneath $50K USD

Key QuickBooks Self-Employed drawbacks

Limited accounting features

We have one major quibble with QuickBooks Self-Employed: it honestly lacks the features to justify its above-average starting cost.

For instance, Xero’s $12 plan for freelancers and sole proprietors includes inventory tracking, detailed reporting, customizable invoicing, sales tax tracking, customer database creation, and more. Zoho Books’ $15-a-month plan includes budgeting, customized invoicing, time tracking, project tracking, a client portal for quick quotes and invoicing, and more.

QuickBooks’ invoicing capabilities are particularly lacking—which is a huge issue for a freelance-focused product. You can send invoices, but you can’t customize them, set recurring invoices, or schedule automatic late payment reminders.

Similarly, you can’t log the hours spent on a project and transfer them over to the invoice for quick pricing. You can’t even send quotes or estimates or schedule automatic late fees. Meanwhile, FreshBooks has the same starting price as QuickBooks Self-Employed—but it does all of the above invoicing tasks and then some.

All you can do with QuickBooks Self-Employed is send a bland invoice with online payment options, and you’ll pay $15 a month for the pleasure. If sending basic invoices is all you need, we can recommend plenty of cheaper options.

QuickBooks Self-Employed is currently beta testing a time-tracking feature, so hopefully the app gains a few more features as time goes on. As it currently stands, though, QuickBooks Self-Employed has way too few perks for the price.

Limited ecommerce integrations

QuickBooks Online is famous for integrating with hundreds of third-party apps, from HR and time-tracking apps to payroll. Unfortunately, QuickBooks Self-Employed doesn't have the same perk. Honestly, it doesn't sync with much—but most crucially, it doesn't sync with any of the typical ecommerce integrations, such as Shopify. In other words, if you're selling products rather than services, we don't recommend QuickBooks Self-Employed.

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Additional QuickBooks Self-Employed features

Excellent interface

Like all QuickBooks products (at least, all of its cloud-based accounting products), QuickBooks Self-Employed also wins big for user friendliness. The dashboard is easy for non-accountants to parse. And the software’s learning curve is low enough that you should quickly get the hang of importing bank transactions and sending invoices.

QuickBooks is also pretty good at providing quick but comprehensive help for first-time users. If you're not sure where to start, we recommend QuickBooks’ handy video tutorials.

Comprehensive mobile app

QuickBooks' typical user friendliness extends to the QuickBooks Self-Employed mobile accounting app. Like the QuickBooks Online app, the Self-Employed app does everything the cloud-based software does—including bookkeeping, expense tracking, invoice creation, and IRS-friendly report generation. (You also need the app to track mileage—obviously, the online interface can't track it for you.)

Unfortunately, iOS users have a better experience with the app than Android users, who report frequent crashes and give the app an average of 3.7 stars out of 5.1 Apple users, meanwhile, rate the app 4.7 out of 5 and rave about its clean interface and straightforward features.2

TurboTax bundles

QuickBooks Self-Employed already includes stellar tax help, especially in terms of quarterly tax estimations. But if you want even more tax help, you can sign up for the Self-Employed Tax Bundle plan ($25 per month) or the Self-Employed Live Tax Bundle plan ($35 per month).

Intuit owns both QuickBooks and TurboTax, so both plans add TurboTax access to your existing Self-Employed features. The Live plan also gives you live tax support from QuickBooks accountants.

Pricetag
Price check: QuickBooks Self-Employed and TurboTax

If you were you planning to use TurboTax to file end-of-year taxes, the QuickBooks Self-Employed Tax Bundle will save you about $50 on TurboTax’s services, which typically start at $180 for freelancers.

The takeaway

QuickBooks Self-Employed has a sleek interface, low learning curve, and helpful tax deductions—all of which should appeal to freelancers who need just the basics. But QuickBooks Self-Employed lacks FreshBooks’ customized invoicing and Zoho Books’ client collaboration features while costing as much or more than most alternatives.

Have you outgrown self-employment bookkeeping software? Check out our list of the best accounting software for small businesses.

Related reading

QuickBooks Self-Employed FAQ

Is QuickBooks Self-Employed free?

No. QuickBooks Self-Employed starts at $15 per month. When you first sign up, you can choose between QuickBooks’ 30-day free trial or a three-month discount, usually between 50% and 70%.

What's the difference between QuickBooks Self-Employed and QuickBooks Online?

QuickBooks Self-Employed is QuickBooks’ freelance-specific bookkeeping software. It starts at $15 a month and offers features like mileage tracking, basic invoicing, and receipt scanning. In contrast, QuickBooks Online was built for freelancers, sole proprietors, and small-business owners with employees. It has more expansive accounting features than QuickBooks Self-Employed, including report generation and business income tracking, and starts at $30 a month.

In general, we recommend QuickBooks Online over QuickBooks Self-Employed, even for freelancers. QuickBooks Online costs more, but it also offers more thorough invoicing and additional insight into your cash flow. It also connects to Shopify and automatically adds sales tax to your invoices, two crucial features for sole proprietors who sell products online.

Does QuickBooks Self-Employed work for a sole proprietorship?

Yes. QuickBooks Self-Employed was built specifically for freelancers, contract workers, and sole proprietors. However, if you want more accounting features, including sales tax tracking and cash flow management, QuickBooks Online might be a better fit.

If you have one or more employees, you’ll want QuickBooks Online Essential, Plus, or Advanced. Each of these plans allows you to add users so you can share your financial data with an accountant or other team members.

What is QuickBooks Desktop?

QuickBooks Desktop is QuickBooks’ desktop-based (rather than cloud-based) accounting software. Generally speaking, it has the same features as the more advanced QuickBooks Online plans. Notably, QuickBooks Desktop doesn’t have any freelance-specific plans. Freelancers, sole proprietors, or independent contractors should not sign up for QuickBooks Desktop.

Our methodology

To write our review and compare QuickBooks Self-Employed to other top self-employment software picks, we rated several key features: 

  • Bookkeeping and accounting features
  • Plans and pricing
  • Mobile app ratings, reviews, and functionality
  • Customer service reputation, including current customer reviews on third-party consumer sites like Trustpilot, Trustradius, and Consumer Affairs
  • Overall user-friendliness, including interface 

We also took our accounting expert's opinion into consideration when ranking and evaluating our software. 

Note that star rankings are subject to frequent review and may be updated at any time.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Sources
1. Google Play, “QuickBooks Self-Employed: Mileage Tracker and Taxes.” Accessed August 9, 2022.
2. App Store, “QuickBooks Self-Employed.” Accessed August 9, 2022.

Kylie McQuarrie
Written by
Kylie McQuarrie
Kylie McQuarrie has been writing for and about small businesses since 2014. Prior to writing full-time, she worked with a variety of small-business owners (from freelance writers to real-estate solopreneurs), which gave her a front-row look at small-business owners' struggles, frustrations, and successes. Currently, she’s Business.org’s accounting and payroll staff writer. Her work has been featured on SCORE.org, G2, and Fairygodboss, among others.
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