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We're Raising the Standard!

Look what we've added for next year... the Standard Level:
  • e-file built-in (for professionals)
  • Graphic printing of ALL forms the Premium Level:
  • e-file built-in (for professionals)
  • Expanded forms coverage (double the forms in the Standard Level)
  • New diagnostic Reports
  • New client organization aids
  • New client letter options
  • New mailing label options

PLUS: Early Bird Specials inside (expire June 15, 2003)

by HowardSoft®
Professional software at personal prices.
Spring 2003

» Announcing Major Changes for Next Year «

For next tax season we're "Raising the Standard" of our tax software with important new capabilities for our Standard and Premium Level updates. Our new Premium Level will meet the needs of the most serious professional with double the forms and more flexible client management. PLUS... we're including our basic Professional e-file software FREE at both levels so that any professional can offer e-file to their customers with nothing additional to buy.

The New Standard Level

We're raising the standard. For the next tax season our Standard Level CD-ROMs will include two capabilities that we now develop in-house and successfully introduced this past tax season:

  • Graphic printouts built-in for ALL forms. Our former Standard Level included graphics only for the main signature form (e.g., Form 1040, Form 1065, or Form 540). But now we are providing graphic printing for ALL forms in the software. Best of all, you do not need a laser printer like you do with other tax software! In fact, inexpensive ink-jet printers can give superb results that rival those from laser printers.
  • Professional e-file built-in at no extra cost. We formerly charged $125 for this extra capability, but will now include it in all Standard and Premium Level CD-ROMs. We still have optional upgrades for high-volume users, but if you plan to e-file only a few returns, you can do so with this package for just $5.95 per Form 1040 return, with nothing additional to buy. (To use this e-file feature you must have an IRS-issued Electronic Filing Identification Number, which you get by filing Form 8633. We'll send you a Form 8633 to complete upon request.)

These two additions represent a major increase in functionality at a nominal increase in cost. And, if you order by June 15th you'll get it at a substantial discount:

Just $179 for Standard Level 1040 if you order by June 15, 2003

The New Premium Level

We're raising the standard for our Premium Level updates as well. In addition to their former contents, Premium Level CD-ROMs for the next tax season will include:

  • Professional e-file built-in at no extra cost. The built-in package will let you e-file for just $5.95 per Form 1040 return and low-cost upgrades are available to lower this fee, including a no-fee IRS-direct upgrade. (To use this e-file feature you must have an IRS-issued Electronic Filing Identification Number, which you get by filing Form 8633. We'll send you a Form 8633 to complete upon request.)
  • Double the forms. We're doubling the number of forms included at the Premium Level -- which means that you'll be able to prepare the most complex returns with Tax Preparer alone and very rarely have to prepare a form manually. We're adding many forms needed for the serious investor or small business, such as Forms 1116, 4136, 4137, 4255, 4952, 5884, 6198, 8271, 8582-CR, 8586, 8801, and 8824, and many other forms popularly requested by all of you. Let us know as soon as possible if there is a particular form you want to see in this package and we'll consider adding it, subject to its relevance to Form 1040 returns and support by the IRS in their e-file programs.
  • Improved client management. We're adding more flexible mailing label printing and more templates for client letters. We're also printing them in a typeset style rather than a typewriter typeface, for a more professional look. And we're improving file management -- making it easier to find clients when you have several volumes of tax files. All of these features mean that you'll look more professional to your clients and spend less time juggling their files.
  • Diagnostic reports. We're adding a form that summarizes the return and alerts you of possible omissions or inconsistencies in your returns. (Only inconsistencies that cannot be resolved automatically are reported, since Tax Preparer takes care of the rest.)

These additions represent a major increase in functionality over last year's product. And, if you order by June 15th you'll get it at last year's prices:

Just $299 for Premium Level 1040 if you order by June 15, 2003

Get ready for next year at the
Lowest Prices ... until June 15th

As we detail in this newsletter, we're "Raising the Standard" for our Standard and Premium updates, including built-in unlimited e-file for both. You can get them and more at a sub-stantial discount if we receive your paid order by June 15, 2003. Order by phone, fax, mail, or on the internet at

What about the Economy Level

Holding the price. We are still developing low-price Economy Level updates and holding the price at last year's level. You'll still have all the features and forms you have had in the past.

Transparencies for graphics. Because graphics are not available at the Economy Level, and government agencies are trending away from accepting text-based facsimiles in their place, we now offer low-cost transparencies to turn your fill-in printouts into IRS-approved graphic printouts. Merely overlay these transparencies on your fill-in printouts and photocopy them for filing with the IRS.

Goodbye to an old friend. Because the number of Apple customers has dwindled to a handful of people, we can no longer produce an Apple version. However, if you are an Apple customer we will make the transition as painless as possible by converting your Apple data to PC format at no charge, and helping you run our software on an Apple Mac or guiding you in your purchase of a low-cost PC.

Professional e-file 101 -- How It Works

What's included for FREE. Standard and Premium Level CD-ROMs will include everything you need to file returns electronically. There is no limit to the number of returns you can e-file with these disks. There is a standard transmission fee of $5.95 per return for Form 1040 returns, but we also offer upgrades to lower or eliminate this fee.

How do I qualify? In order to e-file returns for others, you must be accepted into the e-file program by the IRS. However, qualifying is easy, and once you qualify you don't have to reapply each year as long as you remain in good standing with the IRS. To qualify, you must file Form 8633 (available from HowardSoft or the IRS). Once accepted, the IRS will issue you an Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN).

How do I start? While transmission software is included on our CD-ROMs, you will not be able to use it until you sign up with payment arrangements for the transmission fees. You will do this through HowardSoft, and will also have the option of signing up for banking services. The banking services allow you to offer a Refund Authorization Loan (RAL) to your clients -- a quick cash advance on the refund from the IRS -- and also to deduct your fees from their refund, whether or not your clients request a RAL. There are nominal fees for each bank transaction and an annual sign-up fee.

How does it work? Filing a return through e-file involves three phases: preparing a return for e-file, generating e-file output, and transmitting returns.

  • Phase 1: Preparing a return for e-file. Preparing a return for e-file involves a few extra steps than preparing a paper return. You must complete Form 8453 and complete the additional entries and worksheets associated with that form. You may also have to modify entries on other forms to satisfy the more strict formatting requirements for e-file.
  • Phase 2: Generating e-file output. Once the return is complete along with Form 8453, you are ready to generate e-file output. The choice for Electronic Filing Output appears as an additional choice on our Print Menu, so generating e-file output is as easy as printing a return. A number of checks are performed during the process, including checks that certain unique data requirements of the e-file program are met and checks that the return does not exceed the limitations of the e-file program. If a check fails, you can make any necessary changes before attempting a transmission to the IRS. (You can prepare and generate e-file output for any number of returns before proceeding to the next phase.)
  • Phase 3: Transmitting returns. Once you are ready to transmit returns, you can start the included transmission software. You choose the returns you want to transmit by the client names and SSNs. Once you confirm your choice, additional error checking is performed on the returns. You are then ready to transmit all returns that pass the checking, and are connected to the internet to complete the transmissions. (You can check the status of returns with the same transmission software.)

(Note that not all returns can be filed electronically. Some returns must be filed by paper because of IRS limitations or software limitations, but you can minimize the latter by using our Premium Level software because it supports so many more forms.)

e-file Upgrades for High-volume Users

How optional upgrades can help your bottom line. The e-file software that is built into Standard and Premium Level CD-ROMs allows you to e-file an unlimited number of returns at a charge of $5.95 per return. But if you plan to e-file more than just a few returns, you'll find that our e-file upgrades can dramatically reduce your costs. Which upgrade makes sense for you depends on the number of returns you plan to e-file:

  • Upgrade to Gold. This upgrade reduces your transmission fee from $5.95 per return to $2.00 per return. At our "early bird" price of $95, this upgrade will reduce your costs even if you e-file just 25 returns.
  • Upgrade to Platinum. This upgrade eliminates the transmission fee altogether! Furthermore, with this upgrade you have the choice of transmitting directly to the IRS rather than through our e-file partner. Whether you transmit directly or not, at our "early bird" price of $295 this upgrade will reduce your costs if you e-file 100 returns.

CAUTION: Upgrade pricing jumps after June 15th! Be sure to act right away if you have any interest in high-volume e-file. Our prices jump so dramatically after June 15 that you'll want to consider upgrading now even if you aren't sure you'll reach the stated volumes. See the Advance Order Form for 2004 Editions for pricing details.