Friday, March 6, 2009

Dealing with replacement laptops for TaxWise Desktop

When we get a replacement TaxWise Desktop it comes loaded with several pieces of software, including Adobe 8.xx, TaxWise 2007, and Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Internet Explorer 6.xx

To use it for preparing 2008 returns, the minimum required istallation is TaxWise 2008
together with the latest updates for federal and states and help files.

However, to simplify life with a systematic preparation process for the long run, we found the following to be a reasonable set of things to do:

  1. Connect laptop by a network cable to a LAN or other network with internet access
  2. Go to Microsoft Windows update and get the latest updates and patches. If you get errors, read the error message carefully and enable and restart the needed services as recommended, and then let it run. This will take a while, because it will download Service Pack 3 (which is big) and you better have a high speed conection, and then run through and install it.
  3. If you are used to Internet Explorer 7.xx, go ahead and upgrade that too.
  4. Install Abode 9.0 from the TaxWise installation disk. You might as well do it now rather than go through the error message telling you to do it later.
  5. Install TaxWise from the TaxWise CD
  6. Download the latest updates for federal, state, TaxWise help, and 1040 help
  7. Start TaxWise and go through the installation process.
  8. Optionally remove TaxWise 2007. While this is not required or necessary, we have found doing so avoids problems of volunteers accidentally starting a return on TaxWise 2007, wondering why it looks different, and subsequently learning that they used the wrong version of TaxWise. If you subsequently need TaxWise 2007, it can be installed from the TaxWise program disk.

How to provide details on error rejects?

Recently, one of our Relationship managers requested a summary of reasons of rejection. One way is to scratch the head, especially if the rejects are spread out over 3 weeks. Another is to go back and reconstruct how you did this by reviewing the rejected returns which had been accepted.

However, a simple way is to look at all the IRS acknowledgements reports at once. When you select the option with all the reports, TaxWise creates a report with a summary of all the returns accepted and rejected during the period of the reports, and then prints the errors (most of the time) and details on the subsequent pages. The report can be saved to a pdf or Excel xls file, or physically printed out on a printer.

That would also be a good way to obtain help from the Relationship manager if you can't resolve any problems on your own, and will let you check that your records on the number of returns agree with the UTS summary records that the IRS gets.

Any additional thoughts on the matter?

What to tell Taxpayers whose refund deposit is less than expected?

A Taxpayer came back with the signed 8879 showing a refund of $4324 and his direct deposit on bank statement showing $4024.

What to do? When we looked up the IRS accept acknowledgements, it showed acceptance of the full amount, and the difference $300 looked suspiciously like it might be due to the Recovery Rebate.

We do know that error 269 initially was due to the recovery rebate computed within the tax return by TaxWise being different from what the IRS thought it should be, so thought it may be something else.

Taxpayer could not think what else the problem might be due to.

One way to resolve this with minimum effort is......... (believe me, it is really simple)

Please post your ideas on how you would handle this situation....

TaxWise gave us more information than we needed

We had a return for a taxpayer who husband was deceased in 2008, and prepared the reurn like we normally do for MFJ, marking the occupation of the spouse as deceased.

Just to be sure we were doing things by the book, I searched for help using the TaxWise Desktop Help system.

Imagine the surprise that on searching for topics related to deceased, I came across an item that described in great detail that it was necessary to file two returns that year. One for both spouses MFJ from the beginning of the year till date of death, and the other for the surviving taxpayer from date of death of spouse to the end of the year.

Astounded that I had never heard of such a thing before, I searched the web, and consulted the TaxWise Customer Support Line. The Customer Service Rep had never heard of that either - we all knew that we needed to file MFJ for the year of death with possibly QW in succeeding years, and here I was staring at something that seemed to run against everything I had learnt so far.

Well, on taking another look at the section of the help, I noticed Puerto Rico; so this appears to apply to Puerto Rico returns only, I went away wondering why I ended up on that page, and whether there have been other occasions on which we may have gotten irrelevcant instructions simply because of the excess information present that did not apply to us.

TaxWise Customer Service Rep was kind enough to walk me through the steps of correctly filling out the form. It turns out an additional piece of required information is the date of the death itself to be entered into a certain box on the MAIN INFO sheet, but unfortunately, after developing form blindness, it is easy to overlook that box.

The moral of the story? When something seems different from what you think you know about the situation, check that the instructions relate to you.