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Important Information about Ordering...

The information on this page applies to the 2018 Edition of Tax Preparer (for preparing and filing returns in 2018, for tax year 2017 returns). For information on the 2017 Edition of Tax Preparer, click here instead.


Delivery Schedule. To ensure the fastest delivery you must order early because tax products are shipped in the order that paid orders are received (First-In/First-Out). The schedule for the 2018 filing season is:

  • Pre-release shipped early-January. Available only for the 1040 programs, with all the features needed to file returns that donít require forms not yet ready at that time. Pre-release contains no manuals, IRS documents, nor e-file.
  • Regular release shipped mid to late-January. The regular release is complete with all forms and documents included except those delayed by the IRS or technical difficulties.
  • Paper manuals shipped only after all forms completed. On-screen manuals are shipped with the software product and updated regularly on-line, but paper manuals (which are purchased separately) are shipped much later to ensure that the hard copy is as complete as practical.

On-screen documents. Manuals and IRS documents are supplied in PDF format for easy on-screen viewing and printing. (See the Order Form for list of on-screen documents included in each product.) To view these documents you must use Adobe Acrobat Reader, available free on the Internet and included on HowardSoft CD-ROMs. All HowardSoft manuals take full advantage of two important Adobe Acrobat capabilities:

  • Bookmarks. The Bookmark tab (F5 key on early versions of Adobe Reader) gives you a clickable Table of Contents in the left pane of a split screen.
  • Search. The ctrl-F key gives you the ability to search and find any word or phrase like an index.

Graphic printing. Graphic printing of all supported forms is included in all Standard Level and Premium Level updates. Graphic printing requires only a Windows-compatible printer capable of printing a 7.5 by 10-inch image on an 8.5 by 11-inch page. Note that the Standard Level supports the traditional set of forms that HowardSoft has included for years plus a few others, but the Premium Level contains twice as many forms. See the separate Comparison Chart for details. (When using Tax Preparer under 32-bit Windows, an option for HP laser printing is also included for those who have a laser printer that supports HP's PCL printing language, is connected to an LPT port, and supports compatible tax fonts. This option may be advantageous for those who experience slow Windows printing because of limited memory or low processing speed. This option is not available when using Tax Preparer under 64-bit Windows because of Microsoft's elimination of support for this older technology in all of their 64-bit versions of Windows.)


Professional e-file. e-file transmission software is available for use with Standard Level and Premium Level software for federal Form 1040 returns and California state Form 540 returns. It provides you with the capability to transmit most returns prepared by Tax Preparer for a nominal per return transmission fee.

Mandatory e-file for paid preparers: Mandatory e-file for paid preparers was signed into law late in 2009, but the IRS phased in the new law over a 2-year period. The law is now in full force. Any paid preparer who expects to file more than 10 returns in a tax season is required to e-file them all (with rare exceptions) during that tax season. See our home page for more details.

To use professional e-file you must:

  • Meet hardware requirements. You must have Internet access and a hard disk with at least 75 MB of free space. We also recommend at least 128MB of free computer memory.
  • Get an EFIN from the IRS. Thatís the IRS Electronic Filing Identification Number. If you already have one, youíre already set; you donít need to get a new one each year. Otherwise you must apply on-line to the IRS at the IRS website for e-file applications.
  • Get (or renew) a new PTIN from the IRS. Now mandatory for ALL paid preparers, you must have registered with the IRS for each tax season that you are required to e-file by applying for (or renewing) a PTIN in October through December of the preceding year. The requirement applies to everyone, including CPAs, attorneys, and enrolled agents. You can register at the IRS's main website: irs.gov. The fee for registration is roughly $65 each year.
  • Purchase e-file transmission software for the tax year. Transmission software must be purchased anew each year you want to e-file returns. The purchase price depends on the level of software you choose (Basic, Silver, Gold, or Platinum), which varies in the amount charged you per return ($5.00, $4.00, $3.00, or ZERO, respectively) and the amount of transmission charges pre-paid for you (ZERO, $150, $300, or all).
  • Register your transmission software. Once you have registered with us for e-file and paid us for your transmission software, you will be mailed the transmission software on CD as soon as it is ready (at the beginning of the tax season). Click here for more information on registration and available options.

Also see our Comparison Chart for more detail on the differences among the three levels of software we offer.