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Tax Guru-Ker$tetter Letter
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Great New Tax Reference Book

Over the past 20+ years, I’ve written and spoken often about my favorite indispensable tax reference books, from QuickFinders.

Last year, I decided to give the competition a try, so I bought the Kleinrock and CCH QuickFinder clones, as well as all of the authentic QF books.  I have them all on the shelf under my desk, and can honestly say that I only opened the CCH and Kleinrock books a few times in the past year.  I refer to the QF books several times each and every day. 

As many tax practitioners have noticed, a few years back, Thomson Publishing went on a buying spree and acquired several formerly independent companies, such as PPC, Gear Up Seminars and QuickFinders.  They claimed that the QuickFinders books would continue to be produced with the same style we have all become comfortable with.  That didn’t last long when the Thomson management decided to switch its writing staff from actual practicing tax professionals to full-time writers.  I saw their help wanted ads for full-time writers earlier this year, where they were touting the benefits of living in Fort Worth, Texas and not having the normal tax season stress.   

That move seemed counter-productive to me.  What made QF especially useful was the fact that it was written and edited by other real world tax practitioners who could incorporate their real life experiences, and not just academics who write based on the printed laws, regulations and forms.  This was similar to my dilemma several years back.  After teaching seminars around the country for Gear Up for a season, I was offered some big bucks by a competitor to teach full-time.  What I have always believed made my speaking and writing different from others were my real life experiences dealing with complicated client tax issues.  Giving up my tax practice would have dried up the source for many of my stories; so I obviously declined.      

So, in June, when I received an email from Brad Imsdahl, one of the QF editors notifying me that he and many of the others had left the new owner of QF to start their own company, Tax Materials, Inc. (TMI) rather than give up their tax practices in Minnesota and move to Texas to write full time, I wasn’t surprised.  It’s the very same decision I would have made in that situation. We sent a number of emails back and forth discussing  the benefits of a reference book being written by real life tax practitioners over one produced by people with no real world application of the laws.  I was sold on the concept. 

The TMI folks also had an excellent idea to produce one book that covers the same info that QF has in two separate books, covering both individual and business tax returns.  It should be much more convenient to work with than having to shuffle between the two separate QF books, which also have a lot of duplicated info between them. 

A few months back, I sent in an order and check for the Deluxe and All States TaxBooks.  I had been given a sample chapter a few months back, but wanted to hold off commenting until I had seen the actual book, especially the index, which is poorly done or nonexistent in some of the competing products.  UPS delivered the Deluxe book earlier this week.  Over the past few days, I have been using it as my primary reference source in answering client and reader questions.  So far, it has done the job beautifully, and I haven’t had to touch the QF books.

TMI doesn’t offer CD-ROM version of their books.  However, even though I did buy the CD-ROM versions of the QF books for the past few years, I actually used them only a few times.  The old-fashioned paper version is just too handy. 

As I’ve said for decades, while all tax practitioners should definitely make the QuickFinder and TaxBooks part of their library, non tax pros should also consider buying it. It’s so much better than the wimpy laymen books (Lasser, et al) on the market that it will pay for itself with one question that you can look up rather than have to contact your tax pro about.

I am not abandoning the original QuickFinder books.  I am buying their 1040 and Small Business books again, as well as their new depreciation and tax planning books.  However, I don’t see any need to buy the Kleinrock or CCH books again this year.


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