Drake’s Preparer Websites at 1040.com are one of the many applications and services included with a subscription to its value-priced tax compliance software. The complete online presence is hosted at Drake’s website, 1040.com, or at a custom Internet address (for a nominal domain registration fee). There is no charge for this do-it-yourself service, and anyone with some text editing skills can get up and running in a few hours or less. Existing Drake users can log on to the Drake support website, select one of the provided templates, personalize the website with images and information on the firm, and be online very quickly. The 1040.com website is designed to help potential clients find a tax professional, and the simple site designs included with this service do not lend themselves to extensive search engine optimization.
Drake Software has been offering 1040.com websites for over 10 years, and has more than 1,000 active firm websites today. The template-driven editor is easy to navigate and use, and provides more flexibility than ever, with control over color schemes and layout. Typical websites contain about 10 pages, and a typical base web address will be similar to http://prep.1040.com/myfirm. Note that the 1040.com Internet address is owned by Drake, but custom Internet addresses (e.g. www.yourfirm.com) can be redirected to display the content on this site. The default URL (prep.1040.com/yourfirm) will be available almost immediately, and almost any existing or new custom Internet addresses can be reconfigured in less than a week.
The websites created by this service are fairly basic and do not offer integration with client portals, interactive features such as syndicated content and financial calculators, or sophisticated activity reporting. Accordingly, sites created with this tool will be a better fit for the basic needs of small tax preparation shops, and would not meet the needs of most large, multi-office firms for more specialized content and web-based tools.
A unique feature among the products reviewed in this issue is the ability to generate additional income by offering a web-based self-preparer version of the Drake income tax software linked directly from the preparer’s website. The firm sets the preparation fees, within a range determined by Drake, and a substantial portion of the revenue goes to the referring preparer. Should the client discover that the process of preparing their own tax return is more than they want to do, the preparer has an excellent opportunity to pick up a new client. Whether or not a current or prospective client wants to use the web-based tax preparation application, they can still get current information about your firm and access a library of relevant information, such as return status, tax calendars, forms download links, and common tax-related questions.
All sites are hosted at 1040.com, and a built-in hit counter allows the tax and accounting firm to track the traffic on the site. Meta tags are supported, which can increase ratings from search engines if properly used. A 1040.com e-mail address is included with the subscription, but there is no support for external e-mail servers or self-hosted e-mail for 1040.com e-mail addresses at this time. If a firm has their own Internet domain, hosted e-mail using this custom domain can be obtained from numerous third-party hosting providers at minimal expense.
1040.com Preparer Websites are a niche product, focused on driving new and repeat engagements for small tax firms and self-employed tax preparers using the Drake software, and enable even the smallest of firms to have a profitable web presence.