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CCH Wake Up! I Don't Want TaxWise!!


micpa
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My Story: I used the same software from 1984 through 2005. It was bought by Thomson and I got my renewal like it was just expected that I was now their customer. WRONG!

I reviewed at least 7 other tax software programs and liked ATX along with the Original Support Board. I switched to ATX (MAX) to prepare the 06 returns and within days found out bought out by CCH. Very shortly announced they bought TaxWise. Decided right then I would not use ATX.

Received offer from ProSeries for 3 year locked in price for ATX users, which I took and used to prepare my 06 returns. I am using them for the 07 returns. I have to say, after using ProSeries for 06, I would not switch back to my old software, I did not even experience the year-end efiling problems that others did. Mine were a little slower, but they all were sent.

Anyway, I still check on this board for the comaradarie and information you all share. I was also hoping that ATX would continue to get better under CCH and be an alternative for me if I needed it. I did not like reading about the layoffs in Maine, darn shame.

I spent an hour on the TaxWise site, where you can run the program right from the website. I used TaxWise around 93 to 97 to prepare Forms 5500, so I was ready for a big change. After spending time working with their program, I have a hard time thinking a tax professional would use this program. It is clearly designed for a non-tax professional. It appears it's written for a data input person with very little tax knowledge.

Anyway all of you former ATX employees, get together and come up with some tax software and I'll be your first customer. I really don't want to fatten up Intuit, CCH or Thomson any more than they are! Good luck to you good people of Maine, you deserve better!

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Anyway all of you former ATX employees, get together and come up with some tax software and I'll be your first customer. I really don't want to fatten up Intuit, CCH or Thomson any more than they are! Good luck to you good people of Maine, you deserve better!

I agree with everything you said, especially the part that any ATX employee get together and come up with some tax software. I doubt though that you would be their first customer as I can already see us getting in line!

Deb!

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I agree with everything you said, especially the part that any ATX employee get together and come up with some tax software. I doubt though that you would be their first customer as I can already see us getting in line!

Deb!

Creating the software would not be the hard part, but getting the level of tech support back together would be. I considered (and started) to write a new tax program, but after discussing with the family, I don't think I want to go back to the 100 hour weeks that I spent back when ATX was just a startup. It's not just the tax program, but the sales/support systems, distribution and don't forget the addons that everyone now expects. I could have the core tax program running in a short period, but the full extent of forms would take some time and not to mention the efile system. I certainly couldn't finance getting a team together by myself the way SW and GW did back in the day.

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Yeah, that is the problem. Even with an inexpensive program, the users [us] want all the basics plus lots of bells and whistles. And so much is really mandatory, now days, like the efile, that doing a start-up takes a lot of cash up front. And even if you did, lots of users would not switch, unless you could also provide a smooth and comprehensive conversion program as well.

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As frustrated as I've been since April of last year, don't be to sure! I'm definitely going to shop around next year. I'm the type that really wants basics, and as far as transitions go well I don't see how it can be much worse than this! I have one computer networked that is useless to me unless I can get some help. I'm going to try support, but I'm not holding my breath!

Deb!

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>>doing a start-up takes a lot of cash up front<<

It's sad that big corporations rule the world, but it's a fact of life. Skilled programmers could write a basic tax program. But getting new approval from IRS is impossible at this stage because it is controlled by the big guys. I almost suspect Intuit deliberately screwed up e-file last April, just to flaunt their clout with the IRS.

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I personally don't think I would have a problem getting the forms approvals since the big problem with approvals with ATX has always been that they were 'substitute forms'. If you made them 100% identical to the govt forms, approval process would be even easier, just don't change the line widths, font sizes, etc. Bar codes would have to be assigned and such, but even then I don't think approvals would be as hard. I think that customers would actually appreciate that the forms looked the same as the ones that the IRS prints in their books or provides via PDF. Years ago I can remember the issues we had with getting approvals for forms that didn't have exactly circular circles, etc. When I was starting to design the program I had decided to dump the underlying spreadsheet that always made the issues appear with formatting and make the forms graphical, store 1 copy of the form image and everything else just populates on top of that image. Display the same image on the screen with everything populating on top of it and you would keep the 'forms based' approach with smaller client files to boot. If I wanted to add a spreadsheet in for 'custom calculations' later, that could be added without affecting the tax forms.

Transition programs would be impossible for me to program on such a short notice, alas. Although I had thought about it and considered hiring a couple programmers to help. But once you start to look at the volume of work that would need to be done by next July/August to be ready, it's just not possible unless I had the startup capital that I just don't have. Then you have to have people willing to test the program and who would want to do that during tax season.

Yes, those bells and whistles would be a kicker. Maybe some of the old timers would realize that we could fit them in the next year version, but others would not bother to look at the new version for their lack in the prior year. The research products would be impossible. It would take 2 years minimum to get to a program that I think I would not be embarrassed about.

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it's just not possible unless I had the startup capital that I just don't have. Then you have to have people willing to test the program and who would want to do that during tax season.

What's a rough estimate of the start up capital you would need?

Eli

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Eli, I dont' really have a good estimate, I just know I don't have what I think I would need for supporting a good programming staff for a year, training some technical support people and then the advertising campaign that would be needed. Some mitigating factors if I wanted to take a 'soft start' would be to use off-shore programmers to help with the core program (not the forms mind you) to keep the costs down, I could do the initial tech support myself as I did when ATX started up, and I could keep the initial advertising just web based. I already have relationships with programmers in the Phillipines (family believe it or not) who could help out. Advertising is the expensive part, ATX did it on a bootstrap initially, working on trying to get reviews and spending cash that came in immediately on ads to snowball the effect. It meant a lean company at first, I believe GW never took a salary from the company for a LONG time.

NO, I wouldn't want to 'off shore' technical support. I have seen what a mess that can be. I also would only do the forms here as I know quite a few of these forms quite well, they wouldn't have any experience with them. But, programming a core computational program and the 'bells and whistles' could be done off shore as they would just be programming to spec and leave me open for doing forms and tech.

Carolynm, think back to the old days.. Glynn was a CPA... Tax practitioners starting a tax software company only makes sense. I am not a tax practitioner of course, but I have been around it long enough that taxes runs through my veins a bit too.

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Mel, if you could come up with a realistic budget, we just might find enough folks right here to invest with you. Give it some thought. I know that I would be interested. I'd love to be in at the start of a new, really good tax software company. Although it is undoubtedly much harder today to start one, than it was when Glynn and Steve did. There was not efile back then, and the tie-ins with the internet were not required. Nor research. Today, it's much harder to jump in, but it's not impossible that all of us could not bankroll it.

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it's not impossible that all of us could not bankroll it.

I agree with KC. There are 528 registered users. Even if only 50% put in a minimum of $250.00 you would have about $64000. Of course some people could put in more and others less. It might not be as far fetched as you might think. I join with KC and sure lots of others in asking you to consider it.

Eli

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The real question is not how much it would cost to produce, but how many customers it would take to sustain it.

There is one truth that all businesses must remember - CASH IS KING!.

The question comes down to how much cash it takes to run the company, what sacrafices have to be made when cash is lean, and what the priorities for cash are when it starts coming in (for example advertising to attract more customers versus programming to enhance the product for the current customer base). Figuring out how much it would cost to program and engineer the product is the easy part. Determining how much it would cost to support is the harder part, because it requires the knowledge of how many customers will purchase and then need support on the product.

If you don't put enough resources in the right place (remember the server problem a few years ago when they took on e-file?, or how about the lack of phone line capacity in GA right now?) you could have the best product in the world and no one would want it because the perception is that you can't support it.

I am sure Mel could put a program together for us in no time, but he is asking the right question - Can he put the infrastructure together to make it successful?

My 2 Cents.

Tom

Lodi, CA

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Compared to the price increases we may be facing within a year or two, investing in a startup with people who have a track record and whom we already know might be a real bargain for all of us, even if it took a couple of tax seasons to mature into a top-notch product. We certainly know there are some excellent tech support folks in Caribou Maine looking for work right now. We need to keep in mind that if ATX does try to shift us to significantly higher-priced products with less features in the future (which seems very likely), their competitors are going to notice. We might also see the other companies we've discussed in the past (Drake, Tax Slayer, ProFX, etc) suddenly decide to raise their prices in a significant way since their lower-priced full-featured competition is gone.

Personally I'd be glad to invest in a startup, and I wouldn't draw the line anywhere near $250.

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Please count me in on this venture. I will also be able to offer Tech Support and any contributions required of me to get this venture started.Please do not let this idea fall through the cracks. We are talking about our livelihoods here.

We have to gear ourselves and take our destiny in our own hands and forge ahead to a better, brighter future or we would all be driven away from this beloved practices of ours. This is one time of my ATX life I can seriously tell you I am very appalled, disappointed and helpless by the way this Firm has come down to.

I am in on it. I am ready. Let's get this going now.

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Just a thought, if any PRIOR ATX employees want to jump in on this... Please be aware of ANY terms in your severance package that may have non-compete clauses etc. The one I saw from my current employer has a very strict non-compete clause in it (luckily I have no intentions to work for the same industry ever again) and the one you got handed may very well too. Another thing, you may want to just PM me instead to avoid hassles with CCH. For me, I can go almost a year before having to worry about work due to that severance package which should give me a good start on the project. I should also setup a closed board for program design discussions, else we would just be tipping our hand to the competition.

If there is enough support for this, then I will definately follow through on it, but I wouldn't be out there with my hand out for money until I was sure we would have a product to put on the market in short order. It is just not me as I would want to ensure that I could return on that investment so I wouldn't have any angry people after me at a later date.

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I'm interested too; you got me especially when you knew how to make the forms take up less space (can you tell I'm a techie..NOT). One thing I don't like about ATX is just how big the program files are; and how sloooow a big return (like mine!) opens. And who doesn't want to be part of a start up out here in CA?

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Maybe it's time to move back to Maine... *grin*

Why not Florida? :P You'll need form design and approval specialists, form programmers, efile. Maybe Steve W. would want to pick up a new hobby? or investment? The weather is a factor. It's easier to recruit new hires to work in sunny FL than ME.

Or forget brick and mortar altogether and build the business electronically. Who wouldn't want to telecommute?

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I'd assume there would need to be a phased investment schedule withat least three components - maybe more - based on certain benchmarks. Each phase would be successively less risky, with the initial phase being a big roll of the dice. But anyone putting money into it would need to understand that their commitment would need to be for the entire project, and they should be ready to step up to the plate when called upon to do so as each benchmark is reached.

Mel: If you decide to pursue this, I look forward to hearing more about it and I definitely believe you need to set up a closed board - please put me on the list if you do that.

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I also would be interested in participating in this project. Though I do have some programing background I am afraid it is outdated. But I would be willing to help in other ways, such as evaluating and testing.

Mel: Also add me to your list.

Joel

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