Tax season is a nightmare for anyone, but doing your taxes as an independent contractor is a special kind of hell. So today, Intuit is announcing a partnership with Stripe to play Virgil to the growing legion of freelance workers in the U.S.
Intuit is launching QuickBook’s Online Self Employed, a platform specifically designed to integrate with payment processor Stripe — a darling of the on-demand economy. Major services like Lyft, Handy, Postmates, Instacart, and TaskRabbit all use Stripe’s marketplaces protocol to process transactions. While Stripe already integrates with Xero, GoDaddy, and Zoho Books for accounting, none of these options provides specific tools for Taskers, Lyft drivers, and other types of service workers.
“This is the first integration that is specific to marketplaces,” says Stripe head of strategic partnerships Cristina Cordova.
Independent contractors typically have to amass their many 1099s and either do their taxes themselves or go to a tax service where they’ll end up paying no less than $100 — if they’re lucky. Plus freelancers have to pay their taxes quarterly or else incur nasty fees from the Internal Revenue Service.
“I think for a lot of [on-demand markets], they looked at it as ‘this isn’t our problem’ and ‘we’re not going to deal with it.’ Then when they had this massive constituency of contractors, they realized that, oh it is our problem,” Cordova says.
The burgeoning on-demand economy is drawing attention to the long-neglected independent contractor and their tax-paying woes. Intuit’s new platform enables these workers to open an account with QuickBook’s Online Self Employed and download relevant tax data directly from Stripe, like how much they’ve been paid. Contractors can also link their credit cards and banks accounts to QBOSE, where they can identify business expenses (like gas). It also helps them to stay on top of those quarterly tax payments.
This is a pretty smooth move for QuickBooks, which has been struggling to make a product that resonates with younger, more tech savvy businesses and entrepreneurs. Though Intuit has for decades been a top accounting-software provider, newer companies appealing to millennials have emerged to compete with Intuit’s core business. Cloud-based startups like FreshBooks, Xero, Inacct, and NetSuite are taking massive rounds of funding and quickly eating away at Intuit’s marketshare.
Teaming up with Stripe will certainly help Intuit’s image. And throwing a lifeline to an overlooked community, likely rife with newbies wallowing in tax paperwork they don’t understand could also be a key move — if the software is as seamless as Intuit promises.