IDMS Inc. — Account Ability Tax Form Preparation

From the Oct. 2007 Review of W-2/1099 Systems

The Account Ability system is designed for preparers who handle the annual wage statements and information returns for multiple clients. It also offers support for any number of payer companies and payees and offers compliance functions for all versions of forms 1099, 1098 and W-2, W-2c, along with W-3, W-3c, 1096, 5498, 5498-ESA and 5498-SA. The network-ready program allows printing to plain, pre-printed paper or pressure seal forms and includes unlimited e-filing and magnetic media filing to the IRS and SSA, as well as to states supporting the MMREF-1 format. Account Ability costs $154.95 per year for a single-user network-ready license; additional users can be added for $35 each. An optional add-on e-filing service through which IDMS submits and tracks returns for the user costs $50 per year. As well, the vendor extends a 10 percent volume discount on all tax forms and envelopes to subscribers of The CPA Technology Advisor, which is obtained by entering the reseller code CPATECH on the shopping cart when checking out at

Usability/Navigation – 5 Stars
Account Ability installs quickly and opens to a mostly blank primary window with pull-down menus across the top for Module, Preferences, Forms, Window and task-related Help functions. Most tasks are accessed either via the Module or Forms windows. Working within client data files is performed by selecting the Client Management option from the Module menu, which provides a spreadsheet client selection list that includes search and sort functions. The window also offers icons for creating new clients or copying existing ones, displaying all active forms for a selected client, activity reports and printing options. When within a program module, the system maintains a system menu on the right side of the master screen, which includes options for adding new forms, navigation, searching, printing, electronic and magnetic filing, saving, and closing out of the module.

Working within forms is intuitive since the program utilizes form replicas for data entry, automatically populating all payer information and making overrideable calculations for various fields such as FICA and Medicare taxes as data is entered. Data is not automatically saved, and the right-side menu with the save button is a little odd at first. However, the form-based data entry is otherwise very simple to understand and navigate, and most users should grow accustomed to the program quickly and with no training. Account Ability watches for duplicate taxpayer IDs and includes a U.S. Postal Service address verification function as well as password security at the payer level. Backup and restore functions are easily accessible, and the user is prompted to backup each time the program is closed. The system uses the SSA’s AccuWage and AccuW2c tools to identify file errors prior to transmission. Users can customize the system desktop and navigation features, as well as font and color options.

Reporting & Import/Export Capabilities – 5 Stars
The system’s Client Activity Report and Client Master Report are easily accessible via icons on the top toolbar, while all forms can be printed to plain or pre-printed paper or to pressure seal forms. The program also has a state/local wage and withholding report. In addition to laser and inkjet printers, the program still supports dot-matrix printers for continuous forms printing. Account Ability also offers PostNet barcoding, which enables the system to automatically print the USPS postal barcode on envelopes. Account Ability can import from QuickBooks, Excel, ASCII and MMREF-compliant files, while the vendor also offers free conversion services for importing data from third-party payroll programs. Filer and recipient data can be exported to ASCII formatted files that can be imported into most financial applications, including Excel.

Support for Paperless Transmission – 4.5 Stars
Electronic and magnetic filing functions are handled via links to the SSA Business Services Online portal and the IRS FIRE reporting system. Magnetic and electronic media files are formatted per each agency’s requirements. IDMS’ optional e-filing add-on acts as an outsourced service that handles the submission and tracking of information returns and includes unlimited original and correction returns processing.

Help/Training – 4.5 Stars
Account Ability is easy to use and offers built-in assistance features, including task-specific help, IRS and SSA instructions, an electronic user manual, a program tutorial, and links to various sites, including the IRS, SSA, the vendor’s support website, FAQs and a tip of the day. Phone support is included in the cost of the program.

2007 Overall Rating: 5 Stars