6 Best QuickBooks Self-Employed Alternatives in 2023
This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
QuickBooks Online Simple Start is our top alternative to QuickBooks Self-Employed. Similar to QuickBooks Self-Employed, our list includes easy-to-use software that isn’t cluttered with unnecessary features and priced lower than most cloud-based bookkeeping software. Check out our top six alternatives to QuickBooks Self-Employed:
- QuickBooks Online Simple Start: Best overall alternative to QuickBooks Self-Employed
- Zoho Books Standard: Best for mobile app accounting
- Patriot Premium: Best for payroll integration
- Wave: Best free alternative to QuickBooks Self-Employed
- ZipBooks Sophisticated: Best for assisted bookkeeping that comes with a free plan
- Quicken Home & Business: Best for personal finance and rental property management
QuickBooks Self-Employed vs Alternatives at a Glance
Software & Plan
Number of Users Included
Choose From Invoice Templates
Manage & Track Unpaid Bills
Track Billable Hours
Track Project Profitability
Transfer Income & Expenses to Schedule C
$15 to $35
Check Alternatives Below
$0 to $275
1 to 15
($3 per additional)
Up to 3
($3 per additional)
Home & Business
QuickBooks Online Simple Start: Best Overall Alternative to QuickBooks Self-Employed
- Calculates sales tax rates automatically based on where you sell products
- Lets you choose from different invoicing templates
- Huge network of QuickBooks ProAdvisors
- Cannot have multiple users
- Cannot compare estimated and actual project costs
- Unable to calculate quarterly tax payments or transfer information to Schedule C
Features of QuickBooks Online Simple Start
- Track income and expense
- Generate profit and loss (P&L) statement and balance sheet
- Create custom tags
- Generate custom reports based on tags
- Capture receipts
- Track mileage
- Track and calculate sales taxes on transactions
- Manage payments to 1099 contractors
- Connect to one sales channel
- Invoicing customers: QuickBooks Online Simple Start is our top-recommended invoicing software because of its unique ability to calculate sales tax rates automatically based on your customer’s location. It also lets you customize invoices to almost any industry type.
- Sales tax tracking: QuickBooks Online lets you add sales taxes in invoices, which is something absent in QuickBooks Self-Employed. QuickBooks Online will also compute sales taxes per invoice automatically.
- Paying contractors: You can assign payments to 1099 categories and file 1099 directly within QuickBooks Online .
QBSE cannot add sales tax rates to invoices automatically—and QBO Simple Start is more suitable for tracking sales tax. You can also create estimates and invoices in QBO Simple Start for your clients and customers, making QBO our best invoicing software.
QuickBooks Online Simple Start Overview
QuickBooks Online Simple Start costs $30 per month for one user. If you buy now, you can get 50% off for three months, plus a free guided setup, where a QuickBooks expert will help you set up your QuickBooks Online account and teach you how to maximize the features of the platform. Otherwise, you can try QuickBooks Online Simple Start free for 30 days.
Freelancers who sell taxable products or services
Phone support (callback only), live chat, chatbot, and self-help guides
If you think a double-entry accounting software is suitable for your freelance business, check out our roundup of the best small business accounting software.
Zoho Books Standard: Best for Mobile App Accounting
- Offers more features than QuickBooks Self-Employed, such as time and project tracking
- Fully functional mobile app for sending invoices, receiving payments, tracking billable hours, and more
- Phone support is available in all paid plans
- Limited to 5,000 invoices per year
- No timesheet approval by customer in Standard plan
- No recurring billing in Standard plan
Zoho Books Starter Features
- Manage up to 5,000 invoices
- Create recurring expenses
- Connect and establish bank feed connections for credit cards and bank accounts
- Create predefined user roles
- Track project expenses and invoices
- Create project tasks
- Create custom views and fields
- Track sales tax
- Freelancers who need a fully functional mobile app: The Zoho Books app has more features than QuickBooks Self-Employed and most other accounting applications, making it our choice for the best mobile accounting apps. In addition to invoicing and mileage tracking, Zoho Books allows you to record billable time and enter bills and bill payments.
- Freelancers with few clients to invoice: Zoho Books Starter is limited to 5,000 invoices per year—this number of invoices is enough if you don’t have a lot of clients. For the price of $15, having only 5,000 invoices is a good trade-off for freelancers who might not exceed that limit.
Zoho Books Standard is a great alternative to QBSE because it offers more features, including a great mobile app. Even if it has an invoice limit of 5,000 per year, most freelancers wouldn’t mind this limit. Service-based freelancers can settle with the Standard plan since it already has features like project expense tracking and project tasks. However, upgrading to the Professional tier is an option if you want timesheet approval by customer and multicurrency transactions.
Zoho Books Starter Overview
Zoho Books Starter is only $15 per month. You can add up to three users plus one accountant. If you need more users, an additional $3 per user monthly will be added to your bill.
Freelancers needing strong mobile accounting
Phone and email support, live chat, chatbot, and self-help resources
Patriot Premium: Best for Payroll Integration
- Easy-to-use even for nonaccountants
- Able to file 1099s within the app
- Affordable for self-employed individuals
- Cannot track inventory
- No mobile app
- No project accounting features
Patriot Premium Features
- Create, send, and customize invoices
- Integrate payroll
- Accept credit card payments
- Includes unlimited users
- Reconcile bank accounts
- Manage receipts and documents
- Integrated payroll: Patriot Accounting can integrate with Patriot Payroll, the provider’s payroll services arm. Although it’s a separate billing from the accounting plans, we recommend choosing Patriot if you want the same service provider.
- Credit card payments: Patriot Accounting can integrate with your credit card merchant so that customers can use their credit cards.
- Contractor payments: Patriot Accounting can help you create and print 1099s and 1096s, which can be a big help if your business hires contractors regularly.
We chose Patriot as a QBSE alternative because it is affordable and has all the features needed for basic bookkeeping, plus it features a direct integration to Patriot Payroll (charged separately). If you need to process employee wages, Patriot’s solutions create a seamless payroll processing experience, especially for business owners with no payroll experience.
On top of that, Patriot is easy to use for freelancers wanting to DIY their bookkeeping. It also has features that QBSE lacks, including A/R and A/P tracking, bank reconciliation, and recurring invoices.
Patriot Premium Overview
Patriot Premium costs $30 per month for unlimited users. It offers all the basic and intermediate features that self-employed individuals will need. Patriot offers basic payroll for $17 a month (fixed fee) plus $4 per employee. If you want assistance in filing payroll taxes, you can get the full-service payroll at $37 a month fixed fee plus $4 per employee.
To learn more about its payroll offerings, read our in-depth Patriot Payroll review.
Freelancers who need strong mobile accounting
Phone and email support, live chat, chatbot, and self-help resources
Wave: Best Free Alternative to QuickBooks Self-Employed
- Completely free for unlimited users
- Can manage multiple companies in a single account
- No limits on expense tracking and invoicing
- Lets you connect bank accounts for easier transaction import
- Can set up automatic monthly e-payments
- Has fewer features than some paid software
- Lacks project management features
- Unable to track business mileage
- Very limited mobile application
- Lets you capture a photo of your expense receipt and upload it to Wave through app
- Allows you to create and customize invoices
- Lets you set up recurring invoices
- Allows you to create basic reports, including profit and loss and cash flow statements
- Includes a mobile app for invoicing and expense receipt capture
- New freelancers: You can use Wave to save some money as long as they only need a simple solution for sending invoices, managing unpaid bills, and tracking income and expenses.
- Freelancers who manage multiple companies: The program allows you to add as many companies as you want for free.
Wave is the best free option for freelancers who are still new to accounting software. It has more features than QuickBooks Self-Employed, like creating and sending invoices without having to manually input all the information, connecting bank accounts, and processing payments. We recommend Wave for freelancers who don’t need complex features like creating custom tags and generating custom reports.
Wave is free for accounting and invoicing.
Freelancers seeking a free solution for tracking income and expenses
No limitations; completely free
Email support, chatbot, self-help information, and live chat for customers subscribed to one of Wave’s paid services
ZipBooks Sophisticated: Best for Assisted Bookkeeping That Comes With a ZipBooks Plan
- Easy to use for nonaccountants
- Highest plan is very affordable
- Can switch between accrual and cash-basis accounting
- Assisted bookkeeping services come with a ZipBooks plan
- Not ideal for businesses with inventory
- Not ideal for advanced project tracking
- Limited integration
- No payroll features
Features of ZipBooks Sophisticated
- Features an invoice quality score to gauge completeness of invoice details
- Has an intuitive invoice creation window
- Features a simplified bank reconciliation module for reconciling bank accounts
- Has a built-in time tracker for tracking billable hours
- Tracks sales taxes
- Businesses that want to outsource bookkeeping to the same provider: ZipBooks offers bookkeeping services, so you don’t have to do it yourself. These assisted bookkeeping services already include a ZipBooks plan.
- Freelancers billing by the hour: ZipBooks has a built-in time tracker that can help freelancers track billable hours. We recommend choosing ZipBooks because you don’t need to purchase another time tracking software.
- Simple and easy bank reconciliation: If you’re fond of using credit and debit cards for payments, ZipBooks Sophisticated makes it easy for you to reconcile bank accounts. You don’t need to be an expert to perform bank reconciliation on ZipBooks.
We chose ZipBooks Sophisticated because it is the highest plan but is priced affordably at $35 per month. If you want to outsource bookkeeping, ZipBooks offers monthly bookkeeping assistance that comes with a ZipBooks Plan. It means that you don’t have to pay for the software subscription if you decide to let ZipBooks handle your books.
But if you prefer to do do-it-yourself (DIY) bookkeeping, the monthly cost of ZipBooks Sophisticated is lower than QuickBooks Self-Employed but contains more useful features, like adding sales taxes and creating bills.
ZipBooks Sophisticated is $35 per month for unlimited users. It comes with all of ZipBooks’ features, such as recurring invoices, customizable chart of accounts, and time tracking. You can get a free plan if you subscribe to Simple Bookkeeping ($125 per month) or Multi-classifications Bookkeeping ($145 per month) plan.
Quicken Home & Business: Best for Personal Finance & Rental Property Management
- Very affordable compared to most similar software
- Can manage lease terms, maintenance, rental rates, and more
- Can report income and expenses on Schedule C
- Lets you track self-employed income, personal finances, and retirement accounts
- Desktop-based; requires installation and setup
- Cannot add additional users
- Can’t use the mobile app without the desktop version
Quicken Home & Business Features
- Allows you to track all tenant-related information, including maintenance requests
- Lets you connect your bank accounts to track income and spending easily
- Lets you store and manage property-related documents
- Enables you to report income or loss from rental real estate on Schedule E (Form 1040)
- Lets you create a budget and monitor spending history
- Landlords: Quicken features rental property management features that can help landlords track rent income and expense.
- Personal finance: Quicken has personal finance features that can track and classify expenses, set spending budgets, and monitor bills.
- Investment management: You can use Quicken to track 401(k) retirement plans, private investments, educational plans, and investment portfolios.
We chose Quicken Home & Business for self-employed individuals managing rental property and other investments. Quicken can also be used for managing retirement 401(k) and tracking home value. We recommend Quicken as the best QBSE alternative for landlords because QBSE lacks basic rental management features.
Quicken Home & Business Overview
Quicken Home & Business is $9.99 per month for one user. There is no free trial, but you can try it risk-free with the provider’s 30-day money-back guarantee.
Rental property owners
Desktop-based, but data can be accessed through Quicken on the Web
None, but offers a 30-day money-back guarantee
Phone, live chat, community forum, self-help library, and paid support
Software Advice: 3.88 out of 5 based on around 380 reviews
We evaluated QuickBooks Self-Employed alternatives based on features that are lacking in QuickBooks Self-Employed but present in other software:
- Cost: Some self-employed individuals might not have the budget to purchase costly software. The choices we presented in this buyer’s guide are specific plans from top accounting software that we deem suitable for self-employed users.
- Basic invoicing and billing: A QuickBooks Self-Employed alternative must have easy invoicing and billing functions because these features are absent in QuickBooks Self-Employed. As much as possible, we’d like to see invoicing and billing offered in lower plans.
- Project accounting: Since many self-employed individuals perform services for clients, project accounting is a useful feature for tracking project income, expenses, and tasks.
- Ease of use: We considered this factor because some users might not have the time and knowledge to learn complicated accounting software. An easy-to-use software is more appropriate for self-employed individuals.
Each software featured in this buyer’s guide has a different set of features. If you’re having a hard time choosing a solution, here are some pointers to remember:
- Price: Affordability is a major factor you need to consider. As much as possible, the accounting software must fit your freelancing budget—we made sure that the choices in this buyer’s guide are affordable.
- Scalability: In case your freelancing business grows, the platform of your choice must be scalable. A scalable software would mean past accounting data would remain intact since there’s no need to transfer to another software.
- Feature-set: The best QuickBooks Self-Employed alternative for your business must have the features that you need. First, you need to list down all the functions you want in a solution. Afterward, find the one that can tick off most of what’s on your list.
- Ease of use: The platform must be one that you’re comfortable using. Don’t choose one that you find difficult or too complicated to use, especially if you want to do the bookkeeping yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You should look elsewhere if you need more enhanced features, such as customizable invoices and the ability to monitor unpaid bills and track time and project profitability.
Accounting software can help you track finances, outstanding invoices, and bills. Having the right platform can also generate reports that you’ll use for tax filing purposes.
Yes, QuickBooks Self-Employed can be used for sole proprietorships. However, we recommend using a double-entry accounting system like QuickBooks Online or those featured in our guide to the best small business accounting software to track assets and liabilities as well as income and expense.
Yes, you can consider Wave, which is completely free, or Zoho Books Free if you are making less than $50,000 per year.
QuickBooks Self-Employed might be enough for freelancers needing to stay on top of their income, expenses, and tax obligations, but those who have specialized needs should consider alternatives. For instance, if your priority is mobile accounting, you may prefer Zoho Books. If you collect sales tax from customers, you may wish to upgrade to QuickBooks Online. If you’re starting a freelance business and don’t have that much money to spend on paid software, then you may do well with Wave.