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Best Accounting Apps for Independent Contractors

These accounting apps have the features independent contractors need.

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Independent contractors have unique needs when it comes to accounting. Even if you work independently, you're considered a business in the eyes of the law. You're responsible for business bookkeeping and taxes. While that may sound overwhelming, the right app can help you handle all of your accounting needs. There are many bookkeeping and accounting apps out there, but which one is right for you?

You'll need to consider the features you need. Do you pay yourself a biweekly paycheck? Do you submit your own quarterly taxes to the government? Do you have any business assets or inventory to track? Are invoicing and payments a necessity? Is integration important?

We reviewed accounting apps on a variety of platforms, for mobile devices and desktop computers alike, so you can assess which features meet your needs as an independent contractor. Read on to find the right accounting app for you.

The 7 Best Accounting Apps for Independent Contractors in 2023

Best Overall : QuickBooks



Why We Chose It

Intuit’s QuickBooks is the best-known accounting app for good reason. While it's not perfect, it is one of the best accounting programs on the market today and sets a high bar for what business money management apps can do. QuickBooks is great for a wide range of businesses from solo freelancers to brick-and-mortar empires.

This program is the standard for small business accounting, and it offers much more than an independent contractor probably needs. But it also features everything an independent contractor will likely need, including live bank connections, invoicing, payment processing, and mobile apps.

QuickBooks has versions for both Windows and Mac, as well as an online version, which works best for independent contractors. Here's a breakdown of the plans and pricing. We've listed the regular price, but each plan is discounted by 50% for the first three months and each plan offers a 30-day free trial.

Plan Cost Features
Simple $30/month Income and expenses, invoices and payments, tax deductions, general reports, receipt capture, mileage tracking, cash flow, sales and sales tax, estimates, contractors
Essentials $55/month All Simple plan features plus 3 users, bill management, enter time
Plus $85/month All Essential plan features plus 5 users, inventory, project profitability
Advanced $200/month All Plus plan features plus more than 5 users, business analytics with Excel, employee expenses, batch invoices and expenses, customized access, exclusive premium apps, dedicated account team, on-demand training, workflow automation, data restoration 

Where QuickBooks fails is with its customer support. Third-party customer reviews point to significant problems reaching customer service and getting resolutions to their problems.

Pros & Cons
  • Windows, Mac, and online versions available

  • Live bank connections

  • Invoice payment processing

  • Poor customer service

Runner Up : Xero

Why We Chose It

Xero gives QuickBooks a run for its money when it comes to accounting features for independent contractors. Features include financial reports, mobile apps, more than 1,000 integrations, live bank account connections, invoicing, and access for multiple team members. Xero customers also get free access to Hubdoc, which allows users to extract data from documents.

Because Xero doesn't offer automated payroll tax services, you'll need a tax app or accountant, but all of your bookkeeping needs are covered. Billing and expense forms, double-entry accounting, inventory tracking, document management, and CRM integrations are just a few features that make Xero worth serious consideration for any independent contractor.

Plan Cost Features
Early $12/month Send quotes and 20 invoices, enter five bills, reconcile bank transactions, capture bills and receipts with Hubdoc, short-term cash flow and business snapshot
Growing $34/month Send unlimited quotes and invoices, enter unlimited bills, reconcile bank transactions, capture bills and receipts with Hubdoc, bulk reconcile transactions, short-term cash flow and business snapshot
Established $65/month Everything in the Growing plan plus multiple currencies, track projects, claim expenses, view in-depth analytics

You can also add on payroll through Gusto starting at $40 per month. Gusto was our top pick for best payroll for small businesses.

Third-party customer reviews are mostly positive for Xero, but some customers note that the pricing has consistently increased for the accounting services.

Pros & Cons
  • More than 1,000 integrations available

  • Affordable

  • Free Hubdoc access

  • No payroll tax support

  • Customers complain about price increases

Best Free : Wave Accounting

Wave Accounting

Wave Accounting

Why We Chose It

Wave Accounting is a free accounting app that works both online and on your smartphone. While there are charges for some extra features like payment processing, payroll, and bookkeeping support, the free starting price point makes it a winner for many independent contractors.

The free version is pretty impressive, even compared to some paid accounting apps. It includes invoicing, live bank connections, income and expense tracking, and collaborators. It even has the ability to track multiple businesses (like a "side hustle" or two) and personal finances in the same account.

Paid add-on services include online ACH and credit card processing and payroll. But these cost more than some competitors, so if you process a lot of payments, you may end up paying more with Wave’s “free” accounting than you would with a paid app.

Plan Cost Features
Invoicing Free Custom invoices to reflect your brand; automated payment reminders; enable credit card payments, bank payments; and Apple Pay directly from invoices
Accounting  Free Unlimited income and expense tracking; unlimited partners, collaborators, or accountants; at-a-glance dashboard to determine how much to charge clients; unlimited bank and credit card connections; access to reports
Banking Free Separate business and personal expenses; instant payouts; Wave debit card; deposit checks and track income with mobile app
Payments 2.9% + $0.60 per transaction; 3.4% + $0.60 per AMEX transaction; 1% per bank account transaction Flexibility for clients to pay by credit card, bank deposit, and Apple Pay; invoice payments sync automatically to accounting dashboard; money in 1 business day for Canadian businesses and 2 business days for U.S. businesses; recurring billing and payments for retainer clients 
Payroll $35/month + $6 per employee and $6 per independent contractor for tax service states; $20/month + $6 per employee and $6 per independent contractor for self-service tax states  Pay employees and contractors directly with one click; employee portal access to pay stubs and tax forms; easy access to tax forms and documents; guaranteed accuracy
Advisors $149/month for bookkeeping support; $329 one-time fee for accounting and payroll coaching Support from accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll experts; support available year-round
Pros & Cons
  • Basic accounting, bookkeeping, and invoicing services are free

  • Paid add-ons are pricey compared to competitors

Best for Freelancers : FreshBooks



Why We Chose It

If you're a freelancer and want simple accounting with a focus on your needs, FreshBooks is a solid choice. This app is ideal for the self-employed. If you have more than five clients, you’ll need the Plus version, but all of the plan tiers are reasonably priced.

Features include invoicing, expenses, time tracking, projects, estimates, payments, reporting, and a mobile app. It is one of the easiest accounting systems to use. While some other advanced programs feel like they require an accounting degree to navigate, FreshBooks keeps it simple.

Here's how FreshBook's four plans shake out in terms of cost and features. It's important to note that we provided the regular monthly pricing, but each plan except for the Select plan are discounted by 50% for the first four months and includes a 30-day free trial. Each plan also lets you add an additional user for $10 per month per user.

Plan Cost Features
Lite $15/month 5 billable clients, client profiles and account statements, clients can store credit card information, client self-service portal, client credits, automated recurring invoices, unlimited estimates, unlimited and customized invoices, scheduled late fees, automated late payment reminders, accepts deposits, manage budget and billing, online credit card payments, online ACH bank transfers, checkout links, unlimited time tracking, unlimited expenses, automated bank import, mobile mileage tracking, tax time reports, business health reports, at-a-glance dashboards
Plus $30/month All Lite plan features plus 50 billable clients, e-signatures accepted, unlimited proposals, client retainers, automated expense receipt data capture, double-entry accounting reports, advanced accounting (in beta), bank reconciliation, accountant access
Premium $55/month All Plus plan features plus unlimited billable clients, customized email templates and signatures, automated client emails with dynamic fields,customized email templates and signatures, automated client emails with dynamic fields, remove FreshBooks branding from client emails, automatic bills receipt data capture, project profitability, accounts payable
Select Custom All Premium plan features plus 2 team member accounts included, dedicated account manager, customized onboarding services, data migration services

Although customer service reviews are mostly positive, some FreshBooks users report that they've been double charged, and customer support is not always responsive to these issues.

Pros & Cons
  • Affordable options for freelancers

  • Easy to use

  • Add an additional user for $10/month

  • Some users report being double charged with no resolution

Best for Part-Time Contractors : Zoho Books

Zoho Books

Zoho Books

Why We Chose It

Zoho made our pick as best accounting software for part-time contractors because its basic, free version provides everything most contractors will need–all at no cost. If your part-time business generates more than 1,000 invoices a year, you'll need to upgrade. But even the Standard version, priced at just $15 per month billed annually, which offers up to 5,000 invoices a year should be enough for most part-timers.

Zoho Books includes accounting features like bank reconciliations, invoicing, expense tracking, time sheets, projects, recurring transactions, and sales approvals.

Zoho Books does quite a bit, but does not scale up for larger businesses like some of the more popular accounting packages. That said, it should work fine for independent contractors.

Plan Cost (billed annually) Features
Free Free 1 user + 1 accountant; manage clients; manage up to 1,000 invoices per year; client portal; online/offline payments; automated payment reminders; multilingual invoicing; credit notices; recurring invoices; expense and mileage tracking; add multiple bank accounts and credit cards; import bank and credit card statements; bank rules and reconciliation; account and sub-account charts; manual journals; reports; invoice customization; manage 1099 contractors; payment gateways; integrate Zoho apps; integrate G-Suite, Office 365, Slack, Zapier, Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, and OneDrive
Standard $15/month Everything in the Free plan plus 3 users; manage up to 5,000 invoices per year; recurring expenses; connect and fetch bank and credit card feeds via bank feeds provider; predefined user roles; track project expenses and invoices; project tasks; bulk updates; transaction locking; custom views; custom fields; reporting tags; time sheet and billing; track sales tax; payment gateways; integrate Avalara and Zendesk; email, voice, and chat support
Professional $40/month Everything in the Standard plan plus 5 users; sales approval; retainer invoices; bills; payments made; vendor credits; recurring bills; sales orders; purchase orders; purchase approvals; multi-currency handling; automated exchange rates; currency adjustments; stock tracking; price lists; landed costs; custom roles; time sheet approval; time sheet client approval; contextual chat; retainer invoices for projects; project profitability; journal templates; tasks; up to 10 workflow rules; email, voice, and chat support
Premium $60/month Everything in the Professional plan plus 10 users; custom domain; vendor portal; multi-transaction number series; budgeting; custom buttons; validation rules; related lists; web tabs; up to 200 workflow rules; custom reports; 10 custom modules; integrations with Zoho Sign and Twilio; email, voice, and chat support
Elite $120/month Everything in the Elite plan plus cash flow forecasting report; integrate up to 2 Shopify stores; warehouse management for up to 5 warehouses; serial number tracking; batch tracking; print shipping labels; shipment tracking; email, voice, and chat support
Ultimate  $240/month Everything in the Elite plan plus 15 users; 25 custom modules; view real-time dashboards and reports; analyze and track key financial reports; customize reports and dashboards; analyze Zoho Books and other data; collaboratively create reports with colleagues; export and print reports as Excel or PDF files; embed reports in websites/applications; up to 5 million records/rows; email, voice, and chat support

Where Zoho lacks is in its customer service. Several customers on third-party review site report problems reaching customer service or receiving a response to their problems.

Pros & Cons
  • Free version offers plenty of features for part-time contractors

  • Generate 1,000 invoices a year for free

  • Expense and mileage tracking for free

  • Customer service is difficult to reach

Best Full-Service App : Bench

Courtesy of Bench
Why We Chose It

If you're an independent contractor who needs complete accounting support, you'll want to check out Bench. It's an accountant and accounting app in one with two packages available. One important feature you'll find with Bench is a human bookkeeper, something the other providers on our list don't have.

Both of the packages offer a free trial so you can check them out to see if the service is right for your business.

The less-expensive Essential plan offers monthly bookkeeping and a dedicated bookkeeping team while the more expensive Premium plan also offers income tax support.

You’ll get monthly financial reports and can rest easy knowing the books are taken care of. Bench doesn’t include accounting, but it does provide the reports and support you need for your accountant to take care of things come tax day.

Plan Cost Features
Essential $249/month billed annually; $299/month billed monthly with annual contract; $349/month billed monthly without annual contract Monthly bookkeeping; dedicated bookkeeping team; year-end tax ready financial statements; direct, unlimited contact with in-house research team 
Premium $399/month billed annually; $499/month billed monthly; must sign annual contract Everything in Essential plan plus unlimited income tax support; annual income tax filing for businesses, including partnerships, S corporations, and C corporations; income tax filing for individuals, including sole proprietors and contractors

The biggest downside to Bench is that if you need the Premium plan, you'll have to sign an annual contract, so if you're not happy with the plan, you're on the hook for an entire year.

Pros & Cons
  • Full-service bookkeeping with a human bookkeeper

  • Income tax support available

  • Both packages offer a free trial

  • Premium plan is available only with an annual contract

Best for Combined Bookkeeping and Tax Prep : inDinero



Why We Chose It

inDinero is a full-service accounting software with accounting and tax preparation service in one. Like Bench, there is a human element to the service, but you'll have to reach out to inDinero to get a specific quote for pricing and services.

This is the one-stop-shop for accounting and tax in one place. Even Quickbooks requires you to use TurboTax for an extra fee if you want your taxes done in the same place. It is the most expensive service on this list, but includes everything you need to run your basic business administration without lifting a finger.

Plan Cost Features
Essential Starting at $300/month Uses cash-basis accounting; day-to-day bookkeeping; financial reports any time
Growth Starting at $900/month For companies looking to grow their businesses; accrual accounting managed by experienced controllers; ability to scale using QuickBooks online or NetSuite
Executive Custom package Contact inDinero  For dynamic companies with more complex needs; tailored to meet your needs; includes everything in the Growth plan plus revenue recognition, budget analysis, and more
Pros & Cons
  • All-in-one accounting services

  • Tax preparation available

  • Must reach out to the company for a custom quote

Final Verdict

Whether you're a part-time independent contractor or growing your enterprise, you'll need to manage your finances, and that means seeking out an accounting app.

We chose QuickBooks because we believe it has the most features, ease-of-use, and pricing that most independent contractors will need. But every contractor is different, so one of the other accounting apps on our list may fit your needs better.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Accounting Software for Independent Contractors?

Accounting software for independent contractors is accounting software that is geared toward independent contractors rather than big companies. The software can be an app used on your phone or tablet or one downloaded to your computer. Typically, accounting apps for independent contractors will help with organizing and storing records and receipts, keeping track of accounts payable and accounts receivable, and performing bookkeeping tasks.

How Does Accounting Software for Independent Contractors Work?

Accounting software for independent contractors works like other accounting software in that you download the app, create an account, and start entering your data. The app will do the calculations for you. It will also suggest categories for organization and store everything related to accounting in one place. Most accounting apps can be integrated with other apps such as mobile banking, customer relationship management (CRM), and mileage tracking. 

Some helpful accounting app features include:

  • Bank connections
  • Double-entry accounting
  • Financial reports
  • Invoicing
  • Payroll
  • Tracking multiple businesses

How Much Does Accounting Software for Independent Contractors Cost?

The costs of accounting software for independent contractors vary. There are free and paid versions, and typically the paid versions have more features. Some apps offer free 30-day trial periods and others offer discounts for paying annually in advance. Typically, expect to spend anywhere from $4.50 per month for a basic version with a limited number of clients to $300 per month for more custom options with 50 clients, connected bank accounts, and live customer service. 

Is Accounting Software for Independent Contractors Worth the Cost?

Accounting software for independent contractors is worth the cost. An independent contractor is responsible for their own accounting and bookkeeping, as well as tax preparation and deadlines. Using an accounting app will save you time and money and help you keep track of how much money is coming in and how much is going out. 

If you’re just starting out or only have a few clients, then start with a basic version of accounting software that is less expensive. You can always upgrade to a version with more features once your business grows.

How We Chose the Best Accounting Apps for Independent Contractors 

There are so many accounting apps on the market. We narrowed them down to the top seven after reviewing the most popular ones. We chose these as our best accounting apps for independent contractors based on their functions, features, and integrations. We also looked at their pricing, number of versions offered, and whether they tailor the app to the specific needs of independent contractors. 

Woman taking picture on smartphone of barcode for payment of bills for accounting app

wagnerokasaki / Getty Images

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