Greatland prides itself on its appeal to novice preparers. Most of its new customers are firms just entering the tax prep market because Great Tax is simple and affordable, according to Cathy Laviolette, senior product manager. Typical customers are smaller to medium-sized businesses that mainly focus on individual returns. But the company also offers a growth path for its customers in the form of different package combinations that add more features and functionality.
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Great Tax Individual starts at $390 and includes individual returns and one state, which Laviolette says appeals to newbies who often don't have a client base that stretches across multiple regions. But pay-per-return is available for $15, including e-filing.
Individual Plus adds all states for $745. Great Tax Professional adds numerous client management tools, such as organizers and customized reports for $1,045.
Silver, Gold and Platinum versions offer unlimited federal and state e-filing bundled with Greatland's bank products. The more the customer wants, the more it costs. Prices top out around $2,560.
The company provides customers with a catalogue to help determine which product is right for them and they can change their minds down the road when their needs change.
Price won over Jeffrey Goodfriend, owner of Fullerton, Calif.-based Fullerton Business Service, when he started using Great Tax in 2002. Goodfriend's company prepares 2,000 individual and 150 small business returns, and 90 percent of them are simple enough for Great Tax to handle. He still uses Intuit's Lacerte for more complex returns, older clients whose information he wants to carry over and those with multiple states to deal with, however.
Goodfriend is particularly happy with the unlimited e-filing Greatland offers. After all, even at $1 a return, he would have to cough up an additional $2,000 if that weren't the case.
He also appreciates the e-filing center the company introduced last year to help answer questions.
"If there's a problem, you get a notice right away," he says. "Tracking and reports are very good. The main thing is who's been approved and who hasn't been. You can track where it's at in the process. Great Tax e-filing is very seamless and has gotten better and better every year."
In the past, Goodfriend would have each of his three CPAs and three enrolled agents monitor the e-filing center themselves, but in the coming year an administrator will be responsible for this duty. The change will require Fullerton Business Service to switch to a network installation but it will free up a lot of time for the preparers, and the process is simple enough that anyone can do it, Goodfriend says.
PDF functionality lets him file copies electronically right away when printing a hard copy. Although he still keeps hard copies of three years of returns, electronic storage helps with record retention rules and provides a faster method of getting clients copies of past returns when they ask for them.
E-filing enhancements for 2007 include support of forms 1041 and the 1040 in Puerto Rico.
Beyond electronic filing, Great Tax offers an employer library so preparers who have multiple clients working for the same company don't have to re-enter that company's W-2 information for each person.
It also is making the Client Selection screen more user-friendly so customers can handle their client lists more efficiently. "One of our main goals is to make tax prep easier and more intuitive," Laviolette says.
On a more technical level, Great Tax will support the Vista operating system.
HQ Grand Rapids, Mich.
Phone (800) 968-1099
Web site www.greataxpro.com
Federal 1040 price (first year) From $390 to $2,560.
Renewal Discounts up to 30 percent are available.
Pay-per-return price $30 business; $15 individual return (federal/one state); $10 each additional state.
Multistate processing Available for unlimited states.
Support methods Email, online knowledgebase, toll-free phone.
Support hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT. Extended hours during tax season.
Document management: N/A
Client portals N/A
Online organizer N/A
New for next year 1041 and 1040 PR e-filing support, Client Selection screen enhancements; additional automation of 1040 states; ability to produce two Schedule Cs for husband/wife partnership; libraries to Form 8283; support of Vista operating system.