2012 Review of CFS Tax Software, Inc. - CA & NY Sales Tax Preparer

CFS Tax Software, Inc. – CA and NY Sales Tax Preparer   – 6399
www.taxtools.com

800-343-1157

From the Apriil 2012 Review of Sales & Use Tax Systems.

 

Best Fit: Preparers responsible for small and mid-sized businesses with multiple locations and reporting requirements in California or New York.

Strengths:

  • Very easy to use, and includes automatic system updates
  • Built-in e-filing and payments to California
  • Reports, forms, and gross summary reports can be published to PDF or paper
  • Integrated client communication tools
  • Multi-entity/client management

Potential Limitations:

  • Only handles California and New York returns
  • E-filing is not natively supported for New York Returns
  • Very little integration with accounting systems

The CA and NY Sales Tax Preparer systems from CFS Tax Software, which are sold and run independently, can be used to prepare returns for multiple entities. The tools are designed for preparation of sales and use tax returns, plus related filings, including main and short forms, client communication templates, state filing instructions, e-filing and payment for California returns. CFS also offers a wide range of tools, including California and Maryland business and personal property taxes, tax research, financial planning tools, Schedule D tools, live and after-the-fact payroll, W-2/1099 reporting.

Basic System Functions - 4.5 Stars

Each of the state programs operate independently, but share common design and navigation elements and form preparation functions. Each application opens into a master screen composed of panels for the client list, client folder and the module library. The client list is a basic, alphabetized list, with the ability to add or edit clients. The client information screens are familiar and easy to use, with options for managing business banking and tax ID information, as well as assignment of paid preparers, if more than one at a firm.

The module library lists all of the forms available for either California or New York, depending on the version of the program. Preparers have quick access to forms and reports, as well as labels, memos, account statements, to do lists and invoices. Users navigate to select the form, identify the filing period, and the system opens up an automatically populated form replica containing basic business information. The program calculates fields as data is entered, and offers direct access to instructions for each field.

Installation is quick and guided by simple prompts that also aide in setting up initial client and preparer/firm data. The systems can be installed on a single workstation or, with the addition of the network license, can be used by any number of preparers and staff in an office. CFS Sales Tax Preparer can be used to manage and file returns for any number of business entities.

Compliance Capabilities - 4.25 Stars

Both the California and New York Sales Tax Preparer systems offer support for all local and special taxing jurisdictions in their states, and support filings for businesses with multiple locations in these states. For the CA program, forms preparation includes: 401, 401-EZ, Schedules A, B, C, G, 1150 prepayment, and also BOE 65, 91, 101, 135-A, 230, 345, 392, 400-MCO, 400-MIP, 400-MT, 400-SPA, 401-DS, 401-E, 468, 531-G, 735, 501-ER Electronic Waste Fee, 501-TF Tire Fee, 501-TK Storage Tank Fee. The NY program offers forms ST-100, 101, 810, 809, 943, 945/1045, and Schedules A, FR H, N/N, P and W, plus Connecticut form OS-114. As noted previously, data entry is performed on form replicas that, when printed are approved for filing, and the programs offer tools for distributing sales across jurisdictions within the states.

CFS is approved by the California BOE as an e-file and e-payment system for sales and use tax, and utilizes the Direct Transmit method (XML-based) for filings. Users have the optio of performing all processing electronically, can mail paper-based filings, or file electronically and mail a check. New York’s recent changes to sales and use tax filings included a mandate for most businesses to e-file, but the state has not yet approved any integration with technology vendors, so electronic New York filers must use the state website.

The NY Sales Tax Preparer system can be used to prepare and file returns by mail for small filers not subject to the e-filing requirement. Users of the state e-file system can use the program to process and prepare, then enter summarized data into the website, while retaining a PDF copy for their records. The state is working on a process to certify and allow e-filing via preparation programs, and CFS has a goal of being among the first approved New York sales and use tax software providers.

Tax table updates are provided periodically to users of the most current year of each program, and the systems include the option to automatically download and install updates. CD-based copies of the tables are also available.

Integration/Import/Export - 3 Stars

Both the CA and NY sales tax systems share a common database with the Company’s other tools and programs. These integrated applications include TaxTools, Tax Corresponder, W-4 Calculator, Small Business Tools, MD Personal Property, CA 571 Preparer and Financial Planning Tools. The systems cannot import sales, tax or client data from outside accounting systems.

Reporting tools include client communication templates which create cover letters, memos, label makers, and client letters, as well as basic reports such as gross sales summaries and client invoices. Returns and reports can be saved to PDF format for digital file management or emailed from the program.

Help/Support - 4.5 Stars

The programs include built-in help indexes, and form preparation is aided by linked access to line-by-line instructions. The CFS support website offers various resources, including FAQs, videos, links to tax websites and user forms. Live support is included free with pricing and includes phone-based assistance and remote and chat-based support.

Executive Summary & Pricing
The Sales Tax Preparer system is easy to understand and use, and linked instructions, module overviews and training videos ease new users in the software’s workflow processes. The systems are best designed for small and mid-sized businesses that have taxable sales in more than one jurisdiction within either CA or NY, and need a simple solution for preparation and filing. The CA version of the program costs $119 for new users, $99 for renewals. The NY version costs $169 for new users, and $149 for renewals. The addition of the network upgrade for either version is $50 per year.

2012 Overall Rating: 4 Stars

 

 

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