Checkpoint is a research product for accounting and tax practitioners that includes reference sources in areas such as U.S. Federal, state, and local taxation; accounting, auditing and corporate finance; estate planning; international taxation; as well as ancillary topics such as payroll, pensions and employee benefits. The product also includes user-configurable news alerts for daily updates to changes in laws, rules and procedures issued by regulatory authorities.
Basic System Functions
The structure of Checkpoint’s research offering is different from that of other products in this review due to the inclusion of the accounting and auditing sources and practice aids from PPC in the same research tool used to research tax issues. The wide range of content available in this service means that users will want to customize the Checkpoint user interface so their default news and search options reflect the information most commonly accessed using the service.
Users can search for information in many ways, including keyword search, Boolean queries, natural language search, topical browsing, journal articles, and linkage to tax preparation software from the Thomson Reuters tax preparation applications (e.g. GoSystem Tax, UltraTax CS and e-Form RS). Searches can be restricted to only specific sources or can utilize all subscribed databases, and common requests can be saved as a template for future use. 5
Checkpoint has one of the most comprehensive catalogs of sources reviewed in this article. Available databases include U.S. Federal Taxation; U.S. State Taxation; Estates & Trusts; Pensions & Benefits; International Taxation; and Accounting, Auditing and Corporate Finance. In addition to data from federal and state taxing authorities, Checkpoint includes topical analysis from BNA, as well as proprietary content from Thomson Reuters sources such as RIA, PPC, Warren Gorham & Lamont (WG&L), and EBIA. This proprietary content is available only on Checkpoint and other research services operated by Thomson Reuters (e.g. WestLaw). Although most Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting content is available as part of Checkpoint, some general tools such as the QuickFinder guides are not available online through this service. 5
The Checkpoint user interface is customizable, and users will want to spend some time configuring their personal view into this service so that the latest information on a user’s practice areas is displayed. Checkpoint’s user-configurable alerts allow for daily updates on key developments affecting areas of interest, and can be viewed by browsing topical lists, reviewing lists of articles flagged by a user’s alerts, or by using an RSS reader such as Microsoft Outlook to display the latest content. 5
Checkpoint includes cross-references between primary sources (e.g. IRC, tax court cases, etc.), practice aids (e.g. checklists, letters and calculators), and interpretative guidance from sources like BNA and RIA, so users can seamlessly move from practice hints and tips to statutes, then to calculators and, finally, to Microsoft Office to create templated deliverables and documentation. The included tools and templates are designed to facilitate the efficient delivery of professional services, and to help professionals consider all relevant factors when offering advice to clients.
Speedlink for Checkpoint is an optional application that allows users to log into their Checkpoint subscription by clicking on an icon that appears in the system tray of their personal computer. Users can enter search strings, citations or click on resources to review content in a web browser without needing to re-enter login information. 5
Checkpoint offers a wide range of materials, training and consulting to help both novice and experienced practitioners get the most from their investment in this research tool. Numerous training tools are available, including a comprehensive, 300-page user guide, a six-page quick reference card, web-based and live hands-on training courses, as well as custom individual training and consulting, allowing users to learn about Checkpoint in a manner that best fits their individual learning styles and preferences. While adjusting to the customization options for the user interface and wide range of database options will require some investment of time for new users, this is a sophisticated tool that can be used effectively by both casual users and technical experts. 5
Summary & Pricing
Checkpoint is an excellent research service that integrates accounting & auditing, tax, and other content into a single offering that interfaces well with the software offerings from Thomson Reuters as well as Microsoft Office. Pricing is dependent on the number of users and content subscriptions; main research libraries start at $500 per year. 5
2010 Overall Rating 5