Your tax preparation software may be the single most important tool you have for your tax preparation business. Switching software takes time, energy and money, so making sure you’ve found the right software before you switch is essential.
Here’s what you should consider:
First, you want to find the best software possible that fits your financial needs but learning a software’s true price can be more difficult than it seems.
You can find the pricing for most tax preparation software on the company’s website. However, these numbers might not include fees or other expenses. Some software will charge additional fees for filing a large number of returns, so be sure to read the fine print and ask about what additional fees you may incur while using the software. A software that advertises “Unlimited Filing” won’t charge you extra for filing returns.
Be wary of prices that fall several hundreds of dollars below their competitors’ prices as this may mean that the software function is limited. If a software doesn’t support the forms and features you need to serve your clients, you aren’t really saving any money.
Arguably even more important than price is user experience. Even big savings can’t make up for slow, glitchy software. A long history of positive customer testimonials in the industry is one way to gauge the quality of software. If customers consistently praise the software as “easy” and “user-friendly,” you can be reasonably sure that the software is intuitive and efficient.
Nothing, however, can help you judge a software’s user experience better than trying it out yourself. If a software offers a demo or free trial, take advantage of the opportunity to test its user interface.
Make sure that your new software supports all of the forms you need to file your clients’ tax returns. Tax preparation companies often offer tiered products. The more basic options may not have what you need, especially if you serve business clients, so make sure to do your research.
Data conversion is usually the most time-consuming step when switching tax preparation software. Tax professionals worry that they’ll lose clients’ data or that it will end up misformatted and difficult to navigate.
If you’re worried about the data conversion process, speak to a customer representative to ask how their company supports data integration. Asking specific questions like these can help you determine how easy or difficult data integration will be:
- How will I be directed through the data conversion process?
- How long does data conversion usually take?
- How can I back up my data before the conversion process begins?
- What problems do other customers usually encounter when integrating their data?
- What role does customer service play in helping me convert my data?
Cloud-based vs. desktop version
The choice between cloud and desktop-based software is often a matter of preference. Cloud-based software gives you the convenience of working anywhere with internet access on any device. Desktop-based software can be integrated into your office’s network server and sometimes supports more types of forms than cloud-based software. Make sure you put serious thought into your business’ needs, as this step is vital in choosing the appropriate tax software for business success.
Read more about the pros and cons of each software type.
Convenience for your client
While your clients won’t be using your tax preparation software themselves, they’ll still be affected by the software you choose. Some software allows your clients to easily upload their documents using only their phones. The TaxesToGo mobile app, for example, lets customers snap pictures of their forms and securely send them to you in just a few minutes.
If working remotely with clients is important to your business, consider investing in software with features like this app. Otherwise, your clients will still need to meet you in person or fax, scan, or mail their documents.
Whether they’re guiding you through data conversion or helping you through the learning curve, knowledgeable, personable customer service representatives can make your switch significantly easier. Anyone can advertise that they have superior customer service, but take the time to test it out yourself.
A software demo or free trial is also a great chance to interact with a company’s customer support.
Customer growth team
Not to be confused with customer service, a customer growth team is a unique department that doesn’t exist at every tax prep software company. Whereas customer service helps you understand and troubleshoot the technicalities of your software, customer growth is dedicated to helping you understand how to use your software to grow your business. Customer growth can guide you through the process of offering bank products or using free marketing features that may have been included with your software package.
If you do your homework, switching tax software doesn’t have to be a guessing game. TaxSlayer Pro’s team would love to help you understand the features of our software and determine if it’s the best fit for your business.
This article was last edited on November 8, 2021.