CCH Small Firm Services —Client Accounting Suite

7265

TaxWise: 800-755-9473; www.taxwise.com

ATX: 877-728-9776; www.atxinc.com

The TaxWise and ATX brands, which each offer popular professional tax compliance packages, also include a suite of accounting systems, including write-up, trial balance, fixed asset management, client checkbook, payroll, firm management, document management, W-2 and 1099 compliance, and payroll reporting. But rather than offer separate versions of the Accounting system for each brand, there is now just one Client Accounting Suite that integrates with both tax systems or can be used as a stand-alone program. It provides full GL, AP, AR, after-the-fact payroll, live payroll, reconciliation and financial reporting capabilities.

Basic System Functions

The various modules of the Accounting systems install as separate modules, allowing multiple users to work within different areas of the program, or even within the same areas with a file check-out system that helps prevent overwriting data. These separate modules include write-up, AP, AR, employee lists, firm information, payroll, master client and a backup utility. When initially setting up clients, the program offers a guided process for entering basic client information, banking data and defaults, defining fiscal periods and creating the chart of accounts, which can be copied from another client or can be selected from standard industry templates. A New Client Assistant wizard also provides further guidance in setting up new businesses.

Each of the various modules (write-up, AP, AR, Payroll.) share similar interfaces, providing pull-down selection lists across the top and offering a function menu specific to the module. For instance, the write-up module provides links for posting journal entries, reconciliation, financial statement preparation, reviewing statements, accessing the GL, performing account inquiries, and entering and printing checks. More detailed functions are available from the pull-down menus, as well as access to reporting and system utilities. Each module has its own client selection screens, which offer a spreadsheet view but with limited sort and filter options. The master client module offers a list that shows all client entities. No automated user alerts, such as for account balances or other issues, are available. Basic user customization options allow setting decimal preferences, research options and default data locations. 4

Core Write-Up Features

As previously noted, each of the program’s modules is accessed independently, allowing users to work within a client’s AP, AR or payroll, while also working within another client’s GL or performing reconciliation functions. Journal entry screens offer spreadsheet-based work areas with quick access to account setup, registers, recurring journals and other functions. Users can drill down to underlying transactions from most screens and work areas, and recurring journal entries can be set up to automatically post. Likewise, automatic distribution of transaction amounts can be applied to specific preset accounts. Batch posting of entries can also be performed.

When performing reconciliations, the system provides selection lists for accounts and calendar selection for period dates, with checks and transfers out presented side-by-side with deposits and transfers into an account. The system can import data from spreadsheet format but does not offer direct integration with electronic banking systems or provide tools for specifically tracking credit accounts. Data can be imported or entered manually in heads-down or heads-up mode.

The Client Accounting Suite program includes checkwriting functions, both through the AP module and the after-the-fact payroll system, with the ability to print to pre-printed or blank check stock. Check registers include menus for jumping to related functions, and the spreadsheet account activity screen offers drilldown to transactions. When combined with the after-the-fact payroll and payroll compliance reporting system, users have access to all federal and state tax tables and paper-based and electronic wage and information reporting forms. More than 30 financial ratios are available for analyzing business financial issues, including AP to net sales, asset turnover, allowances for bad debts, inventory turnover and liabilities to net worth. 4.25

Reporting & Financial Statements

Client Accounting Suite includes comprehensive managerial reporting, including trial balance, detailed GL, budget and cash activities, along with ample payroll reporting. Customization options are limited to formatting and editing layout options. Reports can be output to Excel for further customization or to delimited text, RTF and PDF formats. Financial statement generation options include dozens of pre-built statements and report templates, with the ability to print zero balance accounts and exception reports, including tax basis entries. Reports can be saved to Excel and other formats. All global financials, letters and footnotes can be generated into English or Spanish, and output can also be saved to the optional document management system. With full GL, AP and AR, the system can be used to manage firm business, and the AR module provides invoicing functions. 4.25

Import/Export/Integration

The Client Accounting Suite can operate as a stand-alone system with the ability to import from QuickBooks, Peachtree, Excel and other formats. This allows the program to work in conjunction with other programs, including most payroll applications. The program also offers direct integration with the client data lists in ATX or TaxWise, which can help reduce redundant data entry, especially when transferring year-end balances to client returns. Reports and most data can be exported into Excel and text formats, which also provides for import into third-party accounting, tax, write-up and other programs, while PDF output can aid in paperless management. Although the system does not provide client portals, a Client Checkbook module is available and can function as a small business bookkeeping system that remotely transfers client data to the professional’s write-up system. 4

Help/Support

Built into the program is a traditional index-based Help utility, user guide, year-end guide and setup checklists. The system also comes with a printed user manual. The online support sites for both TaxWise and ATX are exceptional, with resources that include FAQs, a knowledgebase, tutorials and options for live training, seminars and webinars. Through TaxWise University and ATX University, users can also gain CPE credit for additional advanced training on the systems. The Client Accounting Suite system supports recent Microsoft Windows operating systems including Windows 7. Live support is included with program pricing. 4.75

Summary & Pricing

The Client Accounting Suite is best suited to small and mid-sized practices using either ATX or TaxWise. The system provides comprehensive capabilities but without some of the higher end automation and management features. Client Accounting Suite costs $495 and can be bundled with a live payroll for $945. Initial purchases also require a $99 online webinar training class.

2010 Overall Rating 4.25

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