E-file is the magic word for TaxSimple. The Randolph, N.J.-based company aims for 80 percent of its clients to e-file returns this season. TaxSimple doesn't intend to wave a magic wand in hopes of reaching that goal, which is roughly double last year's percentage, however. Its Web site offers a video demonstration on how to electronically file returns, pointing to what users should see on their screens and what to expect. If preparers stumble upon errors, they can go to the site and type in the reject code in a box to receive a summary explaining what went wrong.
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This kind of help is appreciated by users like Janet Calvi, a sole practitioner in New Canaan, Conn., who started using TaxSimple back in the early 1980s when the company first formed. Last season was the first time she electronically filed en masse for about half of her 400 clients due to legal mandates.
"I felt I had a good support system if I got a reject and couldn't determine the error code," Calvi says, noting that most of the mistakes were client oversights such as wrong names or Social Security numbers. "TaxSimple gave me fine points to help me query the clients to help them understand the error was on their part. When you get an error and you want to clear it, that's time consuming to understand, but they were there for me."
Calvi handles clients in about half a dozen states (TaxSimple offers e-filing for all states) and she likes that she can download updates that are important to her on a daily basis instead of waiting to receive a CD in the mail.
A user meeting last summer served as a beneficial introduction to the e-file system, Calvi says. "If you forgot something [from the meeting], the telephone is always there and they're always there to answer with tireless help. They don't leave you hanging. They stay and solve the problem even if it's late at night and they were ready to go home."
In one instance, Calvi was unsure whether she had accidentally filed a client's information twice. So TaxSimple provided her with a case number and called her back within an hour after checking its master file, preventing her from having to wait on hold or call again.
This season, TaxSimple is adding before/after transmission reports that display everything preparers should see before submitting a return and points out anything out of the ordinary.
"We are making our e-file reporting system more powerful," says President John Vora. "We are adding a printable report that will display comprehensive information on the tax returns they are about to transmit and allows the client to add or remove tax returns to be transmitted. We are also adding a printable report that will provide information on tax returns just transmitted and on federal and state acknowledgement just received."
Beyond e-filing, TaxSimple wants to help all clients who need it.
The company is increasing its tech support staff by approximately 50 percent over last year. During the months prior to tax season, the staff is providing free 90-minute to two-hour training sessions on the phone and online covering topics such as how to know a return has been accepted or that the information went to the bank and how to generate reports.
This type of proactive training ends up preventing additional calls during the peak season and also allows users to address other issues, Vora says.
TaxSimple offers around-the-clock phone and email support Mondays through Saturdays during tax season, and usually returns emails within two to four hours. Seventy-nine enhancements are planned for this season, with client problem tracking and e-file reject diagnostic reports among the top 10.
HQ Randolph, N.J.
Phone (973) 989-8955
Web site www.taxsimple.net
Federal 1040 price (first year) $495 federal; $250-$320 per state.
Renewal $495, federal; $250-$320 per state.
Pay-per-return price 1040 federal, $15; business federal, $25; 1040, $12 per state; $13, per business state.
Multistate processing Available for unlimited states
Support methods Phone, email.
Support hours 24 hours Monday-Saturday
Document management PDF-based storage capability.
Client portals N/A
Online organizer Under testing.
Integration Excel, Access, Crystal Reports, SQL, Acrobat
New for next year 79 enhancements including an online client problem tracking system; enhanced diagnostic error system, e-filing of extensions; before/after e-file transmission reports; year-to-year information transfers at the state level; Web-desktop integration; Vista support; SQL support for desktop clients; Spanish language forms.