No one likes tax time -- not even paid tax preparers. They view tax season the way retailers view the holiday season; something to survive in order to thrive. Yet it's even worse for employers, who must not only do their own taxes but also prepare W-2s for each and every employee. Real Business Solutions has a solution for real businesses: W2 Mate 2012. Simply put, it can import, prepare, and file W-2, W-3, 1099, 1098, and related tax forms. Better yet, it saves you money by laser-printing your own government-approved substitute forms on blank paper. It prints individual mailing labels for W-2 and 1099 recipients, too. W2 Mate imports tax data from financial tools like QuickBooks, creates PDF-based forms, supports e-filing, rolls over data, and exports data to Excel. Recent updates include support for changes in 2012 filing and compatibility with Windows 8. W2 Mate 2012 is free to try for 30 days with a watermark on output.
W2 Mate's interface is attractive as tax tools go, borrowing stylistic elements from Web browsers and MS Office for a clean, up-to-date look anchored by a Shortcuts sidebar linking to forms, company data, employees, and more. Crisply rendered forms give a high-quality look and feel, too, an impression reinforced by the copious assistance W2 Mate offers. For instance, clicking the IRS & SSA Instructions menu on the toolbar showed instructions, contacts, Web links, and more, while the Tools menu let us roll over data, update employee data, back up and restore company data, configure options, and enable optional features. We started by entering company data, though we could also import (and export) data to and from a variety of programs. We didn't have any government-supplied forms on hand, but forms printed on plain paper with our basic black-and-white laser printer looked like they'd been printed professionally.
We've seen plenty of tax and business software, and W2 Mate 2012 stands out, even among the best. It produces top-quality forms with explanations, notes, and instructions when they're needed. The comprehensive software costs only $39, a bargain compared to CPA rates.
Editors' note: This is a review of the trial version of W2 Mate 2012 9.0.35.