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CCH Tax and Accounting — CertiTAX, ZipSales Returns & ZipSales Database/Lookup


From the August 2005 Review of Sales & Use Tax Software

CCH’s sales & use tax solution is a combination of services including the CertiTax product suite, ZipSales Returns and ZipSales Database/Lookup with Taxability, and The CertiTax suite of products includes CertiCalc, CertiShip, CertiAudit and CertiFile. ZipSales Returns is a sales tax preparation system that supports all taxing jurisdictions in the United States. ZipSales Database is a tax rate database, mapped by ZIP code, and broken down by state, county, city and local taxing jurisdiction. ( is a marketing site that gives prospective users the ability to learn about the product and sign up for trial usage.

ZipSales Returns is a hosted service that is mapped to a company’s accounting program and allows for real-time transfer and sharing of data in support of populating, calculating and filing sales and use tax returns.

Pricing for the CertiTax product suite is $560 to $18,000 annually, depending on volume. ZipSales Returns costs $2,875 to $17,000 annually, depending on volume. ZipSales Database with Taxability (for general merchandise) costs $2,520 to $6,300 (tiered based on number of states). Pricing varies for other product groups.

Navigation & Data Entry – 4.5 Stars
As previously noted, CertiTax and ZipSales Returns is a hosted web service that is accessed via a web browser. After setup and mapping to the local accounting program, CertiTax and ZipSales Returns manage the process of calculating sales tax on an invoice-by-invoice basis in real-time. In most situations, no additional data entry is required, as tax returns are automatically populated with data created and stored during the order entry process. Users can override calculated amounts on returns.

Various system attributes are addressed during setup, including user-level security, which determines access rights for individual users including administrative functions related to company profile, user administration, bank account data, location information and tax returns.

Using the ZipSales Database, correct sales tax is calculated and logged for each sales transaction. ZipSales Returns automatically compiles returns, schedules and worksheets from data uploaded from the company’s sales and accounting programs, providing review-ready returns that are ready for either paper or electronic submission to taxing jurisdictions.

Users can review, edit, print and audit tax returns, including archived returns, audit trails and reports. Users are presented with current and historical returns in a format that is sortable by return date, jurisdiction and other data, with returns appearing as forms in *.PDF format that can be directly edited or approved. The system allows overriding of return data and logs activities to the audit trail.
Please note that accounting practitioners prepare returns from “scratch” in support of client compliance needs. While I was able to create and print sales tax returns, ZipSales Returns was designed to interact with commercial accounting packages.

CertiTax and ZipSales Returns provides, creates and manages data that enables and supports management review of the sales tax filing process, including a list of returns with the amount of tax paid, filing/e-filing status, GL reference codes and more.

Paper Filing, Electronic Compliance & Payment – 5 Stars
ZipSales Returns is extremely capable when it comes to tax compliance, offering complete support for paper filing as well as offering support for electronic filing in all jurisdictions for which it
is required. ZipSales Returns supports Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) for remittance of tax collections.

Rate Updates – 5 Stars
As a web-based service, CertiTax and ZipSales Returns provide all tax rate updates and adjustments to rate tables as necessary. Users need not take action.

Help/Training – 4.5 Stars
Support includes FAQs, traditional telephone and email-based customer support, online and downloadable User Guides, web-based and live seminars, hands-on sessions, tutorials, and demo versions of the products.

Relative Value – 5 Stars
CertiTax and ZipSales Returns’ strength is as a comprehensive web service in support of sales tax computation, collection, filing and payment. Users set up their systems, set up new customer accounts, and CertiTax and ZipSales Returns does the
rest. Mapping to the user’s accounting system provides dynamic interchange and access to data, which creates a sharing process — a joining-to-the-hip — with results
that only a comprehensive solution can deliver. This is not a system for simple return compliance; it is a system designed to deal with complexity of multiple entities, multiple product codes and multiple tax jurisdictions —
a fit to medium-sized businesses.

I spoke with a “veteran” web service user of three years who said the product is easy to operate. He also added that “support for paper and electronic filing is excellent. We never wait more than 15 minutes. We are very satisfied.”

2005 Overall Rating – 5 Stars