As a self-employed worker in the sharing economy, you might not consider yourself to be at the helm of a business. But if you’re earning an income as an Uber or Lyft driver, TaskRabbit tasker, Etsy seller, Fiverr creator, or any other type of freelance or on-demand worker, then the IRS expects you to pay taxes like a small business owner. And Intuit wants to help you do that with the savvy of a corporate accountant.
Alex Chriss, who oversees Intuit’s shared-economy services, says the company’s recent launch of a service for the self-employed is a response to a changing job market. Since 1989, the ranks of the self-employed in the U.S. have expanded from 1 in 20 to 1 in 3 workers, Chriss says. Intuit’s own research shows that by 2020, more than 40 percent of the workforce will be self-employed.
In part, that’s because apps and websites such as Uber and Etsy make it easy for anyone to be their own boss, Chriss says. “The fascinating thing for us is that, whether they intended to do it or not, all of these folks have started small businesses. We have the obligation to help them do their taxes correctly without overburdening them,” he says.
Chriss says QuickBooks Self-Employed translates Intuit’s business tax accounting expertise for Schedule C filers. “If you are your own self-employed boss and you’re getting paid via a multitude of 1099s, you have a responsibility to pay quarterly taxes, buy your own insurance, and save for your own retirement—all of those things that employees take for granted,” Chriss says. He says the new QuickBooks app makes it simple for freelancers to manage their cashflow, understand their compliance obligations, and track income and expenses with a smartphone: simply swipe left to put a receipt in the business expense bucket, right for personal.
The app also tells users the amount of their next quarterly tax payment, helps track mileage, and calculates home-office deductions. “Of 14 million self-employed people working from home, only 23 percent take a home office deduction,” Chriss says. “The rest are leaving money on the table.”
Chriss says the QuickBooks Self-Employed app, which is available for a $10 monthly subscription, has already helped some 20,000 people save $100 million in tax deductions, including more than 50 million deductible miles.
Intuit’s platform also helps on-demand workers get a handle on their cashflow – to understand how much of every $100 earned they need to set aside for taxes, healthcare, and retirement. “We are heading to a place where one out of 2 workers will have no employer withholding this money for them,” says Chriss. “This is a massive shift that has happened very quickly, and this is the new normal.”