Review of UltraTax CS - 2011

800-968-8900

CS.ThomsonReuters.com

 

 

BEST FIRM FIT:

Small to mid-sized firms that need advanced workflow functionality. Excellent fit for most full-service tax and accounting firms.

STRENGTHS:

  • Integration with other Thomson Reuters CS Suite products, as well as the CheckPoint research suite & many write-up applications
  • Hosted & leased versions available as part of Virtual Office CS
  • Barcode scanning imports information from W-2s & K-1s for lower complexity returns while supporting complex features requiring manual entry like K-1s with special allocations at the same time
  • New for 2010, UltraTax can automatically e-mail clients when returns are accepted for e-filing with tax authorities
  • Highest electronic filing acceptance rates for 2008 & 2009 tax years of all products reviewed

POTENTIAL LIMITATIONS:

  • Scan & organize tools in the Thomson Reuters suite require users to also license FileCabinet CS or GoFileRoom
  • Limited support for multi-office firms without using Virtual Office or Citrix/Terminal Services.

 

UltraTax CS fills the roll of tax preparation software within the popular Thomson Reuters CS Professional Suite. For tax year 2010, the UltraTax CS team has continued its focus on streamlining the data-entry process and helping reduce the amount of duplicate data entered. New for this year, is full integration with Accounting CS (an accounting product launched in mid-2010), enhanced data sharing for non-resident K-1 data for individual returns, and an expanded use of a text annotation library that stores frequently used text, such as draft copy. Also new this year, is the system’s ability to automatically assign a complexity ranking to returns and create a graphical five-year analysis consisting of the prior three tax periods, the current tax period and a projected period.

CORE PRODUCT FUNCTIONS/FEATURES

UltraTax CS includes all forms and calculations for federal tax compliance. State forms are available for individuals, trusts, partnerships and corporations, as well as some estate and nonprofit filings. Local tax and property tax compliance is available for many applicable jurisdictions. For tax year 2010, the product added the ability to file state nonprofit forms for Illinois and Massachusetts.

The Home screen for UltraTax CS continues to be the starting point for multiple common tasks. The Home screen’s dashboard display has multiple panels indicating recently accessed files, software notices and updates, as well as a quick status update on electronically filed returns. Also available from the Home screen is the ability to access return summaries indicating any refund or balance due, client contact information and the five-year analysis mentioned above. Navigation throughout continues to utilize a folder tree structure, where users click through major categories, such as income, itemized deductions, payments or adjustments, and the appropriate tax forms or data-entry screens are included under each category. UltraTax CS has also expanded its support for multiple monitors by allowing more customization options for these folder lists as they are presented on screen.

In the 2008 and 2009 filing seasons, UltraTax CS received top honors for electronic filing acceptance from the IRS. For 2010, UltraTax CS continues full federal and applicable state electronic filing support for individual returns, including extensions. Electronic filing is also supported for trusts, partnerships, corporations, nonprofits and employee benefits returns. State support for these returns is also supported for the jurisdictions allowing or requiring electronic filing. This year marks the first year that UltraTax CS has the ability to automatically send clients email notification when an e-filed return is accepted. 4.75

INTEGRATION

As part of the Thomson Reuters CS Professional Suite, UltraTax CS offers seamless integration with other products within the lineup. This includes the ability to share multiple types of data between accounting and write-up, fixed asset and practice management software, as well as between UltraTax CS clients. UltraTax CS also integrates with NetClient CS, which allows for return presentation and web client organizers as well as file exchanges and credit card payment acceptance from clients.

UltraTax CS has strong links with the Thomson Reuters Checkpoint online research platform, including access to PPC Deskbooks. Additionally, many forms within the system have direct links to instructions on the IRS or respective state agency websites. Support is also available for exporting data to BNA and importing data from Accounting Relief, UBCC, Dillners and Accounting for Practitioners. 4.75

PAPERLESS WORKFLOW 

In addition to tight integration with the accounting products within Thomson Reuters CS Professional Suite, UltraTax CS offers several integration options with FileCabinet CS and GoFileRoom, Thomson’s document storage and document management solutions, respectively. Tax returns can also be exported as indexed PDF files. Index options are controlled through the return collation options.

UltraTax CS customers can leverage the vendor’s Source Document Processing service, which allows source documents to be submitted for automatic naming and organizing, and then data input directly into UltraTax without manually entering the details. K-1 data generated within UltraTax CS is shared and automatically populated between business and individual client files. New this year, is the ability to import non-resident information to returns requiring multiple state filings. UltraTax CS also supports data imports from the Web Organizer within Net Client CS, bar code scanning on K-1 and W-2 data and from Excel spreadsheets, including files generated within the Excel 2007/2010 versions.

There are a number of helpful items for use by reviewers within UltraTax. In addition to the print preview options, the multiple monitor support includes abilities to review the actual return form with the underlying data entry on separate screens. Reviewers may also toggle between current and prior year data, without the need for the prior year UltraTax CS program to be open. UltraTax CS also displays highlighted fields to help note missing information based on prior year return data entry. Reviewer and preparer notes may be added to many data input and form-specific fields. Tickmarks can be also be assigned to reviewers. The review tools allow up to four fixed tickmark colors (green, red, blue and yellow). Client files can also be password protected. Additional offerings include an option to discourage access to a client file upon certain events, such as electronic file creation or final export to document storage/management software. 4.5

REMOTE CAPABILITIES

Thomson Reuters has more than 10 years of experience in virtual hosting of various products in its secure data centers. UltraTax CS has been included in the lineup of hosted products for this entire timeframe. UltraTax CS can be purchased and hosted through Virtual Office CS or leased using the company’s SaaS offering. Both offerings include options for multiple products within the Thomson Reuters CS Professional Suite, Microsoft Office 2007 products, Microsoft Exchange and a variety of other hosted software offerings. UltraTax CS also integrates with NetClient CS, the client portal option from Thomson Reuters. The company recently announced that it was hosting over 500,000 NetClient CS client portals as of January 2011. 4.75

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY & PRICING

UltraTax CS is a good fit for tax practices of all sizes and volumes. Several software delivery options are available to users. Users may elect to receive a traditional disc to load on a PC or server, may download the software directly from Thomson Reuters or, as previously noted, select a hosted solution. Pricing for the traditional CD/download-based option starts at $2,375 for unlimited federal 1040 returns. Other federal and state modules are available on a per-return or unlimited basis. The hosted solutions are available through purchase or lease and are available at a set monthly fee.

OVERALL RATING 4.75

Product delivery methods:

__x___ On-Premises

__x___ Hosted by Vendor

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