TaxWise wants to be the go-to software for retail tax preparation firms. The company actually has two main consumer groups: retail firms with numerous offices that primarily offer individual tax prep services and refund products, and small professional firms with five or fewer people offering accounting and bookkeeping services in addition to tax preparation.
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But after CCH acquired Rome, Ga.-based TaxWise last October in an effort to serve the small and midsize market, TaxWise's challenge was to "clearly delineate a why-buy for customers," according to Gene Goldenberg, vice president of marketing and product strategy for CCH's Small Firm Services. And because CCH's acquisition trailed its purchase only two months earlier of ATX, which also serves small firms, Goldenberg's team also is tasked with tailoring features in each product to particular customer segments.
Most people associate TaxWise with bank products like refund anticipation loans, he says. The key distinction is that many TaxWise customers conduct business in strip malls or shopping centers after the style of H&R block or Jackson Hewitt. It also serves payday loan stores, money stores and even car dealerships, most of which are seeking some kind of refund product.
One of the company's goals for 2007 is full integration between its tax software and other accounting applications, including TaxWise Client Write-Up Suite, TaxWise Trial Balance, TaxWise Fixed Asset Manager and TaxWise Document Manager.
TaxWise Scan&Fill is popular because of the immediacy of the retail market, Goldenberg says. The tool scans, sorts and stores digital client documents and exports client data from the scanned forms directly into TaxWise's tax preparation software. So ideally, by the time the client sits down with the preparer after waiting for assistance, an assistant already could have scanned in all of that person's information to get them in and out faster, which is not as important in a more traditional CPA environment where accountants might not see their clients for two or three years at a time.
Also new for the coming season is the ability to automatically generate separate returns for husband and wife in order to compare separate vs. joint returns.
A W-2/1099 product will complete and e-file all federal and state payroll returns, including W-2, 1099, 940 and 941. An improved tax estimator helps determine liability, an improved billing module more easily creates invoices for clients and encryption of client information has been enhanced.
Last year, TaxWise introduced an online version of InterviewPlus, a program designed for non-professionals to collect the appropriate information from their clients, a move Goldenberg says was well-received by franchisees. Many of these less traditional businesses gather the information and electronically send it to a professional outsourced preparer to handle the more complicated work, he says.
The main thing to keep in mind is that customers who come to these types of shops are looking to get their refunds as quickly as possible, often in the form of RALs.
"A lot of people like the convenience of paying for their tax preparation out of their refund and get the rest of the money either in a check or deposited directly into their bank accounts," Goldenberg says. A large percentage of them don't even have bank accounts and need help getting their checks cashed as the average refund is in excess of $3,000.
"For many of these people, a big check is their personal bonus. The only way to get it fast is through electronic filing, but they don't have the wherewithal to do their own returns using [something like] TurboTax," he explains.
"It's a forced savings plan," Goldenberg says. "This is a consumer-driven product. They're coming in demanding it."
HQ Rome, Ga.
Phone (800) 755-9473
Web site www.taxwise.com
Federal 1040 price (first year) $595 (federal 1040 only); $1,032 (federal 1040 and all states)
Renewal $476 (federal 1040 only); $826 (federal 1040 and all states).
Pay-per-return price $400 minimum (20 returns including e-file); $15 (additional returns including e-file).
Multistate processing Available for up to nine states simultaneously.
Support methods Toll-free phone and email.
Support hours Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. to midnight ET; Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET; Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET.
Document management TaxWise Document Management; TaxWise Scan&Fill.
Client portals N/A
Online organizer N/A
Integration TaxWise Client Write-up Suite; TaxWise Trail Balance; TaxWise Fixed Asset Manager and TaxWise Document Manager
New for next year Full integration with above applications; automatic generation of separate returns for husband and wife; W-2/1099 product that completes and e-files all federal and state payroll returns; improved tax estimator, billing module and data encryption.