Free Online Tax Resources for Small Business Owners & The Self-Employed

Now that the 2012 tax season is in full swing, it’s time to get the proverbial ball rolling with your business tax return preparations. If you want to maximize your return while holding on to as much of your precious time and money as you can, then make sure to check out these free tax resources for small business owners and the self-employed.

The IRS has put together a an incredible resource for small and home-based business owners and anyone classified as self-employed. If you have never visited their Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center, then I urge you to do so. The site is easy to navigate and offers a wealth of useful information and resources that are clearly presented, spanning federal and state agencies as well as industry/profession specific categories. You will also find links to starting and operating a business, employment taxes, tax law changes for business, business-related forms and publications, and online learning options- many of which I have referenced in previous posts.

Even if you are hiring an accountant, tax preparer, or have invested in tax preparation and accounting software, you should still make an effort to understand the basics of business taxation. There are also some products that are specific to a country (for example Intuit has Profile, which is a professional tax software package exclusive to Canada.)

Here is a rundown of some quick, IRS business tax links you might be interested in:

  • IRS E-File – Includes Free File for individuals who earned $57,000 or less in 2012.
  • IRS Virtual Small Business Tax Workshop – Here you’ll find several interactive lessons designed to help new small business owners learn their tax rights and responsibilities.
  • IRS Video Portal – The IRS Video Portal offers video and audio presentations on tax topics for small businesses, individuals and tax professionals.
  • Industries/Professions – Visit this page for tax information specific to certain industries and professions.
  • Index of IRS Business Forms, Forms Instructions, Publications and Late Products – If you are looking for a specific tax form, get it directly from the source. Most of the forms include instructions.
  • A Guide to Employment Taxation for Small Businesses Tax Guide – All you need to know about hiring and employment taxes. If you have employees, you are responsible for several federal, state, and local taxes. Find out which ones and how you should go about paying them.
  • Filing Late and/or Paying Late – Find out what options exist for filing and paying late as well as the process you will need to go through for each one. You’ll also find a complete breakdown of “penalty” fees.
  • IRS e-News for Small Businesses - A free email news letter that offers tax information for small business owners and self-employed individuals. It is distributed every Wednesday.

Free and Low-Cost Online Tax Preparation Software

Three of the biggest tax software companies, TurboTax, H&R Block, and TaxAct, offer free online federal tax filing options for those planing on filing a 1040EZ or a simple tax return. (Keep in mind though, that you will still need to complete a state tax return.) Paid online versions for more robust processing and more complex returns (for example, those that include Schedule C  for self-employment income) are not so expensive and are definitely worth considering. Not only will these services help you complete your tax return, but they also offer tips and information to help you maximize your deductions and increase your payback.

  • TurboTax – TurboTax from Intuit is arguably the most robust program of the lot, but it’s also the most expensive. If you plan on filing a simple return you may want to check it out.
  • H&R Block – The ubiquitous tax preparation franchise also provides an online software package. The free “At Home” version supports several common IRS forms and schedules, and the paid versions are reasonably priced.
  • Tax ACT – In addition to its free e filing service, Tax ACT offers the cheapest tax preparation package (the most expensive option is just $17.95), but reviews tend to vary on the quality of the experience. Some customers have claimed inaccuracies in their reports and insufficient tax filing help, so you might want to do a little research before choosing this option.

Other Free Tax Resources Online

Here are a few other miscellaneous free tax preparation resources that you may want to check out:

  • Nolo – A compendium of articles and FAQ’s on business tax legal issues involving LLCs, corporations, sole proprietorships.
  • State Tax and Revenue Departments – From the Yahoo Directory
  • TaxACT has compiled a list of top tax law changes for 2012 federal returns due April 15, 2013. You should also check out their tax calander and tax dictionary.


  1. says

    We have an accountant that handles our taxes for us, but that alone is no excuse to be ignorant about business/corporate tax matters. I try to have a basic understanding of what is up with our company’s taxes as I feel that not only is it the right thing to do, but I also need to be able to talk somewhat intelligently with our accountant about these matters.

    Thanks for sharing this list!

  2. Kyle Kraft says

    I have just become self employed recently, but this is a pretty good summary of what I should look out for next year. Right now I’m thinking that I will just hire an accountant to handle my taxes. Up until now I have always used (and loved) TurboTax online, but the audit risk increases significantly after becoming self employed. IMO, paying ~$200 for an accountant is worth not having to worry about the IRS coming at you with an audit.

  3. Adam Gottlieb says

    Both having a basic background in business taxation and speaking on a regular basis with a hired accountant is definitely the best way to go- especially as a business grows. That way, you’ll know what questions to ask this person and also maximize the time and money you spent to hire accounting help.

  4. Adam Gottlieb says

    I agree with you regarding the “risk” of being self-employed, and in many cases, where one can afford it, hiring an accountant is definitely the way to go- especially at the beginning when it is more likely that you’ll make some costly mistakes. But in this case, do your due diligence to make sure you hire a competent person, and if you can pick his/or her brain on how to make your business better, then take advantage of it. Where you are only hiring an accountant to complete your taxes, then make sure you at least “fill in the gaps” by educating yourself on the current tax realities.

  5. says

    Thank you for posting this. I have been trying to find a cheap way to file for this year because I have to file as self employed. It changes everything to have to file this way!

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