Tax Software Decisions When Starting Your Own Tax Business – Online Vs Installed

Be aware; the attributes discussed in this article are relating to tax software used to prepare individual tax returns for profit, NOT personal use tax software (AKA TurboTax).

Online Tax Preparation Software

Positives: Online software applications allow your office freedom and mobility in both return preparation and management reporting. Many startup tax business owners choose this option for its ability to empower their employees to be able to prepare returns outside of the office. Mobile tax preparation allows for a variety of marketing programs aimed at growing your customer base by bringing tax services directly to the client. Several positive examples of mobile tax preparation programs are preparers setting up for a given time period at their church or organization and preparing members taxes a discounted rates. Many elderly clients value the service of a tax preparer coming to their home to prepare their taxes. Churches, Organizations, Nursing Homes, and Schools provide a target market where multiple clients can be taken care of in one visit. With an online software program, multiple preparers can operate under 1 IRS license given that there is 1 managing party referred to as the “Responsible Official”. Many tax offices choose online software programs due to the sheer cost savings of not having to purchase multiple software packages to allow their preparers the same freedom, and the Online programs also allow for return and productivity tracking without having to manage multiple EFINs. Where ever you have an internet connection and a printer to produce any signature documents, you can prepare, file and check status of a tax return. With the prices for mobile broadband cards and smartphones with WiFi connectivity becoming more and more affordable it is becoming very common for mobile tax preparers to bring their own internet connection with them. For management one of the biggest advantages of the online programs is the ability to do reporting from home without having to use a third party software application to access your office network. As busy as a typical tax office manager is during tax season, the more time they are able to be away from the office, the better!

Negatives: While online software allows for mobility and preparer freedom, it also produces limiting factors to that every tax business owner should consider. Informational Security of all online software platforms have to be approved by the IRS before the transmitter will be approved for using the IRS e-file system, but many tax office managers are not comfortable with allowing their preparers the access to their office system and returns from any outside the office PC with a simple username and password. One of the biggest complaints I see is preparers submitting returns for pay off the clock and not reimbursing the tax office. Don’t forget the office owner (responsible official) is on the line for all activity preformed under that tax office EFIN. Online tax software also handcuffs your tax business to the uptime of your software provider. Every online provider will concede state that there will be downtime during the season. The question is, how does downtime affect your tax preparation business? Almost all preparers who have used online products in past seasons can recall awkward moments when sitting with a client and having to explain that your software was down and they would have to come back into the office at a later time. If the software providers servers are down, or if your internet connection goes out, you are out of business! There is no preparation, no document printing, no submitting of return, no reporting…Your tax business is dead in the water!

Traditional Installed Desktop Tax Preparation Software

Positives: Desktop installed software is as reliable as your computer or tax office network. This allows you to control your backup procedures, and puts the power in your hands to control outages. Desktop tax software also allows the tax office to maintain a more controlled environment for return preparation. A preparer cannot access return information or preparer returns from any PC other than a PC that has the software hard installed on it. Desktop tax software allows for mobile tax preparation service, but would require that the preparer bring their own laptop with the program installed on it. In a mobile tax preparation setting, with hard installed software, you are not reliant upon having an internet connection to be able to prepare tax returns or print signature pages. You or your mobile preparer can simply prepare the return and wait to get back to the office to transmit any returns to be electronically filed. Desktop installed software platforms are also the oldest versions of tax software programs available and have been through many more years of testing and revising than their online alternative options.

Negatives: To utilize more than one preparer or more than one PC for tax preparation in an office setting you must network your office PCs and designate one as the “server”. If a PC leaves the office network, such as taking a laptop home, you lose access to your tax program unless additional home to office networking is setup. Software that is installed on your office network or personal computer is only as safe as the safety parameters you physically have in place. Hard installed programs should always have a backup program running to an off-site storage option in the case of a complete system crash or office disaster such as a fire or theft.


Both Online and Hard Installed tax software have their respective positives and negatives, but after 7 years in the tax preparation business I can tell you that being out of commission due to an internet outage, or a server crash somewhere on the other side of the country is absolutely unacceptable. Online software takes the control out of your hands and puts it in the software company’s home. Many tax businesses can attest to the frustration of not being unable to prepare returns the first 2 weeks of last tax season due to online software issues from one of the largest tax software providers in the industry! If I am making the choice for my start-up tax preparation office, I want to be in control, and if something goes wrong, I have the ability to fix it! Hard installed software is my choice when starting a tax preparation business.

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Is Social Media Bringing Out The Worst in Your Business?

“With great exposure comes great responsibility.”

Without a doubt, social media is the great equalizer. Until the arrival of WordPress, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, big business had an unfair advantage. Any business could of course create a website but few had the resources and knowledge to capture global exposure and sales.

Most SMEs had to settle for direct mail, local newspapers, networking, pay-per-clicks etc. because they simply could not compete with the big budgets of the big brands. In most cases, the advertising mediums with the biggest reach and frequency – TV, radio, online banner and outdoor – were out of the grasp of the average small business.

Social media changed all of that.

With social media, anyone can create an online presence and broadcast their uncensored views or talent worldwide, for less than $500. People like Justin Bieber and Lily Allen went from middle class obscurity to millions of fans and multi-million dollar careers virtually overnight due to social media.

Neilson published stats show that the world now spends over 110 billion minutes on social networks and blogs. What this means is that you, I and your prospects now spend 25% of our time (around 12-15 hours a month) visiting these types of sites. And unlike the consumption of other types of media, social media is doubling year on year, it’s inexpensive and it’s now available 24/7 on mobile devices.

And therein lies the problem.

Good and bad news, whether true or untrue, can spread online like an epidemic. As opposed to advertising (which is initiated by you), a large percentage of what is said in social networks is contributed by people outside of your organization. How do you keep track of every single thing that is said or written about you? It’s almost impossible to monitor and control where and how your brand is mentioned online.

That’s why social media has the potential to boost your reach and sales exponentially, but it could also easily bring out the worst in your company. With this in mind, what do you need to consider and do in your business to mitigate the risks?

1. Social media is for social interaction

The focus of traditional marketing and advertising is on lead generation and sales. However, in social media, it’s all about engaging with others, exchanging information and creating relationships. In order to excel in the realm of social networks, you will need to offer value upfront (to gain followers) and then focus on getting to know them and understanding their needs.

Prospects and customers are more interested in the interaction they have with you than they are on the deals or special offers. If you don’t engage with your followers on their terms, you risk doing more harm to your brand than good. Think of how many people and businesses have asked you to “like” their brand, re-tweet a message or join their mailing list in the past 24 hours? We are inundated with brands talking at us in social media and it is getting harder to create an impression and persuade us to act.

2. Look for opportunities to turn around customer experiences

You will discover more in one week about your brand in social media circles than you will find in a year of traditional research. People don’t censor their opinions when they share with their friends and you are likely to hear a lot of stories of how you have fallen short of expectations. All of this is a very good thing because it means that you have a direct opportunity to make it right. Of course, you have to be listening and you need to have a strategy on how you will deal with it. In the absence of these 2 things, you are actually worse off because the story will spread like wildfire and it will carry a much greater weight since it is shared among friends.

Most will mistakenly view social media as a great place to sell more stuff. It is actually a far better place to listen to what your customers are saying and take action to turn bad experiences into positive ones.

3. What is it really costing you?

On the face of it, social media appears practically free. However, when you factor in the time it takes to produce content across various mediums, cross- promote it, reply to followers etc., it could easily turn into a full time job. Your time (or the time of a team member) is valuable and needs to be measured against the returns generated by the online activity. Return on investment online is a function of both tangible and intangible factors.

In my experience, far too many small businesses are getting caught up in the hype of social media without a clear understanding of the real cost or return. Why spend hours a day posting and interacting online if you can generate a better response by speaking directly to your customers or asking for a referral? Social media only promises you can talk to more people for less money, it doesn’t guarantee that anyone will listen or that you will earn the same return on investment that you could receive elsewhere.

4. Be clear about your brand and branding strategy

Prospects often need to see the same message many times before they will decide to take action. One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to overload your audience with too many messages because you are trying to be all things to all people. Repetition is the key to retention. In order to be remembered and acted upon, your message should be consistent across all channels including your social media. This means that wherever your prospects and customers see you, they have to experience your brand and your message in the exact same way. This can become difficult when you are trying to manage multiple platforms and respond to what is happening in real time.

It pays to have a very clear strategy before you embark on social media. Social media is not like traditional advertising channels – it is very fluid and dynamic. As such, circumstances can change on a daily basis and you need to outline ahead of time what your key messages are and how they should be communicated consistently to your audience.

5. Social media is not for everyone

Who manages your social media? If it is not you personally, does that employee or part-time contractor understand what your plan and overall strategy is? In many cases they may be the most direct links to your target market and everything that is said by them on your behalf will have far reaching implications for your brand and company.

If they are responding to a disgruntled customer or worse, an insane person who is just trying to create trouble, do they know exactly what to do to diffuse the situation? If the situation gets out of hand, at what point do you find out and become involved? Do you have the means to take action and protect your brand if matters get out of hand or you become the target of defamation?

The reach and potential of social media are great – so are the risks. While it may seem harmless and fun on the surface, the capacity to do irreparable harm to your brand is very real. Social media needs to be entered into with a very clear plan. It’s not something that you should delegate freely or allow to run unmanaged.

Start first by monitoring what is said about you and your brand online. There are many free services online which can assist you to do this. Take some time to investigate what your competitors and other well known brands are doing in this space. Then, once you understand the key platforms and what you hope to gain on each by participating, you can begin to create a community of followers with confidence, control and safeguards.

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Mobile App Development Optimization Mistakes You Should Avoid

Developing and releasing a mobile application is a very difficult chore. Yes, finally releasing an application, it’s an instant celebration, but be careful.

However, at the time of releasing an app, you have more work to be done. To let go the full latent of your amazing idea, you have to bring your new app to the audience by effectively marketing your app. There are a number of techniques used by Mobile Application Development Companies to market your apps in the play store; they have a lot of struggle and things to deal with. Always keep in mind as an application development company or dealer; you should evade these mistakes to have a booming mobile app marketing approach.

Always start advertising your app after its launch

The mobile app launch is an imperative instant for developers as well as for marketers. If users previously know about it and wait for the release, they will without delay download it as soon as it is available in the app store. The initial downloads, in a twist, will aid you to attract more users to the app store and improve your app store ranking from the very start.

Not doing App Store Optimization

In case you want users to come across your app easily, then App Store Optimization is the right solution. As the ranking in search results robustly depends on your download numbers, your main objective should be to boost your apps within app stores. Thus, the better will be your rank in search results; the more probably visitors will download your app.

Not Having an exclusive Icon

To make a different place in the crowd you need a unique icon for your app. To know more you need to read both Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store guidelines for app icons.

Failing to Analyze Results

This is one of the crucial steps that every user should keep in mind. However, analyzing and tracking app key performance indicators (KPI) is very significant to be actually confident in what you are doing. You should regularly test a variety of ways of improving the page of your app on the app store and turn visitors into users.

Ignoring external Traffic and Promotion

This is a very widespread app store optimization blunder. Businesses completely disregard outside traffic and promotion. If you want to make your app trendy, you should by no means ignore exterior traffic and promotion. It is pretty undemanding. So, try to find new ways to drive traffic to your mobile application whether it is on the Apple store or Google Play Store.


To wrap up this section let’s make one thing clear that there are only some minute differences between thriving and not thriving apps. As there is no general winning formula for app marketing. If you don’t want to ruin your development efforts then simply check and recognize each pitfall of mobile application marketing that is dragging the app in the wrong direction.

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Children Addicted to Video Games – Ten Critical Points Parents Need to Know

For decades parents and the media have worried about the effects of video game violence on children and teens (even when the in-game graphics for blood amounted to little more than pixilated red squares).

Although concerns about the effects of violent video games remain, it is possible that parents today should be more concerned about video game addiction than the portrayal of violence in the games.

Although experts sometimes disagree about the exact percentage of kids who become gaming addicts, most studies estimate the rate to be from five to ten percent of active online gamers.

Because video game addiction is a relatively new phenomenon parents may not have accurate information on the telltale symptoms of unhealthy levels of play, why some video games are more addictive than others, who is most likely to develop problematic gaming habits, and how to address the addiction after it develops.

Although researchers and psychologists are rapidly learning more about predicting, assessing, and treating computer game addiction, there remains a considerable amount of misinformation and confusion about this very real problem of the digital age.

Before attempting to help a child or teen addicted to video games, parents should keep the following ten points in mind.

1. As of this writing, video game addiction, computer addiction, and internet addiction are not psychiatric diagnoses. The possible inclusion of these terms in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has been debated for many years, but for now they remain unofficial labels, not clinical disorders.

2. Because there is no official diagnosis of video game addiction, there is no specific period of gaming hours per day that indicates “addiction.” Obviously though, the more a child plays, the more likely it is that his or her unhealthy habits are excessive and need to be changed. In addition to determining the typical number of gaming hours per week, it may be more important for psychologists to assess the extent to which gaming is affecting a child’s academic, social, and relational functioning.

3. Even though the majority of children and teens can play video games without becoming addicted, there are certainly those who play far too much. For these individuals, gaming becomes the number one priority in life and development in the real world is sacrificed for advancement in the virtual world. Whether this is called an “addiction” is largely irrelevant. Excessive, unhealthy levels of play while ignoring school, other activities, and real-world friends is a problem that needs to be addressed.

4. If parents are concerned that their child is playing games too much and ignoring other important activities, they should not assume that this is simply a phase and that the child will “grow out of it.” Although some children and teens do move on from video games, there are others who play even more as the years go by. Hoping that the problem takes care of itself is not a recommended strategy. Excessive gameplay should be addressed as soon as it is clear that it is significantly interfering with other important areas of the child’s life.

5. As a general rule, successful interventions almost always include the removal of any gaming consoles or computers from the child’s room. It is very difficult for parents to regain control of their child’s gaming habits if there is still access to the game in his or her room.

6. If video game addiction has resulted in school grades that are significantly below what a child is capable of, parents must be prepared to put very tight restrictions on games or ban them entirely until grades improve. It is absolutely essential that any threat to restrict access is enforced – actions must always be consistent with words.

7. If parents choose to seek help from a psychologist or mental health professional, it is recommended that they met with him or her before the child’s first appointment. Despite rapidly growing evidence that video game addiction is a real problem that deserves focused interventions, there are mental health professionals who remain very skeptical and will always look for the “underlying issue” instead. Parents should make sure that the psychologist or therapist they choose is at least willing to directly treat excessive video game habits if necessary. Which brings us to the next point…

8. Sometimes there is an underlying issue. Video game addiction can exist independently of other mental health conditions. But excessive play can also cause other psychological and emotional difficulties…and be caused by other psychological issues. For example, a teen that is experiencing low self-esteem or depression may turn to online video games as a way to retreat from problems in the real world. In this scenario, it would be important to address not only the problematic gaming, but also the depressed mood and low self-esteem.

9. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is generally the recommended treatment approach for video game addiction that is not the result of a deeper underlying issue. A therapist treating excessive gaming with CBT will focus on challenging unhealthy and unrealistic thoughts the client may have about gaming (for example, that “everyone plays as much as I do”) and designing clear behavioral interventions to help the parents reduce the total gaming time to acceptable levels.

10. Parents should never give up on their children. Video game addiction can be very strong and extremely reluctant to go away, but it can be successfully treated with the proper information, strategies for reduction, and professional interventions.

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