— California Sales Tax offers a variety of online tax preparation options for individuals, tax professionals and business filers. The vendor’s business offerings include payroll and 1099 filings, as well as the California Sales Tax system reviewed here. The web-based system provides after-the-fact electronic filing of Form 401 and Schedules A and T with the California Board of Equalization (BOE), as well as direct electronic remittance of funds through a link to the BOE. The program is designed as a single business entity system, with pricing at $9 per filing (the first three filings are free). also offers 1040 preparation and a professional 1040 system for multiple clients.

Navigation & Data Entry - 4 Stars
The system opens within the user’s web browser and, after logging in, provides the user with a very simple main screen that offers access to previously entered forms, options for starting a new form, and basic utilities for setting up the user account and entering basic business information. When starting a new sales tax return, the program initially requires verification of the business entity and preparer information, then verifies the user’s BOE account number, after which the screen offers the ability to select filing period dates. Since the program is integrated with the state BOE system, it automatically pulls filing information and prompts the user to prepare a return for the current period or for any missed reporting periods.

Entry of sales, deductions and other financial data takes place on a replica of the state tax form, with instructions for each line providing definitions of its use (such as for entering data on various types of sales, spending on fixtures and equipment, or tax exempt transactions. One the user has completed entering this data, the program’s next window provides allocation functions, requiring the user to identify the locations of the taxable sales so that it can apply the appropriate taxes for each city, county or other taxing entity. Users can navigate forward and back between data-entry pages by using text-based forward and back links. automatically performs calculations and transfers data as necessary between schedules and the primary form and then provides the user with a summary overview of taxation, with notation of prepayments, penalties, interest and net taxes due. The system does not offer an import utility to acquire financial data from accounting systems. Prior to actual submission of the form and electronic remittance of funds, the system prompts the user several times for verification, hopefully preventing the user from submitting incomplete returns. Users can leave a return in progress and return to it later if necessary. The program is pretty straightforward, providing simple data entry for sales tax compliance within California.

Filing, Electronic Compliance & Payment - 4 Stars
As a fully online system that integrates with the BOE’s online filing and payment center, the California Sales Tax system from automates the process of electronic filing and remittance of sales taxes. After electronically submitting a tax period return, users can print non-fileable versions of the forms. Electronic payments can be scheduled to occur on a later date, up to the deadline.

Rate Updates - 5 Stars
As with all online sales tax programs approved by the BOE, the rate tables in California Sales Tax are automatically updated by the vendor,, along with periodic system upgrades.

Help/Training - 2.5 Stars includes form instructions for each line of data entry and is very intuitive in its use. The company’s support website provides a few FAQs, but is very limited and focused on its 1040 self-preparation program. Live, phone-based tech support is available on a per-incident basis.

Relative Value - 4 Stars
For California-based entities with generally non-complex sales tax reporting requirements, the web-based California Sales Tax system provides a very easy-to-use option in a pay-per-use format that doesn’t require software upgrades or rate table maintenance. The program is designed primarily as a single-user, single-business solution, with no support for multiple client businesses. With its integration with the BOE, the program makes electronic filing and payment easy, and ensures that filers are up-to-date on filing deadlines.

2008 Overall Rating: 4 Stars