* INTUIT LAUNCHES TAX RESEARCH SITE: Intuit has launched an online tax research Web site called TaxAlmanac, in which it is enabling practitioners to post questions and answers.

Although the beta site has links to government Web pages, most of its content will come from users, according to an Intuit spokesperson. The site, www.taxalmanac.com, is built on a concept similar to Wikipedia, a Web-based free-content encyclopedia to which users can submit articles. "As the content builds up, you can do a search," the spokesperson said. TaxAlmanac is free and Intuit has no plans to charge for access.

More than 1,800 people registered in the first 48 hours of operation in late May, and there were about 35,000 page views during that time. Besides offering a section for questions and comments, the site also has one for tax professional commentary.

- Robert Scott

* PCAOB RELEASES XBRL GUIDANCE: The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board released guidance related to attest engagements regarding Extensible Business Reporting Language data furnished under the Securities and Exchange Commission XBRL Voluntary Financial Reporting Program on the Edgar system.

The staff questions and answers provide guidance for auditors who are engaged to report on whether the XBRL data accurately reflects the corresponding information in the official Edgar filings, and address both performance and reporting matters relating to applying the board's attestation standards to those engagements.

The XBRL Voluntary Financial Reporting Program, which began in April, allows public companies to voluntarily furnish XBRL data in an exhibit to specified Edgar filings. The program's aim is to help the SEC assess the ability of public companies to tag their financial information using XBRL technology, and the overall benefits of tagged data for end-users.

While the program doesn't require companies to obtain auditor attestations to XBRL data, the questions and answers provide guidance to auditors engaged to perform such attestations for companies that want to obtain such assurance.

The guidance is available at www.pcaobus.org/standards/staff_questions_and_answers/index.asp.

* SAGE EXPANDS PAYROLL SERVICES: Sage Software unveiled a new online payroll system for mid-market businesses at its recent annual partner conference, Insights 2005.

Sage Online Services "is a fully outsourced payroll service; think of ADP," Sage president and chief executive Ron Verni said. "We built it from the ground up because we built it the way customers wanted it deployed." The product can also be used in-house.

"This is a competitive advantage for you," said Verni to the roughly 3,000 attendees. "Now you don't have to sell only a desktop version - we now have both editions in our world."

The company's Sage Payroll Services offering is built on Web architecture. The software runs in a Web browser with no implemented client-site application, but users need high-speed Internet access and a desktop computer in order to run the program.

The new payroll system includes services like Sage Payroll Services Abra Edition, which integrates with Sage Abra HRMS, a human resources management system, and Sage Payroll Services MAS edition, which integrates with the MAS 90 and 200 editions. The new payroll system can also be used as a stand-alone version, however, and integrated with any accounting software system that a small or midsized business may already own.

The new system includes 24/7 support, real-time reports, on-demand check printing, and remote check and W-2 printing and delivery.

- Lisa Spinelli

* COUGAR ANNOUNCES TOP 10 PARTNERS: Cougar Mountain Software, a provider of accounting software for small to midsized businesses, recently honored its top ten resellers at its 2005 annual conference.

The company's top ten business partners are: MWS & Associates, of Gainesville, Fla.; Software Outfitters, of Eagle, Idaho; Data\Add, of Carencro, La.; Accounting Systems Inc., of Fort Collins, Colo.; Helpnet LLC, of Harrisonburg, Va.; Carr, Riggs & Ingram LLP, in Enterprise, Ala.; Computer Team, in Bettendorf, Iowa; 55W Accounting, of Pierson, Fla.; Business Computer Systems, in Ketchikan, Alaska; and A-Z Complete Accounting Service, of El Paso, Texas.

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