Electronic Sales & Use Tax, Inc. - eFileSalesTax.com

From the August 2009 Review of Sales & Use Tax Programs

For businesses doing business in California, Florida and Illinois, eFileSalesTax.com offers a bilingual after-the-fact, web-based solution that can be used to file sales and use tax returns for each of these states and all of their taxing counties, municipalities and taxing districts. For California filers, forms include 401-EZ, 401-A, 401-ASR (formerly Sch. T) and sales tax pre-payments. Florida returns include the DR-15 and DR-15SW (solid waste and surcharge). Illinois forms include ST-1, ST-1-X, ST-2 and ST-2-X. Pricing for the CA and FL versions of eFileSalesTax.com is based on a per-use basis for $6.95 for a single return. Discounts are available for businesses pre-paying for return filing, with 12 returns costing $72.95.

CA and FL unlimited return filing for 12 months costs $199, which could be useful to entrepreneurs or professionals filing returns for multiple entities in these states. The Florida version costs $29 per year for single companies, $99 per year for consolidated filers and $99 per year for multi-company use. These fees allow electronic filing and remittance of liabilities or print-based filing of returns.

Users log into the secure eFileSalesTax system using their web browser, which brings up a main page for the state they have selected. A business/client list allows users to easily start new returns or look up historical returns, and any number of businesses can be managed through the program. Returns are archived essentially forever, with no cost to look up and print prior returns. Charges are only assessed when completing a new filing.

The system is extremely easy to use, with only a few steps involved. After selecting the business entity for which to file and then the appropriate form, the user then selects any additional schedules, enters the filing date and business information, and follows on-screen forms for entry of financial data, county/district sales and other miscellaneous information. Data-entry features are generally user friendly, providing drop-down selection lists and calendars, with calculations automatically performed by the program. Most standard business filer information is transferred automatically to forms to speed entry. eFileSalesTax’s entry fields also provide links from each line to the official form directions. All three state versions of the system are available in English and Spanish. As an alternative to manual data entry, users can import sales data from QuickBooks.

The system includes a Reminders feature that can be set up to send an email or cell phone text message reminding users of specific filing dates or other actions for specific businesses. The reminders can be set to occur monthly, quarterly or yearly, and on specific days. eFileSalesTax also offers a few other tools, including a cover letter manager that allows users to create custom templates that can be attached to returns, and returns are automatically stored in PDF format, allowing them to be easily printed or e-mailed.

Users have the choice of e-filing and electronically paying their tax liabilities or to print returns, and the system provides ample warning before any submissions are made and processed electronically. It also offers a “test” option for the user to verify they are using correct banking information. Users can also print out a summary accountant review copy of the sales tax data prior to completing a return. E-filing and payment processing is included in the per-use pricing.

Because the program is web-based, all rate tables are updated and maintained on the backend by eFileSalesTax.com. The system also provides guidance on some tax issues, including recently changed rates and taxability.

The eFileSalesTax.com system is just so easy to use that most users, even most novice small business owners who hate technology, should be able to use it with little or no guidance or Help. For those needing some guidance, however, the program offers links to instructions for each line of each return and worksheet, and also has links to the company’s support website, which has demo tutorials, FAQs and other self-help resources. Technical support is included in pricing.

For entities doing business in only California, Florida or Illinois, eFileSalesTax.com provides a simple solution that can be used on an as-needed basis with no major technology investment. As an after-the-fact system, it provides the basics of what these businesses need, plus a few nice features such as the email and text reminders. It can also be useful to accounting services providers with clients needing assistance with sales tax compliance.