2017 Business Tax Preparation Software Compared

Doing 2017 Business Taxes using TaxAct, H&R Block, or TurboTax

Business Tax Software
••• Software for Business Taxes. -Oxford-/Getty Images

Updated for 2017 Business Tax Returns

It's time to get ready to do your business tax return for 2017. If you want to do your own business taxes using business tax software, you may have considered online or desktop software. Three major tax software programs - TurboTaxH&R Block, and TaxAct - have both online and desktop versions to prepare federal income tax returns for your business, as well as your state business tax returns.

If you have employees or hire contract workers, you may be able to use specific versions of these programs to use to prepare W-2 forms for employees and 1099 forms for non-employees. 

What Forms Do I Need for My Business Income Taxes? 

Many business owners ask whether they can use tax preparation software for their business taxes.  The business income tax software you need depends on your business type and the federal income tax form needed to prepare your business taxes.  

  • If you are a sole proprietor or single-member LLC, you file business taxes on Schedule C, along with your personal tax return. You will need the tax software version that includes Schedule C.
  • If you are a corporation, you need tax software that includes Form 1120
  • If you are an S corporation, you need tax software that includes Form 1120S
  • If you are a partnership or multiple-member LLC, you need tax software that includes Form 1065.

What These Tax Programs Include - and Don't Include

All three major tax preparation programs offer options for businesses. These are the software types and prices for 2017 tax returns. If you are buying a program to get your Schedule C prepared, that return also prepares the rest of your personal taxes for the year. If you are buying a program for business taxes for partnerships or corporations, you will need to buy a separate program for your personal taxes. 

As part of preparing Schedule C, each of these returns calculates your self-employment tax (Schedule SE) and includes this tax on the appropriate sections of your personal tax return. 

The business tax return preparation programs for corporations and partnerships do not include personal tax return information, although the products may be bundled. 

I've included information (where I could find it) on whether these programs include creation and filing of W-2s for employees and 1099s for non-employees. 

H&R Block for Business Income Tax Returns 

H&R Block offers online tax preparation for small businesses using their Self-Employed version, including Schedule C and Schedule SE. The cost is $74.99, with a state return additional. The Premium version includes only Schedule C-EZ and no Schedule SE. You can use the Premium download version with both Windows and Mac, and the Premium version can be used for Schedule C filing. 

The Premium & Business download version includes Schedule C, corporate, S corporation, partnership, and LLC tax forms for $89.95. Unlimited business state filing is included, but state e-file is an additional fee. This is the only H&R Block program that will allow you to create and file W-2 forms and 1099 forms. 

TaxAct for Business Income Tax Returns

If you are filing a business tax return on Schedule C along with your personal tax return on Form 1040, you will need the Freelancer edition or the Sole Proprietor edition. It's not clear if there is a difference between these versions, but the price is the same. The cost is $39 for the online version, but that doesn't include a state return. The download edition is $76, including one free state. 

The online versions of TaxAct products are available for Windows and Mac, but the download version is only available for Windows. 

TaxAct doesn't have a version of its software that includes the ability for you to create W-2 forms and 1099 forms. 

Business tax return products for 2017 are all $60 each: 1065 for partnerships, 1120-S for S Corporations, and 1120 for C Corporations. The cost includes only one return, with an additional cost for a state return. You can bundle these and save money if you have more than one type of business. 

 

TurboTax for Business Income Tax Returns

To file a tax return for your small business on Schedule C you have both online and CD/download options. States returns are additional for all versions. 

  • Online Products: For Schedule C returns, you can use the Deluxe version ($39.99), the Premier version ($59.99), or the Self-employed version ($89.99). 
  • Download/CD Products: For Schedule C returns, you can use any version, including the Basic ($39.99

For corporations, S corporations, and partnerships (including multiple-member LLCs),  you will need TurboTax Business (online or CD/download).  Forms for all business types are included. The cost is $159.99 and the state return is additional. One feature of this software is that you can import your business information from QuickBooks desktop versions (but not from QuickBooks Online). 

If you want to use TurboTax to create W-2 forms and 1099 forms, you will need the Home and Business version of TurboTax desktop or the online Self-Employed version. 

Should you do your own business taxes? 

Even if you are able to purchase software - either downloaded or on a CD - to do your business taxes, the question still remains about whether you should try to complete this task on your own. 

In most cases, if you have a very simple tax return on Schedule C, you may find it easy to do your own business taxes along with your personal taxes. 

In this case, don't forget you must still calculate and pay self-employment taxes if your small business has a profit for the year. 

In other cases, with a more complex business tax return for a partnership, multiple-member LLC, or corporation, you should probably get the help of a tax preparer who is familiar with this type of return. 

If you have questions, be sure to contact your tax professional. 

This article suggests some ways you can save money on tax return preparation.