Outright is a free, Web-based accounting application that is designed to work well with other Web-based expense/estimate/invoice applications like Xpenser, Shoeboxed, and FreshBooks ( ), and standard credit card services such as American Express. Outright’s premise is simple: Small business owners waste too much precious time tracking business income and expenses, often at the real expense of not being able to focus on client’s needs and income producing projects. As with Mint for personal finances, Outright attempts to aggregate your existing business financial information and make it easy for business users to learn what their financial standing is. But Outright also goes one step further by helping you file contractor 1099s and by automatically populating your Schedule C data in a printable IRS form.
Getting data into Outright is a simple task (with some small but important exceptions), especially if you’re using any of a number of the online invoicing and expense tracking applications available on the Web. I was able to easily connect to my FreshBooks and PayPal accounts and every new transaction I added to each of those accounts was automatically imported into Outright. Credit card information is imported using Expensify, a Web-based expense tracking application.
Information imported directly from the Web can be edited to adjust category information or to change the vendor names automatically created by your credit card company when you make a purchase. Outright also helps you assign your expenses categories that are standard categories recognized by the IRS. Once properly categorized they can be used to automatically populate the data in your Schedule C.
Getting your banking information imported into Outright is a bit of a sticky wicket. While the Outright site states that automatic import of banking data is on its way, at present the only option you have for importing this data is to download your banking data as a CSV file. Once downloaded, you’ll need to rearrange that data to reflect Outright’s specific field requirements for data import and then import the data. One of the oddities here is that Outright can’t automatically differentiate between debits and credits in your bank accounts, so you first have to delete all the debit transactions, format and import your data, then (starting with the original CSV file) delete all the credit transactions, leaving only the debits. You then format and import that data. At present, depending on the number of transactions you have in your bank accounts on a monthly basis, this process is a real hassle.
Outright offers several reporting options, the most useful of which are the tools used for tracking and filing your quarterly IRS payments. If you enter all your income and expense information using Outright’s suggested categories, Outright will track how much money you’ve paid in taxes to date, calculated what your business expenses are, and then determine how much money you need to pay when your next quarterly IRS statement is due. At the end of the year Outright will automatically populate the data in your Schedule C, which you can then download as a PDF, print, and mail with a completed 1040, and a tear soaked check to the IRS. This is a great tool that really eases the tax filing process.
Outright’s other reports are, in a word, sufficient. The Web app offers a few basic reports, such as profit and loss, income and expense by category, income by customer, and expense by vendor. All of these reports can be downloaded as CSV.
Outright has one other significant shortcoming, it’s only designed to support sole proprietors who are filing taxes on their business income as a Schedule C with their personal 1040 form. If your business (like mine) is incorporated, Outright is pretty useless. Sure, you can use it to track your income, expenses, and other business financial information, but you‘ll have to use TurboTax or your personal accountant to handle your tax filings.
Macworld’s buying advice
Outright does a fantastic job of aggregating the income information that you may already be collecting using Web-based applications such as FreshBooks, Xpenser, or ShoeBoxed. In fact, it offers essential accounting features missing from each of these applications. But, while the program does a great job of gathering information from these applications, the fact that it’s missing the ability to import basic banking information makes it something less than the complete accounting package than it needs to be.
[Jeffery Battersby is an IT Consultant, (very) smalltime actor, and regular contributor to Macworld. He writes about Macs and more at his blog, jeffbattersby.com.]