Planning and paper rank among the major issues Drake Software is addressing in its 2005 tax software, as it adds fresh features to attract new prospects. In the planning area, Drake is adding a tax planner to provide multi-year planning options and include many tax implications related to home adjustments, filing status, dependencies, retirement savings, and education expenditures. Various reporting options will also be available.
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It is joining the battle against paper with the addition of a document manager that tax preparers can use to store and organize client-related documents and statements. Documents can be electronically produced or scanned in. Use of this system will also streamline email communication and document distributions with clients, and allow tax preparers to manage client files electronically.
"The document manager will be a nice feature. We're looking forward to putting returns in electronically, and we're estimating we can shrink the number of file cabinets we use from 10 to three, with the product," says enrolled agent Chuck Courim, owner of Danville, Ark.-based 4C's Bookkeeping, who prepared 630 returns using the Drake tax package last season.
Also new is the client status manager, which tracks data such as demographics, billing information, and return status, as well as allowing preparers to customize the status screen to display data that is important to their practice. It will also allow preparers to produce reports and export data into Microsoft Excel.
Another new feature, the multi-office manager, will give managers of multiple offices increased capabilities for reporting on all tax return processing in their office, both efile and paper returns. Reporting capabilities will show preparers the types of returns processed, how they were processed, and billing charges, enabling them to review their entire operation.
Drake Tax Software
Phone (800) 890-9500
Fax (828) 369-9928
Multi-state processing Unlimited.
Data entry Batch and interview.
Support methods Telephone, fax, email, and online knowledge base.
Electronic storage Drake Software's Document Manager 2005.
Electronic filing 1040, 1065, 1120, 1120S, 1041, and 990.
Integrates with the following QuickBooks and Drake's Client Write-up, Document Manager, and Tax Planner.
New for next year Tax planner, document manager, and client status manager.
All of these new capabilities have been added to the package at no additional cost.
Although Drake hasn't seen much interest in a Web-based tax preparation product from its 18,500 users, the company provides many Web-based tools.
Preparers can build Web sites through the use of Site Builder, a tool available on Drake's 1040.com Web site. They can also offer online filing through their Web site.
"We felt it was important to give our customers a tool to go after the online filing market, rather than compete with them by creating our own product to offer directly to taxpayers," says James Stork, vice president of Drake's tax department.
After a preparer builds a site, taxpayers who sign onto 1040.com to prepare online returns are redirected to a Drake customer. Clients are assigned preparers based on an individual's zip code.
Drake also offers free online tax research via CCH's Master Tax Guide, Web reporting on efiled returns, Internet-based software updates, online customer forums, a knowledge base, and an email client is included in the tax program.
Marketing assistance includes online access to free professional marketing kits, which include posters, free newspaper ads, buttons, free radio spots, and vinyl banners. The posters, buttons, and banners can be purchased for a small fee or artwork can be downloaded free in PDF format. Customers have access to these kits online at support.drakesoftware.com.
The kits promote services including bank products and efiling, and are available in both English and Spanish.