Share this content

Same Old Question - Which Software

Same Old Question - Which Software

Which software is best, PTP, IRIS, DIGITA, SAGE, TAXCAL...

a) As a Software (5marks)

b) Price  (5marks)

c) For a Small but Growing Firm (5marks)

d) As a combination of above three options (5marks)

Extra 2marks available for clear and sensible answer. Passing marks 50%.

*Before you write your answer, please give marks to your above candidate.


Please login or register to join the discussion.

09th May 2012 19:31

I hate exams ...

... but VT & TaxCalc for me. See the million (slight exaggeration) other threads on the same subject.


Thanks (0)
By DMGbus
10th May 2012 08:54

Sage CT software - see if this suits you...

Here's a logged example of using Sage's CT software, yesterday, if this suits you then "go for it" if doesn't then avoid it...


J107 APE 31aug2011 , Wednesday 9 May 2012...

Time      Action

0900       Open in Sage CT > Build new period (defaults to 1 year after previous year - this is GOOD)

                Opens at Detailed T+P+L Acc tab > manually copy figures from Sage accs production


0910       Tab A – main CT summary comp : has WDA but not depn add back (why not copied from already

 input Detailed T+P+L acc?)


0911       Search for AIA data input point...Tab B3 – enter AIA additions £679... Box E30 shows red warning...

                Enter £679 as a negative value in box / line “Capital Items Expensed” and warning goes away


0915       Tax comp now has the AIA (as well as WDA which had been correctly computed based on tax WDV

 b/f).   Depn add back still not present


0916       Search for data input point for depreciation.  Tab C = Fixed assets...

                Fixed Asset additions (qual for AIA) input on Tab C line 18 £679.   On line 29 enter the

                Depn charge as a negative value (2088).  NBV shows OK as £8855 on line 34.


0921       Main tax comp (tab A) check for depreciation add back – still absent.  However, AIA is now present.

                Line 20 for depn says “<system>”.  Trace Cell Value (right click on depn £ cell) opens up tab C...

                On line 37 enter “Net Book Value end of period per accs” £8855 – this removes an error message

                That was showing in cell C38.


0923       Main tax comp (tab A) check ... still lacks depn add back (cell B20).  Again try to trace cell value...

                Tab C opens... line 29 already has depn value (£2088 had been manually input earlier).


0926       Decide to manually input depn add back on a spare line (line 17) on Tab A main comp.   Now get

                Correct CT liability (as had already been computed per Excel comps) of £7,948.52.


0928       Click print icon to print out tax comps.  Long winded, too many pages, so select duplex print to

 minimise paper wastage.


0929       Notice a red circle with a white X in it – error message in lower border ...  click on this icon..

                First error refers to “depreciation does not reconcile” – tab C – discover a red warning message,

                Tab C line 45 enter the depn charge of £2088 and error message goes away.      Tab A main comp

                now has depn add back TWICE, so remove previous manual input from line 17, and check that

                correct CT charge is present (as proven by pre-prepared Excel comps).    Remaining validation error

                says need to “develop” CT600 (short).   Do this and no more error message icons present.  Check

                CT600  at page 2 for correct Ct charge – yes, OK.


0934       Now look at iXBRL accounts – accounts still in draft.  Open accounts production, click on Pages,

                Then Selection, then item number 98 iXBRL Members accounts, then click ibn iXBRL icon, and

                all looks OK except “final accounts” error icon – cannot proceed further as accounts still in

                draft.  Had I continued beyond this the ridiculous need to manually type in start and finish dates of previous account period (ie. data already in Sage Accounts Production) would have been necessary.   Then there could have been further complications adding extra time to the task, seemingla waste of time but required by Sage's software.


So, time score = 34 minutes.

Had to manually type depreciation figure in THREE times in THREE different places!  With Excel accounts and computations depreciation automatically copied to tax comp from accounts, presumably this sort of convenience is beyond the abilities of Sage programmers or perhaps just too much trouble for Sage to supply a user-friendly software product.




Thanks (1)
10th May 2012 08:59


I love Digita and Paul Scholes loves Iris.

Iris Practice Management seems very good out of the box but it was a bit inflexible in places and it couldn't do what I wanted. Digita Practice Management is very flexible but takes time to get to grips with if you want to design useful reports. Digita has plenty of standard reports, too.

I love the Digita Accounts Production, Company Tax and Personal Tax. I can usually do a set of company accounts in half an hour from trial balance and relatively simple personal tax in 15 minutes.

Thanks (0)
By Jimess
10th May 2012 09:17

Newly converted to VT and BTC from Iris - I agree with Shirley M and I wish I had made the move to VT and BTC long before now.  Don't get pulled in by the big firms hype, there are several things that I found very time consuming in Iris that I can do in a matter if minutes in VT, and the BTC practice management is excellent plus unlimited client numbers on both - all for a very small fraction of the cost of running Iris.  The fact that I am able to contribute to this posting to praise VT and BTC after just a month up and running speaks for itself about their ease of use. Only one gripe - BTC only goes back to 2008 - does not come up often but sods law - we got a review case needing to go back to 2007 last week! Not a huge problem as no return required for that year, just calcs and we can do the calcs on Excel but will check with BTC to see if there is a way around it anyway. 


Thanks (1)
10th May 2012 09:44


When I changed to VT/TaxCalc, and I was getting accounts/tax completed so quickly it totally unnerved me! For peace of mind, I spent hours & hours running in parallel with my expensive software and checking the results ... and found no problems with my new software! It really does save hours of time, and as you say ... another real bonus is the unlimited clients.

Thanks (1)
By Jimess
to Constantly Confused
10th May 2012 20:40


I am just the same!  I ran through a set of limited accounts on VT yesterday and was amazed at the speed. I was so sure that I had forgotten something that I spent another hour trawling through the file cross checking my paperwork and re-checking the disclosures back to the checklists.  I just cannot believe the simplicity of everything on VT and my head is buzzing with ideas for helping clients with their record keeping with the VT cashbook, I can see Sage going out of the door eventually too as VTT+ seems to give you most of what you need for client bookkeeping.  My first tax return on BTC admittedly was a very small one but even with me working clumsily through the system and getting to know where everything is it took less than half the time it would have on Iris. I am looking forward to getting a year under our belts with both programs and I just know that we will see the real benefits. I just love the automated letters part of BTC, it took me half an hour to set up our own version of the tax letter template and it looks the business. Iris Automailer was so complicated so awkward to use that we gave up on it.   We might spend a little more on colour copies to reproduce our logo on the letters but we will save a bundle on letterhead printing costs and time, particularly with the big all client mail outs. 


Thanks (1)
10th May 2012 09:48

I find... depends on your size.

Personally as a smaller practice a few years ago VT and Drumohr was great.  And now I would probably go for VT with BTC.

But we have grown and have all our data on Iris.  This would be difficult to get across I think to another system and we heavily rely on the practice management side of the software.

You certainly pay for it though.  I could get BTC and VT for the price of one month's Iris direct debit - and probably get change!!

I'll be speaking with Andrew at BTC to get his thoughts when our fixed price with Iris ends though!

Thanks (0)
By Jimess
to johngroganjga
13th May 2012 15:47

@nmprobinson - Iris to BTC

You can create CSV files in Iris and I believe you can transfer those into BTC, but we had such a lot of dead stuff on Iris because of the way Iris sets up peoples employers as businesses and other little quirks so we decided to punch in the data manually to BTC.  It did not take too long to get the basic organisation/individual names & addresses punched in but the rest will take a bit of tweaking as we go along and we can weed out the data we do not need.  We have the basics to enable us to have complete client lists, create mailouts, letters etc and the rest we are doing an hour each day or as we produce a tax return or work on a particular client until the database is as it needs to be and will continue to run our Excel spreadsheets alongside until the database is fully operational.  The time consuming bit for us is the file register for each client, but we particularly want to get that up and running so that we can get some old files in to external storage.  It all depends on how much you want to use the practice management side of it.  The best part of our approach really is that our database will be clean and everything from client data, AML, file locations, correspondence will all be stored on or through the same database instead of on individual spreadsheets.  We never used Iris practice management as I always thought it cost far too much to justify it's use when an Excel spreadsheet was sufficient, and I hated the Iris Automail system for standard mailouts with a particular vengeance  - I found it so cumbersome to use, so we created our own mailmerge files on Word, but as we have grown we definitely need a more integrated approach.    

Iris will try and tie you in as much as they can, but you will still have your thirty day grace period after your licence has expired to use Iris and read only access after that which gives you a bit of comfort if you do need to do things gradually.  

Thanks (0)
By Flash Gordon
10th May 2012 09:53


I converted to VT from PTP a while back based on AWeb recommendations and wish I'd swapped sooner. Sooooooo simple, quick and that's before you even consider the price and customer care.

I used Taxcalc for a couple of years after PTP but have swapped to BTC this year and love it. My only criticism is that I can't set up CT600s for periods after 31.03.12 yet whereas in Taxcalc I'd have been able to set them up but obviously not submit them. But I'm saving even more time with BTC so well worth it.

Thanks (1)
to craig__2k4
10th May 2012 10:08

It's only Main Rate CT that you have to delay

Flash Gordon wrote:

I converted to VT from PTP a while back based on AWeb recommendations and wish I'd swapped sooner. Sooooooo simple, quick and that's before you even consider the price and customer care.

I used Taxcalc for a couple of years after PTP but have swapped to BTC this year and love it. My only criticism is that I can't set up CT600s for periods after 31.03.12 yet whereas in Taxcalc I'd have been able to set them up but obviously not submit them. But I'm saving even more time with BTC so well worth it.

Why wait? You don't have to wait for small company profits or no tax to pay.

Thanks (0)
10th May 2012 10:02

Digita v Iris pricing

I much prefer Digita's pricing to Iris's. You can have a different number of clients on each program and only increase the users when you need to. You may get a new client and enter them on Practice Management (which I think has a start licence 300 clients) but you could start of with 10/25/50/75/100 clients or some combination of accounts production or tax returns so you only have to upgrade the number of clients as you use them.

I accept that some software is cheaper than Digita but you only have to enter an address (or most other things) once in Digita and it can deal with just about everything you want. Bizarrely the Practice Management doesn't have LLPs although the Accounts Production does. The work around is to categorise the LLP as an old fashioned partnership .

Thanks (0)
By Flash Gordon
10th May 2012 10:38

@ Peter

Unless I'm doing something stupid (possible!) it gives me an error message and won't create the file at all so I'm stymied for now. I guess if I was feeling remotely pro-active I'd just email BTC and check!!


Edit - I've checked their website and had to download the updated version of the software! On the error message it did give me the option to check for updates but for whatever reason that didn't provided the new version! Anyway I think I'll be back to my fully-satisfied customer routine again now :)

Thanks (0)
10th May 2012 10:56


I've used software which says there's no update when I check for update but I go to their website and there is a new update. I don't think these computer companies are very good with  computers!

Even today I clicked on a link from an email from NetBenefit saying I have to renew my domain names. The link takes me to my account that says there's no domain names to renew. NetBenefit say that when they do the same thing it says there are domain names to renew. They accessed my computer to check. They don't know why it doesn't show.


Thanks (0)
10th May 2012 22:03


Really interested to hear your views on BTC post your move from TaxCalc.

I want to make the move, but I am scared as how to long it will take for me to learn BTC. Also TaxCalc does look pretty on screen.

I would appreciate your views either here or PM me.


Thanks (0)
By Flash Gordon
11th May 2012 08:01

@ FT
Just go for it! Can't remember if you use VT but if you do then BTC is even easier!! And if you don't then it's easy-peasy. The CT package is the easiest - 10 minutes learning if you only do straight-forward returns. You can import the accounts info straight from your VT ixbrl file by pressing one button and then it's just filling in the address (which because it's on the main form, instead of the details pop-up box, I always forget to do! And the tax ref, CAs etc. Trust me you'll make up any time that you spend learning it by saving time on the actual returns. It's such a simple process that like Jimess with VT I think I must have missed something because I'm done so quick :)
The SA100 bit is a little bit longer just because the return has more on it but even so, yeah it's fab.
I've not gone for the add-on bit yet because I've already got standard letters that I use. I will get it in due course so I can file accounts direct to Co House. The only reason I didn't get it at the same time was because it seems like to file accounts you have to have a credit account set up with Co House? (I think that's a Co House rule not BTC's) And for that you need trade references. Given that my only business purchases seem to be with the Post Office and Amazon I'm not sure how easy that will be.
Basically I think it finishes off the trilogy of best software - Moneysoft, VT, BTC. Great prices, great customer support (not that it's ever needed but they take notice of what customers say) and most importantly great bit of kit.

Thanks (1)
11th May 2012 08:23

Credit account?

I don't think you do need a credit account to file accounts but if you do it's easy. I didn't have a problem.

How do you file annual returns? It's a lot easier using a credit account than paying by credit card every time.

Thanks (0)
11th May 2012 08:51

@Flash Gordon

You only have to fill in the address if it is different to the one on the notice to deliver a return.  So if it has not changed, you can leave this blank.

Thanks (0)
11th May 2012 09:10

Did you get a chance to review BTC v TaxCalc? I value your opinion so would appreciate your views.

Thanks (0)
11th May 2012 10:19


Thanks for your helpful feedback. I am going to talk to BTC within the next two weeks.

Thanks (0)
By Flash Gordon
11th May 2012 10:32

@ Tax hound / Peter

@ Tahound - I never realised that! Ta,

@ Peter - I admit I do annual returns by credit card. I really must bite the bullet and just get a credit account. Sheer idleness on my part and it would save me time.

@ FT - you won't regret it!

Thanks (0)
Share this content