rbynaker
Level 11
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Sounds like you've done your homework!  One of my favorite quotes from Airplane! "They bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into!"  Welcome aboard, stay away from the fish.  This is your best resource for help.  Folks here are quite often faster and almost always more knowledgeable than calling the actual support number.

ProSeries does have an excellent education optimizer.  Data entry is not always intuitive but start with the Fed info wks to identify who has education expenses (TP/SP/Deps), then each will have a Student Info Wks.  Fill that out next and that will link you to 1098-T, etc. entries.  Don't bother trying to optimize until you have all of the data in.

They also do a fairly good job with multi-state returns (for whatever reason MA jumps out at me as problematic in this area, but if you're used to doing all of this by hand you probably won't notice!)  For that you'll want to again start with the Fed Info Wks (just in general get familiar with this form, it gets longer every year but spend some time scrolling through and reading all of the options!)  Near the bottom you'll find a section for state resident/NR/PY returns.  Fill that out first, then enter all of your fed data, then hop back over to Fed Info Wks and link to the PY/NR allocation worksheets to put all of the items in to the right state buckets.  THEN open your states and make adjustments as needed.  I've heard you should open your NR states first, then your resident states (I'm not sure that's necessarily true anymore, but still probably a good idea!)

A third thing (not mentioned) that ProSeries used to do very well was capital gain transactions.  They had a very comprehensive series of worksheets for sale of home, 2nd home, inherited property, employer stock options, etc. that covered nearly every situation you can imagine.  In 2020 they revamped the software to drive everything onto a "fake" 1099-B and I think some of the less used, more complex situations were dropped in the process.  I understand, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, but IMO this changed their grade from an A+ to a B- in this area.

For the most part, ProSeries is "always calculating" (a notable exception involves the education optimizer).  So when you complete a return you'll want to make sure you print-to-pdf.  Then later if the calculations change (either because of a bug fix or because of a retroactive tax law change), you'll still have a pdf copy of the return as originally filed.  Also along those lines, always double check your numbers before you efile anything.  It's not unusual for the calculation to change between the time you print the 8879 for signatures and the time you get signed forms back and are ready to transmit.  Especially early in the season when ProSeries users are unwittingly participating in the software beta testing program.  You can search and find hundreds of posts here with people complaining about how ProSeries changed their return after it was already filed.  At least if you have a PDF you can see what changed which might get you started on the path to figuring out why it changed.

Obviously everyone runs their practice differently according to their needs.  I'm a one-person show but game from a larger regional CPA firm with top-notch quality control.  So I prepare a return, then set it aside, then review it on a different day with fresh eyes.  I have a spreadsheet I use for review and at the end of review if I get the same answer between my spreadsheet and the tax software, that's probably close enough for government work.  It's also helpful to spot where you might have entered something wrong.  For the most part, the forms-based ProSeries will get things in the right place but with tax law being more complex year-after-year, the same data point may be needed in multiple calculations (income tax, QBI, NIIT, etc.) so you'll want to get a feel for what things you only have to enter in one place and what things you might have to enter twice.  For the most part, the software will do what you tell it to, just not always what you want it to.  As a new user you need to know when those two things differ.

Best of luck to you!  Sounds like you're starting the transition at a good time with plenty of time to learn the ropes.  Welcome to the asylum.

Rick