For the upcoming tax season, TaxSimple is working "to complete the circle from the preparer to the client and from the client to the preparer," says president John Vora. To help facilitate that process, the company has turned to the Web and greater email functionality. "Anyplace we think email or Web enhances capability we are adding that [functionality]," says Vora.
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For tax year 2008, TaxSimple is enhancing document management by enabling tax preparers to, with the click of a button, email password-protected tax returns to their clients.
In addition, users can now email reports to a targeted group of clients. For example, if a tax preparer wanted to send a letter to all those clients with Social Security income, the preparer could email the appropriate client group versus emailing clients on an individual basis. This functionality will undoubtedly result in fewer keystrokes and less time spent on the task.
Customer support is also important, especially during the busy tax season, so the company has developed online tracking of problem or enhancement requests. Users who submit a request will receive a tracking number. They can then type in the tracking number, from within the software application, to check on the status of their request. If a user has additional questions or concerns regarding the request, the system features an email capability so they can easily email upper management. This feature was quietly rolled out last year, says Vora, but will be fully launched for the upcoming tax season.
There's no doubt that the Internet has already played an important role at TaxSimple. The company offers online tax preparation for both consumers and professionals via its Web site. It supports both individual and business tax returns (C-Corp, S-Corp, Partnership, Fiduciary, Exempt, Gift and Estate) preparation without downloading software. The program also supports e-filing for all 50 states.
TaxSimple introduced last year a source document-based approach. Clients enter information on screens that look like the source documents in their hand versus utilizing a forms-based approach. One benefit of this approach is that it makes it easy for less experienced staffers to enter the source document data into the application.
When it comes to serving the Hispanic market, Vora says the company currently offers bilingual customer support and will likely translate some forms into Spanish. However, the company is still evaluating which and how many forms it may translate.
TaxSimple user Margaret Henneberry, owner of Blair Accounting & Tax Service in Buffalo, N.Y., is very pleased with the application but noted that she would like to see an amortization schedule added to the program.
When asked about the challenges she faces for the upcoming season, Henneberry pointed to those taxpayers who did not receive the full tax rebate amounts that were owed for the 2007 tax season. She says she is hopeful that the application will include a line to automatically compute this, if necessary, to avoid having to fill out a lengthy worksheet.
But, overall, Henneberry is satisfied with the product, which she has been using for about 10 years.
"The support system is wonderful," says Henneberry, who completes between 350 and 400 returns a year. "I find it easy to maneuver around [the application]."
James Vitale, president of Vitale & Co. located just outside of Philadelphia, has been using the product for more than 20 years and is very pleased with the functionality.
"As far as I'm concerned, it has the soup and nuts of what goes on with taxation," says Vitale, who completes about 350 returns during the tax season.
HQ Randolph, N.J.
Phone (973) 989-8955
Web site www.taxsimple.net
Federal 1040 price (first year) $495 Federal; $250-$320 State
Renewal $495 Federal; $250-$320 State
Pay-per-return price 1040 Federal $15; Business Federal $25; 1040 State $12; Business State $13
Multistate processing Yes, unlimited
Support methods Phone, email
Support hours 24 hours Monday-Sat.
Document management PDF-based storage capability
Client portals N/A
Online organizer Consumer and professional at www.taxsimple.com.
Integrates with 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.