Wednesday, October 20, 2010

PerfectForms - Make your business documents come to life

Moving intelligent forms to the cloud takes us a step closer to the paperless office

By now everybody has heard about cloud computing, and countless big and small companies and even individuals are using it on an everyday basis. In some cases, people are using it and don't even realize it. Store your vacation pictures in one of the popular photo-sharing services? Use Hotmail? Play Farmville? That's cloud computing. On a bigger scale, cloud computing may involve e-commerce, productivity applications, or cloud-enabled versions of your internally-developed custom apps.

When paperwork is no longer paperwork . . .

We tend to think of "forms" as pieces of paper, which are filled out, collated, and entered manually into a computer database for subsequent processing. However, the nature of "form" has changed, and with it, the entire workflow associated with the form has been altered.

The form is an entry point to workflow. That is, the form, whether it is paper or electronic, is used to collect information. That information then goes on to be gathered, calculated, processed, and compiled into reports. It is passed on from department to department so different actions can be taken. That part hasn't changed, but the fundamental shift involves the level of integration.

In the old model, the form was a static point of reference that stood on its own. A data entry clerk had to copy information from the form into a database or computer application before it could become useful.

Today, the form is no longer static. It is a dynamic and integrated point of reference that is a part of the entire workflow, and a part of the applications that depend upon it to carry out business processes.

Let's start with what an electronic form can do. A simple example is the fillable PDF. The IRS uses them, and you can fill out your 1040 directly onto the electronic form. That gives some convenience to the end user, but that's only the beginning. Convenience to the end user—the person filling out the form—is good, from a public relations/marketing perspective, but the real value comes in the back end.

Traditionally, all those forms would be gathered in an office for processing, and an army of data entry clerks would take each form, and re-type the information into a database, which would then compile the information and generate reports for management.

Here's where electronic forms bring the big benefit: If you're able to integrate those electronic forms directly with your other applications, all that data entry becomes unnecessary. And instead of the form being just a static document, it becomes part of a larger integrated system.

What is the cloud?
But before we talk about bringing the cloud into the paperwork loop, we have to understand precisely what the cloud is . . . and what it is not.

Cloud computing is often misunderstood, and because the very name "cloud" implies something that you can't pin down, it's easy to get the impression that with a cloud application or cloud service, you never know where your applications and data may lie. But that's not the case.

A cloud is just an interconnected group of servers that use a virtualization layer so that they can operate as a single unit. It then delivers services to customers over a secure connection, typically using the Internet as a primary conduit. So, while the Internet may be part of the process, it's not the entire process. The cloud itself is a defined group of hardware elements, usually housed in one or more data centers. And despite the ethereal sounding name, you can actually pin it down. When you purchase a cloud application from a provider, you are able to know exactly where your data and applications are held, and that there is strict control and oversight over that location.

Now that we know the cloud has a defined location and consists of actual physical components, let's talk about what it does.

The most common type of cloud computing is Software-as-a-Service. Again, many people make the mistake of thinking that all cloud computing is SaaS, but this is not the case. Most analysts recognize three distinct types of cloud computing:

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). SaaS is the delivery of a software service from a third party provider. The software is delivered from a single code base residing in a cloud-based server, but end users are able to enjoy use of individual desktops or custom interfaces to show their individual settings or to gain access levels to certain features.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). IaaS is the delivery of hardware services from a third party provider, such as computer storage, or virtualized servers that are managed by the third party but used through a custom portal by the customer.
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). A cloud platform establishes a set of cloud-based tools that can be used to create SaaS applications, often without any coding required of the end user. This brings real power to the SaaS model in that it allows companies to create highly customized, cloud-based applications and workflows as needed.
So where does all this fit into business documents? Simple. Given that a document is no longer a piece of paper, but rather, an electronic file, those electronic forms naturally lend themselves to integration into cloud applications.

Introducing the cloud to the paperwork jungle
Combining electronic forms with the cloud is a natural. The cloud is the Great Enabler of the 21st century. It enables communication where no communication was possible before, it connects offices and people that had no connection, and it enables and empowers workflows so that business processes can become more efficient. Bringing the form into this loop is not only "natural", it is essential.

That's because an electronic form isn't just about having a better way to type information into boxes. An electronic form is just one part of managing your business better, getting more insight and visibility into your business processes, and enabling an end-to-end workflow that actually starts with the electronic form itself.

The idea of the electronic form as a tool for gathering information and seamlessly transmitting it to other applications isn't unique to the cloud, and it's already in use in several corporations internally. The concept itself simply captures the electronic data programmatically, whether it exists in a cloud server or an internal server.

This electronic capture of data at the point of entry first of all delivers the benefit of eliminating redundant data entry. Without the need for a staff of clerks to re-enter information, time is saved, and accuracy is improved.

But beyond eliminating FTEs and saving on personnel costs, there is an even greater benefit, and that is real-time visibility. The ability to capture that form-based data immediately allows other reporting and management applications to get a real-time view of what's actually going on. When the boss asks, "How many orders did we take in today?" it's not necessary to go through a physical stack of papers. Instead, a reporting application can compile the data immediately, and with the click of a mouse key, show the bottom line, complete with easy-to-understand charts and graphs.

In addition to the reporting benefit, integration of electronic forms also enhances the utility of related applications. Because the form is now a live part of a workflow, and not just a static piece of paper, it becomes an extension of the company's accounting applications, inventory applications, and fulfillment applications. Data starts flowing faster into those applications and business processes, so all across the board, things get done a lot faster. Orders get filled quicker. Customers get happier. Your company gets more orders. The end result is that the savings realized from needing fewer data entry clerks is dwarfed by the benefit gained from more efficient business processes and greater visibility throughout the entire enterprise.

What is an intelligent form?

Let's not confuse a fillable form with an intelligent form. A fillable form is one that can be completed online. It includes a basic function that allows the user to see the form on the computer screen, and then to type in responses into each field. The completed form can then be printed out, or sometimes saved and submitted electronically.

An intelligent form does something much more, and this is the basis of the value proposition being discussed. An intelligent form starts by allowing fields to be completed electronically, but it doesn't end there. The intelligent form has built-in knowledge of the business process to which the data being entered is applied.

An intelligent form has two main characteristics beyond the data entry automation:

  1. A built-in understanding of the business process for which it is being used.
  2. An integrated workflow that gives the form "knowledge" about where the information it contains is going to be routed next.
We can draw an analogy with the old "dumb terminals" used in early client-server configurations. The "dumb terminal" was simply a keyboard and monitor that was used to allow information to be entered. The terminal had no built-in intelligence and no processing ability. That model didn't last long, and now every desktop has a CPU, and at least some processing occurs at the desktop level.

By the same token, a "dumb form" is also simply a tool that allows information to be entered. It has no built-in intelligence and no processing ability. By going beyond the "dumb form" model, business processes can achieve the same quantum leap of efficiency they saw when the world moved towards intelligent networking.

In short, an intelligent form is a form that does three things:

  1. It allows for electronic entry of information into each field.
  2. It processes that information and performs calculations.
  3. It understands the workflow and integrates its data with other applications and processes.
The intelligent form model represents a whole new approach to information management, and a new level of integration that can be applied to a business of any size.

Should you cloud-enable your intelligent forms?

The intelligent form model can, technically speaking, be implemented on-premises or in the cloud equally well. There are advantages to both approaches, and some enterprises that may be running ultra-secure, high-security applications may prefer to retain in-house control. This may involve deploying the intelligent form application either on an internal server, or on a private, internal cloud (something used usually by larger enterprises).

That said, security in a third party cloud is typically quite robust, with 24x7 maintenance and physical security, state-of-the-art firewalls, and high-end servers and connectivity that provide for superior responsiveness and on-the-fly scalability.

One benefit of cloud-enabling the intelligent form application is taking advantage of the third-party provider's management and administration, a factor that results in substantial in-house savings even beyond the savings naturally accrued by deploying intelligent forms. In addition, the cloud-enabling of the intelligent form application will allow for a broader level of controlled access, which can be very beneficial in an environment where there are multiple stakeholders and participants across many locations. Access is still password-regulated and transmitted via secure connection, but because connectivity is done via secure web browser, any process involving the intelligent forms can be carried out from any location. Not only can the forms themselves be completed from any browser, the connecting applications can receive information from the forms as well.

Introducing PerfectForms, for making your forms come to life

PerfectForms is a platform for creating electronic forms and integrating them into your business processes. Representing this new approach to intelligent forms, it fulfills all three requirements: Allowing for electronic entry of information, processing the information and making calculations, and understanding the workflow and integrating its data with other business processes.

Available as both a cloud-based application or an on-premises deployment, PerfectForms helps make information more usable, visible, and interactive. With no programming required, end users can create intelligent forms for capturing information, and use the WYSIWYG tools to create a live workflow to guide and direct that information after it is entered.

With PerfectForms, information doesn't end once it is entered into fields. It lives on, reaching out across the enterprise and inserting itself into the applications that will make use of it. That data is processed into management reports for easy, real-time views. The intelligent forms created by PerfectForms are the perfect way to achieve remarkable efficiencies that have never before been possible.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Process involved before getting your truck on road

Before you can legally operate your big rig in interstate commerce, you must: file Form 2290, Heavy Vehicle Use Tax, with the IRS, register the truck with IRP,register the truck with SSR, and register with IFTA.
Vehicle Registration. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Act of 1991 created the International Registration Plan (IRP), which is a streamlined system for truck registration and fuel tax reporting. Every state is a member of IRP, and your base (home) state's motor vehicle division is responsible for the licensing and registration of motor carriers under the IRP and the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA).
Although you must register in every state you operate your truck, and each state collects vehicle registration fees and various taxes, under IRP you fill out one form indicating the states you will drive through and pay the registration fee to your base state. Only one license plate and one cab card is issued for each vehicle registered under IRP. The vehicle is known as an apportionable vehicle. Your cab card lists the states where your vehicle is apportioned. If you have to drive through a state where your truck is not registered, you can obtain a temporary registration.
In addition to IRP, you also need Single State Registration System(SSRS), which gives you the authority to use your truck and trailer to transport freight in these states. Once again, your truck must be registered under SSR in every state you operate your truck. Only 40 states participate in SSR. If your base state is not a member, you must choose a participating state in which to obtain your SSRS credentials. Kentucky, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon require additional tax credentials.

The Federal Highway Use Tax must be filed for heavy vehicles if your truck's taxable gross weight exceeds 55,000 pounds. The tax period runs from July 1 to June 30, and the tax is due on August 31 each year. However, when you buy a truck, you must file this form and pay the tax to the IRS by the last day of the month following the month you made the purchase. You can pay the tax in one annual payment or in quarterly installments.
If you fail to pay the tax on time, the IRS will assess penalties and late fees.

After the IRS has processed your Form 2290, you will receive a stamped copy for your records. Also keep the canceled check as proof of payment with your records.
The IRS provides Form 2290, Heavy Vehicle Use Tax Return, and it is self-explanatory. However, if you prefer, your accountant or a permit service can file the form for you.
The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) regulates the administration of road and fuel taxes among member jurisdictions. The purpose of IFTA is to establish and maintain the concept of one fuel use license and administering base jurisdiction for each licensee. A qualified motor vehicle is a motor vehicle used, designed, or maintained for transportation of persons or property and:
  • Having two axles and a gross vehicle weight or registered gross vehicle weight exceeding 26,000 pounds; or
  • Having three or more axles regardless of weight;
  • or is used in combination, when such combination exceeds 26,000 pounds. Source: Arizona Motor Carrier Services.
The Owner-Operator (licensee) receives one fuel tax license, which is issued by the base state and authorizes travel in all IFTA jurisdictions. The IFTA license is valid for a calendar year, from January 1 to December 31, requiring annual renewals. You (the licensee) must file quarterly fuel tax returns reporting all miles accumulated by your truck in each jurisdiction (member state) to your base (home) state. The report must show all miles traveled and fuel purchased and consumed in each IFTA jurisdiction. Your base (home) jurisdiction will collect and transmit fees to other member jurisdictions or will issue a refund if you overpaid. Fuel tax audits are only performed by the base state.
Under this system, you must carefully plan and document your fuel usage and purchases and miles traveled in each state. For example, if you purchase 100 gallons of fuel but only use 50 in that jurisdiction, you are due a fuel tax credit. If you used 100 gallons but purchased only 50 gallons of fuel in that jurisdiction, you owe tax.
You can efile your form 2290 at and have your schedule-1 in minutes.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Roles and Responsibilities in HVUT Collection and Administration

The code of federal regulations establishes a framework for HVUT enforcement in 23 CFR 669 and assigns responsibilities to multiple federal and state agencies.

Internal Revenue Service
The IRS is responsible for HVUT collections and taxpayer audits.

States are required to obtain proof of payment when registering heavy trucks subject to the tax. Further, 23 CFR 669.11 requires that the Governor of each state certify HVUT compliance prior to July 1 of each year. In so doing, the Governor or his or her designee must submit a letter with text prescribed in 23 CFR 669.9 and contained within Form FHWA-1563 certifying that the state is obtaining proof of payment as a condition of registering heavy trucks subject to the HVUT.

Federal Highway Administration
FHWA is required under 23 U.S.C. 669.21 to periodically review the state's procedures for complying with HVUT requirements. This review must include the inspection of registration records and other supporting documentation. Part 699 of the Federal-aid Policy Guide requires FHWA to conduct HVUT compliance reviews at least once every three years for each state in the nation. Responsibility for conducting these reviews falls to the division offices.

If a state fails one of the periodic compliance reviews, the Secretary of Transportation has the authority to withhold up to 25 percent of the state's Interstate Maintenance funds [23 U.S.C. 104(b)(5)]. A finding of non-compliance could, therefore, cost the state millions in lost highway funding. Thus, it is imperative that states take measures to ensure HVUT compliance.

More Information

Link to 23 CFR 669.11:
Link to 23 U.S.C. 669:;sid=33be34f2784b538a5c0ef4b46f81ca3b;rgn=div5;view=text;node=23%3A1.;idno=23;cc=ecfr makes it easy to file Highway use tax. YTT is IRS approved efile service provider for tax form 2290 and 8849. You can also amend your tax 2290 with simple steps.

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Procedures for Paying the HVUT

IRS Form 2290 is used when paying the HVUT. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is responsible for collecting the tax, so all payments are made to the IRS. Payments made in 2007 cover the period from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008. For new vehicles, IRS Form 2290 must be filed by the last day of the month following the month of first use.

Once the carrier has paid the tax, proof of payment must be submitted with their registration renewal to relevant state authorities. Proof of payment may generally be provided either in the form of a receipted and stamped Schedule 1 from IRS Form 2290 or a copy of a completed IRS Form 2290 with a front and back copy of the canceled check used to make the payment. This process is illustrated in the image shown below.

For large carriers with 25 or more vehicles, electronic filing is accomplished using a credit card or other means of electronic payment. When presenting proof of payment, the taxpayer must have the original electronic receipt or a copy of the receipt and a credit card or other bank statement showing evidence of the transaction.

In the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), Congress took action to enhance HVUT enforcement through several provisions:

  • Mandating that HVUT taxpayers with 25 or more vehicles file taxes electronically
  • Repealing the option to pay the HVUT on a quarterly basis
  • Funding the development of an electronic system for the filing process
Due to these provisions, the procedures for paying the HVUT will be changing in the coming years. How that process might ultimately look is presented in the final module of this training course.

File your heavy vehicles usage tax @

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Why Is the HVUT Important?

The Federal HTF protects the nation's investment in our transportation infrastructure. In 2007 alone, Federal HTF receipts topped $39.9 billion, with $34.9 billion dedicated to the HTF's Highway Account. The Federal HTF finances a broad spectrum of transportation investments, including:

  • Highway improvements (e.g., land acquisition and other right-of-way costs, preliminary and construction engineering, construction and reconstruction, resurfacing and restoration costs of roadways and bridges)
  • Highway and bridge maintenance activities
  • Highway law enforcement
  • Safety programs (e.g., driver education and training, vehicle inspection programs, enforcement of vehicle size and weight limits)
  • Congestion relief projects
  • Debt service
  • Administrative costs (e.g., research, engineering)

Investment in our nation's highway infrastructure helps:

  • Save lives, time and money
  • Reduce the number and severity of crashes for all kinds of vehicles
  • Enhance the ability of the entire community of emergency responders
  • Lower fuel and insurance costs
  • Increase mobility
  • Ease congestion
  • Decrease energy consumption
  • Boost air quality
  • Improve the efficient movement of goods
  • Raise business productivity
  • Strengthen the nation's economic productivity
Since the vast majority of all funds contributed by states to the Federal HTF are returned through highway fund apportionments, there is a direct incentive for state agencies to take necessary measures to enhance HVUT compliance.

More Information

Link to 2007 Urban Mobility Report:
Link to Status of the Nation's Highway Bridges, and Transit: Conditions and Performance:


E-File IRS Form 2290 @

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How Much Revenue Is Raised Through the HVUT?

The HVUT is a significant source of transportation funding in the U.S. In 2006 alone, the HVUT generated more than $1.4 billion in Federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenue.

The figure shown below documents historic collections associated with the HVUT. The figure highlights three time periods of interest: 1984-85, 2001 and 2006. In 2001, HVUT receipts slumped due to the sagging economy and its impact on the motor carrier industry. In recent years, the HVUT has rebounded due to economic growth and the incentive to pre-buy or purchase trucks prior to 2007 to avoid the new EPA emissions rule. In 2006, HVUT revenue represented approximately 4.2 percent of total revenue deposited in the Highway Account of the Federal HTF.

The figure also underscores the importance and potential payoff associated with strong enforcement. On July 1, 1984, HVUT rates were raised to their current levels. Not surprisingly, fiscal year (FY) 1985 HVUT revenues grew by nearly $200 million. On October 1, 1985, States were required to verify proof of payment as a condition of registering heavy trucks subject to the HVUT. In the year following introduction of this enforcement measure, HVUT revenues grew by an additional $154 million, representing an increase of nearly 41 percent.

More Information

Link to Highway Statistics, Table FE-9:


File and print Schedule-1 for Form 2290 @

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What Is the HVUT and Who Must Pay It?

The heavy vehicle use tax or HVUT is a fee assessed annually on heavy vehicles operating on public highways at registered gross weights equal to or exceeding 55,000 pounds. The gross taxable weight of a vehicle is determined by adding:

  • the actual unloaded weight of the vehicle fully equipped for service
  • the actual unloaded weight of any trailers or semitrailers fully equipped for service customarily used in combination with the vehicle, and
  • the weight of the maximum load customarily carried on the vehicle and on any trailers or semitrailers customarily used in combination with the vehicle
If the gross taxable weight is from 55,000 to 75,000 pounds, the HVUT is $100, plus $22 per 1,000 pounds over 55,000 pounds. For over 75,000-pound vehicles, the maximum HVUT is $550 per year. The table below illustrates these categories.

There are a number of groups that receive exemptions from the HVUT, including:

  • The Federal Government
  • State or local governments, including the District of Columbia
  • The American Red Cross
  • Nonprofit volunteer fire departments, ambulance associations or rescue squads
  • Indian tribal governments (for vehicles used in essential tribal government functions)
  • Mass transportation authorities
There are also a number of vehicles exempted from the HVUT:

  • Commercial vehicles traveling fewer than 5,000 miles annually
  • Agriculture vehicles traveling fewer than 7,500 miles annually
  • Vehicle not considered highway motor vehicles — e.g., mobile machinery for non-transportation functions, vehicles specifically designed for off-highway transportation, and non-transportation trailers and semi-trailers
  • Qualified blood collector vehicles used by qualified blood collector organizations
Exempt carriers may be required to file tax forms with the IRS or notify the local department of motor vehicles (DMV) of the exempt status being claimed.

More Information

Link to IRS Form 2290:
Link to IRS Form 2290 Instructions:

E-File Tax 2290 @

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Books that i would love to share and talk about

This evening i was just going through some of my books and thought of sharing the list with you guys. I love to read them again and I have already done it twice.

1. Icon Steve Jobs, Well written and excellent narration.
2. Borrowing Brilliance (from Author and Friend David K Murray)
3. Who moved my cheese (Keep your ass on fire always?)
4. Blue Ocean Strategy
5. Big Switch (Dave recommended it and I love this book)
6. Know-How from Ram Charan is a must for everyone.
7. Sun Tzu: The Art of War for Managers
8. The Art of Innovation
9. The world is flat.
10. Negotiate this
11. What customers want
12. How customers think?

I will add more to the list in couple of weeks.

Happy reading :-)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Heavy Vehicle Tax: Navigating the E-filing Option Excise Form 2290

By: James Druman

Operating heavy vehicles like semi trucks is a stressful, time-consuming business endeavor. Any business is rife with things to do, but when you're in charge of running a fleet of trucks on our nation's highways and keeping everything running like clockwork, you hardly have the time to stop by the Internal Revenue Service and pay the Heavy Vehicle Tax.

But did you know that as of August 2007, the Excise Tax Form 2290 can be filed electronically?

Thanks to the Excise Tax e-file and Compliance project, the HVUT can now be filed over the internet, and in fact, truck companies or operators with more than 25 trucks on the road are required to file over the web. But you cannot just handle this at the Internal Revenue Service web page.

Instead, private e-file companies exist independently , and you can log into their sites and pay a small fee to get up to date on your responsibilities as a taxpayer. Not all Excise tax papers can be filed on the internet'the only ones with this available option are the Form 2290, the Form 720, and the Form 8849. All others must be filed in the traditional manner.

The purpose of this system is to provide an efficient way to file with far less chance of mistakes. And while the Internal Revenue Service is not currently suggesting any particular websites to file with, all must be approved by the IRS itself.

In addition, the IRS offers support and training to the companies so that all of them are qualified to offer help for taxpayers who have difficulty with the new system.

For many truck-drivers, a big concern about the new system is that they will be stuck without a stamped copy of their Schedule One, which can cause problems when leasing or purchasing insurance, but the e-filing companies have handled this problem by providing an electronic copy of the schedule one with a company logo or watermark, which can then be printed out immediately.

For vehicle owners that only have one truck or a small fleet under 25, it is still possible to go in and file the heavy vehicle tax in person or by mail; however, most business owners and operators will agree that finding the time to do this or waiting for the Schedule One in the mail is far from convenient. You are required to file the Form 2290 for every single month that your vehicle is on our nation's highways, and if you get caught avoiding this tax or pulling sneaky tactics to pay a lower fee, you can face additional penalties, legal fines, or even incarceration.

But with the new e-filing option, there's really no reason why you can't get it paid on time. It makes it a snap to get heavy vehicle tax taken care of from the comfort of your office or home, and it doesn't get much more convenient than that.

About the Author

To find out more about filing for your heavy vehicle tax electronically, go to .

(ArticlesBase SC #1656579)

Article Source: - Heavy Vehicle Tax: Navigating the E-filing Option Excise Form 2290