Every year, accountants and certified financial planners face the complicated task of keeping up with the changes to state and federal tax laws. Whether the update is minor or major, it’s the tax professionals’ responsibility to adapt to it and file their clients’ returns accordingly. Regardless of how organized a tax specialist may be, the pressure to grasp all the alterations and prepare the returns efficiently and accurately can be overwhelming. That’s where the beauty of the best tax software for tax preparers comes in. Developed to automate the tax preparation process by offering easy access to all tax law changes, updated forms, and in-depth preparation assistance, these software solutions can also include practice management capabilities, client portals, and e-signature support. Keep reading to learn all about the top-rated professional tax software solutions available for this tax season.
- On-premise and cloud access
- QuickBooks integration
- Seven different packages
- All 50 states included
- Comprehensive filing capabilities
- Discounts available
- Extensive support options
- Optional cloud storage
- Online data backup
- Easy-to-use mobile app
- Integrated bank products
- Depreciation module
Methodology for Evaluating the Best Tax Software for Professionals
Even if you have been in the business for a long time, you may not be prepared to identify good tax preparation services. To make this process easier, we decided to share our criteria for evaluating the best tax software providers. They can help you familiarize yourself with the essential features to look for when shopping for the most important tool for preparing and filing your clients’ business and personal returns.
The main thing to aim for is affordable tax preparation. No matter how useful, a product that makes you raise your service fees to remain profitable and, in turn, loses your clients is not the right choice. Most tax software pricing packages are adjusted according to company size, so you should have no trouble finding one suited to yours.
Providers usually formulate prices based on the number and type of tax forms and documents the software package can file, additional features such as accuracy and organizational capabilities, as well as the level of human support included.
The best tax service for professionals is one that lets you prepare and file state and federal returns for a variety of client needs: Individuals, business owners, freelancers, or contractors should all be well-taken-care-of. Moreover, a good tax solution should make your job easier through e-filing capabilities, client management tools, electronic file sharing, electronic signatures, refund estimators, and third-party integrations with relevant applications, such as data-import and accounting products.
Platform efficiency was also at the top of our list of criteria while preparing our professional tax software reviews. We focused on scalable, customizable, and easy-to-use solutions. Most companies provide downloadable software for Windows and Mac computers, cloud-based products, and even mobile apps for faster filing.
The products we listed also contain step-by-step guidance and tax explanations to help you to complete your tax returns. We made a point to choose companies that offer trial periods, demo versions, and money-back guarantees on their products. Finally, we made sure to test their customer service channels, help pages, and any educational resources each provider included.
The Best Tax Software for Professionals in 2021
- Intuit ProSeries Tax
- Drake Tax
- TaxAct Professional
- TaxSlayer Pro
4 of the Best Tax Software Solutions for Professionals
- ⦿ 30-day money-back guarantee
- ⦿ Multi-user access
- ⦿ Excellent onboarding process
Developed by Intuit, ProSeries is a comprehensive but reasonably priced tax software for tax professionals. Best-suited for small to medium-sized accounting companies, this downloadable solution is popular among users who prefer a form-based interface and already use QuickBooks Desktop – the provider’s accounting program. According to the ProSeries website, more than 58,000 accounting professionals have been using this Intuit solution year after year.
Pricing and Features
There are two ProSeries plans to choose from – Basic, designed for users who limit their preparation to 1040 forms, and Professional, created for accounting firms handling both personal and business returns. Both tax prep software plans are tiered, highly customizable, and can only be purchased on an annual subscription basis.
The ProSeries Basic plan is an excellent choice for those just starting out with 1040 returns and their accompanying Schedules. If you opt for this solution, you’ll be presented with a choice of three entry-level software packages. Each plan comes with a set number of federal 1040 returns and state returns that you can file. However, should you need to file returns outside of those for individual income, each additional item will be charged according to the provider’s rates.
The ProSeries Basic tax software for tax preparers also includes free e-filing, product guidance for new users, the ability to download your clients’ financial data directly from their respective financial institutions, a client portal, tax planner, electronic 8879 signatures (for an additional fee), client letters, and client invoices. The ProSeries Basic pricing structure works as follows:
– ProSeries Basic 20: Priced at $420 for the first year and $785 thereafter, the Basic 20 comes with 20 federal 1040 returns and 20 individual state returns (in one state).
– ProSeries Basic 50: The first year of using the second-tier of this tax preparation software will set you back $740, rising to an annual cost of $1,141 after that. The plan includes 50 federal 1040 returns and 50 individual state returns (in two states).
– ProSeries Basic Unlimited: The third tier comes with unlimited federal 1040 returns and unlimited individual state returns (in four states). If you opt for this solution, you’ll face an annual fee of $1,170 in the first year and $1,726 after that.
Suppose you’re on the hunt for the best software for professional tax preparers because you need help handling your clients’ individual and business returns. In that case, we suggest you look into Intuit’s ProSeries Professional. This expert-level solution comes with four packages to choose between.
The features contained within the Professional packages match the capabilities offered with the three ProSeries Basic solutions but also include additional 1040 support, multi-user access (additional fees apply with some packages), cloud hosting (additional fees apply with all packages), and K-1 import, along with client checklists, presentations, and tax planning suggestions. Here’s an overview of the ProSeries Professional tax preparation business software and the specific features each package entails:
– ProSeries Pay-Per-Return: As the name suggests, the Pay-Per-Return license means you’ll be working on a pay-as-you-go pricing basis for individual 1040 and business returns in all states. This license will cost you $300 for the first year and $539 in the following years. Note that you’ll face additional costs for each state and federal tax return that you file.
– ProSeries Choice 200: Those who prepare up to 200 returns for a wide variety of clients will probably consider this the best tax preparation software for professionals. The Choice 200 package supports 1040 returns, individual returns for all states, state business returns (1120, 1120S, 1041, 1065, and 990), federal business returns (1120, 1120S, 1041, 1065, and 990), and estate and gift returns (709 and 706). To find out how much this software solution will cost you, you’ll need to get in touch with the provider.
– ProSeries 1040 Complete: Priced at $1,950 for the first year and $2,602 annually after that, this tier of the ProSeries Professional tax software offers unlimited federal 1040 and state returns (excluding 1040 NR, priced at $45 per return). On the other hand, you’ll be charged the pay-as-you-go rate for each filed business return.
– ProSeries Power Tax Library: This is the most comprehensive ProSeries Professional package. It lets you file 1040 returns (more than 100 federal forms and schedules), individual returns for all states, state business returns (1120, 1120S, 1041, 1065, and 990), federal business returns (1120, 1120S, 1041, 1065, and 990), and gift and estate tax returns (709 and 706). There are no filing limits. You’ll need to get in contact with the provider of this tax prep software for professionals to find out the exact price, though.
One of the best things about this tax preparation software company is that all its packages come with step-by-step onboarding support for new users. Not only will you get access to a personalized client portal, but you’ll also be able to make the most of the ProSeries automated data conversion capabilities. To make your transition to its software as smooth as possible, Intuit lets you convert previous tax year data from your current online tax preparation software and upload taxpayer personal information, important carryover amounts, and names of interest to your new tax-prep application.
Each ProSeries package comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee: If you decide you’re unhappy with Intuit’s solution within a month of receiving the product, you’ll receive a full refund.
The Bottom Line
Intuit’s ProSeries tax software contains a wide range of resources for simplifying the tax filing process, supports more than 3,700 forms and schedules, and offers various client management tools. The things that make it the best tax software for tax preparers are its attractive price points for small and mid-sized accounting firms, on-premise and cloud access, and seamless integration with other Intuit applications. On the downside, business returns are only available for more expensive packages, and the software cannot perform complex functions, such as consolidating subsidiary or oil and gas returns.
- ⦿ Excellent support resources
- ⦿ Refund estimator
- ⦿ Accounting software bundle
Developed by Drake Software and designed to meet the needs of small and mid-sized CPA and accounting firms, Drake Tax is one of the best tax prep software applications we’ve come across. This accurate, thorough, and streamlined solution offers excellent value to tax professionals handling any type of federal or state tax returns for a variety of client needs. Drake Tax provides a scalable solution that offers e-filing, multi-state returns, document management, tax organizers, and MFJ to MFS comparison for a fraction of the price many other companies would charge.
Pricing and Features
Developed to help tax specialists prepare and process their clients’ returns quickly and efficiently, Drake Tax is well-known as the cheapest tax software for tax professionals. However, that doesn’t mean that its features are lacking – on the contrary.
Although its services are mostly used by accounting firms with small to mid-sized business clients, Drake Tax also offers support for complex tax situations. The software comes with all 1040 forms, federal and state packages, as well as forms for S-corps, C-corps, partnerships, trusts, estates, and tax-exempt organizations. In addition to comprehensive filing capabilities, SecureFilePro (a paperless tool for obtaining your clients’ source documents), quick data import from third-party applications, refund estimators, planning tools, and review options also make Drake Tax the best software for tax preparers.
The three Drake Tax software packages are priced like this:
– Drake Tax Pay-Per-Return: The lowest tier is best suited for tax professionals who prepare less than 85 returns a year. For $330, this plan lets you file 15 returns at no extra charge, and you’ll be able to complete multiple state returns, e-file, or amend a return, and it’ll still count as a single return. Additional returns will cost you $22 each. After preparing 85 tax returns, your account will be automatically upgraded to Drake Tax Unlimited, the provider’s second tier. As a user of this cheap professional tax software solution, you’ll also be able to purchase the Drake Accounting Pro software for the discounted price of $495 (the full price is $795).
– Drake Tax Unlimited: This plan lets you prepare unlimited returns for an annual price of $1,595. Should you also decide to get Drake Accounting Pro, you’ll be charged $395 instead of the full price.
– Drake Tax Power Bundle: At $1,695, this plan combines two programs in one – Drake Tax and Drake Accounting Pro. You’ll get all the benefits of the Unlimited plan, plus integrated comprehensive accounting software.
As one of the tax software companies known for their affordable solutions, Drake offers seasonal discounts on its Unlimited and Power Bundle products. The deal is simple – the earlier you buy the application, the less you’ll pay. Purchasing in April or May will grant you a $400 discount; buying the software in June or July will chop $300 off the cost; you’ll pay $200 less if you make the order in August and September, while purchases made in October and November qualify for a $100 discount.
Drake’s tax software for preparers comes as both a cloud-based solution and a desktop application. Both versions of the program are packed with features to help tax professionals prepare returns for their clients quickly and efficiently. The software is relatively easy to use, and it comes with demos, explanatory videos, a user manual, a handy reference guide, and similar resources we suggest you use to make the most of all capabilities offered by Drake Tax.
Users can get in touch with the customer support team for Drake’s online tax services via email, phone, or app. During tax season (from December 3 to April 19), agents are available from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Saturdays. During the off-season (from April 20 until December 1), Drake’s support team is available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Saturdays.
The Bottom Line
This affordable tax preparation software for professionals comes with a comprehensive set of tax preparation, planning, and reporting tools. These make Drake Tax a great even for professional preparers who need to handle complex tax situations. There are drawbacks, however: Drake Tax doesn’t enable tax research and has limited third-party integration capabilities, so if that’s essential to your work, we suggest you look elsewhere.
- ⦿ 30-day money-back guarantee
- ⦿ Unlimited e-filing capability
- ⦿ Quick and easy installation process
TaxAct has been offering high-quality tax software solutions to individual and professional tax preparers alike for more than two decades. As one of the best professional tax prep software options for small and medium-sized accounting firms, TaxAct Professional offers an affordable but powerful solution that can be a perfect fit even for users that need to prepare a high number of individual and business returns each year.
Pricing and Features
Like most of its competitors, TaxAct offers a tiered software solution for professional preparers. Here’s an overview of the provider’s pricing plans:
– TaxAct Professional Pay-Per-Return: For $150 per edition, you can prepare an unlimited number of federal returns from one edition (1040, 1041, 1120, 1065, 1120S, or 990 forms) with this software for tax professionals. This package also offers advanced time-saving, accuracy, and organization features. Note that state editions are sold separately, at $35/state.
– TaxAct Professional 1040 Bundle: Designed for a single user, the 1040 Bundle comes with a $700 annual price tag. Features include unlimited 1040 state and 1040 federal returns along with e-filing capabilities for all states.
– TaxAct Professional 1040 Enterprise Bundle: With a multi-user license and priced at $770 annually, anyone with a larger client base will find this to be one of the most practical tax programs for preparers. This plan supports 1040 state and federal returns. Additional features include e-filing, document manager, practice management tools, a cloud storage option, and data backup on the provider’s secure servers.
– TaxAct Professional Complete Bundle: Developed for accounting firms that process both individual and business taxes, the Complete Bundle will set you back $1,325/year. Meant for a single user, this plan supports unlimited 1041, 1065, 1120, and 1120S state filing for all appropriate states, along with 1040, 1041, 1065, 1120, 1120S, and 990 federal forms. As the best tax software for tax professionals, it also comes with e-filing, organizational tools, professional reports, customizable invoice and letter templates, quick and easy data import options, and dedicated support.
– TaxAct Professional Complete Enterprise Bundle: The highest service tier will cost you $1,675/year. Much like the Complete Bundle, it supports unlimited 1041, 1065, 1120, and 1120S state forms along with 1040, 1041, 1065, 1120, 1120S, and 990 federal forms. This plan adds multi-user access, optional cloud storage, document management, online data backup, and Client Xchange (an online feature designed to make exchanging tax documents with clients more convenient and completely secure).
Aiming to be the best tax software for tax preparers, TaxAct Professional lets you choose between an on-premise application or have it hosted on the provider’s servers for cloud access.
Speaking of user experience, it’s also important to mention that TaxAct’s solution for tax professionals comes with several add-ons: The list includes BluePay’s payment acceptance solutions, Taxaroo’s practice management features, and digital marketing capabilities offered via Webiquity. To facilitate client returns, the provider also integrates with River City Bank and Republic Bank. However, there are no tax research applications featured on the list of this professional tax software solution’s third-party integrations.
TaxAct Professional offers easy app access to support tools. Additionally, there’s a help page to guide your starting efforts and troubleshoot problems, along with a comprehensive knowledge base. Users can get in touch with the TaxAct support team via phone and email.
TaxAct also offers a money-back guarantee to all clients. Unless you are completely satisfied with your TaxAct Professional software, you’ll be allowed to return it for a full refund within 30 days of purchase. However, the money-back guarantee won’t apply if a return you’ve filed using the tax program gets accepted by the IRS or a state taxing agency.
The Bottom Line
TaxAct Professional is a scalable five-tiered tax software solution that can easily meet the needs of tax professionals dealing with individual and business tax returns. Its strongest points also include an intuitive user interface, extensive support options, and affordable prices.
- ⦿ Demo version available with all plans
- ⦿ Unlimited state and federal returns
- ⦿ Desktop-based and cloud-based solutions
Our list of the best software for tax professionals wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t talk about TaxSlayer Pro. Offered by a company that caters to both individual preparers and tax professionals, this software solution is an excellent choice for accounting firms that need to handle a significant number of business and personal tax returns. TaxSlayer Pro is scalable, as it offers several pricing plans, with all options including individual and business tax preparation services and filing options.
Pricing and Features
One of the reasons why TaxSlayer Pro is often considered the best tax software for professional tax preparers is that it contains cloud-accessible, on-premise, and mobile app solutions – all fully featured and easy to use.
Let’s take a look at TaxSlayer Pro’s pricing plans:
– TaxSlayer Pro Classic: For $1,195/year, this plan lets you file unlimited federal and state individual and business returns (in all states). Forms include 1040, 706, 709, 990, 1041, 1065, 1120, 1120-S, and 5500. This software solution has integrated bank products that allow your clients to deduct your tax preparation service charges directly from their refund. Another feature that makes TaxSlayer Pro’s Classic plan some of the best professional tax software is top-notch tech support. This downloadable solution also comes with a demo version.
– TaxSlayer Pro Premium: TaxSlayer Pro’s Premium solution will set you back $1,495/year. It comes with all the features offered in the Classic package, plus a few advanced capabilities: Users can get the most out of the TaxesToGo® mobile app, which lets them communicate with their clients and exchange data in a much more efficient way, the paperless office feature which allows you to scan, export, save, and print returns as PDF documents, and the Adpack feature. As the best tax software for professionals, this is a downloadable solution that can be tested before committing.
– TaxSlayer Pro Web: Priced at $1,395/year, the Pro Web plan offers a cloud-based software solution that you can access using any device with an internet connection. It entails the capabilities from the previous two tiers, and a few others. Considering that it doesn’t need to be downloaded and installed, this solution is very convenient for those who need to conduct their tax business on the go. What makes this option one of the best tax preparer software solutions is that it even lets you prepare and e-file individual tax returns using a mobile device.
– TaxSlayer Pro Web + Corporate: This is TaxSlayer Pro’s newest and most comprehensive software package. It comes with a $1,795 annual price tag and combines the functionalities of the cloud-based and desktop-based versions. It also comes with advanced filing capabilities and other features from the lower tiers. If you opt for the Web + Corporate package, you’ll be able to prepare and file individual tax returns using the cloud-based or on-premise solution and use the desktop-based version to deal with LLC and corporate returns.
As the best tax preparation software for tax professionals, TaxSlayer Pro’s user interface contains a grid for access to tax returns, e-file returns, the print returns option, and the help center. A quick menu provides access to other system features, along with a series of icons at the top of the screen that let you check your client appointment schedule, client status, and e-file status.
Another thing TaxSlayer Pro users enjoy is that it mirrors the tax form during the entry process. There’s a menu to the left of the screen that lets you skip to a specific area within the form. On the bottom left side of the screen, a form finder indicates any diagnostic errors.
In addition to a desktop-based solution, TaxSlayer Pro includes the best online tax filing capabilities, and an advanced mobile app. This multi-platform approach makes it one of the most flexible service providers on our list.
Customer service options and educational resources help TaxSlayer Pro shine once again, with a getting started guide, a comprehensive knowledge base, and a huge range of on-demand help videos. All support options are easily accessible within the app, no matter which version you’ve decided to opt for. Support channels include phone (during tax season), email, and support tickets.
The Bottom Line
An excellent fit for both small and large tax practices, TaxSlayer Pro has been the best tax software for CPA firms since 1989. According to the website, more than 93% of tax preparers who make the switch to this solution stay with it for at least another year. It’s easy to see why – TaxSlayer Pro offers a comprehensive tax software solution for online tax filing, and helps you deal with complex tax situations.
Tax preparation is the process of filing and importing federal and state tax forms and sending them to the IRS. Each individual, business, or organization is required to file tax returns. This can be done online with professional tax preparer software, with or without a tax specialist’s assistance.
There isn’t a simple answer to this question. The best professional tax preparing software for an accounting firm should support all tax forms the company’s clients may require, offers e-filing capabilities, provides additional organizational and accuracy features, and doesn’t break the bank.
Our reviews focused on affordable software that should meet different accounting firms’ and other tax professionals’ business needs. Unlike commercial tax software solutions that offer free versions for a limited number of tax forms, professional options often come with high starting prices. However, the best tax software options for preparers come with trial periods and money-back guarantees. In other words, you won’t need to take a leap of faith while looking for a solution that suits your company’s budget.
We evaluated software products from reputable companies that not only offer money-back guarantees but also make sure to employ all the industry-standard safety and security measures. If you choose a company from our list, rest assured you’re in safe hands. Your client’s details are protected via SSL protocols and other security features with the best tax software for tax preparers.