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Drake Software – Drake Tax Solution

Offered as a single package that
includes federal and state individual,
business and other entity returns,
Drake Tax Solution also includes
all states and is available as a
traditional purchase or as a pay-per-return
system. The fully licensed version
of the software supports multiple
users on the same network at no
extra cost and has no e-filing fees.
The flat cost for a four-preparer
firm ranges from $995 to $1,395
depending on the time of year. Annual
license renewals are also $995 to
$1,395 depending upon the time of
year the renewal is received.

Learning Curve – 4 Stars
Despite opening to a modern Windows
entry screen for the main menu,
most data entry for compliance purposes
is accessed from very DOS-like menu
screens that allow quick access
to various areas of the program,
but it’s a bit rustic in appearance
(a Text version of Tax Solution
is also included with the Windows
program). Because of this interface
style, however, users can easily
see virtually all of their options
in a single location, which makes
figuring out the system fairly simple.

Within a client’s files, Drake
Tax Solution separates data entry
into related areas, resulting in
tabbed information entry screens
for General, Income, Adjustments,
Credits, Taxes and Other. Each of
these tabbed screens then presents
a list of other options, allowing
users to easily jump around to specific
entry areas or go ‘line by
line.’ Although this interview
method is easy to follow and should
not require detailed training, the
addition of a form entry screen
would provide another approach for
data-entry users, making the program
more user friendly. One peculiar
aspect of data entry may slow new
users at first: Data-entry screens
have no Done, Save or other method
of completing the page. Rather,
the program saves the data automatically
as you exit from the screen using
the escape key. On a more positive
note, the program offers a multitude
of key-based shortcuts from most
menu screens.

Use/Workflow & Productivity Tools – 4 Stars

easily navigable interface enables
preparers who know what they need
to do to move around quickly to
various areas of the program. But
while the program uses a customary
spreadsheet-style grid for a client
selection screen, this grid is only
sortable by type of return and does
not provide additional information
such as return status and preparer
information that would allow professionals
a ‘quick glance’ overview
of clients, their contact info and
return data.

For data entry, the program offers
a few simple features that are worth
noting, including a ZIP code database
that speeds address entry and automatic
computation of FICA withholding.
Overridden entries are not noted
or highlighted, and no audit trail
of changes is available, so preparers
need to keep an eye out for errors
in data entry, although most significant
errors are called to the preparer’s
attention on the Notes page of the
final document. Following input
or at any point during data entry,
users can view actual returns and
associated forms by right-clicking
and selecting View Return or by
pressing the View button at the
top of the screen. This function
calculates the form and provides
an overview screen of the client’s
federal and state returns, as well
as billing information. From the
View screen, users can also view
or print the actual forms, notes,
billing and cover letters, but these
documents are not interactive. In
other words, no data entry or linking
can be made through this screen.

Drake Tax Solution includes a built-in
calendar feature called the Drake
Scheduler that allows managing appointments
for multiple preparers, with an
interface that generally resembles
Outlook’s calendar. The feature
serves both as a calendar and notification
system, alerting users to pending
appointments. Additionally, icons
on the main menu link users to key
features of the software, including
online access to ‘The U.S.
Master Tax Guide Plus’ from
CCH and the ability to split an
MFJ with one click. The program
also includes an asset management
system; bank products; customizable
reports, letters and billing; and
client organizers. All Drake users
are provided with a web address
at that includes calculators
and other tools.

Integration/Import & Export – 4.5 Stars
Drake Tax Solution includes all
states and municipal/school district
forms and transfers data directly
to these forms as needed. The program
allows multiple state returns (unlimited
number of states can be done on
the same return). Free conversions
are available to retrieve data from
ATX, Creative Solutions, Dunphy,
Lacerte, Orrtax, ProSeries and Taxworks.
Prior year data is kept close at
hand through a link on the main
menu screen and moves easily into
the current year. Client and firm
data cannot be imported directly
from other formats and can only
be exported into plain text format.

Support/Training & Help System – 4.5 Stars

Training needs for Drake Tax Solution
shouldn’t be significant,
and most users will likely be satisfied
with the included 400-page user
manual, quick-start guide and built-in
tutorial program. However, Drake
Software and its dealers offer one-day
update training sessions in cities
across the country, helping users
grow accustomed to new features
and general operation as well as
changes in tax law. These courses
can earn up to eight hours of CPE
credit. The company also hosts demonstration
seminars specifically geared toward
new users.

The Help utility within the program
provides good context-specific help
from virtually any line in the program,
linking the user to either a function-related
answer or to the line instructions
for the return being completed.
Drake offers phone-based, fax and
e-mail support, as well as a searchable
online knowledgebase at its support
web site. Phone support is available
during tax season Monday to Friday
8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday
from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Drake has
also set up a new online forum for
users to interact with each other.

Product Evolution & Vendor Vision – 4.5 Stars

Drake made the transition to Windows
later than many of the other vendors
on the market and kept some of the
styling of the old format, but the
company has done a good job of infusing
the program with right-click menus
and other features that the 32-bit
Windows environment made available.
The company has also been proactive
in the bundling trend, offering
all of its software and unlimited
e-filing for a flat fee that enables
firms to more easily monitor costs.
This year’s introduction of
an online forum for users and inclusion
of CCH’s research products
extends Drake’s Internet integration,
which had been previously limited
to online FAQs and support contact

offer many services via the web
and will continue to build and improve
these features for our clients,’
said Marketing Director Mike Wooten.
‘Long term, we believe there
have been great strides made with
ASP and Remote Access technologies,
and once high-speed access becomes
more available and reliable and
bandwidth becomes much greater,
we will be able to expand on these
areas as well.’ These additions
show Drake’s intent to keep
the software modern, but not necessarily
cutting edge.

Relative Value – 5 Stars

flat-rate pricing that includes
all states and cities, unlimited
e-filing and support makes understanding
the pricing much simpler. Drake
Tax Solution provides good basic
preparation for individuals, businesses
and other entities, along with included
associated applications for fixed
asset management, appointment scheduling,
billing and tax research. It is
ideally suited to smaller firms
looking for an all-inclusive tax
package that requires little training.
Its DOS-like interface is a little
rustic and does not always offer
intuitive navigation, but it is
easy enough to figure out.


This review section examines tax
software that did not meet one or
more of the requirements. That is
not intended to diminish the quality
of the software in this review.
We had to draw the line somewhere
regarding our prototype office’s
needs, and these products here simply
take a different approach to their
offerings. For this review, there
is no prototypical firm because
each of the products is quite different
in their form support and feature
sets. There are a few that barely
missed the Tax Suites cut because
of one missing module or the lack
of full state support, and there
are programs that focus solely on
one or two areas of compliance.
So we are not comparing apples to
apples here (it’s more like
a bowl of mixed fruit), and therefore
direct comparisons were not always
possible. Each product in the review
is examined and given a score in
several areas that users and vendors
determined were key aspects in using
tax preparation software, aiding
professionals in comparing those
aspects and making a purchasing
decision. The products in this review
section received scores in the following
six areas:

Learning Curve addresses the ease with which new users are likely to grow comfortable and proficient with the program.

Use/Workflow & Productivity Tools involves the intuitiveness of the user interface (how well a user can get around) and the way
work is handled from start (interview)
to finish (receipt of return). This
includes tools that help professionals
keep track of client and IRS status
for returns, as well as additional
tools such as integrated calculators
and cross-form linking that streamline
the entire process.

The Integration/Import & Export rating assesses the program’s capability to use data between modules, how it exchanges data with software from other vendors, and how the program retrieves existing data from the previous year.

Support/Training & Help System looks at training options and how the vendor has incorporated assistance features into its program,
the quality of its support documentation
and the extent of its online help
component, whether it be simple
FAQs, online user communities or
more advanced systems.

The Product Evolution & Vendor Vision rating is reflective of the company’s commitment to continued development of its product by looking at the technological culture of the company and its product development history.

Relative Value will provide a subjective determination of the dollar-value ratio of the software. While it is often said
that, ‘you get what you pay
for,’ the most expensive option
does not necessarily guarantee the
best value, nor is the product with
the lowest sticker price always
the greater bargain. On this line,
we will look at the value of the
features and tools provided in a
software suite and provide a judgment
on how well its price matches its

Finally, the Overall Rating will provide the reviewer’s general assessment of the product. An Executive Summary follows the review section, providing a brief synopsis of the reviews along with a summary chart with products and their scores in each area.