Best Software for Tax Professionals
While most Americans view April 15, 2020 as the deadline to file their taxes with state and federal agencies, tax professionals also see it as a sort of finish line. From the start of the new year until mid-April, CPAs and other professionals work hard to make sure individuals and business entities alike get their taxes in order.
Just like the rest of the population, tax professionals have access to specialized tax filing software that can help other people and themselves accurately file their annual taxes. After our extensive research into potential solutions, we recommend Drake Tax as the best online tax software for tax professionals who service small businesses.
If you want to look at our methodology to understand how we chose Drake Tax or see a comprehensive list of online tax software vendors, visit our best picks page.
Why Drake Tax?
Drake Tax is a thorough, accurate, easy-to-use software application for tax professionals and preparers who cater to small and midmarket clients. Where it really shines is in its customizable reporting, which offers granular insights into every aspect of a business's operations. Beyond its tax preparation capabilities, Drake Tax includes a module that gives you a centralized view of the health and efficiency of your client's business.
Ease of Use
Like any good software today, Drake Tax is simple to navigate and allows tax preparers to quickly move from one item to the next. It doesn't matter if you're a member of an accounting firm, corporation or nonprofit – the tools you need are there and easily accessible. It has all the major tax forms, allows you to prepare gift and estate taxes, offers all state returns, and includes additional applications to manage clients and document transfers.
A major feature of Drake Tax is SecureFilePro, which allows your clients to electronically fill out the required paperwork and return it directly, streamlining the process and cutting out unnecessary paper copies. We also like that state returns can be prepared directly in Drake Tax without the need for add-ons or other software.
As a program designed for tax professionals, Drake Tax is packed with features to help you prepare taxes for your clients accurately and efficiently. The company offers demos, videos, a user manual, a quick reference guide and other resources on its website to help you take advantage of all the software's capabilities. Here's a sampling of its features:
- Comprehensive filing: Drake Tax includes support for even the most complicated filers, though it's primarily used by firms with small and midsize business clients. It comes with all 1040 forms, all federal packages and 48 state packages (plus Washington, D.C.), including forms for partnerships, S-corps, C-corps, estates, trusts and tax-exempt organizations.
- SecureFilePro: This is Drake Tax's paperless tool that helps you obtain the source documents from your clients that you'll use in the tax preparation process. This streamlines the process on both ends, allowing seamless communication between you and your clients.
- Paperless options: In addition to SecureFilePro, Drake Tax has other tools to reduce the paper needed to prepare and file client taxes, such as options to share information for revisions and to e-sign and e-file documents.
- Data import: You can easily import data from QuickBooks or Client Write-Up, which simplifies the implementation process. If you like working in spreadsheets, importing them into Drake Tax is straightforward and easy.
- Refund estimator: Like our other best picks, Drake Tax provides a refund estimator that runs throughout the process, so you can identify issues affecting your clients' refunds and keep them apprised of your expectations.
- Planning tools: This software's tax-planning features help you compare taxes from year to year. It allows you to archive old information so you can easily retrieve it for your clients, whether they need it for personal reasons or in the event of an audit. Its planning tools also include an amortization schedule.
- Review tools: Mistakes and oversights happen, but Drake Tax has built-in recommendations to help you avoid them and prevent IRS rejection. Rejections are costly in terms of both productivity and reputation, so this feature is reassuring.
Drake Tax has two main pricing plans for its services. For companies that have a large number of returns to file, there are unlimited tiers, meaning they have no restrictions on the number of state and federal returns you can file through the program. Smaller organizations can more cost-effectively file their returns with the company's pay-per-return pricing structure.
For Drake Tax's unlimited models, you pay $1,695 for the Power Bundle, which includes Drake Tax Unlimited and Drake Accounting. For $100 less, you can get Drake Tax Unlimited (Drake Accounting is sold separately for $395).
Under the pay-per-return plan, you pay an upfront cost of $330 that includes 15 returns. Each subsequent return costs $22. After 85 returns, the plan automatically converts to the unlimited package. If you want to include Drake Accounting with the pay-per-return plan, it costs $495.
Across the web, customer testimonials regularly sing the praises of Drake Tax's customer service. After contacting the company, posing as a tax professional considering new software, we understand why that's the case. When we called customer service, the representative we spoke with was attentive and took the time to walk us through the company's tax program.
Along with numerous online resources and help materials, Drake Tax maintains a regularly accessible technical support department. During tax season – Dec. 3 to April 19 – customer support is available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. During the offseason – April 20 to Dec. 1 – customer support is available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.
Drake Tax is not like most tax preparation software. While its layout is easy to navigate and intuitive, there are aspects that take some getting used to. It's so deep in its functions that, unless you've worked with its previous iterations, you may need some time to get your bearings.
If you're a small business with simpler tax needs, this software just isn't for you. Drake Tax is meant for accounting and tax preparation firms and for midmarket companies handling complex tax situations.
Ready to choose your online tax software application? Here's a breakdown of the rest of our coverage: