Best Firm Fit:
1040-focused practices looking to broaden their services with integrated write-up and tax planning options, as well as retail environments with multiple locations.
- Exceptional live support
- Affordable all-inclusive pricing includes all entities, states, e-filing, plus tax planning, document management & write-up with ATF payroll
- Multi-office manager sync system
- Free basic websites for firms
- No client portals
- Limited document automation tools (scan & fill)
- Limited internal collaboration tools
Drake Software’s tax practice suite offers an all-inclusive system with broad compliance support and built-in tax planning, write-up and document management features. Drake has routinely won our Readers’ Choice Awards for best tax prep system, with users consistently pointing to the vendor’s live support staff, as well as the benefit of the all-in-one package. Over the past few years, Drake has expanded its offerings to include a debit card method of refund disbursement, a web-hosted version of the tax system and 2-D barcode scanning of W-2s and K-1s. (The company noted that it believes this approach provides greater accuracy than OCR-based scan and fill systems.)
Core Product Functions/Features
Drake Tax includes all federal, state and D.C. compliance, with unlimited e-filing for all individual and business returns, as well as nonprofit and estate and gift tax reporting. The system also supports virtually all local taxing jurisdictions, including localities in New York, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Forms, instructions, client communications and live support are available in English and Spanish.
Drake’s interactive interface opens to a home page that provides a client selection list based on engagements that can be customized and filtered by the preparer (Personal Client Manager), shortcut links to recently worked-on returns, the program’s appointment scheduling system and system notifications. An icon bar at the top of the screen also provides links to tax research, a forms view and the Client Status Manager, which allows creation of firm-based rules and status selections, including billing options and an audit trail.
Data-entry functions take place on interview-based worksheets that are accessed from a return management screen that offers tabs for moving between entry categories for general, income, adjustments, credits, taxes, state, misc and other forms. Each of these sections has text-based links that allow jumping directly to data entry for specific items or for moving directly to form worksheets. Actual form views can be brought up with one click, but data entry cannot be performed directly on the forms. From the return management screen, users can also use a one-click MFJ/MFS comparison or access document management functions, the built-in tax planner, data import tools and e-mail features.
Unlimited e-filing of federal and state returns is included, with management and tracking of acknowledgements, receipts and other information available from the EF toolbar. The system automatically checks for applicability of the AMT and also includes a simple kiddie tax export feature for generating form 8615 and keeping it associated with the parents’ return. 4.75
Instead of an OCR-based “scan and populate” system, Drake offers 2-D barcode scanning for W-2s and K-1s that allows the information to be pulled in from encoded forms. It also offers spreadsheet import of Schedule D data. The program also offers a document management system that provides an expandable folder format similar to Windows Explorer that automatically stores returns generated in the program into year-based folders, and also allows preparers to store any other file types, such as scanned supporting documents and spreadsheets.