Tax Preparation Software for Independent Tax Business Owners

By Terry Judge | April 22, 2020

Updated August 31, 2021

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): $345

  • 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 2002-2019
  • If you need more than the initial 15 returns, you can purchase additional returns for $23 each.
  • Internet connection is necessary to purchase or redeem PPR returns.
  • The Download Only version of the software.
  • A Referrer Affiliate link to 1040.com that you can copy and post on your own or another web page. The link takes a user to 1040.com to self-prepare an individual tax return for online filing. You receive 20% of the revenues.
  • A Drake PPR user can convert to Drake Tax Unlimited after 85 returns.

Drake Tax Unlimited: $1625 (discounted to $1,425 through September 30, 2021)

  • 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).

ProSeries Basic

Basic 202 $499

  • 1040 Returns only
  • Includes 20 returns
  • Guided workflow for first-time uses
  • Refund transfer capability
  • Financial institution download
  • Intuit Link
  • Tax Planner
  • Electronic 8879 Signatures – supported (additional fees)
  • Client letter
  • Client invoice

Basic 50 $799

  • 1040 Returns only
  • Includes 50 Returns
  • Guided workflow for first-time uses
  • Refund transfer capability
  • Financial institution download
  • Intuit Link
  • Tax Planner
  • Electronic 8879 Signatures – supported (additional fees)
  • Client letter
  • Client invoice

Basic Unlimited $1,259

  • 1040 Returns only
  • Includes Unlimited Returns
  • Guided workflow for first-time uses
  • Refund transfer capability
  • Financial institution download
  • Intuit Link
  • Tax Planner
  • Electronic 8879 Signatures – supported (additional fees)
  • Client letter
  • Client invoice

ProSeries Professional

Pay-Per-Return $369

  • Pay as you go
  • 1040 Returns – $49 per return
  • 1040 NR Returns – $49 per return
  • Additional 1040 support
  • State business returns – $46 per state return
  • Cloud access – add-on option available
  • Refund transfer capability
  • Financial institution download
  • Intuit Link
  • Multiple-user access – supported (additional fees)
  • Tax Planner
  • Electronic 8879 Signatures – supported (additional fees)
  • Cloud Hosting – supported (additional fees)
  • Client Checklist
  • Client Presentation
  • Client Advisor
  • Fixed Asset Manager – supported (additional fees)
  • K-1 Import
  • Client letter
  • Client invoice

See more ProSeries Professional options at link below

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer offers three options depending on your needs:

Classic: $1195

  • Unlimited 1040 Program
  • Comprehensive Bank Product Solutions
  • Corporate Tax Software
  • Free Unlimited e-filing
  • All States Included
  • Unlimited Top-Rated Support
  • Refund Estimator Tool
  • Multiple user access
  • Web Bank Integration
  • Cloud-based Reporting
  • Client Retention Database

Premium: $1495

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

Web: $1395

  • Includes everything in Premium package except Corporate Tax Software (call for details on this). The Web package does include the following additional items below.
  • Available in Spanish
  • 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

TaxWise offers many options:

TaxWise® Pay-Per-Return Package (two options):

  1. Desktop – Annual license fee $619 – includes $300 non-refundable deposit to be used towards pay-per-return(s)
  2. Online – Annual license fee $299
  • Integrated Easy Interview
  • CCH AnswerConnect Mini Package (online only)
  • Plus $29 processing fee
  • Individual returns ($20 Federal – includes 1 state + e-filing, $18 each additional state)
  • Business returns (desktop only)
  • Available Add-Ons include:
    • E-Signature
    • TaxWise Mobile ($399)
    • TaxWise Expert Services
    • Refund Estimator ($99)
    • Return Retrieval ($155) (desktop only)

TaxWise® 100 Package (two options):

  1. Desktop – $1,299
  2. Online – $1,299
  • Includes 100 Tax Returns
  • Federal & State Individual
  • Federal & State Business (Pay-Per-Return) (desktop only)
  • Individual E-File (desktop only)
  • Business E-File
  • $20 Per Add’l Individual Tax Return
  • $40 Per Business Tax Return (desktop only)
  • Integrated Easy Interview
  • CCH® AnswerConnect Mini Package
  • Central Office Manager
  • E-Signature
  • Plus $59 Processing Fee
  • Available Add-Ons include:
    • TaxWise Mobile ($399)
    • TaxWise Expert Services
    • Refund Estimator ($99)
    • Return Retrieval ($155) (desktop only)

TaxWise® Unlimited Package (two options):

  1. Desktop – $2,999
  2. Online – $2,750
  • Includes Unlimited Tax Returns
  • Federal & State Individual
  • Federal & State Business (desktop only)
  • Individual E-File
  • Business E-File (desktop only)
  • Integrated Easy Interview
  • CCH® AnswerConnect Prime Package
  • Central Office Manager
  • E-Signature
  • Plus $59 Processing Fee
  • Available Add-Ons:
    • TaxWise Mobile ($399)
    • TaxWise Expert Services
    • Refund Estimator ($99)
    • Return Retrieval ($155) (desktop only)

TaxWise® 400 Package (two options):

  1. Desktop – $2,740
  2. Online – $2,500
  • Includes 400 Tax Returns
  • Federal & State Individual
  • Federal & State Business (desktop only)
  • Individual E-File
  • Business E-File (desktop only)
  • $20 Per Add’l Individual Tax Return
  • $40 Per Add’l Business Tax Return (desktop only)
  • Integrated Easy Interview
  • CCH® AnswerConnect Mini Package
  • Central Office Manager
  • E-Signature
  • Plus $59 Processing Fee
  • Available Add-Ons:
    • TaxWise Mobile ($399)
    • TaxWise Expert Services
    • Refund Estimator ($99)
    • Return Retrieval ($155) (desktop only)
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