Knowledge Base

14922: Drake Tax - Preseason and January Releases

Purchasing + Installing

What are the differences between the pre-season and January releases of Drake Tax? Do I need to install both versions? What features are available in each version? 

Drake Tax releases two versions of the tax program, the first of which (the preseason release) is made available in December. This initial version is released so that beginning of season activities, such as installation, networking, setup, and scheduling, can occur. The second (final) release has historically been made available in the first week of January, and contains state programs and the most up-to-date federal calculations. 

The second release must be installed in order for you to experience the full functionality of the program. You can install this over top of the initial release, without uninstalling the initial release. The initial installation must be closed before you can continue with the second installation. This allows you to maintain any setup that you did with the initial release. See the FAQs below for details. 

First release recommendations:

  • Update settings from the prior year with the use of the Setup Assistant (if you used Drake Tax last year).
  • Complete other setup items, including:
    • Letters
    • Pricing
    • Options
    • Signature Pads
    • Printers
    • Email
  • Start Scheduling appointments with the Drake Scheduler.
  • Generate and distribute Organizers by email or with Drake Portals.
  • Review the what's new information.

Wait to -


  • Update clients.
  • While it is possible to bring clients forward one at a time during the pre-season release, we do not recommend pulling clients forward in December. The program is still being finalized and it may be more beneficial to wait until you install the January release to update your client's returns. Batch update is also available in the January release (see below for details).
  • Practice or test returns are available if you want to test functionality.
  • Prepare live returns (calculations are not final).

The below chart identifies specific differences between the two releases:

  Preseason Release January Release
General Purpose Allows offices to install the program, network Drake Tax in the office, set up the Scheduler and begin scheduling appointments, tailor software settings to suit the office's needs, test e-file returns, and generate Organizers and Proformas in preparation for the upcoming season. Contains finalized calculations (based upon finalized IRS publications and instructions) and the state programs.
e-Filing Test returns only. Allows test returns, federal returns, and returns for states (that are available for e-file) to be transmitted. Historically, the IRS began processing returns sometime after Drake Tax released the January version. In those cases, Drake Tax has typically held any returns transmitted by preparers and released them to the IRS and states as soon as those agencies were open for processing. (According to IRS Publication 1345, the agency "does not consider current filing year returns held prior to the date it accepts transmission of electronic returns stockpiled." For more information on what the IRS does consider stockpiling, see Publication 1345).
Updating Clients Clients may be updated one at a time under Last Year Data > Update Clients 20XX to 20YY. Batch updating is not available in December. Clients may be updated in batches. Drake Software recommends updating clients one at a time. 
Calculations The calculations are not final. Many are still subject to change based on possible IRS changes or clarifications, or are pending approval with the IRS. The most up-to-date calculations provided by the states and the IRS are integrated into all packages. As always, calculations are subject to change as a result of federal and state changes in tax law. Keep in mind that some states may still be in the process of finalizing their information -- any updates to state programs or releases of state forms will occur as soon as possible. All returns must be calculated again after the installation of the second release before e-filing, or following any updates to state or federal calculations.
States Not yet available. States may be downloaded by going to Tools > Install State Programs, or may be installed during the installation of the second release.
Organizers and Proformas Organizers and proformas are one of the main purposes of the initial release, and can be generated for clients in batches, or one at a time, under Last Year Data > Organizers or Proformas. Will be available throughout the year.
K1 Export Not available. Available once all calculations have been finalized.
Required to be installed? Not required to be installed, unless you plan to engage in preseason activities in December. Must be installed in order to take advantage of all functionalities, including installing states. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Am I required to install the December release?

No, installation of the December release is not required, but is recommended. It allows you to prepare for the upcoming season by bringing forward or configuring settings, preparing organizers, and reviewing program details. 

Do I need to install the January release if I have installed the pre-season release?

Yes, the January release must be installed; however, all subsequent updates will be applied through the Update Manager in Drake Tax (no more downloads from the website).

If I install the January release, will I lose any of my returns or settings from the pre-season release?

No, the January release updates program files but does not overwrite your client files or user-controlled setup information—your data will be safe.

What if I never installed the December release, do I have to install it before the January release?

No, the January release contains all program files. 

How do I install the state programs?

The state programs can be selected during installation of the January release. Don’t worry about having to decide on all of them at that time – we recommend choosing the states you know you will use. It’s simple and painless to install additional state programs from within Drake Tax at a later time (Tools > Install State Programs).

Should I bring forward all of my clients from the prior year?

It’s your choice. You can update on-the-fly which is seamless and brings forward return data to your current-year software when you start to prepare the return. Or, you can update all prior-year returns at the beginning of the season (Last Year Data > Update Clients 20XX to 20YY).

     Note: Batch updating is only available with the January release. Drake recommends that you only use the pre-season release for planning purposes as calculations are not finalized. 

When can I start e-filing returns?            

The IRS has not announced the official start date; however, you can transmit approved return types to Drake Software after installing the January release (you will see a red message when viewing the return if the return type is still in the approval process). We will hold returns in queue until the IRS begins accepting e-filed returns. 

How will I know that the January release has been installed?

Log in to Drake Tax and look at the bottom of the Home screen for the version ID. The January version ID begins with P2. If your version ID begins with P1, you haven’t installed the January release.

Related Links

Also In This Category

On a scale of 1-5, please rate the helpfulness of this article

Not Helpful
Very Helpful
Optionally provide private feedback to help us improve this article...

Thank you for your feedback!

Article has been viewed 89K times.
Last Modified: 3 Months Ago
Rated 4 stars based on 1 vote