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Best Free Accounting Software in 2017: Analysis of Top Solutions

by Arthur Zuckerman

Companies can automate their accounting tasks and processes with an efficient accounting software solution. Take a look at these stats gleaned from a recent survey by the Cloud Accounting Institute: 73% of companies said they utilize cloud accounting solutions. Businesses are looking to invest in and benefit from cloud forecasting, budgeting, and corporate performance management products. About 52% of respondents intend to make use of big data cloud. Many companies opined frankly that current accounting systems restrict their business efficiency. Integration of software is also a major concern for businesses.

Now, let’s look at the findings of the 2015 State of Small Business Report: 70% of companies outsource tax preparation. 88% of small companies are satisfied with their accounting facilities. Only 42% of small enterprises have a chief financial officer (CFO). 50% of small businesses outsource their payroll activities. Only 40% of small business owners said they have knowledge of finance and accounting. Finally, only 17% of companies utilize an asset management solution to track physical assets.

The above stats and survey findings show that most businesses with to invest in a quality accounting software solution to boost their efficiency and productivity. Luckily, they don’t have to pay out of their noses for this system as there are numerous good free accounting software platforms available. In this article, we review the key features and benefits offered by the best free accounting software in 2017.

Top Free Accounting Platforms in 2017

For the benefit of developing teams and sole accountants, many vendors offer free accounting products that they can try out to save money. If your business demands grow, you can easily transition to a paid package as most vendors offer refund guarantees, annual reductions, and affordable prices.

To help you make the right choice, we’ve shortlisted the 12 best free accounting software in 2017:

1. Wave

Unique selling point: payroll management

Wave is offered free of cost and is currently used by more than 2 million small businesses and freelancers across the globe. This product is considered a leading open source platform for finance control. Even though it is free, the software’s suite of features compare favorably with expensive accounting tools.

Wave is designed for the needs of startups and small teams, and enables them to efficiently manage tasks such as handling taxes, managing employees, tracking expenses, and chasing payments.

With Wave, you can create and send professional invoices to your clients, get paid quickly, and track all financial transactions. Besides, you can easily collect credit card payments which is a useful feature for your customers as well. The app also stands out for its efficient organization capacity. You can read essential info on clear dashboards and generate detailed reports on your company’s financial activities.

The highlight of this platform is payroll management as it enables you to calculate salaries accurately, pay your employees using direct deposits, and deliver the pay stubs to them. This software is accessible on all operating systems and devices, and offers an open developer API to enable smooth integrations.

Who can use Wave?

Small teams and sole proprietors who wish to calculate taxation and payroll, manage expenses, and deliver invoices using a single platform.

What features are free?

Wave is an open-source accounting platform that is offered free of cost. You don’t need to fret about unexpected expenses, recurrent fees, or paid upgrades. Simply create an account and use the following free features:

  • Time tracking
  • Taxation
  • Payroll & expense management
  • Lendings management
  • Direct payments
  • Customizable dashboard
  • Custom reports
  • Billing & invoicing
  • Accounting & finance control

2. Roboeyelabs

Unique selling point: CRM

Roboeyelabs is a free system that combines CRM and accounting in a streamlined manner. This smart tool combines key accounting functionalities such as expense tracking, revenue recognition, purchasing, cash management, billing and invoicing, accounts payable, and accounts receivable. Plus, it can support your marketing efforts by integrating with QuickBooks and Xero.

The highlight of this software is the neat CRM kit that collects customer data for accurate creation of sales pipeline to help you identify and maximize business opportunities. Plus, it automates invoice generation and delivery. The solution is cloud-based which means you don’t need to worry about maintenance and upgrades. Pricing is flexible and you can start with the free plan and graduate to a paid option starting at just $1/month.

Who can use Roboeyelabs?

It is ideal for small and medium-sized sales teams that use their invoicing process to gather customer info and boost customer relationships.

What features are free?

The free Bronze plan lacks sales management tools including lead management and pipeline creation features. Plus, it does not offer Rest API for open connectivity.

You will however get these main features for free:

  • Transactions
  • Reports
  • Quotes
  • Products
  • Payments
  • Invoices
  • Contacts
  • Bills

What features need payment?

The 2 paid plans offer social CRM and sales functionalities. Here are their prices: Silver Plan is offered for $1/month, while the Gold plan costs $2/month.

These are the features in the paid plans:

  • Social CRM
  • Rest API
  • Pipeline & opportunity management
  • Lead management
  • Email notifications & alerts
  • Customization

3. Mango Billing

Unique selling point: due date management

Mango Billing is a time and billing platform for small and medium-sized companies with a well-equipped free package. The app enables you to control your due dates and expenses, generate custom timing reports, and set up and maintain accounting assignments. In addition, the system provides Outlook-style calendars and spreadsheets, and can be effortlessly accessed from desktop and mobile devices.

Why have we included Mango Billing in our list of best free accounting software in 2017? The main reason is the app improves your time and billing effectiveness. You can set up and insert your recurring tasks in the system after which it arranges them in cycles. This means after a task is finished the next one gets automatically appointed. You can categorize dates and tasks in the way you want and get a clear overview of date ranges any time. Mango also stands out for its robust reporting capabilities that you can utilize to generate stats and insightful reports easily and quickly.

Who can use Mango Billing?

It is designed for finance consultants, sole accountants, and teams with up to 15 members. They can utilize its basic billing tools and to enhance time management.

What features are free?

The free plan offers billing and time functionalities and is meant for single users with up to 2 clients per month.

Here are the free features:

  • To-do lists
  • Time & expense tracking
  • Sync with Outlook and Google Calendar
  • Retainer management
  • Reminders
  • Recurring appointments
  • QuickBooks integration
  • Outlook-style calendars
  • Mobile access
  • Firm-wide centralized scheduling
  • Filters
  • Dashboards
  • Accept credit cards

What are the paid features?

The paid packages offer all the features of the free plan but are meant for larger teams serving more clients. Here are the paid plans:

  • Solo Plan ($19/month, 1 user, unlimited clients)
  • Basic Plan ($59/month, 4 users, unlimited clients)
  • Pro Plan ($99/month, 8 users, unlimited clients)
  • Enterprise Plan ($159/month, 15 users, unlimited clients)

4. Turbo Cash

Unique selling point: Point-of-sale features

TurboCASH is another top rated free and open-source accounting solution that can be easily configured for any corporate environment. It offers sophisticated point of sale and cashier tools that provide all the regular benefits of double-entry accounting. This system is desktop-oriented, but still facilitates data migration and supports import and export of transactions as CSV files.

You can benefit from TurboCASH’s large community of users that includes consultants and researchers from whom you can get useful tips on how to effectively use the software to improve your financial processes. Large teams and professional users can pay $60/month to utilize the application’s advanced capabilities.

Who can use TurboCASH?

It is designed for consultants, sole accountants, and owners of small retail businesses. Large teams can also try the freemium plan.

What features are free?

The open source plan offers most of the platform’s basic accounting and invoicing features. The plan accommodates unlimited number of users and they can create and distribute unlimited number of invoices.

Here are the free features:

  • Tax compliant for 80 states
  • Rollback database
  • Report drill down
  • Repeating entries
  • Open source data
  • Multi-language
  • Invoicing
  • Inventory
  • Full reports
  • Debtor credits
  • Cashbook
  • Access to user community

What are the paid features?

TurboCASH’s premium package costs $60/month. It includes the following features:

  • World class general ledger
  • IFRS & GARB accounts
  • CSV, SQL, Firebird
  • Cloud applications
  • Access to premium consultant services

5. Compiere

Unique selling point: enterprise resource planning (ERP)

Compiere’s strong point is its ERP functionalities that small and medium businesses can utilize to control their resources, manage warehouses, and automate their manufacturing processes. This end-to-end solution is an adaptable and modern finance planning system that you can use for free. If you want advanced tools, try the Enterprise Edition that allows you to customize key processes such as visual dictionaries, performance management, and multisite ERP.

Besides ERP, Compiere can also be used for customer service and management as well as a sales-oriented CRM to track customer interactions. In addition, you can generate all types of regular financial reports for detailed analysis.

Who can use Compiere?

It is designed for companies that wish to use ERP tools for inventory management and to customize their manufacturing workflows. Sole proprietors can utilize the free version.

What features are free?

The free plan offers all essential manufacturing control and ERP functionalities. It accommodates unlimited number of users and offers unlimited storage.

  • Sales
  • Performance management (standard reports, business view layers, management dashboards)
  • Multisite ERP (global financial management, order management, purchasing, materials management, manufacturing, warehouse management)
  • Finance control
  • eCommerce
  • Dynamic Web services
  • Data dictionary
  • Customer history
  • CRM (Web store, sales, and service)

What are the paid features?

The paid enterprise edition offers customization capabilities as it allows you to convert the solution into a model-driven and adaptive business suite, and deploy it either on premise or in the cloud. The pricing is quote-based and the vendor offers discounts for annual subscriptions.

Here are the paid features:

  • Visual dictionary edition
  • Extensive features with no need for IT expertise to use them
  • Deployment by choice (on-premise or web-based)
  • Data backup by Consona
  • Customization
  • Access to application source code

6. GnuCash

Unique selling point: double-entry accounting

GnuCash is a leading free accounting and finance solution that is compatible with Linux, BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X, Windows, and GNU systems. The platform is easy to use yet robust and is offered in multiple languages. Plus, you can easily customize it to meet international accounting standards. This software is ideal for international and large teams that wish to resolve their financial issues in a cost-effective manner.

GnuCash enables you to easily track expenses, incomes, bank accounts, and stocks. Its interface resembles a regular checkbook and allows you to effortlessly manage your accounts and generate accurate reports. The highlight of this application is double-entry accounting which empowers you to match and reconciliate HBCI, QFB, and QIF transactions. In addition, the tool allows you to perform financial analyses and generate profit reports with charts and graphs.

Who can use GnuCash?

It is ideal for small, medium, and large businesses that wish to use an end-to-end finance platform for free. It is also recommended for outsourcing and international businesses that wish to manage transactions in multiple geographies.

What features are offered free?

GnuCash is a flexible free accounting system that can easily scale as your database grows, which means you don’t need to invest in a paid product.

Here are GnuCash’s key features:

  • Stock/bond/mutual fund accounts
  • Stock, income, and expense management
  • Scheduled transactions
  • Reports/graphs
  • Quotes
  • QIF/OFX/HBCI import, transaction matching
  • Professional accounting principles
  • Multiple languages
  • Multiple currencies
  • Financial calculations
  • Double-entry accounting
  • Data storage & exchange
  • Checkbook-style register
  • Bank accounts tracking

7. Invoice Expert

Unique selling point: customer management

Invoice Expert is another free product that fuses inventory management with billing and invoicing capabilities. You can select from the Lite Edition (for teams with up to 100 customers and products) and the Advanced Edition with unlimited customers/products. For both plans, you don’t need to pay support charges or hidden fees and can upgrade effortlessly.

Invoice Expert can fulfill the inventory management, invoicing, and billing needs of professional service providers, internet-based businesses, retail stores, and other companies. It also offers an effective customer support and management suite. Premium users are provided quoting and personalized invoice designer tools that make the software stand apart from the crowd. In addition, the platform’s multiple connectivity and networking options enable it to integrate easily with any software environment.

Who can use Invoice Expert?

It is ideal for professional service providers, internet-based businesses, and retail stores. On-budget teams can opt to pay for the one-time purchase license.

What features are offered free?

Invoice Expert’s free Lite Edition doesn’t limit storage or the number of users. But you do not get technical email help and need to rely on forum support.

Here are the key free features:

  • Product management (100 products)
  • On-premise deployment
  • Online forum support
  • Multiple invoice templates (no personalized designer)
  • Inventory management
  • Customer management (100 customers)
  • Billing and invoicing

What are the paid features?

The premium Advanced Edition accommodates unlimited number of customers and products and allows you to use a personalized invoice creator. Plus, you get premium email support. The package costs $69.95 (one-time download license) and offers a 30-day refund policy if you are not satisfied.

Extra features in the Advanced Edition:

  • Personalized invoice designer
  • Premium email support
  • Unlimited customers
  • Unlimited products

8. Express Accounts

Unique selling point: inventory software integration

Express Accounts is an accounting and bookkeeping solution for small businesses. The product is free for teams with up to 5 members. They can use it to easily track deposit and payment transactions, generate detailed reports to analyze their operations’ health, and utilize the reports to enhance the work of their accountants. Paid users can also use the free features and the advantage is they can utilize the system for more than 5 users.

Express Accounts offers a free dedicated mobile app. You can deploy it on-premise (Windows and Mac OS) if you wish. The free plan enables you to combine accounts payable and accounts receivable to perform detailed financial analyses. In addition, the vendor safeguards your data in secure backup locations. The highlight of this software is its Inventoria integration which allows you effectively manage inventory data.

Who can use Express Accounts?

It is recommended for professional accounting teams and startups that wish to manage their inventory and stock data. It is also good for sales teams in startups.

What features are offered free?

  • Sales management
  • Mobile access
  • Generation of sales orders, invoices, and professional quotas
  • Bookkeeping
  • Analyses and 20+ financial reports
  • Accounts receivable
  • Accounts payable

What are the paid features?

The premium paid version offers the following added advanced capabilities:

  • Automatically integrated data backup
  • Employee productivity management
  • Inventoria integration
  • Profit and loss income statements
  • Running multiple businesses on a single installation

9. Expensify

Unique selling point: travel expenses management

Expensify is an affordable option that is recommended for low-tier market users and starters. It offers several benefits designed around a transparency maintenance mechanism. Businesses can utilize it to manage travel expenses, balance debt-to-income ratios, maintain summaries of multiple accounts simultaneously, and enhance finance control.

Expensify automates expense reporting as it is integrated with multiple financial transaction institutions, credit card providers, and payment modes. It utilizes sophisticated GPS technology to record the miles of your staff members’ business travels and calculates the reimbursements. For international trips, it uses currency converter and rate exchange calculator. Plus, it can integrate seamlessly with the eCommerce, ERP, and CRM solutions you use.

Who can use Expensify?

It is ideal for businesses in any industry that wish to manage travel expenses and improve their financial operations.  

What features are offered free?

Expensify’s free basic plan offers all key accounting functionalities and doesn’t restrict receipt storage. The limitation is you cannot access the platform’s direct integrations with business intelligence, ERP, and accounting software.

Here are the free features:

  • 10 free SmartScans per month
  • Advanced tax tracking
  • Auditor access
  • Automatic accounting sync
  • Automatic approval
  • Automatic reimbursement
  • Automatic reporting & submitting
  • Basic approval hierarchies
  • Candidate reimbursement
  • Corporate cards
  • Credit card import
  • Direct deposit reimbursement
  • Duplicate expense detection
  • Free mobile app
  • Real-time expense reports
  • Unlimited receipt storage

What are the paid features?

Expensify offers two paid packages:

  • Team Plan – $5/user/month
  • Corporate Plan – $9/user/month

With these paid plans you get premium support, integrations to third-party software, and many advanced security and expense management features.

Here are the features:

  • Advanced policy enforcement
  • Corporate card reconciliation
  • Custom report exports
  • Direct integration with Xero and QuickBooks
  • Direct integrations with Dynamics, Intacct, NetSuite and more
  • Multi-level tagging
  • Online next day ACH reimbursement
  • Unlimited SmartScans per month

10. Odoo

Unique selling point: inventory management

Odoo combines project management and sales, and improves them with a range of eCommerce, POS, and MRP functions. In addition, it can integrate all your sales channels and also offers robust inventory management functionalities which make it one of the top business management platforms currently in the market.

Odoo is a cut above conventional ERP solutions because it is a modular application. You can utilize more than 1000 modules and also add more as you go along. In addition, it is a highly flexible software product that you can easily customize for your company’s specific needs.

Who can use Odoo?

It is recommended for businesses of all sizes that wish to invest in a business process management product that combines project management, marketing, accounting, sales, and ERP features.

What features are offered free?

Odoo provides a free basic plan for 1 app that accommodates up to 50 users. This free plan covers all the main ERP and sales functionality of the software.

Free plan features:

  • 1 App
  • Accounting
  • Automated Calendar
  • Automated Invoicing
  • Automated Stock Update
  • Cloud Hosting
  • CRM
  • E-Commerce
  • eSignature
  • Inventory Management
  • Leave Management
  • Marketing
  • MRP
  • Point of Sale
  • Project Management
  • Reporting
  • Sales Management
  • Suitable for up to 50 Users
  • Timesheets
  • Website Edition

What are the paid features?

Odoo presents 2 paid packages:

  • Online Plan (€20/user/month)
  • Enterprise Plan (€25/user/month, minimum 5 users)

The paid packages are superior when it comes to customer support, customization access, deployment options, and number of users.

Extra features with the paid plans:

  • More than 50 users
  • Customization
  • Implementation service and assistance
  • Mobile apps
  • Premium support

11. ZipBooks

Unique selling point: data intelligence

ZipBooks is a simple yet robust invoicing and accounting product that enables you to organize your finances and convert your data into actionable intelligence. You can utilize it to improve financial control and deliver top rate service to your customers. The software empowers accountants to send professional invoices, get payments via PayPal or credit cards, and minimize their workload by utilizing the solution’s auto-billing tool.

ZipBooks organizes data in a color-coded scheme and enables businesses to save time by simplifying reconciliation. Plus, you can track your expenses and account payables, and closely monitor all your financial transactions. The highlight of this platform is data intelligence as this free accounting solution is capable of generating insights on profitable customers, and allows you to compare the performance of multiple competitors.

Who can use ZipBooks?

It is ideal for corporate teams and single users who wish to manage complex accounting processes and utilize their financial info for intelligent forecasting.

What features are offered free?

ZipBooks’ free Starter plan offers unlimited invoicing and bookkeeping. It includes top features of the software such as business health score, analytics, and PayPal integration. Plus, the number of users is not limited and you get access to the well-stocked knowledge base.

Starter plan features:

  • Analytics & business health score
  • Connect & manage bank
  • Invoice quality score
  • PayPal & credit card payments
  • Unlimited bookkeeping
  • Unlimited invoicing
  • Unlimited recurring invoices with auto-bill
  • Unlimited users
  • Unlimited vendors & customers

What are the paid features?

ZipBooks offers 3 paid packages that include the basic invoicing and bookkeeping features, while offering added sophisticated analytics tools. The 3 plans are:

  • Smarter Plan ($15/month)
  • Sophisticated Plan ($35/month)
  • Services Plan ($125/month)

Here are the key of features the paid plans:

  • Advanced intelligence
  • Auto-import of expenses into customers’ invoices
  • Team collaboration and secure sharing
  • Time tracking
  • Unlimited bank connections
  • ZipBooks Scholar (personal bookkeeper for monthly reports and tax saving analysis)

12. Zoho Invoice

Unique selling point: solid reputation

Zoho Invoice is a top ranking invoicing and billing product from Zoho’s stable of popular business productivity tools. It offers all standard accounting functionality for the needs of small and growing businesses. The free plan also includes prompt and reliable support which is usually only offered with premium paid packages.

Many businesses prefer Zoho Invoice over paid applications because the former is simple and easy to use. You don’t need to worry about setup, maintenance, or upgrades. In addition, you can create and send personalized invoices in multiple languages and currencies which reduces human intervention in sensitive and large transactions.

Who can use Zoho Invoice?

It is recommended for small and growing businesses and sole proprietors who wish to streamline their invoice delivery. It is also ideal for users of other Zoho software products.

What features are offered free?

With the free package you get the same invoicing, customer support, and integrations features as the premium plans. The free plan is designed for single accountants and proprietors working with up to 5 clients per month.

Here are the free features:

  • Uploading of expense receipts
  • Time tracking
  • SSL encryption & two-factor authentication
  • Snail mail
  • RESTful API
  • Recurring invoices
  • Multi-language & multi-currency
  • Invoice templates
  • Integration with PayPal Payflow, PayPal, and Authorize.Net
  • Expense management
  • Collection of reports
  • Client portal for users
  • Calendar view of timesheets
  • Attach unbilled projects and expenses while creating invoice
  • Attach files to invoices

What are the paid features?

Zoho Invoice offers 3 paid packages:

  • Basic Plan ($7/month, 1 user, 50 customers)
  • Standard Plan ($15/month, 3 users, 50 customers)
  • Professional Plan ($30/month, unlimited users, unlimited customers)

The paid packages accommodate more number of users and customers but the feature suite is the same for all plans.

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