TurboTax Self-Employed review

(Money Under 30 Rating)

Ranking

9/10

TurboTax Self-Employed is a tax software for freelancers, contract workers, and small business owners. While it costs a little more than the competition, its features make it super easy to file your return quickly and accurately.

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Cost

6/10

Support

9/10

App usability

10/10

Ease of use

10/10

Popularity

10/10



Best for:

 

  • Freelancers
  • Gig workers
  • Small businesses
  • Schedule C filing

Editor's Note - You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent financial advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone. This content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser, unless otherwise noted below.

If you’re a freelancer, gig worker, or entrepreneur, you may be wondering how you’ll file taxes this year.

I didn’t say it was the most exciting thought, but hey, we all have to pay taxes.

Lucky for us, one of the easiest and quickest options is with TurboTax Self-Employed

Yes, it’s slightly more expensive than competitors like H&R Block or TaxSlayer. But it also has the easiest user experience, in my opinion. Here’s an overview of how it works. 

What is TurboTax Self-Employed?

TurboTax Self-Employed is a tax software designed specifically for freelancers, independent contractors, and small business owners whose tax filing needs are a bit more complex than your typical employee.

TurboTax is the most popular tax filing service in the U.S. Last year alone, over 30 million people filed with TurboTax, many of whom used TurboTax Self-Employed. 

How does TurboTax Self-Employed work?

Filing your return with TurboTax feels like taking a Buzzfeed quiz. And honestly, I’m here for it. Just look at this screenshot for example.

One of the first things TurboTax asks when you sign up is, “How are you feeling about doing your taxes?” 

One of their many quippy responses is, “We get it — the tax code is pretty crazy. But we have help options on every screen to make things a lot less, um, taxing.”

It’s super conversational and comforting. Like they’re saying, “Hey! We know filing taxes can suck sometimes, but we got you boo.”

But beyond its conversational tone, TurboTax uses a question-and-answer-based system to make filing your taxes super easy. All you do is answer each prompt as it pops up on the screen. And before you know it, your entire return is complete. 

Here’s a brief overview of what the filing process looks like: 

  1. Create your TurboTax account.
  2. Answer some questions about your current financial situation.
  3. Gather all the tax documents it says you’ll need.
  4. Enter in information about your income and expenses.
  5. Let TurboTax help you maximize your deductions and credits.
  6. File your state tax return if you need to. 
  7. Review your forms.
  8. Finish and file them electronically.

How much does TurboTax Self-Employed cost?

 TurboTax Self-EmployedTurboTax Live Self-EmployedTurboTax Live Full Service Self-Employed
Cost $89 + $39 to file your state tax return$199 + $49 to file your state tax return$389 + $49 to file your state tax return
FeaturesOn-demand help from general customer serviceUnlimited access to tax experts, available 24/7

A tax expert reviews your returns and deductions before you file
A tax expert does your taxes for you

TurboTax Self-Employed comes with three different versions, each with varying levels of support. 

Choose the cheapest option if you want to do it yourself (with general support available when you need it). Choose the mid-tier option if you want a tax expert to review your final return before you submit it. Or, go with the full-service option if you want a tax expert to do your entire return for you.

TurboTax Self-Employed features 

No matter which TurboTax Self-Employed plan you choose, you’ll get access to these cool features: 

Search over 500 self-employed tax deductions

TurboTax searches over 500 deductions across dozens of industries to help you identify which ones apply to your unique situation. So, if you’re a rideshare worker, freelancer, online seller, or real estate agent, for example, it’ll help you maximize those write-offs. 

In addition, if there are several ways to calculate a deduction — such as using the actual vs. standard mileage rate for vehicle deductions — it’ll crunch the numbers both ways to see what gets you the biggest savings. 

Read more: 10 Deductions You Didn’t Know You Could Take As A Business Owner

Get a personalized audit assessment

Every business owner shares one common fear: the thought of getting audited. But with TurboTax Self-Employed, your return will be run through a personalized audit assessment. Any red flags will be pointed out along the way. 

Although it’s not a bulletproof way to shield yourself from an audit, it does a good job of lowering your chances.

Prepare and submit 1099s and W2s

If you’re self-employed, there’s a good chance you’re either receiving 1099-NECs from the clients who paid for your services. Or, you’re creating them for people you hired to help run your business. 

The good news is, TurboTax helps with both. You can use the software to create unlimited W-2 and 1099 tax for any contractors or employees you hired this year. Likewise, you can snap a photo of any 1099s you received and upload them into TurboTax.

Get access to 24/7 customer support

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of using TurboTax Self-Employed is that you have access to general customer support, tax experts, or self-employment specialists depending on which plan you choose. This is super beneficial if you’re a new business owner or have a more complex return than you’ve had in the past. 

And if you start with the cheapest TurboTax Self-Employed version and decide you want to upgrade to the Live or Full-Service version for more tailored support, you can do that at any time without having to start over.

Integrate with Lyft, Uber, UberEats, and Quickbooks Self-Employed

Lyft, Uber, and UberEats drivers can automatically import their income and expenses into TurboTax, so they don’t have to manually enter everything themselves. 

Same goes for anyone who uses QuickBooks Self-Employed to track mileage, income, or expenses. TurboTax will automatically import your data and add it to your return. 

This may seem like a small feature, but it has the ability to save you a huge chunk of time. Plus, it reduces the likelihood of making a tax return error

My experience researching TurboTax Self-Employed

After reading through hundreds of TurboTax Self-Employed reviews, it’s obvious plenty of people love this software. 

“Simple,” “fast,” and “easy to use” are phrases that come up in almost every review. People say the program is well thought out and painless to navigate. This has been my experience too. 

The second most talked about feature is the deduction tool. TurboTax searches almost every deduction imaginable and does a great job at finding even obscure write-offs you may have never heard of. 

I haven’t personally used TurboTax Self-Employed, but I do use regular TurboTax to file my return for over five years and absolutely love it. It’s set up kind of like a game where all you do is answer questions as they pop up on the screen. Meanwhile, TurboTax is filling out your return in the background without you ever really knowing. 

I honestly had fun filing my taxes with TurboTax when I first began to use them. (Maybe that’s just the math nerd in me or the fact that I was getting refunds because I was a broke college student). Either way, I’d finish my return for the year thinking, “Why do adults hate tax season so much? This was easy peasy!”

That said, there is one thing that aggravated me about TurboTax, and that was all the constant upselling. On every screen, I felt like I was being bombarded with opportunities to get expert help or upgrade for more features. 

This one annoyance was easy for me to overlook because the software is truly amazing. But it’s something you’ll want to watch out for.

Who is TurboTax Self-Employed best for? 

Independent contractors

If you’re a freelancer, rideshare driver, consultant, side-gigger, or anyone else who’s classified as an independent contractor, TurboTax Self-Employed is a good option for you. 

Your tax situation is more complex than the typical W2 employee, and TurboTax does a great job of making sure nothing falls through the cracks. 

For example, you can tell TurboTax what type of self-employment work you do, and it’ll scan over 500 potential deductions to show you which ones apply to your situation. For rideshare drivers, it could be things like car repairs, insurance, and your cell phone. For freelancers, it could be professional fees, a laptop, tools, and supplies. 

Read more: 3 Ways To Make More Money Freelancing

Small business owners

Whether you’re a brand new business owner or a seasoned pro, TurboTax Self-Employed walks you through all the steps you need to take to file your return correctly and accurately. It covers self-employment tax, working from home remotely, business income and deductions, and more. 

Another perk is that if you have employees, TurboTax Self-Employed will also help you generate 1099s and W2s for them.

Who shouldn’t use TurboTax Self-Employed?

Corporations and multi-member LLCs

Small businesses classified as multi-member LLCs, S corporations, or C corporations can’t use TurboTax Self-Employed. Instead, you’ll need to use TurboTax Business, which is only available as a CD or download. 

Cost-conscious filers

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to file your taxes, TurboTax may not be the way to go. They offer a premium product, at a premium price.

Pros & cons

Pros

  • Super conversational — TurboTax feels like an AI-friend who really loves taxes and wants to help you file your return the right way. Simply answer questions as they appear on the screen and you’ll be finished in no time.
  • Online software — No downloads or clunky computer programs here. Complete your return online from anywhere (even your smartphone).
  • Three plans to choose from — A true goldilocks situation, go with the cheapest option if you want to do it yourself, the mid-tier option if you want a final review from an expert, or the full-service option if you want a tax expert to do your taxes for you.
  • Great customer support options — You can get help with your taxes 24/7 from general customer support, self-employment specialists, tax experts, and more.

Cons

  • Can be pricey — You’ll pay anywhere from $89 to $339 to file your federal return, plus $39 to $49 for state.
  • Support options vary — TurboTax Self-Employed only gets you access to basic customer support. You’ll need to upgrade to Live or Full Service if you want to talk to a self-employment expert.
  • Watch out for upsells — True to most tax filing companies, TurboTax will try to persuade you to upgrade to a more expensive plan when you start the filing process.
  • No in-person filing option — Rivals like H&R Block give the option of filing your return in person. TurboTax Self-Employed only has the option to meet virtually, which may not be your thing.

TurboTax Self-Employed vs. competitors

If you’re thinking TurboTax Self-Employed isn’t for you, here are a few alternatives to consider:

 TurboTax Self-EmployedH&R Block Self-EmployedTaxSlayer Self-Employed
Cost$89 + $39 to file your state tax return

Live: $199 + $49 to file your state tax return

Full Service: $389 + $49 to file your state tax return
$84.99 + $36.99 to file your state tax return

Assist: $144.99 + $36.99 to file your state tax return
$47.95 + $36.95 to file your state tax return
Number of self-employed plan options321
FeaturesMaximum refund guarantee, 100% accuracy guaranteed, Schedule C filing, deduction tool, Quickbooks Self Employed integration, Lyft, Uber, and UberEats integrationMaximum refund guarantee, 100% accuracy guaranteed, Schedule C filing, deduction tool, expense tracking, Uber importing, Maximum refund guarantee, 100% accuracy guaranteed, Schedule C filing, deduction tool, quarterly estimated payment reminders

H&R Block

H&R Block has two plans for self-employed individuals: H&R Block Self-Employed, which gives you access to basic customer support, and H&R Block Self-Employed Assist, which gives you on-demand access to a tax expert. 

And of course, you have the option of visiting your local H&R Block branch if you’d rather get face-to-face support.

No matter which plan you choose, you’ll get access to a deduction maximizing tool, expense tracking, and tax importing for Uber drivers. H&R Block’s prices are on par with TurboTax, but come out just a hair cheaper. 

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer Self-Employed is comparable to TurboTax Self-Employed but costs nearly half the price ($47.95 versus $89). You can speak with a self-employment expert if you need help, but you won’t find any advanced support where someone will review your return or do it all for you. 

TaxSlayer has one feature TurboTax and H&R Block doesn’t appear to have, and that’s reminders for quarterly estimated tax payments. At the same time, it doesn’t integrate with any rideshare apps or bookkeeping software.

Summary

TurboTax Self-Employed may cost a little more than other tax filing solutions, but its robust features and easy question-and-answer setup make it a no-brainer for anyone who wants to file taxes quickly and accurately. So, if you’re a freelancer, gig worker, or small business owner, you can sign up for your account today and give it a try. You won’t pay anything until you submit your return.

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About the author

Cassidy Horton
Total Articles: 36
Cassidy Horton is a finance writer who specializes in banking and insurance. She earned her MBA and bachelor’s degree in public relations from Georgia Southern University — and has since published hundreds of finance articles online for Forbes Advisor, The Balance, Money, Finder.com, and more. When she's not helping Millennials and Gen Zers gain control of their finances, you can find Cassidy hiking around the Pacific Northwest, cuddling her two cats, and eating way too much fried chicken. Connect with her on cassidyhorton.com or LinkedIn to see what she’s up to next.