Absolute, not relative

Ordinarily, when we apply the word "cool" to anything related to tax prep, it's understood that it's "cool" in a relative way - not actually cool,

but as cool as anything involved in tax prep can be. This year, though, we think it's safe to describe some of the new tax-time tools as actually, not just relatively, cool. For instance, CCH Small Firm Services (www.cchsfs.com) has teamed up with Versicom Communications to let preparers offer Toll-Free Tax Infoline Plus, an automated service to send clients automatic notifications by e-mail or text message regarding the status of their returns and refund, or let clients check their status by a toll-free number or Web site. We think that's legitimately cool, particularly for small preparers. We also like CCH SFS's 3Fund, which lets clients receive their refunds in any of three ways - by direct deposit or check, or on a debit card. More on the relative side of cool, but still hugely useful, is CCH SFS's new PaperlessPlus software, a document management system for organizing and storing e-mails, spreadsheets, memos and other documents. It features scheduled automatic backups and electronic signature capabilities, and comes in a Premier version with more features, including bookmarking capabilities. ... Also legitimately cool is Sawhney Systems' new TaxMode (www.taxmode.net), one of the more flexible and easy-to-use tax calculators we've seen. It's set up to look like an actual calculator, and lets you run a wide range of tax analyses and computations in a variety of different modes, with the ability to drill down to specific details (and get references to the applicable IRS forms and line numbers), as well as to make year-to-year comparisons. It's an extremely handy and flexible tool for all sorts of tax planning and analysis. ... Anything even vaguely app-like is definitely cool, and the CCH Tax News Highlights app from CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business (www.cchgroup.com), is also free, which makes it even cooler. It lets anyone with an iPhone, iPad or Android get the latest federal and state tax headlines from CCH - even if they're not a CCH research subscriber. Cool. ... OK, we're not going to pretend that J.K. Lasser is even relatively cool. But its authoritative tax guide, Your Income Tax (Wiley, $22.95), is definitely useful and, as it celebrates its 75th anniversary, totally venerable. And it's at least working on the whole cool thing, since it's now available as an e-book, and has its own Facebook page.


The accountants' elves

CPA Express Program

BookKeeping Express


The shoemaker was a fool. When he found the elves making shoes for him overnight, did he use the time thus saved to focus on expansion strategies and high-level business analysis? No; instead of building his business, he made clothes for the elves - and tailoring wasn't even his area of comparative advantage! Please promise that when you take advantage of BookKeeping Express' new CPA Express Program, you won't make the same mistake. While their experienced bookkeepers handle your clients' bookkeeping and organize their financials, you should be out developing and selling new, high-value services. The CPA Express service is white-labelled, your firm gets a cut of the gross revenue as long as the client stays with BKE, and you'll have easy, unlimited access to your clients' financials to help with all those fancy new analytical services you'll be offering. Best of all, the bookkeepers all come with their own clothes, so you won't feel pressured to make any for them.


Neatness counts

NeatDesk and NeatReceipts

The Neat Co.


With so many people preaching the paperless office as the Holy Grail of efficiency or environmental consciousness, it's nice to see someone touting its benefits for the old-fashioned virtue of neatness. The Neat Co.'s NeatDesk and NeatReceipts give you either a small desktop scanner or an ultra-portable scanner that integrates with a digital filing system to let you scan and organize documents of all kinds, from receipts and business cards to tax documents and contracts, whether at your office or on the road. The system lets you create searchable PDFs, edit text, and organize and store them in a digital filing cabinet, and is available for both Macs and PCs. So yes, you'll be more efficient and better for the planet by getting rid of all the paper - but your desk will also look a lot cleaner.


Pack in your dreams

Baseline Spinners

Briggs & Riley


If you're like most accountants, you're not going anywhere for the next couple of months, except maybe down the hall to scan another W2. But while they can chain your body to your desk for tax season, they can't imprison your mind, which is free (between calculations) to imagine all the places you'll go after April 16. To encourage your dreams, we're introducing you to the new line of wheeled luggage, or "spinners," from Briggs & Riley - because once you file that last return, you'll want to move fast. The Baseline Collection is all about speed, with four double-swivel wheels so you can turn on a dime, and "SpeedThru" outside pockets for quick storage of items at security checkpoints. The new spinners come in three sizes, and carry a lifetime guarantee - though of course, you'll only need yours to last until the extension deadline.


New and improved!

The Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters has added a number of self-study courses on sales and use tax issues to its Checkpoint Learning platform. ... The Accountant'$ Accelerator, a sales and marketing training program developed specifically for accountants by Sandra L. Levya Inc., is now open for registration for its second year. ... Adaptive Planning has released the Fall 2011 and Winter 2012 releases of its corporate performance management solution, with a variety of reporting enhancements. ... V1 Document Management and Unit4 Business Software have partnered to make V1's document imaging and data capture solutions available to users of Unit4's ERP software, to speed the processing of invoices. ... Global payroll services provider Patersons has released the latest version of its flagship payroll solution, which is now named CloudPay. ... Maxwell Systems has released Version 9.3 of its Maxwell Systems Estimation estimating software for construction contractors, and Version 2.8 of its ProContractorMX construction business management software.

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