Tax Preparation Software for Independent Tax Business Owners

By Terry Judge | April 22, 2020

There are a number of high-quality tax preparation software products for tax professionals from which you can choose. Your tax software vendor or service bureau (a tax service reseller) can also be a great resource to help you achieve tax business success. When choosing the tax software that will best suit your needs, you should consider the types of returns you and/or your staff will be preparing and what you can afford. The following are some key considerations.

How many tax returns do you expect to prepare?

If you will only prepare a small number of returns, it will probably be less expensive to choose a pay-per-return option. Many tax software vendors offer pay-per-return options.

What types of returns will you be preparing?

If you plan to only prepare Form 1040 and 1040A returns, and local state returns, then an expensive high-end software product would be overkill. Look for a low-cost software product that has positive reviews. 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, consider cloud-based software. Cloud-based tax software is less sophisticated but saves money and time by eliminating the need to do time-consuming installations and updates. TaxSlayer and Intuit both offer a cloud-based option.

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 carefully and go with a package that suits your needs. Often a “Service Bureau” (value-added reseller) will provide better support than the tax software vendor.

Compare Tax Software Options

Once you answer the questions above, it’s important to also compare your tax software options so you make the best choice for you and your business. Here are four surveys for you to review on the most recent tax software options available.

Here is a summary of a few tax software vendors current offerings…

Drake Software

If you prepare a small number of returns, Drakes Pay-Per-Return (PPR) tax software version might be right for you. No separate modules to buy – Drake Tax includes all federal and state packages for individual and business returns.

Pay-Per-Return (PPR): $330

  • Includes 15 returns. Purchased PPR returns are kept in your account at Drake until redeemed.
  • Includes 1040, 1040NR, 1065, 1120, 1120S, 1120H, 706, 709, 990. 1041
  • Includes all state packages
  • Includes e-filing
  • Includes Drake Documents, Drake Tax Planner, and Drake Scheduler
  • Includes organizers
  • Includes data conversion software
  • Includes prior years of Drake Tax 2002-2018
  • If you need more than the initial 15 returns, you can purchase additional returns for $22 each.
  • Internet connection is necessary to purchase or redeem PPR returns.
  • The Download Only version of the software.
  • A Referrer Affiliate link to that you can copy and post on your own or another web page. The link takes a user to to self-prepare an individual tax return for online filing. You receive 20% of the revenues.
  • A Drake PPR user can upgrade to Drake Tax Unlimited after 85 returns.

Drake Tax Unlimited: $1595

  • All-inclusive Tax Program
  • Includes everything listed for Pay-Per-Return, but you have unlimited tax returns.

Intuit ProSeries® Tax

Customize a solution that’s the right fit for your practice and pay for only what you need.

  • Choose packaged bundles for significant savings on every individual return. Select bundles of 50, or opt for an unlimited 1040 package. If your services typically don’t include business returns, then you’ll find the right fit among their 1040 options.
  • Get the flexibility to pay as you go. Choose 1040 returns, business returns or both. This option could be an ideal fit if you have a limited number of returns or you’re just starting a new practice.
  • Customize a package with some of their most popular options, including unlimited 1040 returns, unlimited individual returns for all states, unlimited federal and state business returns (1120, 1120S, 1065, 1041, 990) and unlimited gift and state returns (709, 706).


TaxSlayer offers three options depending on your needs:

Classic: $1195

  • Unlimited 1040 Program
  • All States Included
  • Corporate Tax Software
  • Comprehensive Bank Product Solutions
  • Free Unlimited e-filing
  • Refunder Estimator Tool
  • Multiple user access
  • Web Bank Integration
  • Cloud-based Reporting

Premium: $1495

  • Includes everything in Classic package, plus the additional items below.
  • TaxesToGo Mobile App
  • Client Retention Database
  • Paperless Office
  • Client Portal
  • Digital Signature Compatible
  • Tax Status Now

Web: $1395

  • Includes everything in Premium package except Corporate Tax Software & Client Retention Database. The Web package does include the following additional items below.
  • Cloud-Based Software
  • Compatible with Max OS
  • Instead of Corporate Tax Software, a Pro Web + Corporate Package is available, which allows you to file individual returns with either cloud-based or desktop-based software. Offers flexibility of web-based software, plus ability to file LLC and corporate returns with desktop-based software. Additional fees may apply for this feature.


TaxWise offers three options:

TaxWise® Pay-Per-Return: $599

Designed for the tax professional who prepares a small number of federal and state individual, business, or specialty returns. This cost-effective solution delivers industry-leading tax research without compromising on quality and accuracy.

  • Serves English and Spanish language clients.
  • Unlimited phone and chat support.
  • All federal 1040 forms and schedules.
  • All federal and state business and specialty forms and schedules.
  • TaxWiseEasy Interview™ simplifies data entry.
  • Includes CCH® AnswerConnect Prime including top level federal topic pages and basic CodeConnect, and U.S. Master Tax Guide Online®.

TaxWise® Profiling™: $1199

Allows you to prepare all federal and state 1040 forms and schedules quickly, easily, and accurately. One low fee per TIN covers e-Filing for all federal, extension, and state returns.

  • Serves English and Spanish language clients.
  • Reliable research, training, and customer support.
  • Software can grow with your business.
  • Prepare federal and all state individual returns, including single/multiple states.
  • All federal 1040 forms and schedules.
  • Over 60 bilingual forms that easily flip between English and Spanish.
  • All states with filing requirements.
  • Includes PDF CPE Course Bundle, CCH® AnswerConnect Prime including top level federal topic pages and basic CodeConnect, and U.S. Master Tax Guide Online®.
  • No network fees.
  • Unlimited users in each location with discounts for additional offices.
  • Complimentary user guides and access to the Training Electronic Filing Center training environment.
  • Integration with refund solutions and revenue tools (Additional fees, additional enrollment, or special qualifications may apply.)

TaxWise® Power™: $2739

Get a software solution that grows with your business. Designed for the tax professional who prepares federal and state individual returns, the TaxWise Power Package includes industry-leading tax research and education options, so you’ll be right when it matters most.

  • Prepare federal and state individual, business, or specialty returns
  • Manage multiple offices in your business
  • Get industry-leading tax research and education options
  • Serve English and Spanish-language clients
  • All federal 1040 forms and schedules, including federal business and specialty
  • TaxWise Easy Interview™ simplifies data entry.
  • TaxWise e-Signature
  • All States 1040
  • All States Business and Specialty
  • CCH® AnswerConnect Prime including top level federal topic pages and basic CodeConnect, and US Master Tax Guide Online®.
  • No network fees for additional users in the same office
  • Discounts on additional offices
  • Award-winning customer support based in the U.S.
  • Free use of our Training Electronic Filing Center