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Can anyone advise a good tax and accounts software supplier?

Can anyone advise a good tax and accounts...

I have used personal and company tax software from a supplier to small practices for a  number of years, with only the occasional problem.  However, last year I added their accounts production package, which purports to export to both personal and company tax packages as appropriate, as well as producing printed final accounts.  I was hoping to have a more integrated practice before iXBRL becomes compulsory.  However, one problem follows another.  These have included incorrect and missing headings in the Company Accounts (which took weeks to fix), notes to the accounts being wrongly designed (e.g., employer's National Insurance being added in to the director's remuneration) ..... so how can I trust them with iXBRL tagging?  Then today, having posted my (final!) client's business entries within the Accounts Production package, the trial balance does not include some of the journal entries (although only balanced journals are accepted in the first place) and cannot export correctly to the self-employment pages of the tax return.  This is not the first time that a working package has been corrupted by an update, which is what may have hapened here.  Can anyone recommend a supplier who offers a reliable combination of accounts production software (self-employed and company) integrated with company tax and personal tax returns?  Our practice only needs a licence for up to 10 companies and 25 individual personal returns at present, although I was hoping to expand once I had a good working system!!  And I would like good back-up offered with the products.  Looking forward to your advice.....Thank you.


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24th Jan 2011 19:06

IRIS is good, but pricey

My practice has always used the integrated suite from IRIS and it works. I guess from your post though that it may be too pricey for your needs? I am sure others will pitch in here with their own recommendations though.

To help other members avoid the problems you are having, it would be nice if you told us what package you are currently using.

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24th Jan 2011 21:45


I use VT who have now added Corporation tax to their accounts production package. However the BTC software (CT and SA) integrates well with the VT package.

I renewed my VT this year for £150, and the BTC SA is about £175.

Hopefully these are not the ones you are complaining about


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25th Jan 2011 09:42


I am only a small practioner and i use IRIS, they do a 25 client starter pack which is manageable from a cost point of view. When you compare cost against time saving, excellent support and knowledgeable technicians it's an easy decision, and it is kept constantly up to date.

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25th Jan 2011 10:03

What are you currently using?

I am always testing things and it is hard to find something cost effective for a smaller practice. The question is do you ever do group accounts, or need to complete any of the additional CT schedules, how complex are your personal tax cases? We have all these issues so that cuts out alot of products out instantly. Used IRIS for many years and it is fine but some of the standalone packages are nicer and much more competitively priced. Found that VT Final accounts is surprisingly easy to use, CTax we use Digita, its similar to the Iris one (most CTax products are). Just using PTP for personal tax for the first time as it handles complications well. Previously used Digita personal tax (liked that but do so few personal returns that it was not economical any more) and Iris (not mad about that).

Virtual tax support for accountants:

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25th Jan 2011 12:10

Sorry Anne!

 Hi Anne,


We don’t mind if you name us – at Keytime, we feel that it is better for accountants and for software developers if there is as much transparency as possible in this industry.  That’s one of the reasons why our support forums are open to everyone, whether you are a customer or not.  I’d like to respond to your obvious frustration, and to provide some explanation, if I may.


Most importantly, all the team here would like to say sorry for causing you additional stress at this time of year; our aim with our software is to make the life of accountants easier, so we take it personally when we fail in this task.


I understand that the support team and your account manager have been in touch to get your journal issue resolved for you, and will be calling you back in a week as requested – as it happens, the support team are running on extended hours until Tuesday next week, so you would have been able to speak to one of them last night.  If you ever have an issue with the software, please let us know; wait times on our support phone line are around 3 minutes at the moment, and your account manager is also available if you are having difficulty getting through to us.  You can also submit a ticket by email or on our support website at any time of day.


To address some of your other concerns, the issues with the incorrect headings and employer’s National Insurance contributions were reported to us on October 25th last year, and fixed in an update released on November 5th.  We invest heavily in testing, but some bugs will inevitably slip through undetected when dealing with complex issues such as tax or final accounts.  We recognise this, and focus on providing accessible support, and we aim to provide a substantive response that gets you working again, while we identify a fix.  Sometimes, a workaround isn’t available, and we have to release a hotfix or update to the software, but we hopefully do a pretty good job of keeping affected customers informed each step of the way.  We are always working on ways to reduce the amount of time it takes to release fixes and updates to the software, without sacrificing quality control.


We hope that we can prove to you that we devote care and attention on our products, and our customers; the first of our iXBRL packages is already ‘in the wild’, with the second looking good for a pre-April release.  We’d love to show you that you can trust our handling of iXBRL, once the tax deadline is safely out of the way; give your account manager a call, or let me know, and we’ll make sure that happens.


Once again, we’re sorry.


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27th Jan 2011 10:34


I've just completed my own tax return using Absolute (ok so I own Absolute) but it really was simple.  We also do our bookkeeping and accounts prep using our own software.  We now have over 400 users (many migrating from PTP and IRIS). Do a search on Any Answers for Absolute to get user feedback.

Tim Good

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27th Jan 2011 10:46


This company gets my vote.  You can speak to David, the developer and email him at any time.  I did a few days back at 23.50 and response arrived about 5 mins later.


Absolute (mentioned by Tim Goode) uses Forbes software.

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27th Jan 2011 11:07

VT and Forbes

 VT and Forbes get my vote.


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27th Jan 2011 12:32

Absolute Accounting

I purchased the Combo mini last summer, had a few problems, partly due to PTP mindset at my end but it is very flexible. I'm still using Excel for the extended TB and 'simple' accounts report for first look as I also do management acounts for some clients. From the TB you can either import or simple copy/paste into the Accounts system then top/tail notes etc.

The Absolute support team is very responsive and David Forbes [development company] has been available where time is critical, 2 nights ago when I had a funny with an SA800.



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By chatman
27th Jan 2011 12:52

VT and TaxCalc work for me.

Switched from Digita and never looked back.   Saved me days every month.

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By pacioli
27th Jan 2011 13:10

VT and Legatio

For the number you have, I suggest you probably do not need an integrated solution at present. We use VT software for accounts production and Legatio FTax for personal/corporate which works for us.

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27th Jan 2011 14:06

VT and FTax

We use VT and FTax, both have iXBRL funtionality, both are easy and quick to use.

Having looked at many integrated solutions over the years, and in fact used many of them, I realised you don't need an integrated package at all, as long as you choose the best stand alone packages, you can also export from VT into FTax for sole traders.


Holden Associates

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27th Jan 2011 14:11

Accountany Packages

When ever this subject comes up everybody as a favourite to push or promote

Could I just put a word in for KeyTime

I swopped from IRIS  in August 2010 and have no regrets a few bugs yes but they always get sorted out

Less expensive by a long way but not  a ''cheaper product''

Do not be hasty in jumping ship and give them time would be my advice

Sorry could write more but Tax Returns are calling me




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By Monsoon
27th Jan 2011 15:02


We used to use VT and Ftax. Both are excellent and I'd highly recommend both.

We switched to Digita but just couldn't get to grips with it. It's excellent software, the support is great, but the main reason we got it was for the integration and now having tried both, I'm not convinced it's that much quicker than the VT/Ftax combo, certainly not enough to justify the price difference.

I'm going to give Digita another chance in the new year before the subscription runs out (I've found it very difficult to get to grips with, but I'm sure that's just me - I've never used large sofware packages like Digita or Iris), but I expect to be renewing my VT and Ftax subscriptions in the new year!


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By chatman
27th Jan 2011 19:54

It's not just you Monsoon

I found Digita very user unfriendly, and everything used to take me ages. With VT it is so easy to go from TB to final accounts.  I found post-trial-balance adjustments a nightmare with Digita but extremely easy with VT. The other advantage of VT is that I know what I am backing up and when I am backing it up. Backups are a well-known problem with Digita.

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By thacca
27th Jan 2011 21:26


Both are great. I used Iris for many years and thought I was saving time using an integrated product - turns out I was very wrong.

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By chatman
28th Jan 2011 01:06


Software salesmen talk a lot about integration, but the really useful, time-saving integration is not between your tax programme and your final accounts programme (although that is helpful), but between your bookkeeping programme and your final-accounts programme, because that is where you do most of your inputting and your adjustments.

When I used Digita, every time I wanted to make an adjustment, I had to do it in Digita and my bookkeeping programme, and the Digita part on its own took ages, as importing a TB never worked properly.

That is one of the reasons why I like VT; it integrates the most important part; you post an adjustment in your final accounts programme and it gets posted automatically in your bookkeeping programme. Other integrated programmes will update your client addresses or populate the turnover field in your tax package, but this is not where the real time-saving lies.

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28th Jan 2011 08:38

Better the Devil you know?

All credit to Keytime for their "Hands Up" to this post - they could have kept their heads down, but that is not their style.

I've used Keytime for several years too, from very humble beginnings but steadily growing. Throughout that time, they have proved extremely helpful with pricing low-number licences, enabling me to bring in cost-effective professional software as my practice grows.

Sure there's been the odd hiccup - over the years I've used dozens of different packages and not one was error-free - but I've found Keytime to be better than most in acknowledging glitches and sorting them out. Also, they are prepared to talk to you, keep you in the loop, so I've always known how they've reacted to my (few) problems.

As legislation changes, the functions and capabilities of professional software must follow to meet the new requirements, and this affects ALL software houses. I doubt there are any who can get it 100% right, first time.

In the past, I've worked for practices that have migrated between software packages, indeed been responsible for the transfer of the client data, and suffered the frustrations and headaches of non-chargeable time only to find the new software is not as perfect as it was expected  to be.

Now I have my own practice, I've found software that pretty much meets my needs, with licences that can grow as I grow, with support that responds well when I occasionally require it. I would not, at present, consider changing software, at the risk of swapping "frying pan" for "fire".  

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By chatman
28th Jan 2011 23:28

More on Integration

Not as handy as bookkeeping to final accounts but still good: I just imported a set of accounts from VT Transaction+ to TaxCalc. Took me about a second, and saved me the fiddly bit of allocating my ledger accounts to the boxes in the self-employment pages of the SA100, which always irritated me when I used Digita.

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By chatman
28th Jan 2011 23:38


One thing that is essential to me is to be able to import easily. With QuickBooks, importing is beyond me. There is a third-party product that helps but it is still not easy. With VTT+ importing is very easy.

It would be good to know which bookkeeping programmes that have been recommende above allow import of transactions, and how easy the import is.

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29th Jan 2011 18:20

can you prepare LLP accounts with Absolute?

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03rd Feb 2011 10:41

A quick thanks

Ryedaleman and LambertClerical - thank you gents for the kind words.  Most appreciated by all the team here.

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