Taxes, business, and FreeAgent.

I, finally, made my yearly pilgrimage to the accountant to have my taxes done. The previous 3 years taxes were *extremely* easy to do since I only worked one 1 job and had 1 W2 form that needed to be done.  This year was much different, I owned a business, worked for a company based in a foreign country, and spent 8 months working for a company that issued a W2. After  2 hours of sweating the inevitable words “You owe” I came out with a $1500 refund instead. (Thanks to Obama and my $7,000 worth of school expenses).

During the 2 hours I spent in the accountants office when she was asking me for reciepts for expenses I knew I had but  didn’t have the receipt for, things that could have helped out more with the refund. My accountant noticed my level of disorganization as well, she ended up getting an accounting ledger that she had in her own supplies and giving it to me so that next year when tax time comes things will be easier on her. I’m not a ledger kind of person so I began looking for some online accounting app that would take the actual work out of it.

I looked at the normal suspects LessAccounting, FreshBooks, and Mint. They all have similar features but one thing I absolutely hate is their tiered pricing, I am limited to the number of feature x as long as I am on plan x. I don’t want to be limited to x because I don’t want to spend $300 a month to buy plan y. I want all the features available or I don’t want the service. As Matt Gemmell said here: “If you’re an employed adult who objects to paying $10 for a piece of software, you should be utterly ashamed of yourself.” I agree. I don’t mind paying for software, however, I won’t pay $300 a month for my business doing well, that doesn’t fucking compute. So I finally on Twitter found FreeAgent. FreeAgent is a set $20 per month, no worries about the number of invoices I was able to send, no worries about the better I do the more I pay.

FreeAgent is really great accounting software, I have taken college level managerial accounting classes with Quickbooks and this is much nicer. Quickbooks is slow even on a fairly high end machine it is extremely slow…and UGLY. The UI seems to have been done not by UI designers but by accountants who want as many buttons on the screen as possible. FreeAgent is not like that, it is very cleanly designed. As for speed FreeAgent is very fast, provided you have SSL caching turned on in your browser. My only complaint with the speed of FreeAgent is Chrome doesn’t support (as far as I can tell) caching for SSL pages. Switching to FireFox where I already have that turned on made things as fast as they should be.

Using FreeAgent is as easy as can be. I imported my bank account transactions and within an hour I had gone from a handful of receipts for who-knows-what sitting in random piles on my desk and through my files to a full balance sheet and profit and loss statement for Quarter 1. It is indeed worth $20 per month and with their awesome discount scheme http://www.freeagentcentral.com/support/kb/misc/the-freeagent-referral-scheme it can be cheaper, if you have enough friends they’ll even pay you to use it. If you need to keep track of your finances and don’t want to be punished when business picks up, I definitely recommend using FreeAgent!