This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
The best online bookkeeping services are affordable and easy to use and offer a wide range of bookkeeping solutions and easy access to dedicated bookkeepers. Many of the top virtual bookkeeping services also offer add-on services, such as catch-up bookkeeping, payroll, and tax filing, which can streamline your work.
We have compiled a list of the eight best virtual bookkeeping services for small businesses in 2022:
- Bench: Best overall online bookkeeping service with a range of services offered at a great value
- Bookkeeper.com: Best virtual full-service accounting firm
- QuickBooks Live: Best for companies that want assistance with QuickBooks Online
- Bookkeeper360: Best for companies that prefer Xero bookkeeping software
- Merritt Bookkeeping: Best for small businesses on a budget
- Pilot: Best for startups
- Botkeeper: Best for accounting firms to outsource client bookkeeping
- Block Advisors: Best online bookkeeping firm that includes low-priced tax preparation
Comparison of Best Online Bookkeeping Services
Through The Tax Team
Bench: Overall Best Online Bookkeeping Service
Bench is our overall best online bookkeeping service because it offers bookkeeping support at a lower cost than many similar platforms while also offering tax assistance and payroll integration. It even provides catch-up bookkeeping services—ideal if you have fallen more than two years behind in your bookkeeping. While the service alone doesn’t let you create invoices and manage bill pay and payroll, it’ll work closely with accounting software, like FreshBooks, so you can perform such essential tasks.
Bench is offering a limited time offer for Fit Small Business readers. You’ll receive 2 free months of service with no credit card required if you sign up for Bench by December 15, 2022.
Freelancers and startups who often work remotely will appreciate the iOS mobile app that provides financial reporting functionality and real-time cash flow updates. Upon enrollment, you’ll have access to a team of in-house bookkeepers, and you can book a monthly check-in or tax season review call with them at no additional charge.
Bench provides both catch-up bookkeeping and tax assistance as part of its add-on solutions. Here are a few other attractive features:
- Dedicated bookkeeper: All Bench bookkeepers are in-house employees, not contractors. Your dedicated bookkeeper will handle all aspects of your account and serve as your point of contact.
- Financial statements: You’ll receive financial statements on a monthly basis.
- Catch-up bookkeeping: For an additional fee, you can enroll in BenchRetro, which is a special program for businesses that are more than two years behind in their bookkeeping.
- Tax assistance: If you select Bench’s Premium plan, your federal and state business tax returns, as well as individual returns for sole proprietors, are included.
- Payroll integration: Bench integrates with Gusto, a leading payroll provider, to help you manage your payroll. It’ll handle your payroll tax filing, manage employee information and benefits, and generate W-2s.
Our Expert Opinion
Bench is an easy-to-use and powerful solution that’s ideal for freelancers, startups, and small businesses. Its dedicated bookkeepers and tax assistance make this a great option for businesses with relatively simple financials looking for unlimited support at an affordable price. Bench’s affordable cost and catch-up bookkeeping services are the reason we selected it as the best overall online bookkeeping service for businesses.
Bookkeeper.com: Best for Businesses That Want a Full-service Accounting Firm
Bookkeeper.com is cloud-based with a wide range of add-on services available, including bill pay, tax return preparation, and payroll. Business, financial planning, and tax advice are also available for free. Bookkeeper.com offers more services to QuickBooks Online users than QuickBooks Live and, upon enrollment, you’re assigned your own dedicated bookkeeper and account manager.
While it lacks its own mobile app, you can use QuickBooks Online’s app to access your books. It’s ideal for businesses looking to outsource their bookkeeping with a full-service accounting firm.
Aside from being a full-service virtual bookkeeping firm, Bookkeeper.com has many other features that set it apart from other services. These include the following:
- Dedicated bookkeeper and account manager: Your dedicated bookkeeper is a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and you’ll also be assigned an account manager who’ll assist with onboarding activities and serve as your point of contact for any issues that may come up.
- Monthly financial statements: Each month, your bookkeeper will provide a balance sheet, profit and loss (P&L) statement, statement of cash flows, and general ledger (GL) report.
- Free advice: Included in your monthly fee is a variety of free business advice, including general business consulting, software training, tax planning, and strategic planning.
- Software setup: Your accounting software setup is included in the monthly fee.
- Payroll and tax preparation add-ons: For an additional fee, you can opt for payroll or tax preparation services. To help maximize your profit, Bookkeeper.com’s team of certified public accountants (CPAs) and enrolled agents (EAs) will also assist with strategizing and planning.
Our Expert Opinion
Bookkeeper.com is a great option for companies looking for virtual services typically provided by traditional accounting firms. Your bank and credit card accounts will be reconciled and closed on a monthly basis, and you’ll receive monthly financial reports. You’ll also have access to bill pay and payroll services. Bookkeeper.com will assist with filing your tax returns, including individual and business returns and gift and estate returns. Your monthly fee also includes various types of advice, including strategic planning.
QuickBooks Live: Best for Companies That Want Assistance With QuickBooks Online
QuickBooks Live is an online bookkeeping service that’s offered directly by QuickBooks Online, which we ranked as the best overall small business accounting software. QuickBooks Live excels at helping QuickBooks users with the fundamentals of managing bank fees, classifying transactions, reconciling accounts, and printing financial statements.
It matches you with a dedicated bookkeeper who’ll work with you virtually to ensure that your books are accurate. The company’s 100% Accurate Books Guarantee provides additional assurance. You can opt to be trained on day-to-day bookkeeping tasks, which is ideal for novice QuickBooks users. Your bookkeeper will assist you with setting up your chart of accounts, connecting your banks, and creating a plan to clean up any existing data. But while your financial statements are sent to you on a monthly basis, your bookkeeper won’t pay bills, send invoices, manage inventory, or provide financial advice.
QuickBooks Live Features
QuickBooks Live has a variety of features that can help you with your bookkeeping. Your dedicated bookkeeper will assist with setting up your account and updating your books in real-time, ensuring that your financial data is always up-to-date:
- Dedicated bookkeeper: Upon enrollment, you’ll be assigned a dedicated bookkeeper—a QuickBooks ProAdvisor with an average of 15 years of experience.
- Real-time access: Your dedicated bookkeeper will directly access your QuickBooks Online account, which will ensure that your books stay up to date and allow you to view the data in real-time.
- Customized setup: You can customize your setup, which your bookkeeper will assist with, based on your needs. This includes your chart of accounts, customer and vendor lists, and connecting your bank and credit card accounts.
- Payroll add-on: For an additional fee, QuickBooks Online offers full-service payroll that integrates with its software. However, your QuickBooks Live ProAdvisor doesn’t provide assistance in running payroll for your employees.
Our Expert Opinion
QuickBooks Live can be added easily to your existing QuickBooks Online subscription by clicking Live Bookkeeping in the left menu bar of your dashboard. For businesses with employees, the payroll add-on makes it even easier. We highly recommend QuickBooks Live for QuickBooks Online users unless you want assistance in managing customer invoices and paying vendor bills.
Bookkeeper360: Best Online Bookkeeping Service for Xero Users
Bookkeeper360 offers both accounting and cloud-based bookkeeping services and business advisory services. Because it’s a Xero Platinum Partner, it’s ideal for small businesses that use Xero bookkeeping software and are looking for more than just a bookkeeping service.
The Bookkeeper360 mobile app integrates with your Xero account to provide business insights, and there are also payroll, human resources (HR), taxes, back office, and chief financial officer (CFO) advisory services available. While Bookkeeper360 is our best recommendation for Xero users, it also works well for QuickBooks Online users not satisfied with the limited services of QuickBooks Live.
Bookkeeper360 offers a wide variety of features that are designed to simplify the lives of small business owners. These include the following:
- Mobile app: Bookkeeper360’s mobile app connects to your Xero or QuickBooks Online account and provides valuable information, including scorecards and metrics.
- CFO advisory: Available for an additional fee, a dedicated accountant will work with you to analyze your financials and determine a strategy to manage and grow your business. Prices start at $1,000 per quarter for this service.
- Payroll and HR solutions: Full-service payroll is integrated fully with your bookkeeping, starting at $45 per month. It also integrates with providers like Gusto and ADP.
- Accrual basis accounting: Accrual-based accounting is available, and it includes complex accounting like deferred revenue, inventory, and accrued expenses.
Our Expert Opinion
Bookkeeper360 excels at helping businesses view and analyze financial data, track goals, and streamline bookkeeping tasks. Its add-on services, such as CFO advisory, payroll, and HR, make it ideal for startups and growth-stage businesses. Also, because it’s a Xero Platinum Partner, it’s a great solution for businesses already using Xero software.
Merritt Bookkeeping: Best Online Bookkeeping Service for Small Businesses on a Budget
Merritt Bookkeeping is a cost-effective remote bookkeeping solution that’s available at a flat rate with no restrictions on the number of transactions or the frequency of service. It works with businesses that use QuickBooks and, although it doesn’t offer many of the advanced tools that other online bookkeeping services provide, it’s easy to use and has a quick setup process. If you’re behind on your books, catch-up bookkeeping is also available.
Its 100% money-back guarantee is also an attractive feature. You can use its monthly financial reports to assist with filing taxes, and it provides a simplified issuance and electronic filing of 1099s for your contractors at an additional fee.
Merritt Bookkeeping Features
Merritt Bookkeeping has several useful features that are great for businesses on a tight budget. These include the following:
- Dedicated account manager: Rather than direct access to your bookkeeper, you’ll work with a dedicated account manager. This allows for a continuity of service even when different bookkeepers are working on your account.
- Intuitive user interface: Merritt Bookkeeping has an easy-to-access client portal that enables you to view reports and how your transactions are categorized. If there are any corrections, you can indicate this through the custom interface.
- Monthly financial reports: Each month you’ll be sent your P&L statement and balance sheet, or you can access them via your client portal.
- 1099 filing: Merritt will assist with filing 1099 forms for your contractors for an additional fee of $75 for the report preparation and $8 per form.
- 90-day money-back guarantee: Although there isn’t a free trial available, you can test it out for three months at no risk. If you’re not satisfied within that period, you’ll receive a full refund.
Our Expert Opinion
Merritt Bookkeeping is an affordable online bookkeeping service for cash-based businesses using QuickBooks as their accounting platform. Its basic, no-frills package includes monthly financial statements and annual 1099 filing for your contractors for an additional fee. The flat-fee pricing ensures that there are no surprises with billing, and the money-back guarantee allows you to test drive the software for 90 days at no additional risk.
Read our QuickBooks Live vs Merritt Bookkeeping article for an in-depth comparison.
Pilot: Best Online Bookkeeping Service for Startups
Pilot is a financial services firm that provides bookkeeping, tax, and CFO advisory services for startups and small businesses. Its services are built around the needs of startup companies backed by venture capitalists.
As your business grows and potentially takes on funding, the accrual-based and advanced bookkeeping services that it offers will be especially useful. You’ll be matched with a dedicated bookkeeper when you enroll in the service, and they’ll walk you through how to integrate your existing processes and software with QuickBooks.
Pilot not only offers accrual-based accounting but also support for multiple entities. Its other features include the following:
- Dedicated bookkeeper: Your dedicated bookkeeper will assist you with setting up your account and will serve as your point of contact in the event of any issues. They’ll work with you to learn your business.
- Monthly financial reports: Basic financial reports are sent on a monthly basis. The Plus plan offers more customized reports as well. The monthly statements include your burn rate so that you know exactly where you and your investors stand.
- Accrual-based accounting: Included with all plans, accrual basis accounting is used for all businesses. Most larger companies use accrual-based accounting as required by generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), and it’s preferred by banks and investors.
- A/R and A/P: With the Plus plan, Pilot will create and send invoices to your customers. You can also set up bill pay for your vendors.
- Tax management: Pilot Tax is available as a separate package and includes federal-, state-, and city-level income tax preparation and 1099 filing. Unlimited email support is also included with this package.
Our Expert Opinion
Pilot offers not only bookkeeping services but also comprehensive support for rapidly growing businesses. Companies that are looking for CFO and/or tax services will benefit from Pilot CFO and Pilot Tax, two add-on services. Pilot tailors its offerings to eCommerce and professional service firms as well as provides support for multiple entities. Its industry-specific reports include burn reports for startups and inventory management for ecommerce companies and are available with the Select or Plus plans.
See our QuickBooks Live vs Pilot article for a comparison of the two popular services.
Botkeeper: Best for Accounting Firms to Outsource Client Bookkeeping
Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, Botkeeper automates the majority of bookkeeping processes and is meant to replace manual labor at bookkeeping firms. It can best be thought of as a virtual robotic bookkeeper that supports your accounting practice. The service is only compatible with QuickBooks and Xero and can accommodate multiple-entity accounting.
With both a platform and client entity fee, the price is on the steep side and must be paid annually. However, because it helps offload daily bookkeeping tasks like data entry, reconciliations, and classifications, it allows you to focus on higher-level client advisory services.
Botkeeper has many features that distinguish it from other bookkeeping services. These include the following:
- Automated bookkeeping: Humans apply critical thinking to help train the machine to categorize expenses, enter transactions, pay bills, invoice clients, and reconcile accounts. Botkeeper’s team of specialists counter-checks the data, ensuring tax compliance and accurate bookkeeping.
- Dashboard: Your interactive dashboard provides direct access to your key performance indicators, data visualizations, and trending analytics.
- ScanBot: A mobile app that integrates with Botkeeper, ScanBot can extract financial data directly from a photo of a receipt, invoice, or sales contract from your mobile phone and sync it directly with your client’s books. This reduces the number of steps needed to record transactions.
- Integration: Banks, credit cards, and payroll providers are integrated to extract transactions automatically.
- Multiple-entity accounting: Botkeeper allows you to cover supplementary entities that form part of an entire organization like subsidiaries alongside the parent company.
Our Expert Opinion
With its AI and machine learning features and team of skilled accountants, Botkeeper eliminates the need for most data entry and delivers books with most of your clients’ bookkeeping already completed. This will undoubtedly free up a lot of time for higher-level advisory tasks where you can charge a higher rate. The big question is whether you have a large enough client base to justify the fixed annual platform fee.
Learn more about how the platform compares to another top service by reading our QuickBooks Live vs Botkeeper article.
Block Advisors: Best Online Bookkeeping Firm That Includes Low-priced Tax Preparation
Block Advisors is a branch of H&R Block that provides tax, bookkeeping, and payroll support. It’s a great option if you’re looking for reliable and efficient support year-round. You can either work one-on-one with a tax professional or opt for its do-it-yourself (DIY) option, with assistance available via live chat, phone, or video conference.
Its bookkeeping services include a free, 30-minute consultation with an account manager, a review of your books year-to-date, and an action plan created each quarter with specific recommendations. Its plans are affordable and can be customized based on your needs.
Block Advisors Features
Block Advisors offers personalized assistance and accessible support and an accuracy guarantee. In addition, its maximum refund guarantee ensures that you’ll receive the largest refund possible. Its small business tax experts are also available year-round to assist with your bookkeeping and payroll needs. It also provides add-on services like audit support.
- Bookkeeping services: Block Advisors has two levels of bookkeeping support: Starter and Full-Service. Both levels give you free, on-demand access to Xero accounting software. The Starter plan gives you access to an accounting pro who will work with you to create an action plan. The Full-Service plan entitles you to financial statements, such as your monthly P&L and balance sheet. Your accounting pro will also categorize your transactions and reconcile your accounts, and your books will be finalized for tax time.
- 100% Accuracy Guarantee: You can rest assured that your books will be accurate as Block Advisors guarantees that if it makes an error on your return, you’ll be reimbursed for any resulting penalties and interest. However, the error can’t be due to inaccurate, incomplete, or inconsistent information that you have supplied.
- Payroll services: Block Advisors can assist with all aspects of payroll management, whether you’re a team of one or have employees. This includes generating payroll, creating and filing quarterly and year-end payroll tax forms, and providing support for any questions.
- Small business expertise: Your Block Advisor has received specialized training in small business taxes and is equipped to handle anything from your Schedule C return to reviewing your financial statements.
- Maximum Refund Guarantee: If you discover a Block Advisors error on your return that entitles you to a smaller tax liability or a larger refund, it’ll refund the tax return preparation fee and file an amended return for free.
Our Expert Opinion
Block Advisors gives you the option of fully or partially outsourcing your tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services. You can customize a plan that’s best for your business, which is ideal for both self-employed individuals and small business owners. It also offers accessible support and personalized assistance, with the ability to meet with your Block Advisor in person or virtually.
How We Evaluated Online Bookkeeping Services
We evaluated the best online bookkeeping services based on the following criteria:
- Cost: Because each pricing plan is dependent on many factors, we looked at the value provided in terms of the time and potential money that you’re saving by using the service.
- Ease of use: The service’s ease of use and the user interface are also important factors and we noted which information can be accessed easily.
- Access to a dedicated bookkeeper: You should be able to access a dedicated bookkeeper for any questions or advice and one-on-one assistance.
- Services offered: The best online bookkeeping service should offer a wide range of bookkeeping solutions, including catch-up bookkeeping, invoicing, bill pay, bank reconciliation, payroll, and tax filing.
- Mobile app: Many of these bookkeeping services have their own mobile app that can assist businesses on the go with staying connected 24/7.
The best online bookkeeping services depend on the exact needs of your business. If you have fallen behind on your books and you want to get caught up, Bench might be the best option for you. If you’re using QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Live can match you with a ProAdvisor to help you manage your books. If you need other services aside from bookkeeping, such as financial planning, tax advice, and payroll, you should consider Bookkeeper.com.