With tax season over, now is the time for tax practitioners to tinker with different software to find a better fit for their practices. At the same time, vendors hope to get a head start on next season's sales by offering special summer season discounts and tryouts.Meanwhile, there is good reason for preparers to be open to new software solutions.

Both the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 and the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004 contain changes to 2005 taxes, and a host of prospective changes await legislative action in the remainder of the year. These include possible elimination of the alternative minimum tax and permanent repeal of the estate tax. While changes are likely to be phased in, any legislation is sure to include add-ons as last-minute bargaining among conferees takes place.

Publicity over legislative changes tends to drive more taxpayers to professional preparers, according to industry observers. It also means more sales for tax preparation vendors, since more preparers are expected to enter the field to service the additional taxpayers who seek professional advice.

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

Caribou, Maine
(877) 728-9776

Call for ATX's demo CD, which provides tax preparation and tax research trials in a single easy-to-use package. In addition to the free demo CD, ATX offers new customers a two-for-one deal: Order a 2005 tax season product and try the 2004 tax season product free of charge for 60 days.

* CCH Tax and Accounting
Riverwoods, Ill.
(800) 739-9998

ProSystem fx Office Suite
Evaluation software is available for free for a 60-day tryout for all ProSystem fx office products, including ProSystem fx Tax, Engagement, Practice, Fixed Assets, Trial Balance, Planning, Profit Driver, Practice Driver and Global fx. It may be ordered by visiting the Web site or calling the toll-free number.

* Creative Solutions
Dexter, Mich.
(800) 968-8900

UltraTax CS
Offers the complete 2005 Ultra Tax 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 desk reference to state e-filing.

* Drake Software
Franklin, N.C.
(800) 890-9500

Drake Software
Complete package includes individual, business, e-file, bank and all state software programs at no additional cost. Additional features include: real-time Web reporting, appointment scheduler, preparer Web sites, and more. Unlimited and pay-per-return packages with low renewal pricing and multi-site discounts available. Free demo available.

* Dunphy Systems
Columbus, Ohio
(614) 431-0846

Dunphy Systems 1040 Program
Working version of last year's individual software is available for free on CD or can be downloaded for free from the Web site. Business equity programs 1120, 1120S and 1065 are available for $50 each.

* HowardSoft
La Jolla, Calif.
(858) 454-0121

Tax Preparer
Working program CD available for 30-day free trial.

* Intuit
San Diego
(800) 934-1040

ProSeries Professional
Complete federal and state returns for individual and business clients with a comprehensive series of forms and schedules. Different price options available. Users can order a free evaluation kit, or take an online test drive.

ProSeries Basic Edition
Professional 1040 tax prep software designed exclusively for the small tax prep business. The ProSeries Basic 50-return suite starts at $250. Users can order a free evaluation kit, or take an online test drive.

ProSeries Express Edition
Designed specifically for busy tax professionals who have experience with filing returns electronically, prepare a high volume of e-file/bank product returns, and who want to complete returns faster and serve even more clients. Users can order a free evaluation kit, or take an online test drive.

* Intuit
Plano, Texas
(800) 765-7777

Lacerte Tax
Lacerte Tax 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. A free evaluation kit is available, or users can take an online test drive.

* Nelco
Green Bay, Wis.
(800) 266-4669

Great Tax
Free demo CDs available at Web site or by calling toll-free number. Conversions are available from many popular software programs on market. Discounts available for first-time orders and early renewals.

* Orrtax Software
Bellevue, Wash.
(800) 377-6589

IntelliTax for Windows, IntelliTax Classic
This year's products, with limited functionality, are available on a free CD for demonstration purposes. Products become fully functional when authorization code is activated upon payment. All packages are priced at a significant discount (40 percent off through July 31).

* Petz Enterprises
Tracy, Calif.
(800) 345-4337

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
(800) 573-4287

Customers can call or go on to the Web site for free, fully functional 2004 evaluation edition. Includes 1040 product, all 1040 states, 1065 product, 1065 states, 1120S and 1120S states. Early-bird prices available on all products.

* TaxSimple Inc.
Randolph, N.J.
(800) 989-8955

TaxSimple offers a free working version of the 2005 CD, including state and federal 1040s with over 2,000 forms, schedules and worksheets, and free electronic filing. The CD also includes programs for Forms 1120, 1120S, 1065, 1041, 706, 709 and 990. The full program may be downloaded for free from Web site. TaxSimple has recently added tax prep outsourcing to its range of services. A variety of special pricing and discounts for first-time users, early renewals and conversion discounts are available.

* TaxWorks
Kaysville, Utah
(800) 230-2322

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.

* Thomson/RIA
Carrollton, Texas
(800) 865-5257

GoSystem Tax (CD) and GoSystem Tax RS (Web-based)
A free 30-day test drive is available on CD or the Web. The GoSystem Tax RS test drive includes all features of the Web-based software. It includes 30-day access for 100 users, including 25 returns for all tax types and all states.

* Universal Tax Systems
Rome, Ga.
(800) 755-9473

Free evaluation kit supplies a fully functional system based on last year's product. TaxWise also offers promotional pricing for new users, early renewal and multiple-location discounts for multiple offices. For a limited time, purchasers of an unlimited Tax or Accounting Package will receive the CCH Master Tax Guide Online free.

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