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TaxSimple logoWhen Thomson Reuters acquired TaxSimple, the biggest surprise was that the latter company's products weren't folded. Instead, TaxSimple is going to be in the market with 2010 versions of its tax software. And the reason that this was a typical case of buying a competing packages for the user base is captured in the use of the word "value" to describe where TaxSimple fits into the Thomson line.
Whatever the exact definition of "value" is, it seems clear the acquirer was thinking lower-cost product. And there's been grumbling in the cost-conscious sector of the tax preparation market that the formerly inexpensive Intuit ProSeries has gotten too expensive for that segment.

The TaxSimple line has two versions, one for less experience preparers, and others who have more adept at tax preparation. For the first, calculation of taxes from source documents is virtually automatic," says John Vora, the CEO and founder of Tax Simple, who is staying with the operation under its new ownership

For those who focus on price, TaxSimple's first-year cost is $725 for the federal 1040 and $345 for state forms. Pay per return is $15 for federal returns and $12 for states. The product is more of a bargain on the Web at $9.95 per federal 1040 and $9.95 per state 1040 return.

Compare that to the current discounted price of ProSeries Basic 50 at $470 which includes 50 individual federal and 50 state returns for two states and unlimited efiling and the Basic Unlimited which gives the preparer four states with unlimited state and federal returns and efiling.

Whether Thomson intends to have TaxSimple compete on price remains to be seen. But with few nationally known players remaining, there are still a number of lesser known players whose claim to fame is largely price.

That includes OLT Pro, short for Online Taxes Professional Software, a name that doesn't completely capture what the company does.
"A lot of people don't realize we have downloadable software," says marketing director Dawn Miller. In fact, the CD-based version is its biggest seller. Besides offering both on-premise and online applications, OLTPro has also expanded its line, last year adding the full array of business forms, although business forms are not available in the Web version. This year it is offering state efiling for the first time.

Until October 31, the price of 25 returns is $299 for the Web-based program and $349 for the CD version. That goes up to $349 and $399 after that date. The unlimited program is priced at $499 (CD) and $599 (Web) until October 31 and $599 and $699 after that. OLT offers 1040 forms for all states and territories. Efiling is free.

Another low-cost vendor, File Your Taxes, has a special offer for its Pro Tax Pro system. The first year is free. "Our desire is to have a very simple but comprehensive tax program," says Attila Taluy of FileYourTaxes.com, which markets the Pro Tax Pro software. The company offers 1040 return products, but not the 1120/1120S or 1065 package. It does handle California state sales tax and 1099s and W2s.

A Web search will bring the names of several companies that might be of interest to bargain hunters. A list of a few that pop up follow.

ATX
ATX is owned by CCH and operates under the CCH Small Firm Services group. While its parent is certainly well known, ATX caters to the cost conscious. The 1040 package costs for unlimited federal preparation and up to three states. Efiling is priced at $6 per return for combined federal and state filing and $4 per federal extension.

The 1040 Office, priced at $730, has unlimited preparation of all federal 1040 forms and all individual state forms. The first 100 efiled returns are included for efiling for the federal 1040 and one state. After that, the per-return cost is the same as for the 1040. This package also integrates with the CCH IntelliConnect research platform.

ATX has always been known for offering a variety of bundles and different combinations of tax preparation, efiling and accounting products are available. www.atxinc.com

Great Tax
Greatland, better known for its forms, also markets the Great Tax line with its lowest-cost entry the individual package for $395. It's billed as suited for the small office at that price provides federal 1040 preparation and one state.

At $755, the Individual Plus expands to include all state 1040s while the Professional Package includes organizers, security features and custom reports for $1,055. For $1,455 the Professional Plus version adds what the company describes as key business returns.

Products scale up from there, starting with the Premium Package, priced at $1,755, which incorporates all state and federal 1040s and all business returns. The company's Silver, Gold and Platinum versions add on features and cost. www.greatland.com

Tax Act
Tax Act, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Second Story Software, is probably the best known of the players not owned by the big names. The Preparer's Edition is offered at $119 each for the federal 1040, 1065, 1120 and 1120S. Individual state 1040s are sold for $19.95 each or $79.95 for all states. Similarly, state versions of the business forms are $19.95 for each form or $79.95 for forms for all states. Unlimited efiling is priced at $350 and unlimited state filing at $150.

Versions are available for the Web and on CD. There is also a multi-user Enterprise Edition which offers additional features that included online back and unlimited support, The company also offers consumer products. www.taxact.com

Ultimate Tax Software

Ultimate offers four versions of its professional tax line. The Ultimate CL gives the purchaser the federal 1040 and all 1040 states, along with free efiling for $399 and there is a pay-per-return module that starts at $299. Ultimate CW expands that with the addition of business forms with the cost at $449. Ultimate D has individual and business state and federal forms, free efiling, along with a write-up package and document manager for $899. There's also the Ultimate 1040 with the federal and all state returns, but no efiling, for $699.

Except for those who the Ultimate D package, other customers must file 25 or more returns with bank products attached in order to receive a discount on the next year's tax software. The company offers a Web-based product, the Ultimate Complete tax system, but that is for consumers only. www.etaxplace.com


WorldWideWeb Tax

WorldWideWeb Tax, based in Pompano Beach, Fla., sells its ValuePak at $799.98 currently for electronic return originators and incorporates the company's 1040 ValuePak and all individual states. Its offers the ValuePak at $839.90 if purchased on a payment plan with five interest-free payments of $167.98.

There is also a buy now/pay later plan which requires a down payment of $199.95 with the remaining $639.95 needed by December 31. The company notes this is designed for new tax preparers and it also offers a plan via which any new customer who does 50 federal RALS or PERCs that are funded by the company's bank by the end of April 15 gets a refund of the basic purchase price.

A separately priced business tax add-on is available. Information is available at www.webtax.net.

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2013
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