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Discussion:2011 Tax Prep Software Summary

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This discussion was transferred from Discussion:Your_First_Year_In_Business_-_Share_your_Experience

Lisaw (talk|edits) said:

21 April 2011
[...]

On a bad note, hard drive crashed on my 5 month old laptop April 19th!! I am in process of repairing the damage and getting up and running again. Also came to the conclusion that I cannot continue with Drake software. Will need to change for next year.

MilTaxEA (talk|edits) said:

21 April 2011
Lisaw, what was your problem with Drake? I'm thinking about switching to it after next tax season.

BTax2010 (talk|edits) said:

21 April 2011
I used ProSeries this year....Basic 50 was more than adequate for me....mind you I am in my first year and I am a part-timer....I haven't used anything else recently so I guess I am somewhat biased....I used TaxWise a few years back....wasn't overly impressed with the software and it seems to be way overpriced....

Lisaw (talk|edits) said:

21 April 2011
I bought Drake because it was cheap for the Pay per return option for someone only doing a few returns. I use ATX at the CPA office I work at.

Drake was great for the simpliest of returns, but for anything more I had real problems. Numbers would show up places they didnt belong with no idea as to how they got there. I should say that I am California based and most of my problems were on the California return a known weakness for Drake. Customer support is nice, they answer, they are polite, but even after 4 days with the return in hand they couldnt remedy my problems - so I ended up overriding the software.

Maybe I am spoiled by learning on form driven software. I think it is great for error checking for a new tax preparer. For example, I can click on the number for Schedule A line 5 and see all the numbers that went into the total.

Lastly, a small gripe, I like my religion separate and private from by business dealings. While it may not bother most, it does bother me.

CathysTaxes (talk|edits) said:

21 April 2011
This year I used TRX-Pro 1040 and I thought it did a great job. One issue was it didn't to MFJ to MFS split. It gave a report, but wouldn't print the return (their more expensive version would do the split). I only had one return to split, so it was no biggy. The software is sold by the same group that sells TaxWise. I used TaxWise for 2 years and I liked TRX-Pro 1040 much better. Both applications cost the same.

MilTaxEA (talk|edits) said:

21 April 2011
I've been using TRX Pro (i.e., TaxWorks) as well, but have had a few problems with it that make me want to swith over to another software package in the near future. In particular, I had it randomly delete a couple of my client files when it crashed early on in the season. Luckily, I use Dropbox which automatically backs up your files when they change, so I was able to recover the client data.

The reason I was considering switching to Drake is that it has a document manager built into it and it comes with some good research tools. I already purchased TRX for next year (and they have a no-return policy) so I'll probably make the switch after next tax season if I run into any similar issues with TRX. The cost for Drake PPR isn't all that much more than TRX with my small practice.

Rally180 (talk|edits) said:

23 April 2011
I began with TaxWorks and have used 1040Works for the last 2 years and have no real issues except it is a good thing their tech support was not close to my office as I would have driven over and punched several of them. I just got my invoice for next year and noticed that 1040Works users will have to pay $1 per fed and $1 per state return efiled next year. I am waiting for my sales rep to call me back.

LJACPA (talk|edits) said:

23 April 2011
I've used a number of different tax software products over many years in CPA firms, the premium (both cost and capabilities) one was UltraTax, which I could never justify in my one-woman practice. When I started my own firm 7 years ago I started with ProSeries PPR but realized after my first season that I was paying more than the cost of the full professional package, which I used for the next 2 years. For the cost savings, it being a local (somewhat; in Franklin, NC) and honestly the 'religion' part, I switched to Drake and just finished my 3rd year with it. I looooong for something that really works and had actually purchased TaxWise (they were offering a late year, 3-year deal for $995/year) late last year. MAJOR mistake. The conversion from Drake was awful (conversion from ProSeries to Drake was surprisingly good) and I spent the next month and 1/2, numerous phone calls and emails and letters begging to have my money refunded. It was a nightmare and that alone means I'll never use TaxWise. They were insultingly unprofessional once I said I would need to wait until after tax season to really give them a try. Not now. Finishing my 25th tax season, I started preparing returns manually, which gives me a huge leg up on newer preparers. If you don't know where something is supposed to go on the return, at least generally, I don't know how in the world you could be comfortable using Drake. The cost is still lower than most and the customer service, up until this year, was unbeatable but it is so terribly un-intuitive that you'd have to really have a good, thorough knowledge of what the return should look like to properly use it. The fact that they do include a PDF writer and you can now password protect is one of the best features. The write-up and payroll software, which is included in the price, is worthless, and I mean (and they admit) worthless. If ProSeries offered even close to the customer support and it was USA customer support, I'd justify the price, which is about 3 times that of Drake. It wasn't perfect but so far superior to Drake. I'd love to get a software with the PDF capability, American customer support (without the 45 min hold you might have with PS)and price somewhere in between (around $2,500). Any ideas?

JackTraffic (talk|edits) said:

27 April 2011
Here's a link to the traditional tax software reviews at CPA practice advisor:

http://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/print/CPA-Practice-Advisor/2011-Review-of-Traditional-Workflow-Professional-Tax-Systems/1$3246

And here's a link to the advanced workflow tax software reviews at CPA practice advisor:

http://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/print/CPA-Practice-Advisor/2011-Review-of-Tax-Compliance-Systems-Advanced-Workflow/1$3247

There's really good info in these articles BTW

Xz (talk|edits) said:

27 April 2011
I used Drake for a couple of years and I am going to continue to use it. It seems some issues are the defects of the software and some issues come from lacking the knowledge of how to use the software.

I always review the return for reasonableness and compare the return with last year's. For any uncertain or complicated issues, I even manually calculate the numbers to see if the result from Drake makes sense.

Surprisingly, Drake gave me good warnings/suggestions on an issue other software didn't catch. S-corp distribution can't make AAA account go below zero. Drake caught this issue. The same problem was not caught by another software and another accountant in prior year.

I think Drake is improving year by year and it is affordable. I also don't like the hassle of switching.

NewYorkEA (talk|edits) said:

April 27, 2011
I use UltraTax and have no complaints.

Xz (talk|edits) said:

28 April 2011
NewYork EA - How much to purchase an entire package of UltraTax?

Drake is 1095 + sales tax, a little over 1200.

NewYorkEA (talk|edits) said:

April 28, 2011
It's expensive for the full license compared to Drake. The 1040 license is around $2200 and does not include states or efiling. I use the PPR version since I sold my practice. It's $180 plus $25 per return including e-filing. When I had the larger practice I bought the full 1040 license and used PPR for state and business returns. The software is not cheap but it's intuitive, customer service/tech support are great, and the printed copy of the return looks great- very professional client presentation. Data entry is also very quick.

I tried Drake and just couldn't deal with it.

JackTraffic (talk|edits) said:

28 April 2011
One of the provocative points that the editors at CPA practice advisor make/argue is you step up to one of the advanced workflow programs like Go Systems, Pro fx, Ultratax or Lacerte because you need the advanced workflow stuff... and that if you don't need the advanced workflow stuff (basically a portal and highend features), the traditional workflow programs (including Drake, ATX, ProSeries, etc.,) are all pretty darn competent and get the job done.

BTW, to "trick/tempt" people to look at the articles referenced in the hyperlinks I provide in earlier post in this thread, per CPA Practice Advisor, ProSeries is the best traditional workflow tax program (graded five stars).... but often-criticized programs like ATX and Drake are nearly as good(four and three-quarter stars) -- and a chunk less expensive

Also, Lacerte has the lowest score of the advanced workflow programs... Pro fx and Ultratax tie... and Go Systems scores best. BTW, it appears that the reason the Lacerte program gets scored as the weakest advenced workflow product is simply because it doesn't provide a cloud computing option.

For what it's worth, I used ProSeries a long time ago, have happily and successfully used ATX for years... and now (because I need a portal and want a cloud solution) will probably switch to either Pro fx or Ultratax for coming years.

Jack

Xz (talk|edits) said:

28 April 2011
When I first used Drake, I was so frustrated. I think a lot was because I was not used to the software and I distrusted it. This year I seem to have less problem with it. Drake is not perfect, but it is not that bad.

When you are used to Lacerte and suddenly switch to Drake, you are not used to it and you feel frustrated. It may not be all the software's fault.

CathysTaxes (talk|edits) said:

28 April 2011
I agree that switching software can sometimes be frustrating. I've found that sometimes during the conversion process, asset depreciation does not come over correctly, and sometimes not all of the state information comes over.

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