Drake Software — Drake Tax
From the May 2012 review of professional tax compliance systems (traditional workflow).
Best Fit: Firms primarily focused on 1040 clients, including those with multiple locations or kiosks, and with increasing need for compliance for other entities. Also for firms looking for an integrated suite that includes payroll, write-up, document management and other utilities.
- Top-rated live support
- Affordable all-inclusive pricing includes all entities, states, e-filing, tax planning, document management, and write-up system with live & ATF Payroll
- New online client collaboration system
- Integration with GruntWorx for paperless and automated tax prep
- Optional debit card and bank product dispersal of proceeds
- Multi-office manager sync system; free basic websites for firms.
- Limited internal collaboration tools for returns requiring multiple preparers, review processes
The Drake professional tax and accounting software suite has long been a favorite for tax-focused practices wanting an all-inclusive, comprehensive compliance system and several recently added options should continue to please small and mid-sized firms. New for the 2011 tax year (2012 tax season), Drake added SecureFilePro, a secure web-based file sharing site for preparers and clients to share documents. As a result of the acquisition of GruntWorx, Drake users now also have an option for paperless tax return engagements and zero data entry, with GruntWorx automatically finding appropriate client information from scanned in documents. These are both great additions that bring more of the benefits of “tax document automation” to main street tax practices.
Core Product Functions/Features - 4.75 Stars
Drake’s core tax capabilities include preparation of returns for all entities with annual federal and state reporting requirements (1040, 1040NR, 1041, 1065, 1120, 1120s, 990 and 990PF), plus estate and gift tax returns. It also includes compliance for all states with an income tax (and Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico), supports multi-state filers, and includes compliance for New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio cities. For firms in bilingual markets, many of the system’s client communications, forms and instructions, plus live support, are offered in English and Spanish.
After the guided and simple installation, Drake opens into a user-customizable home page called the Personal Client Manager, that displays only the clients, returns and other engagements that an individual user is assigned. The screen includes links to recent returns, system alerts and the built-in appointment management utility, while menus and icons across the top offer quick access to key function areas such as viewing and printing returns, as well as tax research and the Client Status Manager. The program includes built-in invoicing and an audit trail, and also provides customizable client communication templates and the ability to set client and firm management rules.
Data entry screens are based on interview source documents and tax forms, but as noted above, users can quickly switch to a view-only form replica for review or other purposes. The interview-based preparation process follows traditional tax engagement format, with tabbed screens for general information, income, adjustments, credits, taxes, state information, miscellaneous and other forms. Each of these tabs offers multiple text-based links to specific tasks, such as entering a W-2 or 1099, working on the EIC or entering allocated income to multiple states.
The program also features a quick MFJ vs. MFS comparison tool, and built-in diagnostics automatically check AMT applicability and the validity of other data. From the home screen, users can also access the included tax planner, data import functions, document management and built-in email utility. The full version of Drake includes unlimited e-filing of federal and state returns, and the system includes a management console for monitoring receipts and acknowledgements. A similar tool is available for tracking client refund status and optional bank products.