Cloud-based vs. Desktop-based Tax Software

Choose the type of software that is right for you with TaxSlayer Pro

Starting and running your tax preparation business comes with a host of decisions: how you’ll market yourself, what kind of clients you’ll target, and what tax software you’ll use. These days, you also have to make the choice between desktop and cloud-based software.

Cloud-based tax prep software

Cloud-based software exists on the web and is quickly becoming a popular choice with both new and seasoned tax preparers — and for good reason! These are just some of the ways online tax prep software can make your life a little easier:

Multiple devices

Cloud-based software allows you to work on any device with internet access. You can even work from shared computers when you can’t access your own. (Just make sure to log out and clear the history to protect your clients’ data!)


No matter where you happen to be, you can prepare and file tax returns. All you need is a solid internet connection.

Automatic updates

Cloud-based tax software updates automatically so you never have to worry about your software going out of date. Each time you log in, you’ll know that you have the latest version of the software.

Automatic Backup

It’s nearly impossible to lose your work in cloud-based software. Your work saves automatically, and your information is encrypted and stored in the cloud.

Data Security

A common misconception is that cloud-based tax preparation software is less secure than desktop-based software. In reality, cloud-based tax prep software uses extremely secure data encryption to keep your information and your clients’ information safe.

Desktop tax prep software

Even with the benefits of online software, desktop software hasn’t lost its relevance. In addition to being just as secure and intuitive as cloud-based, software installed on the desktop offers these benefits:

Feature Options

Because desktop tax preparation software has been around longer than their cloud-based counterparts, they sometimes offer more features. When online tax preparation software is first rolled out, it often focuses only on features that are useful to the majority of tax preparers. If you need more specialized software for corporate tax filing, or you value extra features like client-retention databases, you may benefit from using a desktop-based software.

Network Capable

Most desktop-based tax software can be integrated with your network, allowing returns to be worked on by multiple users, and a centralized network server may not be required.

In summary

In general, cloud-based and desktop-based tax software have more similarities than differences, and most tax preparers could work well with either one.  Deciding between the two is usually a matter of where and how you prefer to work. Here are a few things to consider as you make your decision:

  • If you work from an office with a network server, a desktop-based software that is network capable might be your best choice. Your server will allow you to back up your files with ease, and your work won’t be affected by internet speed.
  • If you need to file returns for business entities, you may need to choose a desktop-based software.
  • If you travel frequently and don’t always have solid internet access, you may consider installing desktop-based software on a laptop.
  • If you enjoy staying mobile, and you seek out locations with reliable internet, you might prefer the convenience of cloud-based tax prep software. You’ll never have to worry about updates, backing up your data, or running out of storage.

Our desktop-based softwares, TaxSlayer Pro Classic and TaxSlayer Pro Premium, and our cloud-based TaxSlayer Pro Web all offer intuitive workflows, user-friendly interfaces, and unlimited customer support. No matter which software you choose, it will make preparing and filing your clients’ returns as smooth as possible.

If you’re trying to decide between cloud and desktop-based tax prep software, our team would love to help you find the right product for your business!

The information in this article is up to date for tax year 2021 (taxes filed in 2022).

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