How to Choose Suitable Tax Software

Every tax preparer needs suitable tax software to be able to properly prepare and file returns.  If you’re a tax business owner, you’re going to need the right software for your employees to utilize during tax season.  If you are an independent tax preparer, you will need the right software to prepare returns for your clients.  There are many options when it comes to tax software.  What is most important is choosing the software that will best suit your needs based on what types of returns you (or your staff) will be preparing and what you can afford.  Here are some guidelines to follow.


How many tax returns do you expect to prepare?

If you will only prepare a small number of returns, it would be less expensive to choose a pay-per-return option.  TaxWise has a pay-per-return option that is suitable for tax preparers who will prepare a small amount of returns.  This package allows you to access the full Federal and State 1040 as well as business and specialty forms.  It also gives you access to secure e-filing and offers customer service and support.


What types of returns will you be preparing?

  • If you plan to prepare only Form 1040 and 1040A returns, and local state returns, then an expensive high-end software application would be overkill. Look for a low-cost software application.  There are many options to choose from.
  • If you plan to prepare complex individual and business returns (such as corporations and partnerships), and more complex returns (including estates and trusts), then a high-end software application such as Intuit’s Lacerte may be needed.
  • If you plan on preparing returns for multiple states, then you will need tax software that includes availability of software for every state you may need.


Could a cloud-based tax software option be a good choice?

If you are looking for an option that will help you save money, look into purchasing a cloud-based option.  Cloud based tax software is less sophisticated but saves money and time by eliminating the need to do time-consuming installations and updates.  Intuit Tax Online is a great choice.


What level of technical software support will you need?

Make sure you research the level of support that comes with each software package. Different vendors have different options so be sure to read closely and go with a package that suits your needs.


Where can you find information to compare tax software options?

The National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) publishes an annual “NATP Sorting Out Software Survey” every year that is a great resource to use.

If you are a tax professional, we’d love to hear your criteria for a good tax software option – leave a comment below.  If you are just starting out, here are some more articles that might be helpful.

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