Tax planning started as a natural response by practitioners whose clients asked how they might fare on next year's return if they engaged in certain transactions during the year ahead.Practitioners who could answer those questions grew their practices into year-round enterprises, while at the same time building client loyalty.

As a result, most tax prep software now has the capability to do simple "what-if" projections, and some have stand-alone modules with stronger capabilities. For example, Franklin, N.C.-based Drake Software has three-year projection capability built into its Tax Solution, and TaxSimple, based in Randolph, N.J., has numerous tax planning worksheets to project tax liability.

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