With the so-called “gig economy” representing an ever-increasing share of the Canadian workforce, there’s never been a better time for an accounting software firm to offer a solution for the many, many freelancers and self-employed daunted by the challenge of tracking of their expenses.

Enter the Canadian division of Mountain View, Calif.-based Intuit, which recently launched QuickBooks Self-Employed, a mobile app designed to help the full and part-time freelancers, independent contractors and on-demand workers who are expected to make up 45 per cent of Canada’s workforce by 2020 prepare for tax season by giving them a way to keep track of invoices, mileage, and expense reports on their smartphones.

In a Jan. 23 statement, Intuit Canada president Jeff Cates said the new app was meant to address the many challenges faced by freelancers alongside the gig economy’s many income opportunities, which he noted can include “co-mingled and confusing business expenses, quarterly and year-end tax headaches, and a general lack of visibility into their ‘real income’.”

Among other features, QuickBooks Self Employed allows self-employed and freelance workers to:

  • Link electronic receipts directly to their phone.
  • Shoot photos of paper receipts without an electronic trail.
  • Define expenses as business or personal by swiping left or right.
  • Use the app to create and send invoices, and receive notifications when clients have viewed them.
  • Automatically track mileage using their phone’s system and categorize trips with a swipe. The app also helps users identify potential vehicle deductions come tax time.
  • Track business or personal budgets in real-time, with funds automatically allocated as they’re spent or earned.

It’s worth noting that in addition to the app, Intuit Canada released a study it conducted with help from Emergent Research that discovered the on-demand economy, including ride-sharing, peer-to-peer rental, project-based job platforms, and online retail platforms will likely result in full and part-time freelancers accounting for up to 45 percent of Canada’s workforce by 2020.

Other findings from the study:

  • 47 per cent of self-employed Canadians reported pursuing freelance work because they desired greater work-life flexibility.
  • 41 per cent reported doing so to supplement income.
  • 19 per cent reported doing so because they still needed or wanted to work during retirement.
  • 62 per cent reported “feeling compelled” to maintain a job on the side to supplement their earnings.
  • 62 per cent also reported driving a car as part of their self-employment, with those who drove spending an average of five extra hours working each day compared to those who didn’t.
  • 59 per cent said the biggest challenge facing the self-employed is not enough predictable income.

Freelancers interested in automating their expense tracking and willing to pay the $9.99 subscription fee (currently available at $4.99 per month as of this writing) can download a free 30-day trial of the QuickBooks Self-Employed mobile app from the App Store or Google Play.

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