While adding more tools to its integrated tax software package, TaxWise has dropped the cost of its basic 1040 tax preparation software and renewal price to $695 this year from $995 a year ago. "This is a very competitive category," says Gene Goldenberg, vice president of marketing. "We believe that everyone's tax software will prepare a tax return. We watch what our competitors are doing and what the market will command."
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Along with the price decrease comes a new user interface, and improved depreciation worksheets.
The company sold 9,000 licenses for its tax software last year, says Goldenberg. Customers include commercial preparers including H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, as well as the smaller CPA firms, amounting to an estimated 75,000 users. It's in the latter market that TaxWise says it has something that those firms have been missing.
"We think we can serve both the commercial market and the professional market. We don't think anyone else does it," Goldenberg says.
Phone (800) 755-9473
Fax (706) 624-4256
Software distribution CD-ROM.
Multi-state processing All states can be processed simultaneously.
Data entry Forms-based and interactive.
Support method Phone, fax, e-mail, BBS, 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, and 1120S, through TaxWise.
New for next year New user interface. Improved depreciation worksheets. Mortgage origination service.
In the CPA space, TaxWise focuses on small firms that prepare simple personal returns and file them electronically. The new interface, which sports easier data-entry, auto-fill features for key data cells, and a redesigned refund monitor that updates each entry, is designed for them. TaxWise's previous interface is still available to those who prefer it.
TaxWise's enhanced de-preciation worksheets automatically choose the recommended depreciation from 25 methods, based on asset type. It also tracks both tax and book values.
While Mike Specha, chief executive officer of Tax Tech, likes the formatting, integration, and database capabilities of TaxWise, he is not as impressed with its depreciation module.
"I would like to see more flexibility in the depreciation program in terms of what kinds of reports we can get from it," he says.
Tax Tech is the parent of World Finance, a loan company that also prepares taxes. Last year it handled more than 60,000 returns from its 600 offices in 12 states.
Specha says one key benefit is his ability to move from one program to another. "The integration saves between five and 10 minutes per tax return," Specha says. He also likes being able to instantaneously determine the status of a taxpayer's return. Ninety percent of Tax Tech's prepared returns are efiled, and more than 60 percent of 60,000-plus returns are processed as RALs.
With TaxWise software, when Tax Tech clients call to inquire where their refund checks are they can see when the return were sent to the IRS, whether it had been accepted, and when they were sent to the bank.
"That has made a huge difference," Specha says. "Previously, a lot of times you wouldn't know where in the cycle it was."
Also on the plus side, Specha pointed to TaxWise's formatting. He says that if he's working on a 1040, he's looking at the actual form, as opposed to some software vendors who have an interview-based product.
"That comes from my old accountants' training and dealing entirely with paper," Specha said, referring to himself as a "dinosaur." He added that it also contributes to his being wary to embrace product enhancements and new features.
"I don't like to be out there on the front-end, because new usually means complications during the first year."