Tax software firm hit by SA

Self-assessment claimed its first victim in the taxation software market last week, when Australian developer Smart Tax withdrew from the UK market.

UK distributor Mysterious Pursuit confirmed Smart Tax pulled the plug on the UK to concentrate on the Australian market. A rival vendor suggested the profit margins on Smart Card’s products were too low to survive in the crowded UK tax software market.

Meanwhile, UK software vendors – keen to avoid last year’s missed deadlines and frustrated clients – are poised to roll out their self-assessment software for the next tax year.

Transaction Technology said this month will see the first shipments of its 32-bit 1998/1999 self-assessment software, which will include a facility for capital gains tax. Business tax and accounts production packages will follow later this year.

FDS Taxpoint insisted it was on target for April deliveries. Jim Beckwith, FDS business director, acknowledged bitterness among clients, but countered: ‘We have a steering group, involving 30 of our clients, to keep them fully informed.’

CSM and Taxsoft have both promised users 1998/1999 versions of their packages by the middle of this month, pending formal clearance from the Inland Revenue for their facsimile forms.

CSM is working towards a fully functioning Windows package, while Taxsoft was promising ‘major enhancements’ in its new release.

Richard Shooter, a partner in Leicester-based accountants Henstock Shooter and chairman of the English ICA’s self-assessment monitoring group, said the tax software market was slowly improving.

However, he warned the year ahead will present tough choices. ‘Many firms were disappointed by their first self-assessment package, but it would have been foolhardy to change supplier in the middle of self-assessment’s first year. The big issue now is whether to stick with your original supplier or look elsewhere.’

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