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Microsoft Enters Tax Prep Arena

Techstination feature for Monday, January 3, 2000

Another new choice in tax preparation software. I'm Fred Fishkin with Bootcamp, a report on computers and technology. I'm sure Bill Gates uses lots of his company's own products, but I doubt he'll be using this one. Microsoft TaxSaver. Product manager Gayle Cruise...

"We spent a lot of time talking to thousands of tax preparation software users as well as new users entering the category, asking them what they were looking for in a tax preparation software product. And users came back and told us overwhelmingly we want a product that's easy to use. Taxes are tough enough. Help make the process of preparing my taxes easy."

Microsoft faces some tough competition in the category from well establsihed programs like Intuit's TurboTax and Kiplinger's TaxCut. TaxSaver can import data from both Microsoft Money and Intuit's Quicken....and from there...the focus is on speeding up the process...

"Some of our competitors require you to do a lot more pre-work before you can actually get started. And we found when we talked to consumers in focus groups, the most important thing they wanted to do was just get the task over."

Sort of like going to the dentist. You can either use an interview format or fill out the forms directly on screen. The pricing is right. With a rebate, TaxSaver Federal is selling for about ten dollars. The deluxe version, which includes some well known tax saving guides and free electronic about fifteen dollars. One drawback...there are no state forms.