I’d like to make a few suggestions for next year’s tax software survey (“Users Grade Tax Software ,” Oct. 07, page 34). For example: Ask how well the software handles multistate corporate returns. Ask if the alternative minimum tax adjustments and preferences seem to flow. Ask how well the error check verifies things like information matching from form to form (for example, does the M-3 match page 1). Ask if the Form M-3 checks to confirm that your book/tax differences are not posted backward (in other words, does the Per Tax column [column d] compute as the result of Column a +/- b +/- c).
I realize that more expensive software is going to outshine the less expensive versions, but this year I spent $1,500 on a software package only to learn later that it doesn't handle consolidated returns. They said it did until I asked them how to open this function, and then they admitted that clients "get by" by doing all the work in Excel and attaching that.
Just a thought to help those of us who are not primarily individual (1040) return preparers be able to make a sound business investment.
Andrea Comeau-Shirley, CPA
Editor's note: The next tax software survey article will appear in 2009. Please send your ideas for improving the survey to email@example.com.