DSS News 
                    D. J. Power, Editor 
              June 8, 2003 -- Vol. 4, No. 12 
        A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 


      Check the new article by Mark Max "The Business
     Intelligence Tools Spectrum"  at DSSResources.COM


* Ask Dan! - Is tax preparation software an example of a DSS?
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Releases 


DSS News has more than 875 subscribers from 50 countries. 
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Is tax preparation software an example of a DSS?
by D. J. Power

"Is X a DSS?" is a common question in the Ask Dan! email. Let's try to 
figure out the answer to this question together. 

First, what is the purpose of the software and system? If the purpose of 
the specific software package is only to help a user fill in fields and 
print out a tax return, then it is not a DSS. If, however, the purpose 
is to help a user minimize the taxes paid and make intelligent decisions 
about what deductions to claim, then it is a DSS.  If the software also 
helps with tax planning and "what if?" analysis, that's also an 
indication it's a DSS. The Ask Dan! column of March 30, 2003 identified 
seven characteristics of a Decision Support System.  The tax preparation 
software I'm most familiar with, TurboTax Deluxe, meets all seven. For 
example, it's intended for interactive use, it's intended for repeated 
use and it's intended to improve decision effectiveness.

Here in the United States "Tax Day" is April 15 so many U.S. readers 
have probably recently used a tax preparation software package. Tax 
preparation software is used by professional accountants and by 
individual tax payers. My wife Carol uses Turbo Tax Deluxe from Intuit 
to prepare our taxes.  The program improves her efficiency by performing 
calculations and by creating "the forms" that need to be filed, but it 
does much more. It guides the user step-by-step through the process of 
preparing the return using an "interview technology", it reduces tax 
preparation time by importing a person's tax information from the prior 
year and it uses that information to prompt for current information, it 
has a tax law advisor and it has tax strategy tools. Intuit sells 
TurboTax products and provides a web-based DSS called TurboTax for the 
Web. In 2002 approximately 15 million returns were filed with TurboTax. 
You can find out more at

According to Porter (1994), in 1982 Taxadvisor was developed to solve 
problems dealing with income and transfer tax planning for individuals. 
In 1985, a program called Financial Advisor was the first commercially 
successful system to be used by tax consultants. Porter notes the most 
successful and best known tax expert system, ExperTAX, was developed by 
Coopers & Lybrand in approximately 1986. It was built using a rule-based 
expert system technology. The system started with 2000 rules and the 
number of rules increased to more than 3000 by 1994. The program used an 
"intelligent questionnaire" for data gathering. It replaced long 
questionnaires that tax preparers had to complete. Also, ExperTAX guides 
the user through a tax planning analysis to identify decisions that will 
affect the client's tax liability for the year. ExperTAX helps identify 
issues that need clarification but it leaves the final decisions to 
human experts. Research (Shpilberg and Graham, 1986) indicated the 
productivity of staff accountants using the system increased. 

So what category of DSS is tax preparation software? The tax preparation 
software that I am most familiar with is best categorized as 
knowledge-driven DSS.  I have not seen the code nor read how specific 
packages are programmed, but it seems most likely that "rules" are used 
to provide decision support. If rules and a rule engine provide the 
functionality and are the dominant component of the DSS, then it should 
be categorized as a knowledge-driven DSS. A tax "expert system" or tax 
preparation knowledge-driven DSS provides widespread distribution of tax 


Brown, Carol E. and Daniel E. O'Leary, Introduction to Artificial 
Intelligence and Expert Systems, 1994 at URL

Kneale, Dennis. "How Coopers & Lybrand Put Expertise into its 
Computers." Wall Street Journal, Nov. 14, 1986.

Porter, Eugene P., "Tax expert systems and future development," The CPA 
Journal Online, January 1994, URL

Shpilberg, David and Lynford E. Graham, (1986) "Developing ExperTAX: An 
Expert System for Corporate Tax Accrual and Planning," Auditing. 6(1), 
pp. 75-94. 

Smith, L. Murphy, "Accounting expert systems," The CPA Journal Online, 
November 1994, URL


What's New at DSSResources.COM 

05/31/2003 Posted Max, M., "The Business Intelligence Tools Spectrum". 
Check the articles page.


DSS News Releases - May 27 to June 6, 2003

06/06/2003 Visual Analytics expands its industry leadership in pattern 
discovery analytical solutions with release of VisuaLinks 2.0.

06/05/2003 Raining Data Corporation to demonstrate Mid-Tier XML data 
server for rapid information aggregation at SIA 2003.

06/05/2003 Golden Gate Capital and Oak Investment Partners acquire 
enterprise real-time messaging and collaboration assets From divine, 

06/05/2003 Managed Quantitative Advisors, LLC chooses ClariFI risk 
management services.

06/04/2003 University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNMHSC) 
selects collaborative content management software from KMtechnologies.

06/04/2003 Documentum achieves compliance with U.S. DoD 5015.2 - STD 
Chapter 4 for management of classified records.

06/03/2003 Tennessee's MicroStrategy Application wins DM Review's World 
Class Solution award.

06/03/2003 Reckitt Benckiser selects ProClarity for range of business 
analysis applications to provide increased competitive edge.

06/03/2003 Penton's Business Performance Management magazine publishes 
debut issue.

06/03/2003 Insightful Corporation launches Insightful Miner 3.

06/02/2003 Pinpoint Incorporated awarded patent for location-aware 
personalization and delivery of electronic content by the United States 
Patent and Trademark Office.

06/02/2003 Premier online clinical knowledge system, MD Consult, goes 

06/02/2003 Experian debuts new hosted database-marketing service for 
retailers and catalogers.

05/30/2003 HP captures number 1 position in total server revenue 

05/29/2003 2003 U.S. tax relief estimator available at

05/28/2003 Powerful new interface enables Mechanical Engineers to 
automatically generate and simulate models from SolidWorks.

05/28/2003 Working with leading audit firm, Oracle Internal Controls 
Manager helps facilitate Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

05/27/2003 Brio Software enhances Brio Performance Suite.


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