Product analysis: ATX 1040

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This CCH Small Firm Services offering is perfect for CPAs on a budget, as well as anyone who likes to work directly with tax forms. The $410 program allows unlimited federal returns, and returns for up to three states. E-filing is available on an a la carte basis for $3 per federal return and $2 per state return. However, you may prefer ATX 1040 Office for $635, which includes all states, cities, and municipalities. This version also includes includes 100 e-filed returns, plus integration with Kleinrock reference materials. A third option is ATX Max for $1,110, which includes unlimited e-filing, and line-by-line Kleinrock integration. You can try ATX 1040 for free without installing any software on your computer. ATX also offers business return software, as well as client-write-up capabilities.

You'll notice ATX 1040 takes a mostly forms-based approach to tax return preparation — over 10,000 forms are available. When you're not working within tax forms, powerful managers to guide you through the various processes:

  • Return Manager organizes returns, accounts receivable, and taxes due.
  • Rollover Manager makes it easy to carry last year's returns forward to the new tax year.
  • Preparer Manager allows you to enter and track contact and e-filing information for each user in your firm.
  • E-File Manager enables you to keep track of all e-filed returns.
  • Bank Manager enables you to offer third-party banking services to your clients, such as refund anticipation loans, electronic refund checks, and direct deposit refunds. Each of these allow you to deduct your fee from the client's refund, which greatly reduces your collection risk.

New features for the 2008 tax year include:

  • Audit Shield – An extended warranty product that you can sell your clients to protect them against up to $2,500 of penalties, interest, or additional taxes on a qualifying return for up to three years.
  • Schedule K-1 Transfer – A Max business module can link data between business and personal returns.
  • Mask sensitive data for printing – Minimize identify theft risk for your clients by masking personal information on printed copies of their returns.
  • E-Filing Elections – All elections will be transmitted in the e-file for all major federal return types.
  • FEC withholding records – The Foreign Employment Compensation record can be e-filed, and the new FEC input worksheet will interface with Form 2555 when appropriate.

According to Bowden Brown, Product Manager at CCH Small Firm Services, "The main reason our customers chose ATX is the high value and high quality of software, training and support at an affordable price. ATX offers a powerful, yet easy to use, program that fulfills the needs of the small tax and accounting practices. ATX was designed by tax and accounting professionals for tax and accounting professionals." Although ATX provides support for Puerto Rico forms, users looking for full English/Spanish language capabilities should consider ATX's sister product TaxWise.

ATX offers numerous training resources, including classroom training, webinars, and audio conferences that can qualify for CPE. In addition, ATX University offers web-based self-study to help you get geared up for tax season, while ATX TV offers weekly web-based video programs that cover important ATX features, industry developments, IRS issues, and other important topics. The MyATX Support Center provides online support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while all support calls are answered by a U.S.-based team at ATX's Georgia-based call center.

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