Computer Software

.. an). Price This software program is priced at $49.99 for the deluxe edition, $27.99 for the federal edition, and $29.99 for the state edition. System Requirements This program requires 4 megabytes of Random Access Memory (RAM) space and 20 megabytes of hard-drive space. States Available The availability of this program is quite diverse, as it can be purchased in 45 states in the United States (Dean, 153). Special Features The EasyStep interview is one highly recommended method for filling out tax returns.

This program guides the user through the entire process from beginning to end (McCollum, 34). The Forms Method is an additionally endorsed program that permits business owners to complete their forms directly, without any major complication (McCollum, 35). Installation To begin the program, the user simply types the word install. Next, the registered user name, customer number, and install code, which are found on the shipping invoice, must be entered (Neumeier, 170). From this point, each of the five disks that are supplied with the program must be inserted. The entire installation process can be completed in five minutes, and once the program is installed, it can be easily reconstructed for different hardware (Neumeier, 171).

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Error Recovery and Support The help feature in this particular program consists of limited advice from the Tax Advisor (Keating, 80). Additional features include a pop-up calculator, a notepad for making corrections, and a four-part review mechanism for detecting deductions that can be made. A diagnostic message is printed along with any invalid information to alert the user of a mistake (Neumeier, 170). Information can be readily added, deleted, and changed even without the presence of a built-in edit feature (Neumeier, 36). The makers of Turbo Tax guarantee their program, but if the program makes an error in calculating tax returns, the company will pay the IRS penalty (Yakal, 262). Preparation, Guidance, and Filing As Figure 1 illustrates, Turbo Tax by Intuit, Inc.

received relatively favorable results in a test conducted by PC Magazine. Turbo Tax received above average results in the areas of Preparation and Guidance, and the area of Filing was determined to be somewhat superior to the other software programs on the market (Yakal, 260). Figure 1 Suitability to Task for Turbo Tax by Intuit, Inc. Source of data: Power Excellent Ease Good Fair Poor Preparation Guidance Filing Yakal, Kathy, PC Magazine, 13 (1996): 260. Simply Tax by 4Home Productions Simply Tax is a reproduced version of a software package that was given away two years ago by 4Home productions.

This years version combines some original material with updated content and guidance (Jonathan). Although this program does not yet match the reliability and speed of the market leaders, its new beginning shows promise (Yakal, 211). Price This software program is priced at $19.99 for the federal edition on diskette. The Windows version can generally be purchased for $39.95, although the list price is $69.99 (Neumeier, 148). System Requirements This program requires 8 megabytes of RAM space and 13 megabytes of hard-drive space. States Available The availability of this program is somewhat limited, since it can be purchased in only 20 states in the United States (Dean, 153). Special Features Information concerning income and calculations for business, as well as personal, deductions and expenses are presented by the helpful Tax Wizard (McCollum, 34).

Several other personal-finance programs, including Quicken and Supply Money by 4Home Productions, can be imported to this particular program for a more complete tax form (McCollum, 35). Installation This installation process is relatively simple to follow, and does not require more than 10 minutes (Neumeier, 147). Providing that the user has the appropriate equipment, an electronic filing program, which is contained in all packages, can be installed with ease (Ketron, 18). Error Recovery and Support This program offers on-line tax assistance and advice from Ernst & Young Accounting Firm (Keating, 81). In addition, a pop-up calculator and notepad are provided, as well as mini-worksheets for lengthy calculations (Jonathan).

Incorrect information cannot be accepted, and it is not easy to alter the information that has already been typed into the program (Neumeier, 148). A long process, which requires the user to backtrack through the original interview process, is required to change invalid information (Neumeier, 37). Unfortunately, though, 4Home Productions does not provide a guarantee with their software package (Yakal, 211). Preparation, Guidance, and Filing As Figure 2 demonstrates, Simply Tax by 4Home Productions was somewhat inconsistent in its evaluation by a study conducted by PC Magazine. Simply Tax was found to be below average in the category of Preparation, above average in the category of Guidance, and average in the category of Filing (Yakal, 211).

Figure 2 Suitability to Task for Simply Tax by 4Home Productions Excellent Power Ease Good Fair Poor Preparation Guidance Filing Source of data: Yakal, Kathy, PC Magazine, 13 (1996): 211. Tax Cut by MECA Software Tax Cut has undergone some major additions to last years already thorough program. Additional guidance and easier navigation are two of the changes made by MECA Software (Jonathan). The programs special Navigator, a colorful feature that guides users through the program and makes tax preparation easier, is one of the key elements that earned Tax Cut the PC Magazine Editors Choice top rating award among similar products (Yakal, 240). Price This software program is priced at $34.99 for the deluxe edition and $15.99 for the federal edition. In most areas, the DOS version of this package can be found for about $40, even though the retail price is $79.95 (Neumeier, 158).

System Requirements This program requires 4 megabytes of RAM space and 10 megabytes of hard-drive space. States Available The availability of this program is somewhat limited as well, since it can be purchased in only 23 states in the United States (Dean, 153). Special Features Before work is begun on the program, a guided Q & A interview, called the Navigator, walks the user through the return (McCollum, 34). The Navigators opening screen contains 18 graphics that run down the side of the screen, and carefully guide the user through the task of tax preparation (Yakal, 240). Throughout the program, updates on the current tax situation are elicited, and detailed examples are supplied often (McCollum, 35). Installation An extensive background of computer knowledge is not required, and the total installation process requires approximately 5-7 minutes (Ketron, 19).

Error Recovery and Support This program provides tax tips from the experts at H&R Block (Keating, 81). Tax Cuts software includes a pop-up calculator, a notepad for scratch work, and a dialog box that shows up on the screen if you enter data that seems to be out of place (Jonathan). An internal audit program allows incorrect information to be input initially, but it is quickly adjusted (Raskin, 31). A quick check is also available for correcting errors (Neumeier, 158). In addition, MECA Software backs their program, and the company is willing to pay the IRS penalty, should the program make a mistake (Yakal, 241). Preparation, Guidance, and Filing As Figure 3 shows, Tax Cut by MECA Software was the most reliable program, according to the study by PC Magazine.

This program demonstrated superior results in the categories of Preparation, Guidance, and Filing, in comparison to the other programs on the market (Yakal, 241). Figure 3 Suitability to Task for Tax Cut by MECA Software Excellent Power Ease Good Fair Poor Preparation Guidance Filing Source of data: Yakal, Kathy, PC Magazine, 13 (1996): 240-241. Conclusion The data for this report was thoroughly collected and presented for further analysis. Each of these three tax preparation programs, Turbo Tax, Simply Tax, and Tax Cut, was assessed on the basis of price, system requirements, states available, special features, installation processes, error recovery and support features, and preparation, guidance, and filing mechanisms. They all contributed to the efficiency of the task, although it was apparent that one program was superior to the other two. Recommendation It has been concluded that Wises Wild Toys should purchase Tax Cut by MECA Software to update the companys current software package. This program was extremely easy to use and the price is a bargain for the features that the software provides.

Overall, Tax Cut proved to be an exceptional package in all of the areas in which it was tested. The deluxe edition of Tax Cut software will be a major addition to Wises Wild Toys during the approaching tax season. Works Cited Foust, Dean. (1996, May). Not All Tax Software is Created Equal.

Business Week 152 (2). Keating, Peter and Derek Gordon. (1996, June). The Best and the Rest of this Years Tax Software. Money 78 (3). Jonathan. Personal Interview.

(Sales Manager.) 20 March 2000. Ketron, Holly Wheelwright. (1997, April). How to Pick the Best Software for Doing Your Taxes. Money 18 (2). McCollum, Tim.

(1997, October). Getting With the Program. Nations Business 34 (2). Neumeier, Shelley. (1996, August).

Tax Software Gets Easy. Fortune 36 (2). Practitioners Look at 1040 Software Programs. (1997, February). Taxation for Accountants 145 (27). Raskin, Robin.

(1997, January). Taxing Times. PC Magazine 30 (5). Yakal, Kathy. (1996, January).

Andrew Tobias Tax Cut for DOS; Andrew Tobias Tax Cut for Windows. PC Magazine 240 (2). Yakal, Kathy. (1996, February). Simply Tax for Windows. PC Magazine 210 (2). Yakal, Kathy.

(1996, January). Turbo Tax for DOS; Turbo Tax for Windows. PC Magazine 260 (3). Business.