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Laser form library.

Tax season has now arrived, and most CPAs have already begun to use tax preparation software such as Computax or Fast-Tax to help them through the filing season. However, occasionally practitioners need a tax form that is not available through the particular tax preparation service, so they are compelled to keep a library of blank forms on hand.

In the past, a good deal of time was spent on obtaining and maintaining the supply of needed forms from federal and state taxing authorities. Additionally, considerable filing space was used to store the forms and instructions. Publishers such as STF Services Corporation of Albany, N.Y., offer loose-leaf services that provide a complete and current library of state and federal tax forms, and official instructions and IRS publications. But now, with tax software and a laser printer, forms and instructions are available for approximately the same cost as a loose-leaf service.

Center Piece Software, Inc. in Glen Allen, Va., has been providing laser printed forms for several tax preparation packages (such as Turbo Tax) for a number of years and offers a Laser Librarian Tax Form Service in modules. Available are federal forms, federal forms and instructions, forms for individual states with or without official instructions, and the full service, containing all federal and state forms, instructions and Publications of the IRS (also available on CD-ROM). The full service requires an IBM-compatible computer with 640K of available RAM and a Hewlett-Packard LaserJet (Series II or Series III) or a 100% compatible printer equipped with Center Piece Accounting & Tax Fonts. Forms for years 1986 through 1990 are also available, but on a more limited basis. Other features include a facility for producing laser generated mailing labels and envelopes with predefined mailing addresses for all IRS Service Centers and room for up to 99 state agencies.

Center Piece also offers three software programs designed to assist the accountant with payroll reporting and information return filing--"W-2 Typer," "Laser W-2's Professional" and "Laser 1099's Professional." These programs are designed to allow data to be typed directly on the forms, or to be imported from other magnetic media, ASCII text files or other computer accounting programs such as Quicken.

Another type of service is offered by Nelco, Inc. of Green Bay, Wisc., which has been supplying traditional printed tax forms for a number of years and offers a service similar to that of Center Piece--Package Xtra. But Nelco's latest offering is the most interesting: Its FormPrep Software, available for the first time in January 1992, allows the practitioner to enter the pertinent data in the IRS form on his own computer and then print the filled-in form, rather than first printing the blank form and completing it manually.

At this date, it appears that FormPrep packages will be available for Form 706, U.S. Estate Tax Return; Form 709, U.S. Gift Tax Return; SS-4, Application for Employer Identification No.; Employee Information Forms W-4 and I-9; and certain supplemental tax worksheets and schedules. This may be the first step in developing a full set of "smart" forms in which the logic would be built into the form by combining a graphically oriented spreadsheet such as Excel with appropriate tax fonts and a desktop publishing program such as Pagemaker. Apparently, Center Piece has not moved in this direction in order to avoid competing with its own customers. However, the need for these products and the availability of new technologies should provide the impetus for developers.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Institute of CPA's
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:software for laser-printed tax forms
Author:Wasserman, William E.
Publication:The Tax Adviser
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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