The programs in this review offer compliance for a variety of areas, from fairly
comprehensive systems that offer compliance for almost all entity types with
productivity and practice management tools, to programs that focus on individual
and business entity compliance, to a few specialty systems that help professionals
fill a niche left by the other tax vendors or offer additional analysis and
workflow streamlining. Each of these programs approaches its tasks from uniquely
different ways, but all are adept at providing reliable basic calculations and
end products. It is what happens in between, of course, that determines whether
a tax program is right for a particular user.
Each tax practice (and for that matter, each individual preparer) has its own
likes and dislikes about navigation, data entry and workflow processes. They
may not always do things the efficient way, but sometimes they don’t care
— it’s just the way they do it. Add to this the greatly varied client
types that different practices have and you get a very diverse set of needs.
Some practices need compliance for every entity and have enough clients of those
varying types to justify using a comprehensive tax preparation suite. These
in our April/May 2006 issue, which included only those programs that support
forms 1040, 1065, 1120, 1120S, 1041, 706, 709, 990 and 5500. Not all packages
include all of these forms because many tax professionals don’t need them.
The systems in this review provide alternatives to some of the larger suites
for tax practices that don’t need everything and to those that may need
a specialty compliance tool.
The key to finding the tax software that is perfect for your firm is to first
find out what your firm needs. If it’s been awhile, reassess your client
base. How many 1040s, 1065s and 1120s do you process each year? Do you work
with trusts, help people with estates or gifting? Do you have nonprofit clients?
Knowing how your client base may have changed or grown is the first step. Then,
you need to assess your firm’s use of technology. Take the free Productivity
Survey on our website (www.CPATechAdvisor.com/productivity)
to see what you’re doing right, what’s going wrong, and what steps
you may be able to take to improve your efficiency. (Please note that the Productivity
Survey is geared primarily toward year-round tax and accounting practices.)