For Laser Systems, the goal for the upcoming tax season is simple: to sharpen the technology it already has in place within TaxWorks and to make it easier and faster to use. "We have tried to back off from adding too much [to TaxWorks], really focusing on what we do have and making it speedier," explained Alan Haacke, director of public relations for Kaysville, Utah-based Laser Systems. Haacke noted that, in an attempt to make practitioners more familiar with its tax software product, it prefers using its TaxWorks name as opposed to Laser Systems.
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As part of its effort to simplify the product, TaxWorks is changing its print options to make it even quicker. Previously, users had to navigate through two to three steps before printing tax forms.
Now, users will be able to print with the simple click of a button. This may be a subtle change, but as competition in the tax software arena continues to heat up and vendors vie for new users it is important that practitioners not get frustrated by simple steps such as printing when the hectic tax season is in full swing.
"The new print function was a composite of suggestions that we got [from users] and we said, 'Why not improve it and make it better?'" said Haacke.
Another objective will be to add the last five states-Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, North Dakota, and Vermont-to its business programs 1041, 1120, 1120S, and 1065. The company also is adding the new IRS K-1s.
TaxWorks' scheduling program will get a boost, enabling users to import and export various data to the client's return. The company also hopes to establish some "bridges" for importing tax data from several of the client write-up packages.
Meanwhile, its Paperless Office Initiative continues to move forward as the IRS stresses the limitation of paper documents. The TaxWorks system currently allows users to save a copy of a return in PDF format for their internal purposes, and when users hit "save" the system will ask if they would like to scan any supporting documentation, such as W-2s, for fast and easy retrieval in the future.
"The Paperless Office initiative is a movement toward saving literally tons and tons of hard copy paper for the IRS to go through," explained Haacke. "Also, some vendors, such as us, are trying to create paperless office document filing cabinets. This allows the tax practitioner to keep all of their returns on disk form, eliminating literally thousands of paper documents in their offices."
Some of these new developments are the result of TaxWorks' first-ever user focus group, held at the end of April. About 30 clients from both large and small companies attended the group to discuss what they liked about TaxWorks and what they thought could be improved. TaxWorks also took into consideration user comments from surveys that it distributes after every tax season.
Looking forward, TaxWorks is adding another two-day training session to its agenda. The newest Power Seminar will be held January 4 and 5 at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City. The company is hoping about 80 people will attend the event. TaxWorks already holds similar seminars in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Orlando, Fla.
James Bonzo, a Las Vegas-based CPA who has been using the product for at least six years, said that he is very happy with TaxWorks and has no intentions of switching to another tax software vendor.
"[TaxWorks] is so easy to use and we can contact them if we have a problem. Plus, they have seminars every year," said Bonzo.
Echoing that sentiment is Pat Salser, an accountant at Salt Lake City-based Tubber Okuda CPA. The firm has been a TaxWorks client for decades.
"Every year, I am more impressed with TaxWorks. Overall, [the product] has been great," said Salser.
HQ: Kaysville, Utah
Phone: (800) 230-2322
Fax: (801) 544-5699
Price: Federal: $995.
Multi-state processing: Unlimited.
Data entry: Interactive and batch.
Support methods: Toll-free telephone, fax, Web.
Electronic storage: Company's own paperless file cabinet.
Electronic filing: 1040, 1120, 1120S, 1065, and Michigan SBT.
New for next year: Adding the new IRS K-1s, as well as adding the remaining five business states-Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, North Dakota, and Vermont.