Insight: Many professionals offer proactive tax planning services to their 1040 clients, and while tax preparation programs can offer basic planning options, more advanced features are found in systems that are often an add-on to their tax package. These provide planning capabilities for up to decades, in some cases, with all future planned phase-ins and phase-outs, financial ratios and other tools. As with the tax preparation systems, Drake Software received the most votes because of its loyal customers.
- Drake Tax Planner 35%
- Thomson Reuters Planner CS 16%
- Intuit Lacerte Tax Planner 11%
- CFS Tax Software – TaxTools 9%
- Bloomberg BNA Income Tax Planner 7%
- CCH ProSystem fx Planning 5.5%
- PPC Individual & Business Tax Planning Libraries 5%
- RedGear TaxWorks Tax Planner 4.5%
- Tax Coach 2%
- Others: 5%
Tax & Accounting Research Systems
Insight: It seems that major tax law changes come into effect, or phase-out, every year. Professional research systems are a necessity for virtually all firms, particularly those with more complex clients. New at the top of this year’s list is “TheTaxBook,” which is available in print and online. It was followed by Thomson Reuters’ research solutions and systems from CCH and Intuit.
- Tax Materials Inc – TheTaxBook 27%
- Thomson Reuters Checkpoint & QuickFinder 25.5%
- CCH IntelliConnect, TRN & ARM 13.5%
- Intuit Tax Research & TaxAlmanac 12%
- PPC Federal Tax Compliance 6.5%
- CFS Tax Research 4%
- Bloomberg BNA Financial Accounting Resource Ctr. 3.5%
- Tax Analysts 2%
- Lexis Nexis 1.5%
- Tax Analysts 1.5%
- Others 3%%
Estate Planning Systems
Insight: Many tax and accounting professionals help their clients with generational wealth transitions. Whether they do so individually, or in conjunction with a tax attorney, these services are integral to reducing tax liability through strategic planning. This is a small specialty service within the accounting profession, and that is reflected in this year’s voting, with only about 20 percent of readers selecting a preference.
- Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE 30%
- Bloomberg BNA Estate Planner & Gift Tax Planner 25%
- CCH ViewPlan Advanced 20%
- Thomson-West Intuitive Estate Planner 15.5%
- Others Combined 9.5%
Insight: For a very small business, handling year-end compliance is pretty simple: Just a few W-2s and perhaps less than a dozen or so 1099s. But when a business grows in staff size or relies more heavily on contractors, especially in some industries, the year-end compliance process can be burdensome and, with hundreds or more forms to send to employees, contractors and agencies, opens the business up to significant penalties for errors. Add in frequently changing employment tax laws, and having a powerful, automated W-2 and 1099 preparation system is a must. As in previous years, voters strongly favored the affordable, easy-to-use AMS 1099-Etc system, followed by Avalara’s AvaTax 1099, CFS Tax Software and the Payroll Compliance and Reporting solutions for ATX and TaxWise.
Insight: Businesses of any size can get into big trouble financially and even criminally for not collecting and remitting sales taxes. Sometimes they don’t know they have an obligation in certain areas, other times they simply misunderstand or incorrectly make their filings. With states pinching pennies and leaving no stone unturned to look for income, the result of errors isn’t worth it. While simple, single-location businesses often can get by using their state’s tax reporting website, companies with high volumes and/or sales in multiple jurisdictions absolutely need a more automated solution. And for firms that serve multiple clients, a system that streamlines these functions across multiple entities is a must. This year, Vertex and two Avalara systems top the list of programs for sales and use tax reporting, followed by the websites of state agencies, eFileSalesTax.com and CFS Tax Software.