"Professional software at personal prices."
The next generation is here. Order NOW!
We review in this newsletter some of the coming changes, but you need to order now to be assured of receiving your update as soon as it’s released. Order by phone, fax, mail, e-mail or through the Internet at
As usual, you’ll get tax software that’s affordable, reliable, and so automatic that it even includes calculations found only in the IRS publications!
Improved graphic printing
For the first time in our 22-year history, we are now designing our own IRS-approved graphic forms (both laser and Windows). Advantages to you include:
- Win32 Enhanced MetaFile (EMF) technology. For our Windows-graphic printing we are now using a format designed for 32-bit Windows systems to ensure speedy printing that is compatible with any Windows printer. (Forms we delivered in the past were based on a 16-bit Windows format.)
- Nothing missing ... even on printers with large margins. Many popular ink-jet printers cannot print in all margins of a page, so we have designed our forms to fit within a 7-1/2 by 10 inch space by squeezing the header and footer of forms, when necessary, without altering the IRS print positions for data. This means that the entire form will print properly even for printers incapable of printing in the bottom ½-inch of a page.
- Hassle-free Form 1040 tab settings. Because we now control the design, we can ensure that the same Form 1040 tab settings are proper for all HowardSoft forms – Windows-graphic forms, laser-graphic forms, and non-graphic facsimile forms. Changes to our original tab settings are now appropriate only for those who print onto an IRS-printed Form 1040 or a transparency thereof.
- Judicious tweaking of IRS forms. When the space on an IRS form is insufficient for the length of entry that the IRS expects, we expand the space up to the length accommodated by IRS processing (as documented in the IRS e-file specifications), but never deviate from the look and feel of the original form.
What you need for graphic printing
Graphic printing of forms that look like IRS forms is built into all Premium Level updates for all forms (and for the main signature form alone in Standard Level updates). However, you must have the proper printer and version to print graphic forms on your system:
Windows-graphic printing - built into Windows versions only (excluding Windows 3.1), this type works with any Windows-compatible printer (activated with printer setting Special=2 or 3).
Laser-graphic printing - built into both Windows and DOS/Win3.1 versions, this type requires a laser printer that emulates HP printers (PCL4 level) plus a compatible tax font (activated with printer setting Special=1).
Improved professional e-file
This year we are partnering with a different company for e-file transmissions. Advantages to you include:
- Instant connection through the Internet. You will now be able to transmit as soon as you are connected to the Internet. Your computer will no longer have to dial a special number to connect with the transmitter, with the associated unpredictable and slow connections. This is an especially big advantage to those who have high-speed "always on" Internet connections.
- Easy identification of files. When you’re ready to transmit e-file returns generated by Tax Preparer, the new transmission software shows you each taxpayer’s name and SSN instead of cryptic filenames. You now merely choose the files to verify and transmit from this easy-to-understand list.
- Direct conversion into IRS format by HowardSoft. We are now performing all data conversion ourselves. There can therefore be no compatibility or customer service problems arising from the interface between the software of two companies.
- Lower prices. Prices are lower across the board ... now just $2 per return transmission fee for our standard package and just $450 (instead of $675) for fee-free transmission!
- Flexible banking functions. If you sign up for banking functions you’ll see both lower prices and more flexibility, thanks to the policies of the bank affiliated with our new transmitter:
- Under the Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) program, your e-file transmission includes a loan application for the amount of the client’s refund. Once approved (usually within 48 hours), you can print a check for the client amounting to the anticipated refund less all fees – yours and the bank’s.
- Under the QIK Funds program, the IRS deposits the client’s refund with the affiliated bank (usually within 10 to 17 days). You can then give to the client the balance remaining after deducting all fees – either by direct deposit into the client’s own bank account or by printing a check for the client.
In either case you get your fees from the affiliated bank without any out-of-pocket expense to you or the client. (If the client is not approved for the full refund under the RAL program, the bank will automatically reapply for a smaller amount. If still not approved, the client will be switched automatically to the QIK Funds program.)
Changes in the forms and automation
We have already seen IRS drafts of most of the new forms. While IRS instructions will not come for some time and all drafts are subject to change before release, several changes are clear from these drafts and our knowledge of the changes in the tax law:
- Form 1040. A deduction for higher-education expenses now appears at line 23 and one for certain tuition and fees appears at line 26. A new retirement savings contribution credit appears at line 49, and the continuing District of Columbia First-time Homebuyer Credit now appears on the form at line 52.
- Form 8606 and Form 1040. Part III, Distributions from Roth IRAs, is much simpler because of the expiration of the 4-year spread for 1998 Roth IRA conversions. Part IV, Distributions from Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), is gone. Instead, you must now include taxable amounts for ESAs at line 21 of Form 1040, so we have added lines on Form 1040 for reporting these amounts along with taxable amounts from Qualified Tuition Programs (QTPs). When there are entries on these new lines, Tax Preparer will automatically generate Form 5329 where a 10% penalty may be assessed. You must claim any exception to the penalty on this form (per IRS rules).
- Schedule R and Form 2441. The IRS has wisely added to these forms the limitation of the credit to the tax balance, which has formerly appeared only in the instructions and therefore led to an apparent inconsistency. These changes merely put on the form what Tax Preparer has put on the screen and automatically calculated for years, so the "change" should look very familiar to you.
- Form 6251. The IRS has completely revised both pages 1 and 2 of Form 6251, even though the law has not changed. While the intent may have been easier use, the intent is hardly realized!
- Form 8582. Sections have been added for reporting "Commercial Revitalization Deductions from Rental Real Estate Activities" and deducting up to $25,000 of these amounts currently.
Changes not detailed above include the usual indexing with inflation of various tables, exemptions, phaseouts, etc., and relatively minor changes in layout for some forms. In addition, a new 10% tax bracket is added to the tax rate schedules and reflected in the tax tables. Of course, Tax Preparer will have all the changes included and fully automated in the next update.
What to do for state returns
What to do for California. You probably already know that we produce a California Supplement that has all the tax depth and automation of the federal program. It completes the California return automati-cally based on your federal data, ready for your ad-justments for differences between state and federal law. It's by far the easiest way to prepare a California return!
What to do for other states. Even though we don't have packages for other states, you can still get the professional look of graphic printouts by taking ad-vantage of what the states have to offer over the Internet. Most states provide downloadable forms in Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format ... many designed for fill-in by computer. You can print them with your data inserted using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader or store them with your data using Adobe Acrobat Approval ($39). To see if your state has what you need, go to our web site (www.howardsoft.com) and click on the link at the bottom of the page (Tax forms for other states); follow the links to your state and see what they offer. (The forms for 2002 will not be available until January 2003 for most states, but you can see now what your state offered for tax year 2001.)
Mid-season updates over the Internet
When you install your first Windows version of Tax Preparer for the season, an icon "Check Web for Updates" is added to your HowardSoft Tax Preparer program group. This means that you can get updates to your software throughout the rest of the tax season just by clicking on this icon as long as you have Internet access. We recommend that you "Check Web for Updates" frequently during the tax season so that your software is always kept up-to-date with both HowardSoft and IRS changes. You’ll be taken to a web page that gives you access to not only update downloads but also any technical memos that we issue during the season.
Time is running out!
Order your update for
Tax Preparer® NOW!
The next generation of Tax Preparer...
- Graphic printing using Win32 enhanced metafile technology
- Professional e-file transmission through the Internet
- Convenient mid-season updates through the Internet
- Complete in-house customer service by HowardSoft
Easy and secure ordering through our web site (www.howardsoft.com).
We accept VISA, MasterCard, Discover/NOVUS, and American Express for all orders.
You can also order by phone, mail, fax, or e-mail using the Order Form on back of this page.
For mailed orders we accept personal or company checks in addition to charge cards.