This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
The best accounting software for freelancers and self-employed workers must be easy to use since many don’t have extensive knowledge of accounting and have more valuable things to do than bookkeeping. Moreover, it should have essential general accounting functions, such as expense tracking and reporting, and features useful to freelancers, such as tax calculation, mileage tracking, and invoice tracking.
Here are the six best accounting software for self-employed individuals and freelancers based on each need:
- Zoho Books: Overall best accounting software for freelancers
- FreshBooks: Best for tracking hourly labor
- QuickBooks Online: Best for access to local bookkeeping assistance
- Wave: Best free accounting software
- QuickBooks Self-Employed: Best for tracking profits and preparing tax returns
- Found Found is a financial technology (fintech) platform backed by and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC)-insured through a supporting bank partnership with Piermont Bank. : Best digital banking platform with bookkeeping functionality
The Fit Small Business mission is to provide small business owners with the best answers to their small business questions. Whenever possible, we evaluate all of the software we recommend by conducting an in-depth internal case study where our experts determine the strengths and drawbacks of each software by recreating real-life bookkeeping scenarios.
There are only two scenarios where we may recommend a platform that has not been subjected to our case study: if the solution is not a complete bookkeeping system or if we don’t have access to evaluate the software. We evaluate all software on the same set of criteria, regardless of whether it is a partner company.
Comparison of Best Accounting Software for Freelancers
Pricing (Cost per Month)
Number of Users
Estimate Tax for Schedule C
Create Recurring Invoices
Enter Bills From the Mobile App
$0 to $275
$17 to $55 or custom priced
$30 to $200
1 to 25
$15 to $35
$0 or $19.99
Zoho Books: Best Overall Accounting Software for Freelancers
- Charges additional for receipt capture
- Cannot transfer income/expense to Schedule C
- Cannot calculate quarterly estimated tax payment
- Has limited features in the Free plan
Plans & Pricing
Zoho Books has six plans:
- Free: For businesses with less than $50,000 in annual revenues (includes one user plus one accountant and up to 1,000 invoices per year)
- Standard: $20 per month; limited to three users and 5,000 invoices
- Professional: $50 per month; limited to five users with unlimited invoices
- Premium: $70 per month; limited to 10 users
- Elite: $150 per month; limited to 10 users (includes advanced inventory)
- Ultimate: $275 per month; limited to 15 users
- Additional users: $3 per user monthly
- Receipts scanning: $10 for 50 scans per month
- Snail mail credits for sending invoices: $2 per credit
Zoho Books takes the lead in general accounting features, alongside QuickBooks Online, and mobile app. Zoho Books has accounting features that are commendable, especially in accounts payable and financial reporting, and its app also tops our list of the best mobile accounting apps. However, Zoho Books fell short in ease of use because of its limited support network of bookkeepers who provide bookkeeping assistance. We recommend QuickBooks Online if you want access to the vast network of QuickBooks ProAdvisors across the United States.
FreshBooks: Best for Tracking Hourly Labor
- Requires pricey premium plan subscription for more than 50 billable customers
- Has no expense or income tracking by class
- Cannot track cost of goods sold for freelancers dealing with inventory
- Requires bank account feed to track checking transactions accurately
Plans & Pricing
FreshBooks has four plans:
- Lite: $17 per month for five billable clients
- Plus: $30 per month for 50 billable clients
- Premium: $55 per month unlimited billable clients
- Select: Custom pricing for unlimited billable clients and specialized features
The platform is offered at 60% off for the first six months for new users.
- Additional team members: $11 per seat monthly
- Gusto payroll (billed separately by Gusto; read our review of Gusto)
- Advanced payments: $20 per month (for Plus, Premium, and Select plans only)
FreshBooks is an easy-to-use accounting software for freelancers without accounting experience. It scored high in project accounting, second to Zoho Books, because of its built-in time tracker and project income and expense features. It got the lowest marks in general accounting features because of its limited ease of use in banking and limited functions in general account setup.
We only recommend FreshBooks to service-based freelancers because the software can’t track inventory and cost of goods sold (COGS). If your business deals with inventory, we recommend choosing QuickBooks Online or Zoho Books.
QuickBooks Online: Best for Access to Local Bookkeeping Assistance
- Has no customer service telephone number—you must submit a request to be called
- Have to subscribe to the expensive Plus version to track project profitability
- Cannot calculate quarterly tax payments or transfer information to Schedule C
Plans & Pricing
QuickBooks Online has four plans, but our recommended plan for freelancers is Simple Start.
- Simple Start: $30 per month for one user
- Essentials: $60 per month for three users
- Plus: $90 per month for five users
- Advanced: $200 per month for 25 users
If you buy now, you get 50% off for three months, plus a free guided setup from a QuickBooks expert. Otherwise, you can get the 30-day free trial (without free guided setup) and pay the regular price at the end of the trial.
As our best small business accounting software, QuickBooks Online is a safe pick for freelancers. Most will benefit from the features found in Simple Start and Essentials, but we recommend Plus if you have inventory or need project accounting.
QuickBooks Online took the lead over Zoho Books in ease of use and user reviews. The vast QuickBooks ProAdvisor network makes it easy for freelancers to look for a ProAdvisor who can help with bookkeeping. However, QuickBooks Online’s mobile app didn’t score well in our evaluation, as it cannot enter bills and track time worked, which are features available in Zoho Books’ mobile app.
Wave: Best Free Accounting Software for Freelancers
- Is not scalable
- Doesn’t separate income and expense by class or location
- Has limited customer support
Plans & Pricing
Wave is forever free for accounting and invoice. However, it charges transaction fees for:
- Credit card payments: 2.9% plus 60 cents per transaction or 3.4% plus 60 cents per AMEX transaction.
- Bank payments: 1% per transaction but a minimum of $1 fee
It also offers auxiliary services like:
- Wave Payroll: Fixed monthly cost of $35 for tax service states or $20 for self-service states; there is also an additional $6 per month per active employee or independent contractor (read our review of Wave Payroll)
- Wave Advisor: $149 per month for bookkeeping support
- Accounting and payroll coaching: $329 per coaching session and email support
We chose Wave because it’s a good pick for those who only need simple income and expense tracking features and want free software. It tops our list of the best free accounting software. It lacks advanced functions like inventory management and project accounting, but it has recurring invoices and billing, which are features often present only in premium plans of paid software.
Additionally, Wave charges minimal transaction fees for bank transactions and card payments. However, we recommend checking the other providers in this guide if you’re looking for premium features, like Zoho Books for project accounting.
QuickBooks Self-Employed: Best for Tracking Profit & Preparing Tax Returns
- Records invoice as “paid” doesn’t record any income
- Cannot track unpaid bills
- Has no telephone number for customer service
- Doesn’t track assets and liabilities for a balance sheet
Plans & Pricing
QuickBooks Self-employed offers its plan with and without tax services:
- Self-Employed: $15 per month for one user
- Self-Employed Tax Bundle (recommended for most freelancers): $25 per month for one user; includes Intuit TurboTax Self-Employed, online quarterly tax payments, and transfer of income/loss information
- Self-Employed Live Tax Bundle: $35 per month for one user; includes Intuit TurboTax Live Self-Employed, which provides unlimited year-round advice from a live certified public accountant (CPA), enrolled agent, or lawyer.
Bundling with TurboTax allows for easier tax return preparation, but subscribing to the base self-employed package and choosing different business tax software could save you some money. It offers a 30-day free trial.
QuickBooks Self-Employed highlights tax compliance and estimated payments for self-employed individuals who want to breeze through tax season. It can estimate tax dues, which can help individuals prepare for the amounts they have to pay to the IRS. It scored high in ease of use because users can easily find tax accountants in the QuickBooks ProAdvisor program.
If your main concern for getting accounting software is for tax compliance, you might want to consider QuickBooks Self-Employed. However, if you want more accounting-focused features, like billing and invoicing, QuickBooks Online is our recommendation, and if you need decent bookkeeping features with a dedicated business banking account, consider Found.
Found: Best Digital Banking Platform With Bookkeeping Functionality
- Is not a full bookkeeping software
- Requires Found Plus for unlimited custom rules, categories, and tags
- Cannot auto-import expenses in the free plan
- Doesn’t give 1.5% APY in the free plan
Plans & Pricing
With a Found business checking account, you can use the Found app for free or get Found Plus for $19.99 per month or $149.99 per year for additional features. With the paid plan, you can enjoy the following perks:
- 1.5% APY on accounts with balances up to $20,000
- Unlimited custom rules, tags, and categories
- Automatic expense import from receipts
- Ability to import activity from bank, credit card, Venmo, and PayPal
- In-app quarterly federal tax payments for all Schedule C filers
- Priority custom support
As a fintech platform, Found offers in-app banking services with bookkeeping, tax preparation, and invoicing features to clients. That’s why we recommend Found to freelancers wanting a separate bank account for freelancing activities. Its bookkeeping functions are also outstanding since the platform can automatically track expenses.
However, what we dislike is that users have to pay for Found Plus for additional features, considering that the added features still don’t make Found a complete bookkeeping software alternative.
How We Evaluated Accounting Software for Freelancers
We evaluated freelancing accounting software based on the needs of most freelancers.
10% of Overall Score
The price of the software is considered in the evaluation but we didn’t place a heavy weight in this criterion. Since freelancers don’t need advanced accounting features, we believe that most freelancers would benefit greatly from the lowest or lower tier plans of most software products.
20% of Overall Score
General accounting features are still important, especially the software’s ability to manage accounts payable (A/P), accounts receivable (A/R), and cash. As much as possible, the software must-have features to track outstanding obligations and receivables. However, simple invoice and bill tracking will suffice for some freelancers. We also considered the tax and reporting features since most freelancers would be more concerned about tax compliance.
30% of Overall Score
Project accounting has the highest weight in the evaluation because most freelancers handle project-based transactions with clients. We like to give more credit to software programs that allow freelancers to assign expenses and income by project, assign billable expenses to projects, and manage project costs.
20% of Overall Score
Ease of use is a top concern since most freelancers might not have the time to learn complicated software. An easy-to-use software is a big plus in our evaluation. However, we also considered the availability of support channels since some freelancers might need assistance in using the software.
10% of Overall Score
We included user ratings from popular review websites to capture the overall impact of the software to actual users.
10% of Overall Score
A mobile app is important for freelancers who work across different devices. The mobile app must also have the same features as the desktop or web-based app for accessibility.
Features To Look for in Freelance Accounting Software
As self-employed individuals providing services to multiple companies, freelancers have different requirements for accounting software than most businesses. For example, since freelancers don’t generally have employees, they don’t value integrated payroll when evaluating accounting software. Other features are especially important for freelancers, such as the ability to track time and expenses to bill clients.
Freelance Accounting Software Features
Great mobile app with receipt capture and mileage tracking
Manage sales tax if providing a taxable service
Advanced tracking of income and expense by location or class
Assign hours and expenses to customers
Track project profitability for fixed-fee contracts
Transfer income and expense to Schedule C
Calculate quarterly income tax payments
If you need more features than a typical freelancer, such as payroll or inventory tracking, see our guide to the best small business accounting software.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Yes—QuickBooks Self-Employed costs $15 per month and is designed exclusively for freelancers. However, you may wish to use QuickBooks Online Simple Start for $30 per month if you send many invoices to customers.
While not as feature-packed as QuickBooks Online, many freelancers love FreshBooks for its simplicity and great customer service.
While Zoho Books is our highest-rated accounting software for freelancers, QuickBooks Online might be better for freelancers who want to outsource bookkeeping through the QuickBooks ProAdvisor network. FreshBooks is great for project or service-based freelancers while Wave is a totally free alternative. Finally, for freelancers who only want to compile their income and expenses and file a tax return, QuickBooks Self-Employed may be optimal.