Small practices with generally less complex clients, primarily 1040-focused who need mobility
- No IT headaches
- Instant ramp-up/down
- Any number of users
- On-demand use
- PC & Mac friendly
- Lack of integration with accounting programs
- Paperless limited to PDF output
- No client portals
- No business management/billing functions
Last year’s introduction of ProLine Tax Online marked the first widely marketed totally web-based tax compliance system for professionals, but it was somewhat limited in its initial capabilities. Most notably, the TY 2009 version supported only a couple dozen states and was limited to 1040s. Since then, however, Intuit has continued to strongly develop the product, and for TY 2010 now supports forms 1040, 1065, 1120 and 1120S, associated extension forms, and all states, including multi-state filing functions. Also new for this year was the addition of greater multi-user access capabilities, data rollover and conversions.
Core Product Functions/Features
As noted above, ProLine Tax Online (PTO) supports individual, partnership, C-Corp and S-Corp returns, including all states with reporting for those entities. The system does not support estate and gift tax compliance benefit plan reporting (Form 5500) or local income tax compliance. Built from the ground up as a completely online solution, PTO uses a secure web browser interface, which allows the system to be used on PCs or Macs and from anywhere the user has an Internet connection. The program’s primary work screen organizes clients by business or individual, with the option to create, save and manage multiple returns per client. No client search or filter parameters are available aside from segregating business entity and individual returns.
Data entry is performed on input sheets/interview screens that provide topic-focused entry, guiding preparers through initial entry tasks, including multi-state income allocations, deductions, credits and other return areas. PTO’s work screens organize preparation into four primary categories, with tabs for Enter Data, Review Data, Check Results and File Return. Each of these work areas includes additional subcategories, allowing users to quickly move to specific information. The program offers a PDF view of a client return, complete with an automated and editable cover letter.
Data entry is intuitive and well organized on streamlined screens. Based on previous data entry, such as whether a filer is single or has no investment income, the system automatically skips areas that are not relevant to the taxpayer. Users can return to information screens and access these screens, if necessary. Prior year data is rolled into current returns and is displayed alongside entries, and calculations are automatically applied for payroll taxes during entry of W-2s.
PTO automatically checks for AMT, includes an MFJ/MFS comparison tool and offers “kiddie tax” compliance in addition to support for amended individual and business returns. The system is designed for e-filing, with no additional charges, and provides a quick return status function on the main toolbar. The diagnostics engine checks for missing or potentially inconsistent information, and also provides additional feedback on possible tax planning strategies. 4.25
Since PTO is a completely web-based system, the program is also inherently paperless, with all returns available directly as a PDF and able to be encrypted and emailed from the system. Unfortunately, it still lacks some of the paperless workflow tools becoming more popular in the market, such as scan, organize and populate functions, as well as direct 1098 import, which are available to users of Intuit’s ProSeries through the ProLine Tax Import add-on. The developers anticipate adding these features soon.