Which accounting software is best?

Remember the good old days when your only money troubles were trying to stretch your allowance until your next “payday”? Now you have to worry about taxes, making a budget and balancing your income with your bills. And many have to run their own business with a dizzying array of black and red numbers to keep track of.

You could try and do everything manually, but it would be much easier to use accounting software such as H&R Block 2021.

What to know before you buy accounting software

Complexity of software

Everyone’s finances are different. As such, there are several tiers of software that aim to give you only what you need.

  • Basic software is for those with little to no complications. If your only income is from one W-2 job and you live on your own, this is likely all you need.
  • Advanced software covers those with more variables, such as deductions and filing jointly, with or without children.
  • Premium software covers extra sources of income such as investments, properties and cryptocurrency.
  • Self-employed software is for freelancers, contractors, gig workers and the like. It’s the first tier that introduces features you can use year-round rather than just at tax time.
  • Small business software is for those who need year-round accounting but not for those who have employees to pay.
  • Business software is the final step for those with numerous accounts and people to manage.

Basics

No matter the tier you use, accounting software should have the same basic features, such as being able to import data and being able to electronically file your taxes once completed.

What to look for in quality accounting software

Access

The best accounting software lets you access your data from anywhere with a single login and has a matching mobile app. Some software even lets you create multiple unique users to access and manage the data, but many require each user to pay full price for the software.

Budgeting

The best accounting software has features, or at the very least guidelines, for helping you create and keep track of a budget. It’s the foundation that all accounting is based on – what’s coming in and what’s going out?

Payroll

If you have employees, then accounting software with payroll functions is a must. These let you make and keep track of invoices and paychecks. Some programs can even let you set up direct deposit for your employees.

How much you can expect to spend on accounting software

Accounting software can be a one-time cost or require a monthly or yearly subscription. One-time software for basic taxes is free, while complex accounting for businesses can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars. Monthly subscriptions cost roughly $10-$100, with yearly options coming at a discount.

Accounting software FAQ

Can’t I just use a free spreadsheet?

A. For those with the most basic needs and the least complex tax information, a free spreadsheet is pretty much all you need. However, every new piece of information you add to the equation exponentially increases the complexity of your tax filing alone, not to mention the complexity of your budgeting. 

And since many accounting software is straightforward and affordable, it’s worth considering to save yourself some money, time and effort.

How much do I save money doing my own accounting over using a certified public accountant?

A. To answer from a pure hard cash standpoint, you can save hundreds to thousands of dollars. This depends on the cost of your software and how much an accountant would charge based on the complexity of your accounting needs.

That said, if you aren’t the best with numbers, then trying to do your own accounting can easily create hundreds to thousands of dollars in mistakes and missed deductions.

What’s the best accounting software to buy?

Top accounting software

Best H&R Block 2021

H&R Block 2021

What you need to know: H&R Block offers several tiers of software that are all simple to use.

What you’ll love: The tiers of service include a free online option for the simplest of tax returns, a more complex “Deluxe” option, a “Premium” option for those with investments — including cryptocurrency — and a “Self-Employed” option for freelancers, contractors and gig workers.

What you should consider: This is last year’s tax information; the 2022 tax software will be available in November. All of these are best for tax-related use rather than complex accounting.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Dell and Staples

Top accounting software for the money

Best Quicken Home And Business 2021

Quicken Home and Business 2021

What you need to know: This is an excellent option for tracking personal and small business expenses if you have no employees.

What you’ll love: You can download your bank account statements straight into the software for easy tracking. It can recognize and point out tax deductions as they occur, so you get your best return. You can log into your books from anywhere, including your phone.

What you should consider: There’s only a yearly subscription option. Some customers were unhappy with the interface, calling it outdated.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, HP and Staples

Worth checking out

Best Intuit QuickBooks Desktop Premier Plus With Payroll 2022

Intuit QuickBooks Desktop Premier Plus With Payroll 2022

What you need to know: This is the perfect software for those running a thriving business with employees to pay.

What you’ll love: It includes unlimited customer support and automated data backup and recovery. Each update, including those that cover tax law changes, is part of the subscription. You can set up direct deposits for your employees inside the software. You can also import your old spreadsheet information to get started.

What you should consider: There’s only a yearly subscription option, and it’s among the most expensive. For multiuser access, each user has to pay full price.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Dell and Staples

 

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Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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