Author Topic: Tax Software for Professional Preparers - Recommendation Needed (Read 2806 times)

pjrichar

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I am a CPA with an audit background, but was going to start doing taxes on the side for some supplemental income. I have about 8 family members and friends (maybe more if they refer me more business) that I am going to prepare for this year, and just wanting some advice on which tax software I should use given the small number of returns I am going to prepare. I have looked into the professional editions of TaxAct and ProSeries, and they are wanting to charge for either an unlimited number of returns or a minimum of 20. I am wondering if anyone knows of a professional version where I would be able to pay on a per return basis? Since I am just starting out and currently have a small book of business, it seems like I would be spending all of my income on tax prep software if I cannot find an alternative.

Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

dleavitt

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Re: Tax Software for Professional Preparers - Recommendation Needed
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2016, 04:15:33 PM »
How big are you wanting to get? That could drive part of the decision, switching software isn't fun.

Unfortunately I don't have any experience shopping for the software myself. The firms I have worked for have used Intuit Lacerte and Thompson-Reuters UltraTax CS. The big firm in town uses CCH Prosystem fx. Don't know if any of them have per-return licensing.

Another avenue to consider could be partnering up with another small preparer to split costs or seeing if you could use another preparer's software in return for a percentage of your prep fee (could cause software licensing issues though).

Wile E. Coyote

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Re: Tax Software for Professional Preparers - Recommendation Needed
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2016, 04:32:15 PM »
I don't have any experience with tax prep software for professionals, but this article may be helpful:

http://journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2015/sep/2015-tax-software-survey.html

Let us know what you decide and how you like it.


Midwest

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Re: Tax Software for Professional Preparers - Recommendation Needed
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2016, 04:43:04 PM »
We use ultra tax at work, I've used CCH as well. For my side clients, I use Taxact. It's $130 for federal, $25 or $30 for the state and $10 per return for e-file. For 20 single state returns that's $360. Not sure where your 20 minimum is coming from.

When they forced me to begin efiling, I raised my prices a bit to cover the software costs.

If you find a cheaper alternative, I'd be interested but I didn't find one last time I looked. Taxact is not as good as the others, but for the money works pretty well.

One other tip, I had a trust return to do in the fall near the deadline. They gave me an evaluation version for free. I'll be doing the trust in the fall again this year and will see if that works again.

« Last Edit: March 03, 2016, 04:50:01 PM by Midwest »

jwright

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Re: Tax Software for Professional Preparers - Recommendation Needed
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2016, 10:15:35 AM »
I have worked in a big firm and used Prosystem Tax; a smaller firm used Ultra Tax.

I know do taxes on the side and use ProSeries and pay by return. As far as I know there is no minimum number of returns. It costs $53 to efile Federal and State 1040s, and I think $76 for federal and state business returns. I just add that to my invoices for my clients. I bill by the hour and then add the filing fee so the net to me is zero.

ProSeries is fine for simple returns, but there are some items missing even though I have the advanced version. For example, partner basis schedules don't seem to exist, so I had to override the inputs for basis limitations and at risk limitations. I do so few that I don't want to go to a more expensive software; I'd rather pass on the client if they are too sophisticated for my software.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Tax Software for Professional Preparers - Recommendation Needed
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2016, 11:23:41 AM »
I use Drake in my tax practice. I do the full package with unlimited returns - they provide me with payroll software and such with that package. But they do have a pay-by-return package. Pay per return is $300, which comes with 15 returns and you buy additional returns for $20. As far as I know there are no extra fees for states or E-filing. I am 99% certain that an EFIN is required for Drake.

I get a discount on my package as an early-ordering returning customer, and I'm guessing something similar exists for PPR after the first year - but maybe not. It's already pretty cheap for 15 returns.

Drake is overall a good software, easy to learn, and no gouging. Ranks highly on the Best Software list for Journal of Accountancy. And I should add that customer support is second to none. Really great - no hold times, very helpful representatives.

My favorite software is CCH Prosystem FX - but it's outrageously expensive. It just isn't reasonable for a sole practitioner.

I've also used ProSeries - which is very similar to the forms view of TurboTax Desktop.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2016, 11:34:18 AM by Cpa Cat »

AerynLee

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Re: Tax Software for Professional Preparers - Recommendation Needed
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2016, 11:41:57 AM »
I'm interested in this too. I do about 15-20 tax returns a year now but most software I find would eat all of my profits. I'm using ProTaxPro which give you 50 returns (federal and state counted separately) for about $200 but they're not very good. I'd love to switch to something different but don't want to pay more just yet

retiringearly

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Re: Tax Software for Professional Preparers - Recommendation Needed
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2016, 03:42:29 PM »
This is most likely a dumb question, why not use one of the advanced versions of TurboTax?

Cpa Cat

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Re: Tax Software for Professional Preparers - Recommendation Needed
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2016, 10:26:05 AM »
This is most likely a dumb question, why not use one of the advanced versions of TurboTax?

Because paid tax preparers are required by the IRS to sign the tax return. Since TurboTax is a software to self-prepare tax returns. there is no function for a paid preparer to sign the return.

Furthermore, I would think that most tax professionals would want to put their heads through their computer screens if they had to prepare a tax return on TurboTax. A return that would take me 30 minutes on a professional software would take 2 hours on TurboTax, with 1.5 hours taken up by pressing "Continue."

It's also not particularly price-efficient, either. The Desktop program lets you file 5 federal returns... because after 5, the IRS requires you to get an ERO, because you're clearly a tax preparer! So you'd be stuck with TurboTax Online, which is extremely expensive compared to the E-filing fees on cheaper professional software packages. If I were to use TTO Home and Business today to file a return it would cost me $117 - and the price goes up after March 15.

ProSeries is the professional software that Intuit makes. It shares a few characteristics with the TurboTax Desktop program.

But the main reason is the first one. Any respectable tax preparer will need to sign your tax return as a paid preparer.

davo

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Re: Tax Software for Professional Preparers - Recommendation Needed
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2016, 08:11:08 PM »
I found Intuit Tax Online a few years ago when I thought about some side work. I never did file any returns using this software, I was too busy to do side work.

The pricing starts at approx. $35 per return, no minimums.

https://taxpro.intuit.com/tax-online/pricing/



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Jenie

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Re: Tax Software for Professional Preparers - Recommendation Needed
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2016, 10:41:30 PM »
Drake. Although they are nor perfect, no software is.