TAX$IMPLE offers a collection of tax modules for 1040, 1041, 1120, 1120S, 1065,
706, 709 and 990 federal compliance, along with all 1040 states, most corporate
and partnership states, and many municipalities. An asset depreciation module,
tax practice management system, client management system and client organizers
are also available. Pricing for the system is dependent upon the specific modules
selected since the company offers bundles with any of the programs or states,
allowing professionals to select only those compliance tools that they need.
A base system with 1040 and one-state compliance for up to 75 returns costs
$333, not including e-filing costs, which are $9.95 federal and $7.95 per state
(federal is free for AGIs under $50,000). E-filing is also available for most
of the other entity types. TAX$IMPLE also offers direct filing to consumers
and a professional combined W-2/W-3/1099/940/941 package.
Learning Curve — 4 Stars
In general, all of TAX$IMPLE’s modules use the same interface. The program
opens to a screen that offers traditional pull-down menus along with function
buttons (not icons) across the top for accessing the system’s primary
functions as well as the client and practice management features. The client
management list opens by default into the work area when the system is opened,
which saves a step, with the list providing sort and filter options for a good
array of general client data columns.
Upon opening a client return, the primary work area of the program opens the
form on which you’re working, while the menu bars across the top of the
screen change to provide preparation-specific functions, including an array
of more than two dozen buttons that are crowded and not always intuitive. These
buttons are grouped and labeled into categories, such as forms tasks, Help,
accessing state packages, and e-filing functions. Most of these buttons offer
mouse-over descriptions. The interface is very clean and crisp, with data entry
taking place on form replicas with on-screen prompts alerting users to required
fields and easing movement between supported forms and schedules, although these
messages often use language that seems more directed at a filer rather than
a tax professional. This is likely a result of the repurposing of the consumer-focused
product that the company also offers.
TAX$IMPLE includes several “heads-down” navigation functions,
including extensive hot keys and shortcuts. Additionally, the system includes
many pull-down selection lists for data-entry fields that may frequently have
the same information, and users can also create customized selection menus.
Movement between forms and supporting worksheets is also exceptionally easy.
The form-based approach should be easy to follow for most users, although the
system’s method of saving a return or moving to the next data-entry section
seems a little awkward: During data entry, there is a pair of EXIT buttons on
the icon bar — one for quitting the program and one for saving and leaving
the current client return. Even though one is red and one is green, a simple
Next button, or a Save & Close button would be more intuitive. Also, data-entry
screens do not allow the use of a mouse scroll wheel for navigation. A note
on installation: The program code requires the program files be installed on
a system’s C: drive, which is not a significant matter except that some
professionals may have file structures that are disrupted by this.
Use/Workflow & Productivity Tools — 4 Stars
As with most tax preparation programs, TAX$IMPLE automatically calculates returns
and transfers calculations to necessary forms and schedules, with the ability
to drill back down to the source worksheet or schedule, or to override calculations
if necessary. As part of its calculations, the program checks for AMT, passive
activity losses and transfer losses across years, and provides an easy MFJ vs.
MFS comparison tool. The program does not offer the ability to place notes or
tag data-entry fields, but does provide a notepad and a calculator. The program’s
asset depreciation module supports all major depreciation methods, including
MACRS, ACRS and CLADR, in addition to Sec. 179 calculations and carryovers.
The corporate and partnership modules automatically generate K-1s, but the system
does not transfer that data into the individual returns for those clients. The
program automatically runs a diagnostics check when closing a client return
and offers a strong reporting function with summary reports available for client
and firm data, including income, AMT, IRAs and other options. Users can also
access blank forms and print labels and client communications. The client management
system enables creating duplicate clients and assorted file tasks. As well,
TAX$IMPLE offers print-based client organizers.
Integration/Import & Export — 3.5 Stars
The program handles data well within each module, moving data between forms
as needed, but does not enable K-1 data sharing as noted above, or data sharing
between parent/child returns. The program’s additional features work well
with the system, enhancing client and practice management. TAX$IMPLE includes
interfaces for importing data from accounting and trial balance systems, and
offers a portal for accessing various tax research websites. The program does
not offer *.PDF printing capability.
Support/Training & Help System — 4 Stars
TAX$IMPLE’s form-based entry screens offer in-progress assistance through
alerts at the bottom of the screen that inform the user of various line-specific
details, and also offers other context-sensitive assistance. A collection of
*.PDF Help documents is accessible via the Help menu, including the user’s
manual, a “walk-thru guide,” IRS publications and instructions,
and several others. An online FAQ section is available, but otherwise the online
support center is limited to e-mail links. Phone support is included with the
Relative Value — 3.5 Stars
TAX$IMPLE offers the basics for professional tax preparation, offering fully
capable 1040 functions with an interface that is generally intuitive and works
well with e-filing and RALs. The business and other entities are not as powerful,
but would suffice for tax practices handling only a few such returns. The program
is best-suited for small practices with non-complex client tax bases. Pricing
is attractive, although e-fling is not included. Instead, e-filing is offered
at a higher price point than similar programs. :::;
2006 Overall Rating: 4 Stars