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QuickBooks Online Self-Employed review: Untangle your business and personal expenses

Jeffery Battersby | Feb. 10, 2015
QuickBooks Online Self-Employed is a thinned-down version of QuickBooks Online with a very specific focus: Sole proprietors and small business owners who mix business and personal accounts, who pay quarterly taxes, and who need to do quick triage on business and personal income and expenses. QuickBooks Online Self-Employed performs its magic with the combination of a Web app and an iOS app and makes it easy to quickly separate your business and personal expenses.

The software has a nice tool for tracking mileage so that you get a proper deduction on your taxes. Using the Web app, you add trips and the miles you've travelled and QuickBooks Online Self-Employed uses whatever the current IRS mileage rate is to calculate your deduction. Alas, this feature is not fully formed, particularly with regard to the iOS app. The most obvious implementation of this feature would be to have a something within the iOS app to enter beginning and ending mileage while you're in the car and have the app automatically calculate everything else. Instead, you'll need to use some other tool to collect mileage information and then manually enter it in the Web app.

Your bottom line at a glance

What QuickBooks Online Self-Employed does quite well is help you take the guesswork out of determining how much actual income you're making throughout the year. By taking your income and reducing that number by how much you've had to spend and how much you expect to pay in taxes, you can easily see how much money you've actually made in real, spendable income on a biweekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis.

As anyone owning a business knows, there's nothing worse than calculating your taxes at the end of the year, only to discover that, not only do you owe a fair amount of money to the IRS, but, in addition, you also have to pay the IRS penalties because you should have been paying quarterly estimated taxes throughout the year. QuickBooks Online Self-Employed keeps track of how how much you should be paying in quarterly taxes, warns you in advance of when the taxes are due, and automatically enters information into your 1040-ES so you can print it and send it with a check to the IRS. Plus, no surprises here, you can export all of the information you collect using QuickBooks Online Self-Employed directly into Intuit's TurboTax application.

QuickBooks Online Self-Employed lacks some features I'd like to see, chief of which is some kind of tool for creating invoices or digital receipts. I don't expect the application to be a full-fledged accounting tool for smaller businesses — it's definitely more Quicken on steroids than a trimmed-down QuickBooks. But I'd appreciate a simple way to provide customers with proof of work completed, which would also serve as a means of linking income to a job or task. The Web app also provides little in the way of reporting. It does provide a nice graphical breakdown of your income and expenses, with a focus on how your business is doing, and the option to view a Schedule C breakdown. But it would be useful to have a small set of built-in reports, like income and expenses, profit and loss, or at the very least a CSV export of income and expenses.


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