The TaxWorks customer base asked for it and the company delivered. "It" in this case is automated upgrades of the company's tax preparation program via the TaxWorks Web site. Vice president Kelly Peterson says that preparers can schedule updates so that they can avoid having to manually download any changes, as well as picking systems to download.
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"What you can do is updated on a daily, weekly basis on a specific time so you don't need to go to a menu and tell it which system to upgrade," she says.
Among other additions were oil and gas returns to 1120 and 1120S, following the addition to the 1065 forms last year. The company also added more states with e-filing.
Over the last two years, the biggest change to TaxWorks was the company's purchase by H&R Block. Following that move, early in 2007, the company maintained the name TaxWorks for its tax preparation activities, but adopted the name Red Gear Technologies for programs such as ArkWorks, its document manager program, along with eGLWorks, the online client write-up program.
Another major change was a ramp up of support staff. According to Lyle Petersen, vice president of sales and marketing, the company added about 100 employees following the Block purchase.
For user Claude Slack, the ease of use is a major benefit.
"I just really enjoy it," says Slack, a CPA who is based in Cedar City, Utah. Slack, who performs 400 individual and 200 business returns each year, says he has examined many other tax preparation programs, including UltraTax from Thomson Reuters, as he uses that company's write-up program.
The company has retreated a bit from the Internet world, dropping TaxEngine.com, an online system for consumer tax preparation. A spokesperson said that, "Though it was a very successful project, TaxWorks and Block have decided to use our resources in a different manner. So, Tax Engine will no longer be running."
The company did not give further information about the change.
However, Block offers TaxCut Online in two flavors. Do It Myself offers Basic for simple and 1040 EZ returns, Premium, which supports itemized deductions, investments and filing, and Premium Plus a State while the Do It with Me approach has three pricing levels, Tango, Signature and Online Office.
For $70, Tango, equivalent to Basic, offers unlimited support from a tax professional via phone, chat or email. At $95 per return, Signature offers the same features as premium and a professional will review, sign and electronically file a return. Online Office, starting at $99.95 per return, gives the customer the full services of a Block professional.
Among other features in TaxWorks is optimization of the Client Selection screen, which the company says means merely that it will run much faster and more efficiently. It is also enhancing the Revisions History, located in the Secure Area of the TaxWorks Web site. That area provides details about each product update, how and why the update affected the program, and the date it was added to the program.
Besides TaxWorks, the company also offers 1040Works which has speed-entry software, online banking services and per-unit pricing. TaxWorks provides an integrated tax manager, which is suited for those preparing multi-state returns. Free electronic filing is offered with all products, a practice the company implemented for the last tax season after it was acquired by Block. That produced a 59 percent increase in the number of federal returns filed electronically. The number of state returns were up 46 percent and bank product rose by 114 percent.
Phone: (800) 230-2322
Web site: www.taxworks.com
Software name: TaxWorks
Federal 1040 Price (first year): $1,095
Renewal price: $1,195
Pay-per-return pricing: $400 deposit, can be used toward any return: $17 for each 1040 federal and state return: $32 for each business return includes both federal and state.
Online preparation: Not available.
Multi-state processing: 42 states simultaneously
Support methods: Toll-free phone, email fax
Tax-season support hours: 6 am to 8 pm MT
Document Management/Storage: ArkWorks
Client portals: N/A
Internet capabilities. Links to online knowledge base, help files; email capabilities.
Online Organizer: N/A
Bank products: RAL, RT, Instant RAL.
New for next season: Automated program upgrades, enhanced Client Selection screen optimization, enhanced Revisions History.