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Best tax software for small business owners in 2024: Save time filing and get your maximum refund

Small business owners can file their state and federal tax returns quickly and accurately with the best tax filing software programs.

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Let's face it, as a small business owner you have a lot on your plate, and filing your taxes might seem like an overwhelming task on your long to-do list. However, the right online tax filing software can help you save time and money.

Tax software programs allow you to complete the filing process online, so there's no need to deal with the back-and-forth of working with an accountant. And don't worry if you're not a tax pro — these services walk you through the filing process, so you can check off all the boxes before you hit file. If you want advice on your tax situation, many online software programs provide the option to upgrade to get live support that may include one-on-one assistance with a tax professional.

CNBC Select rounded up the best tax filing software programs for small business owners, so you can file your taxes before the deadline.

We focused on programs that offer plans geared toward people who are small business owners, which generally includes the self-employed, freelancers, sole proprietors and anyone with a side gig (or two). We evaluated these programs on a range of features, including cost, user experience, expert tax assistance and Better Business Bureau rating. (Read more about our methodology below.)

Best tax filing software for small business owners

Best overall tax software

TurboTax Premium

On TurboTax's secure site
  • Cost

    Costs may vary depending on the plan selected - see breakdown by plan in the description below

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Live support

    Yes, costs extra

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Step-by-step guidance with a Q&A format that is easy to follow
  • TurboTax Premium Live provides on-demand advice and a final review from a tax expert or CPA
  • Live Full Service has a tax expert prepare, sign, and file your return
  • Accuracy and maximum refund guaranteed*
  • Audit support, which provides free assistance if you get an IRS or other tax notice

Cons

  • More costly than other software programs
  • Live expert assistance plans have additional costs

Cost breakdown by plan:

  • TurboTax Premium: $129, state additional
  • TurboTax Premium Live: $219, state additional
  • TurboTax Premium Live Full Service: $409, state additional

*Click here for TurboTax offer details and disclosures

Runner-up

H&R Block

On H&R Block's secure site
  • Cost

    Costs may vary depending on the plan selected (Free Online, Deluxe, Premium, or Self-Employed) - click "Learn More" for details

  • Free version

    Yes (for simple returns only)

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Live support

    Available with some pricing and filing options

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Simple step-by-step guidance that's easy to follow
  • Unlimited on-demand chat or video support with Online Assist plans
  • Ability to speak to a tax expert who has an average of 10 years experience (costs extra)
  • Over 11,000 physical locations so you can meet with a tax expert in-person
  • Maximum refund guarantee, or H&R Block will refund the plan fees you paid
  • Audit support guarantee, which provides free assistance if you get an IRS or other tax notice
  • 100% accuracy, or H&R Block will reimburse you for any penalties or interest up to $10,000

Cons

  • Plans that include speaking with a live tax expert cost more for federal returns
  • One of the more costly software programs

Best free tax software

FreeTaxUSA

On FreeTaxUSA's secure site
  • Cost

    $0 federal, $14.99 state

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Tax expert support

    Yes, costs extra

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Federal filing is free to use
  • Audit defense available with the Deluxe edition, which gives you support from a representative if the IRS audits your federal tax return
  • Maximum refund guarantee, or FreeTaxUSA will refund the plan fees you paid and provide a coupon for a free amended tax return
  • 100% accuracy, or FreeTaxUSA will reimburse you for any penalties/interest charges

Cons

  • Can't import W-2s, so you have to manually enter the info
  • State filing isn't free, though it's a low $14.99
  • Priority customer support and live chat is only available with a Deluxe edition upgrade

Best affordable software

TaxSlayer Self Employed

On TaxSlayer's secure site
  • Cost

    Costs may vary depending on the plan selected

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Tax expert support

    Yes, certain plans

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Cheaper plan, making this a more affordable choice if you don't have a simple return and need to upgrade
  • Low state filing fees
  • One-on-one support from real tax experts with Ask a Tax Pro
  • 100% accuracy, or TaxSlayer will reimburse you for any penalties or interest charges
  • Maximum refund guarantee, or TaxSlayer will refund the plan fees you paid
  • IRS inquiry and audit support

Cons

  • Must enter a discount code to benefit from lower prices

Best for accuracy guarantee

TaxAct

On TaxAct's secure site
  • Cost

    Self-employed/Sole Proprietor (for personal and business income and expenses): $48.71 federal, $33.71 per state

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Tax expert support

    Yes, costs extra

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Up to $100,000 accuracy guarantee, which reimburses you for IRS/state penalty or interest if the TaxAct software causes a calculation error in your return
  • More affordable than other paid software
  • One-on-one support from real tax experts (costs extra)
  • Maximum refund and 100% accuracy guarantee, or TaxAct will refund the plan fees you paid and pay any difference in the refund or tax liability, plus cover any legal or audit costs up to $100,000

Cons

  • Xpert Help Self-employed plan costs more

Cost breakdown by plan:

  • Self-employed/Sole Proprietor (for personal and business income and expenses): $48.71 federal, $33.71 per state

FAQs

Federal income tax returns are due on April 15, 2024. However, Maine and Massachusetts residents will have until April 17, 2024, due to state holidays.

While you must submit a tax return by the filing date every year, you may also need to file your taxes quarterly and make estimated tax payments. The IRS generally requires small business owners to make quarterly estimated payments if they expect to owe a minimum of $1,000. Filing quarterly isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, it allows you to make four smaller tax payments versus one large tax payment.

Here's when estimated tax payments are due:

  • First quarter (January 1 to March 31): April 15
  • Second quarter (April 1 to May 31): June 17
  • Third quarter (June 1 to August 31): September 16
  • Fourth quarter (September 1 to December 31): January 15 of the following year

You can make estimated tax payments through some online tax software, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) or by mailing in a completed 1040-ES form with your payment. If you mail in your payment, it must be postmarked by the due date to avoid penalties.

If you miss the April 18 deadline, file your taxes as soon as possible. You may incur a fee if you file late, and it only gets pricier the longer you wait. If you file late and owe taxes, you’ll incur a fee. However, you won’t incur a penalty if you don’t owe and instead have a tax refund coming. That said, there’s no way to know if you’ll owe taxes or not, so it’s important to file on time.

Most small business owners will have to pay for their tax prep. Unlike with individual tax returns, there are very few free programs.

Why trust CNBC Select?

At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every tax software review is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of tax software products. While CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics. See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best tax software for small businesses.

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Our methodology

To determine which tax software offers the best way for small business owners to file their taxes, CNBC Select compared each program on a range of features, including:

  • Cost
  • User experience
  • Expert tax assistance
  • Accuracy and maximum refund guarantee
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating
  • Customer reviews, when available

Cost was one of the most important factors. While one of the services offers free federal filing, many business owners may want to benefit from robust software, therefore paying to file their taxes. We evaluated the price per plan and weighed the features you receive, like the ability to maximize deductions and credits. The more bang for your buck, the higher a service ranked.

Whether you’re new to filing taxes or a seasoned pro, user experience is crucial to filling out and submitting your return quickly and with little frustration. The services we chose had to be relatively user friendly.

The ability to speak with a tax expert or support representative was a big plus. All five of the best tax software offered some form of support.

And if a service supported consumers with a generous accuracy and maximum refund guarantee, it was ranked higher.

We also considered the Better Business Bureau rating associated with the software. BBB ratings help determine whether a business is operating responsibly and if it helps to resolve customer complaints in a timely manner. Customer reviews were also taken into consideration.

After reviewing the above features, we sorted our recommendations by best for overall tax filing, runner-up, free tax software, most affordable and best accuracy guarantee.

The federal and state filing fees for the software programs mentioned above are subject to change without notice. Many programs don’t charge you until you file, so there’s a chance the fees can change from the time you start your return until you submit it.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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