There was a time in which one of the executives involved with ATX commented that it had 80 percent of the features of the top tax preparation products. But it was also 80 percent of the cost. And most of the users, didn't need the extra features.
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To a great extent, this describes the attitude of someone like Dennis Diebolt, owner of a two-person firm based in Dearborn, Mich., who uses the ATX Total Tax Office bundle.
ATX, says Diebolt, is "a very good product at a very affordable price."
Diebolt once used the AccountingRelief package that was discontinued after its sale to the former Creative Solutions. He switched to TaxWise, which was later acquired by CCH, but didn't like that package. It was the approach of ATX that hooked him for the last roughly five years in preparing 250 individual returns and 50 business returns each tax season.
"I am a forms person. When you look at the input going onto the form, it's very easy," says Diebolt, a CPA. "I switched to ATX because it was something I am familiar with. It is very user-friendly."
Users like Diebolt are probably happy that the 2008 version of ATX 1040 does not contain a lot of major new features. It has a lot of fine-tuning, according to Gene Goldenberg, the vice president of marketing for CCH Small Firm Services.
Among this fine-tuning is integration with other products, in particular the client write-up and payroll products marketed by Goldenberg's division, along with better importing from Peachtree and QuickBooks.
"It becomes important to import all kinds of client data into a trial balance and import that into a return," Goldenberg says. "We have been focused on creating an integrating suite so that the tax professionals don't have to rekey the data. It's fungible regardless of what program they are using and that the same data set exists in all the programs."
Integration is important to small firms, he says, because they lack the staff to perform work such as data conversions.
ATX describes its typical client as having three employees and preparing about 250 individual and 25 business tax returns.
About two-thirds provide bookkeeping and financial planning services while about 45 percent offer payroll services.
Among new features in the 2008 line is the ability to transfer 1041, 1065 and 1120S K1s into any return type onto the appropriate K-1 input worksheets.
The company has also added K-1 input worksheets for states requiring that information for e-filing, in this case, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
In the 1040, the state estimate worksheet and taxable refunds (line 10) now supports up to eight states while the state estimates paid for the current tax year will not link to state forms unless the date paid is entered.
In the federal client letter, the option has been added for users to enter an alternative fourth quarter estimate payment due date.
Besides the ATX 1040, whose federal form is priced at $410, the company offers a variety of software bundles.
Priced at $895, Max for Business includes the 1120/1120S, 1065, 1041, 706, 709, 990 and 5500 forms. For $1,110, Max has all states, forms and programs for both business and individual returns. For $1,695, the Total Tax Office has the tax forms and the ATX Trial Balance and ATX Document Manager.
The Total Tax and Accounting Office, priced at $2,295 adds access to the CCH and Kleinrock tax research libraries.
HQ Rockville, Md.
Phone (877) 7ATX-PRO
Web site www.atxinc.com
Federal 1040 price (first year) $410
Pay-per-return price $270 (10 returns including e-file); $85 (additional blocks of five returns and e-file)
Multistate processing 10 states simultaneously
Support methods Toll-free phone and email
Support hours 7:30 am to 12 midnight ET, M-F; 8:30 am to 7 pm Sat.; 1 to 4 pm Sun.
Document management ATX Document Manager, ATX Scan&Fill
Client portals N/A
Internet capabilities. Access Kleinrock tax Research, linked to forms and lines in the 1040.
Online organizer N/A
Bank products Instant RALs, RALS, RACs, electronic fund transfers and FeeCollect
New for next year The ability to transfer 1041, 1065 and 1120S K-1s into any return type onto the appropriate K-1 Input worksheets. Privacy suppression. State K-1 input worksheets.