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

The efilesalestax.com system is fully web-based, providing an after-the-fact sales tax reporting and electronic funds remittance program for use either by accounting and tax professionals or directly by businesses with transaction tax compliance requirements in California, Florida and Illinois. Each state version of the system provides compliance support for all subsidiary taxing entities, including city, county and special jurisdictions. The California and Illinois programs are use-based, with each filing costing $6.95, and discounts available for prepaid filings. An unlimited filing version of the California and Illinois software is $199 per year, which is likely the best option for professional firms servicing multiple clients in those states. Pricing for the Florida product is $29 per year for single taxpayers, and tax professionals filing for multiple clients starts at $99 per year for five clients. Additional Florida clients can be added for $20 per five-pack.

Navigation & Data Entry -- 4.5 Stars
The program is accessed via the user’s web browser, opening to a very user-friendly interface that can be viewed in either English or Spanish. It provides primarily text-based links to the program’s key functions, such as accessing previous Completed Filings, Settings, Purchase, Reminders, FAQs, Support, Resources and Help. After initially logging in and selecting the state with which to work, the initial entry screen displays any returns in process by the user, but which have not yet been completed, as well as options for starting new returns or sales tax prepayment of program usage fees (if not using the unlimited version). Returns in progress are displayed in a table format that shows the state sales tax account number, form type, filing period, taxpayer name and when the report was last updated.

To start a new return, the user selects the business entity from a basic list and then chooses which form type to prepare. For California, this includes electronically filing 401-EZ, 401-A with Schedule A or T, or sales tax prepayment form 1150. A paper filing option is available for those needing 401-A with Schedules A, B and C. The Florida version offers forms DR-15, DR-7, DR-15CS consolidated, and DR-15SW Solid Waste, while the Illinois version supports sales tax forms ST-1 and ST-2.

During initial entry of form data, the system automatically fills in paid preparer information based on the user profile. It then opens the actual financial data collection screen, with access to line-by-line filing instructions. After entering deductions and allocating gross sales among taxation districts, the program computes the appropriate taxes and displays a breakdown per taxing entity (state, city, county). Financial data can also be imported from QuickBooks.

Prior to submitting the electronic form and payment authorization to the state tax department, the system prompts the user to ensure that they really want to proceed. And that’s about the whole program — simple and easy-to-use for entities with few locations and tax liabilities. The eFileSalesTax system also includes a Reminder function that alerts the user via e-mail to pending filing dates, and the Florida version includes a cover letter feature for client communications.

Filing, Electronic Compliance & Payment - 4.5 Stars
While the program is built up as an electronic sales tax filing and remittance tool, it can also be used to print fileable versions of many of the tax reports. The program is fully compliant with the taxing entities in each of the states it supports, providing both filing and electronic funds transfer, with the ability to delay actual payment until a specified date. Reports can be saved to PDF format.

Rate Updates - 5 Stars
Rate tables in the online system are automatically maintained by staff at eFileSalesTax.com, thus requiring no action by users.

Help/Training - 4 Stars
The data-entry forms provide line-by-line instructions, and Help features are easily accessible. The company offers online FAQs, tutorials, information on amnesty and many other topics, and unlimited technical support is included with the program.

Relative Value - 4 Stars
As far as after-the-fact sales and use tax reporting systems go, eFileSalesTax.com offers a wonderfully simple utility that enables users to file a return in minutes, with the return and remittance handled electronically. The program is geared toward use by businesses of all sizes and professionals serving client businesses whose primary reporting needs are in California, Florida or Illinois.

2008 Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars