Now that summer is here, tax preparers have time for trial runs of different software to see if there's a program that might be a better fit for their practices.Vendors, meanwhile, see this time as an opportunity to get a head start on the next filing season by offering special discounts and promotional pricing.

While the number of vendors has shrunk in recent years, the purchases of ATX and TaxWise by CCH, and of TaxWorks by H&R Block, ensure that these brands will continue into the foreseeable future. Previous purchases have resulted in the discontinuation of tax prep offerings. Tax Relief from AccountantsWorld and Package Ex from ExacTax were both discontinued when purchased by Thomson. Sage Software's CPA Tax Manager was discontinued in 2004, when the company entered an alliance with CCH ProSystem fx for its tax prep customers.

Meanwhile, new laws continue to generate opportunities for tax pros. Last year's laws, coupled with the recent Small Business and Work Opportunity Tax Act of 2007 and the prospect of more legislation to come, promises to drive more taxpayers to professional preparers.

The following are the manufacturers with special deals, demos and discounts.

* ATX

Caribou, Maine

www.atxpros.com

(877) 728-9776

ATX

Free evaluation kit available, including a demo CD with more than 10,000 federal, state and local tax forms and W-2/1099 and payroll reporting forms. The new Total Tax and Accounting package includes research, client write-up with payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable, a fixed asset manager and a document manager. The new Scan&Fill program lets you export scanned client data directly to tax returns.

* CCH, a Wolters Kluwer

business

Riverwoods, Ill.

http://cchgroup.com

(800) 739-9998

ProSystem fx Office Suite

Evaluation software available for tryout for ProSystem fx Office products, including Tax, Engagement, Practice, Fixed Assets, Trial Balance, Planning, Profit Driver and Practice Driver.

* Drake Software

Franklin, N.C.

www.drakesoftware.com

(800) 890-9500

Drake Software

Complete package includes individual, business, partnerships, corporations, e-file, bank and all state software programs at no additional cost. Additional features include client write-up with MICR check encoding, on-line tax research tools, real-time Web reporting, appointment scheduler, preparer Web sites, tax planner, and more.

* Greatland Corp.

Grand Rapids, Mich.

www.greatland.com

(800) 968-1099

GreatTax

GreatTax offers individual and business tax packages, online e-file center, bank products and pay-per-return options. Free demo available.

* HowardSoft

La Jolla, Calif.

www.howardsoft.com

(858) 454-0121

Tax Preparer

Working program CD available for 30-day free trial. Check Web site for further promotions.

* Intuit

San Diego

www.proseries.com

(800) 934-1040

ProSeries Professional

New, low price of $999 includes unlimited use of all individual federal and state forms.

ProSeries Basic Edition

Designed for smaller tax practices that primarily prepare 1040 and state individual returns.

ProSeries Express Edition

Designed for practices that prepare a high volume of returns and need rapid refund and bank product options.

* Lacerte (Intuit)

Plano, Texas

www.lacertesoftware.com

(800) 765-7777

Lacerte Tax

Lacerte has a large list of worksheets, schedules and forms, robust functionality and in-depth calculations, along with integration with other major financial software tools that can help streamline workflow. Free evaluation is available.

* Orrtax Software Solutions

Bellevue, Wash.

www.orrtax.com

(800) 337-6507

IntelliTax Individual, IntelliManager, IntelliTax Business

This year's products, with limited functionality, available on free CD for demonstration purposes. All packages priced at a significant discount (35 percent off through September 30).

* Petz Enterprises

Tracy, Calif.

www.petzent.com

(800) 345-4337

CrossLink

"Fly for Free" and free demos available on CD or by downloading from Web site. Early renewal discounts available.

* 2nd Story Software

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

www.taxact.com

(800) 573-4287

TaxAct

Free evaluation copy and early-bird discounts available.

* TaxSimple Inc.

Randolph, N.J.

www.taxsimple.com

(800) 989-8955

TaxSimple

Free full version of 2006 tax-year CD, including state and federal 1040s with over 2,000 forms, schedules and worksheets, and e-filing capabilities. CD also includes programs for Forms 1120, 1120S, 1065, 1041, 706, 709 and 990. Demo available at www.taxsimple.net. Special pricing and discounts for first-time users; early renewals and conversion discounts available.

* TaxWise

Rome, Ga.

www.taxwise.com

(800) 755-9473

TaxWise

Free evaluation kit supplies a demo version of Forms 1040, 1120, 1120S, 165, 1041, 706, 709 and 990, and state modules. Also offers promotional pricing for new users, early renewal discounts and discounts for multiple offices. The new integrated suite of accounting products includes client write-up with payroll, and Scan&Fill, a new program that lets you export scanned client data directly to tax returns.

* TaxWorks

Kaysville, Utah

www.taxworks.com

(800) 230-2322

TaxWorks

Free demos on CD for federal and state Forms 1040, 1041, 1065, 1120, 1120S, 706, 709, 990 and 5500. Discounts for early renewals and for new users on selected packages. Free e-filing now included with every return.

* Thomson Tax & Accounting

Dexter, Mich.

www.gosystem.thomson.com

(800) 726-1040

GoSystem Tax (CD) and GoSystem Tax RS (Web-based)

Free 30-day test drive available on CD or Web. GoSystem Tax RS Test Drive includes all features of the Web-based software, and 30-day access for 100 users, including 25 returns for all tax types and all states.

UltraTax CS

http://cs.thomson.com

(800) 968-8900

Complete 2006 UltraTax CS software package at no charge for evaluation purposes. Early renewals are offered a discount, and specially priced new user packages are available. Trial includes a free white paper of 21 tips for growing your practice.

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