Monday, October 31, 2005

The Paperless IRS!!

Is The IRS Going Paperless?!?!

As I read thru the Fall 2005 SSA/IRS Reporter newsletter I can not help but noticed almost every article has something to do with the new initiatives both offices are taking to stay ahead of the technological curve. The main story on the front deals with the new Social Security Number Verification Service (SSVS) that allows employers to go online and match employees with their social security numbers before filing W-2 forms. This provides the company the added benefit of due diligence so that additional processing costs will not be incurred for mistakes.

As I read on, another story deals with the new 2006 filing regulations for large corporations (gross assets of 50 million and file 250 returns a year) making it a requirement to file returns electronically. This may be problematic for corporations initially (increased transition costs to conform to the new electronic system), but something corporations must deal with for the 2006 filing. Over time I am sure that corporations will realize better efficiency and scaled economies with the transfer to electronic filing. Another article states that the IRS is now accepting fax signatures on employment tax returns making it easier for businesses to file and submit returns.

The SSA follows suit with an article announcing that magnetic tape will not be allowed in tax year 2006 for W-2 filing. All W-2 forms must be filed online via their secure online suite. One of the more interesting articles I thought was the new EFTPS (Electronic Federal Tax Payment System) batch software that is in development. With the new software tax professionals can send up to 1000 enrollments and 5000 payments in one transmission making our lives a bit easier. I can’t wait for that.

One thing a small business owner can not wait for is to take a practical look at their business operations and see of there are ways to cut costs by going paperless. From paperless filing, and data storage to paperless engagements for service businesses many paperless options can be purchased at a small cost and implemented quickly. Paperless environments also make your daily operations move more efficiently and effectively. A small investment in technology may make a large impact on the bottom line.

Brian N. Stovall
Consultant - Accounting and Busiess Advisory
The Brico Group, Inc.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Intuit v. Microsoft The Fight Has Begun!!!

With the official launch of Microsoft’s Small Business Accounting 2006 on September 7th 2005 the stage has been set for an all out battle for the lucrative small business market for accounting software programs. On one side there is Intuit’s QuickBooks software lines that include Simple Start, Pro, Premier, and Enterprise Solutions 2006 and on the other the new Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006 product. Both products offer small businesses, accountants and software developers a wide array of functions and features, but there are some limitations to each product. Among those are the ability to work with other software titles, and the functionality of the modules within each. In the October issue of the NSA Technology Advisor ( ), there is a detailed analysis of each software offering and the strengths and limitations of both. One thing to keep in mind when comparing these two software offerings is to understand what each company is offering the end user, the key features of each software and how they relate to your business operations, if any third part software can be seamlessly integrated into the software and understanding the limitations of each software in regards to your business operations.

Small business owners will be happy to know that with the addition of MS SBA there is greater variety within the small business accounting market. Both QB 2006 and MS SBA 2006 are priced competitively and there are versions to fit any size business and budget. Both products have robust features, however each falls short in the inventory, and job costing area. Both products offer free trials ( and ).

The products differ in that MS SBA 2006 is written in the industry standard .NET language which provides Microsoft and edge for additional development inside the company (MS Office and other products) and outside the company (SDK Software Developers Kits). QuickBooks 2006 is written in a different code that has been around for quite some time which makes it difficult to develop additional products. Microsoft may have a long term advantage in this area if the strategy is to build loyalty thru the use of ancillary desktop applications that work with MS SBA.

I have been privileged to take a view of the new MS SBA 2006 product earlier this year and found it to be rather user friendly and easy to navigate. The screens are set up similar to other Microsoft offerings, thus it is familiar to new users. I did find it lacking in the reporting area, whereas QuickBooks offers more reports for the user. All in all it is a sound product that can only grow with the addition of more products that will seamlessly integrate into the .NET program. I would like to see a conversion built that will convert QuickBooks data to MS SBA 2006, for that would make it easier for new users to convert data.

Both companies must play close attention to the needs of accountants, small business owners and developers for each have a different need respectively. Whereas accountants want better accurate reporting and an audit trail, small business owners want something that is easy to use and learn. This is a difficult task for both companies and I look forward to see how each addresses the needs of both.

Brian N. Stovall
Consultant – Accounting Business Advisory
The Brico Group, Inc.