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Review of Intuit ProSeries - 2011

800-934-1040

www.proseries.com

Best Firm Fit:

Small to mid-sized firms with mostly 1040s, but also diverse business taxation needs with some moderately complex clients.

Strengths:

  • Supports all entities, states & most local taxes
  • Options for research, fixed assets, document management & W-2/1099 reporting
  • Integrated billing system
  • Optional innovative data extraction/import tool combines a scan & organize system and direct download of financial data, where available

Potential Limitations:

  • No client portals
  • Few internal collaboration tools
  • Although add-ons are positive, they add up since system is not all-inclusive

 

ProSeries is one of the best-known professional tax compliance systems for small and mid-sized practices, providing a comprehensive suite and a user-friendly interface that offers forms-driven data entry, customizable checklists, unlimited e-filing, document automation tools, billing and communication management, in addition to research options and integration with accounting and other software applications. New for the 2010 tax year, Intuit has added additional state e-filing support for businesses and fiduciary entities, a new online resource center, financial data import functions and BNA-developed research integration.

Core Product Functions/Features

ProSeries is available in various formats, from complete and unlimited use systems to a pay-per-return model, with support for all federal year-end income reporting forms: 1040, 1041, 1065, 1120, 1120S, 706, 709 and 990. The system also supports all states with individual and business entity reporting, as well as most local individual income taxing jurisdictions, including Michigan and Ohio localities, as well as New York City.

ProSeries opens into the HomeBase View, which is centered around a master client selection and information list that can be set to display clients based on form family, or can show e-filing data, bank products and analysis features. This screen also offers quick links to key program features, including the built-in E-File Center, snapshots, Tax Import functions, alerts and other tools. A panel to the right offers access to tax research and the Intuit Live Community, where professionals can interact with peers to provide guidance and strategy tips.

When within client returns, the system maintains a forms tree on the left that shows both active forms for the current client, as well as expandable menus for adding additional forms and worksheets, with options separated into categories for common forms, general information, e-filing and banking, income, adjustments and deductions. Data entry can be performed on form replicas or on interview-style worksheets, with the ability to jump quickly between the two options. Data can also be imported from financial institutions and through an optional scan and organize utility. Screens are well-designed and clean, with simple keyboard or mouse-based navigation.

ProSeries includes quick MFJ vs. MFS comparisons and supports amended federal and state returns, as well as issues such as alternative minimum tax, minor dependent income (kiddie tax), K-1 data transfer, plus additional support for 1040NR and net operating loss reporting. Unlimited electronic filing for federal 1040, 1041, 1065, 1120, 1120S and 990 returns and extensions as well as all states that accept e-filing is included in the ProSeries system, and a centralized management center helps users with submitting returns, tracking receipts and acknowledgements, and checking on status. E-filing is also offered for New York City Corporate and Partnership returns and Corporate Extensions. 5

Paperless Workflow

For the small and mid-sized practice, ProSeries offers a great collection of workflow tools that are geared toward streamlining everyday tasks. From unlimited e-filing, to integrated research and fast data-entry functions, the system helps preparers keep productivity at a high. New for 2010, the company debuted the ProLine Tax Import system, which provides two key features when it comes to paperless workflow and streamlined data entry.

First, it offers a scan and organize system that allows users to scan in client tax documents, upload them to the secure Intuit servers, and then receive an organized and bookmarked PDF workpaper and an Excel file with stock trade details for cost-basis purposes. PDFs are organized into common data-entry order. Client data can then be imported and reviewed, greatly reducing manual data entry. The scan-based system can recognize Forms W-2, 1099, 1098, K-1 and many brokerage statements. The other significant and unique feature of the Tax Import system is the ability to directly interface with dozens of the largest U.S. financial institutions to import 1099-B, 1099-INT and 1099-DIV data, including cost basis, with all data securely transmitted and encrypted.

ProSeries also offers direct email and fax capabilities, along with customizable client letters and other communication templates. A “missing information checklist” feature lets preparers note items that a client still needs to provide and generate a single client reminder email or letter with that information included. Client communication and notes can be digitally attached to returns. The system can support any number of users and includes security settings that allow staff members to be assigned roles that limit their ability to access program features and client data. Roles include administrator, power user, tax preparer and data entry. Custom roles can also be created, allowing firms to more specifically determine the functions to which users have access.

The ProSeries Document Management System is available as an add-on, providing an organized paperless storage system that simplifies management of client returns and other documents and output them to PDF format. ProSeries DMS lacks built-in tools for adding tick marks or special annotations, or a method for electronically cross referencing or linking the PDF and the return. The DMS software includes email and fax capabilities, advanced search functions, the ability to track client notes, tasks and events, as well as the ability to save and launch Microsoft Office and other programs from within the DMS.

Although it offers optional services such as direct download of data from financial institutions, scan and organize features, and integration and import with accounting programs, ProSeries does not have client portals for collaboration and sharing of tax documents and final returns. The system can be directly linked to client QuickBooks data files, with live data being pushed into the return, and the program remembering tax form line assignments and mapping from year to year. Client data can also be imported from Quicken and most spreadsheet-based financial applications. An encrypted, email-based electronic client organizer offers an additional method for obtaining and importing data. Conversion of prior year client data is free and available for users of most professional tax compliance systems. 4.5

Integration

The program automatically moves data between associated forms and worksheets as necessary and offers a K-1 import tool for easily retrieving data from business returns associated with individual returns. A trial balance import utility provides guidance in pulling trial balance data from third-party applications. While the Lacerte system offers a tax planning add-on, ProSeries offers tax planning worksheets as part of the 1040 system, with support for planning up to four years ahead. A fixed asset management utility is available, providing tracking of assets and calculation of depreciation, including separate values for book and tax, various MACRS methods, client property tax returns, and multiple asset life events, including splits, disposals, exchanges and transfers. The ProSeries fixed asset module will also synchronize data with the Fixed Asset Manager in QuickBooks Premier Accountant Edition. And as previously noted, the program also offers a document management system.

For tax research, Intuit has partnered with BNA to offer the ProLine Tax Research system, which is integrated into the tax program and offers Google-like search functionality that lets users access more than 1.5 million articles, sections, charts, rulings and other documents, including all federal code, regulations and publications that provide guidance and expert analysis. Research can be attached to returns as notes. The research system can be used on a pay-per-use basis or can be subscribed to on an annual basis for unlimited use.

ProSeries supports various bank/refund loan products, including RALs and RTs, with built-in tools for managing these client services. New for TY 2010, Intuit introduced the Intuit Refund Card, which is not a bank product/loan (but can be used in conjunction with them). The Visa-branded debit card allows unbanked clients to receive the benefit of e-filing with deposit of their refund onto the card. ProSeries preparers can also utilize the Intuit ProLine QuickCollect system for deducting preparation fees from client returns, which costs the firm a flat fee of $15 each (and the firm can then pass on to the client). All of these refund functions can be managed from within ProSeries, which also includes billing management tools that support flat-fee or time-based billing. The billing utility offers customizable invoices and client letters, as well as the ability to set global and client-specific defaults. Through the QuickBooks Online Terminal for ProSeries, firms can also accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover payments. 4.75

Help/Support

ProSeries offers line-by-line access to form instructions and has a built-in link to the Intuit Live Community, where users of the program can interact and help each other. The program also includes a thorough user’s guide and Help center that provide indexed topics, how-tos and other guidance. The online support site includes categorized articles, topics and instructions, including practical tips and videos, access to the ProLine blog, FAQs, common issues, feature usage explanations, e-filing resources and other materials. Online guided and self-based training is also available, including options for CPE credit, at no cost.

Live phone-based and chat-based support is available during tax season from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (PT) and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays, and is extended until 10:00 p.m. on the last week of tax season, and until midnight on the last day of filing. All support is U.S.-based and is initially answered by an automated system. Users must provide an Intuit customer number for assistance. The system can be set to automatically check for and install program updates. Intuit does not offer a hosted version of ProSeries, although it can be hosted through a third-party Application Service Provider. 4.5

Executive Summary & Pricing

ProSeries provides the most comprehensive federal, state and local support for tax systems designed for small and mid-sized practices, and the program is available in multiple bundled options that allow for lower volume preparers, or those with low volumes of particular entity types, to still take advantage of the tools that the system offers. These include good optional research, asset depreciation and document management functions, and especially the ProLine Tax Import feature, which provides both scan and organize benefits, as well as direct download of 1098 and 1099 information from client financial institutions. Pricing options allow users to purchase the functionality they need, whether as a pay-per-return model (returns cost $21 each) or in bundles starting at $1,499 for a 1040-focused firm, and up to $4,549 for the most comprehensive version. Any license of the program includes e-filing at no additional charge, and the program can be used by any number of staff within an office location.

2011 Overall Rating 4.75

Product Delivery Methods

On-Premises

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