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CD-ROM update.

Surprisingly, some CPAs are still doing tax returns by hand, As computers become cheaper and cheaper, everyone should be able to justify the cost of hardware, software and CD-ROM reader; it is possible to completely set up with hardware (including CD-ROM reader) and software for less than $5,000. Of course, the investment in time to learn the software is also required. However, it behooves those practitioners who still do returns by hand to invest in a computer system - as it is now a necessary tool of the profession.

CD-ROM research tools have also become more affordable and in greater use. Small firms, notably, are making large incremental leaps in their success thanks to CD-ROM proucts, which help save time, space, staff and budget - and do research faster and better.

Tax Desk, for example, Research Institute of America's (RIA) research and compliance system on CD-ROM has been specifically designed for tax professionals who serve individuals and closely held businesses. While the system offers every possible feature needed by this type of tax practitioner in his library (tax analysis, source material, Federal and state tax forms and practice tools), it zeroes in on topics and substantive materials needed for day-to-day practice in this specific market.

The basic package includes RIA's expert analysis, enhanced with explanation, recommendations, cautions, observations, illustrations and checklists; the complete Internal Revenue Code; complete final, temporary and proposed Treasury regulations; explanatory client letters (designed to help expand a practice); checklists and tax tables; current and historical IRS rulings, procedures and notices; RIA Federal Tax Handbook (on disc); electronic Federal and state tax forms; Weekly Alert (in print and on disc); elections and compliance statements; and the choice of either IRS publications or, on the Tax Advisors Planning System, additional state reporters or ReadiPrep (the enhanced calculation feature on Federal and state forms in Windows).

Tax Desk in its CD-ROM format translates to one common denominator for a small firm: savings of time and thereby of money. For example, a client who receives a notice from the IRS calls his accountant and wants to know what to do. The accountant explains what the notice means and sets up a meeting for them to make decisions together. When they meet, the client then asks the accountant to repeat the explanation that was given on die phone, because the client did not quite understand what it meant or did not remember. All of this can add up to a couple of hours explaining.

With a tool like Tax Desk, the practitioner explain the problem on the phone, and then generate a letter (contained in the library) that explains the particular situation literally in minutes. The letter can serve as the basis of a confirmation of the meeting and, armed with such a letter, the client will enter the meeting operating on a higher level, ready to discuss problem-solving, and not needing another session of primary explanations. By being able to put things in writing quickly, accurately and articulately, a small firm can maintain its professional demeanor at all times.

Another benefit of a CD-ROM library is generated (and personalized) letters to promote business. Small firm practitioners know how difficult it is to find the time to create, check and send timely business-generating letters. A CD-ROM library like Tax Desk can cut in half the time it takes for such a task, thus saving time and labor and, in most cases, creating leads for meetings, conversations and projects.

Tax Desk is updated monthly to include all changes in the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury regulations and tax forms (and with the most current IRS publications, if selected). A new subscription to Tax Desk costs less than $900 a year in DOS or Windows format; BNA has a similar product in the form of the BNA Tax Management-Tax Practice Series also priced at less than $900 a year in DOS or Windows.
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Title Annotation:tax resources on CD-ROM
Author:Love, Jerry L.
Publication:The Tax Adviser
Article Type:Product/Service Evaluation
Date:Jan 1, 1996
Previous Article:Technology Alerts.
Next Article:Allocating allowable sec. 1244 loss among shareholders when total capital exceeds $1 million.

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