CA Sales Tax Preparer and NY Sales Tax Preparer are separate programs offered
by CFS Tax Software for the calculation of state, city and local taxes for their
respective jurisdictions, and are both approved by the state taxing authorities.
Both programs, as well as most programs developed by the vendor, share the same
interface and general navigation functions. This review offers information on
both systems. The CA sales tax system has an annual cost of $99, with renewals
available for $89. The NY version is $169; $149 for renewals. Network licenses
are an additional $50 per year. CFS also offers a variety of compliance, planning,
payroll and research tools, in addition to forms and supplies, although the
Sales Tax Preparer systems can both print to plain paper.
Navigation & Data Entry — 4.5 Stars
Sales Tax Preparer opens to a very functional master screen that includes a
searchable client list, a forms menu, and an automatically organized list of
completed past forms of the active company. It also offers icons and menu options
for accessing the system’s additional features, which include a simple
monthly calendar function that allows the entry of notes for specific clients.
The calendar automatically appears when the program is started if a note has
been entered for an approaching date. Likewise, a To Do List is available for
assigning tasks and recording progress.
The program uses facsimiles of actual forms for data entry, automatically
transferring data from supporting worksheets and schedules as necessary, and
performing all calculations but allowing overrides. Manually entered, transferred,
calculated and overridden entries are highlighted different colors for quick
determination of data sources, with drill-down capability to supporting documents.
As an alternative to manual entry, client information can also be transferred
from CFS’ Tax Tools, Tax Corresponder, W-4 and other programs. The program
does not integrate with or offer import of data from applications from other
Peter A Vernaci, a CPA in San Jose, California, said he’s been using
CFS products in his practice for years, so it just made sense for him to implement
the sales tax system as well, “especially since every time California
or a municipal jurisdiction changes something, CFS updates the rate tables and
sends an update disc.” Mr. Vernaci also noted that the system has built-in
safeguards to make sure that accounts balance before closing.
Filing, Electronic Compliance & Payment — 3.5 Stars
Sales Tax Preparer is geared toward paper filing of sales tax returns and remittances,
although California businesses can use the system in conjunction with the BOE’s
electronic remittance system. Either state version of the program prints approved
state forms on blank paper. The CA system supports and prints form 401 with
Schedules A, B, C, G and T, form 401-EZ and prepayment form 1150, along with
additional supporting documents. The NY system offers forms ST-100, 101, 102-MN,
810 and 809, with schedules A, FR, H, N, P, Q, CT and NJ, along with additional
supporting forms. Both programs offer invoice templates, label/envelope makers,
and various client correspondence sheets, including fax cover sheets, memos,
statements of account and tax form cover sheets.
Rate Updates — 4.5 Stars
CFS offers downloadable rate updates from its website, as well as optional update
CD service for an additional charge. The system can be automatically set to
check for and alert users to available program and rate updates.
Help/Training — 4.5 Stars
Sales Tax Preparer includes a good traditional built-in Help utility with line-by-line
instructions and filing guidelines, and the company offers downloadable demo
versions and tutorials for learning the basics of the system, although the program
is very easy to use and should require little training. Telephone, online and
e-mail-based support is included in the annual subscription price of the program.
Relative Value — 4 Stars
The Sales Tax Preparer offers an intuitive interface with a client/company list
as a central component of the default screen, and keeps all company forms well-organized
and easily accessible. The system is very affordable, yet provides strong support
for sales tax compliance in the two states for which versions are available
(CA and NY). The program does not integrate with accounting systems, but rather
is intended as an after-the-fact reporting application. Nor does it offer built-in
electronic filing support, although CA filers can remit collected taxes through
the BOE’s website. The program is ideally suited to small businesses or
accounting practices serving such clients whose primary business activities
occur in either California or New York.
2006 Overall Rating: 4 Stars