The fact that Primus Venture Partners, a Cleveland-based private equity firm, has just purchased Universal Tax Systems, publisher of TaxWise, won't change some important things. The senior management of UTS and its founding shareholders retain an equity interest in the company. What Primus' involvement will change, through its $65 million purchase, is TaxWise's ability to invest in its product line by providing capital. "We intend to broaden our product offering for the accounting market beyond tax preparation to include an integrated suite," says Tom Hughes, senior vice president of sales.

TaxWise started that process last year with the integration of its tax preparation software with the Client Write-Up program from PC Software. Accountants and tax preparers also gained access to check writing and before- and after-the-fact payroll, which enabled customers to integrate bookkeeping work with tax preparation in TaxWise.

"Integration reduces the amount of redundant data entry and streamlines the process for our customers who provide year-round accounting services to their clients," says Hughes.

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To broaden its line, TaxWise is adding a fixed asset manager and a trial balance program, both TaxWise-labeled versions of PC Software titles. In the case of the fixed asset package, "The program will capture all pertinent information needed for federal and state depreciation and amortization processes," adds Hughes. TaxWise will also offer BNA's tax planning software under its own name.

For the upcoming tax season, new services include online check printing for Santa Barbara Bank & Trust and Household Bank customers, support for efiling of the 1120 and 1120S, a toll-free support line, and Sunday support hours.

Stephen N. Broder, a sole practitioner located in Cherry Hill, N.J., is pleased with TaxWise's prompt delivery of the program as well as its cost effectiveness. Broder completes approximately 175 individual and business tax returns per year.

"TaxWise is always adding useful enhancements," says Broder. "The most recent one that comes to mind-now I can handle five states for an individual, instead of three. This helps me with my clients who move around and work in different states. It was difficult with just three states."

Although TaxWise does not provide a Web organizer, for the second tax season it is offering "My Web Site," which allows preparers to create their own Web sites where clients can schedule appointments. The number of preparer sites has doubled in a year.

TaxWise is planning to add more practice management tools to the site. These will give taxpayers the ability to display their returns in secured areas. There will also be enhanced appointment scheduling and calendar capabilities, an "Ask Jeeves" scenario where the taxpayer may submit questions via email and receive a response, and financial calculators.

During the tax season, TaxWise's educational opportunities include TaxWise University, TaxWise TV, and the GetWise 2004 Seminars.

TaxWise had success with its E-file Training Center, which simulates the process of generating an efile, including the printing of a bank check, prior to tax season.

It has added to its education tools by providing users with TaxWiseTV's daily updates during tax season. Earlier this year, TaxWise introduced the "Growing Your Business" online video series for TaxWiseTV. "The series is dedicated to helping the TaxWise user grow his or her business. Shows cover marketing, retention, hiring employees, and efiling," says Hughes.

Broder, who has attended TaxWise training, feels, "It's worth the investment. They take you through the changes in the program and provide short cuts."



HQ: Rome, Ga.

Phone: (800) 755-9473

Fax: (706) 624-4256



Software distribution: CD-ROM.

Price: $995.

Renewal: $995.

Pay-per-return: Available.

Multi-state processing: Up to 10 states simultaneously.

Data entry: Forms-based and interactive.

Support method: Phone, fax, email, and Web.

Electronic storage: Provides the ability to set up and store returns in an e-cabinet system. Returns may be e-mailed to clients, viewed, and printed from within a Web browser.

Electronic filing: 1040, 1065, 1120, 1120S, through TaxWise.

New for next year: Online check printing for bank products, enhanced asset manager, and bilingual support for Spanish-speaking customers.

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