I am an accounting student that will graduate in Dec and be eligible
to sit for the CPA upon graduation. I have already taken Tax 1 and am
enrolled in Tax 2 (corporations trusts etc) this semester. I will be
doing my own taxes plus my parents and inlaws and probably a few
friends and co-workers ( I work full-time and go to school full-time).
I anticipate preparing maybe 20 returns at the most unless the people
at work jump on board in greater numbers.
Anyway I am curious which software will be best to use. I cannot
justify really expensive software but I need it to prepare multiple
federal forms and State taxes for Arkansas and probably Oklahoma.
Being able to e-file would be a plus as well even if it were on a pay
per return case.
Thanks for your responses in advance.
First, you need to be aware of the capacity of the software itself. Can you
legally prepare dozens of returns with the one box you bought in the milk
aisle of the grocery store? Then you need to know if the software you are
buying fits your potential needs. In that, will it generate the returns (or
e-file) that you anticipate being asked to prepare?
I'm not giving you any names of specific software because you need to
determine on your own what you are comfortable with. If this grows on you,
you'll probably be with the same software for years. A good decision up
front (that should have been made in October) will save hours, days or weeks
later down the road.
That being said, I wouldn't recommend boxed software from the local
retailer. It's probably limited in the number of returns you can prepare,
it's going to cost extra to e-file, and it may not cover all the potential
returns you may get asked to prepare.
The professional grade software have per-return pricing for around $10 (some
more, some less).
Start here: http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/oct2006/zarowin.htm for a survey
of all the professional software out there. From there you can begin to
determine what you'd like to look at.
Paul Thomas, CPA
Take a look at these low end products:
TaxAct - It's about $100 then they charge per efiling:
Another one I've looked at is ATX, their low end $400 product has unlimited
And one more step up would be Tax Wise at about $1000:
The last two products have been bought out by CCH but are still available as
independent products. I used TaxAct's individual
product several years ago for my personal return - it did the job. Also I've
used Tax Wise a few years ago since it was used in our
VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program (
This will be the first year I do taxes for others and am contemplating
the software choices I have been pointed to, so thanks alot for that
Another question though. Do I need to file form 8633 quickly to be
allowed to efile for my clients or does the software just do it
If I have to file that form, is there a particular amount of time it
takes for me to get whatever I need in order to be able to do the
I agree with Paul, I should have been on this in October. I figured my
courseload would preclude my being able to do taxes, but it's actually
not so bad so I decided (however belatedly) to jump into the mix.
It's possible the software does that, but to be safe, and get a head start,
file the form now.
There's a way to do it on-line at the IRS website I believe, but maybe only
for CPA's, EA's and a few others. I think fingerprint cards are in order if
you are not one of the above.
Yup. You'll get an EFIN, a special identification number to allow e-file.
It's good forever.
Paul Thomas, CPA
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