From the April/May 2010 Review of Professional Tax Systems (Advanced Workflow).
Lacerte Tax Software provides a professional compliance solution for professional firms with moderate to complex client bases and workflow processes, offering multi-preparer and review processes, management productivity supervision and support for multiple office locations. New in the TY 2009 version, Lacerte expanded its e-file library, increased the number of prior-year data fields presented in the current-year return, developed the product on a faster core platform technology, added an Excel asset import tool, and added support for Vista 64 and Windows 7 operating systems
CORE PRODUCT FUNCTIONS/FEATURES:
Lacerte is available in several bundles, including a 1040-only system, another with primarily individual but also with some moderate business filing needs, and the more comprehensive Individual + Complete Business Productivity package, which is reviewed here. The system is traditionally installed on a firm’s own computers. The bundle is network-ready and includes support for individuals, 1041, 1065, 1120, 1120S and 990 entities at the federal and state level, including unlimited e-filing and the ability to process multiple state returns with the option to add estate, gift and pension plan return capabilities. Also included with the package are document management, analyzer and planning applications, while optional add-ons include a Trial Balance Utility, Forms Library, e-Organizer, payment collection tools, ProLine Tax Research and the new Document e-Sort. Through its QuickBooks line, Intuit also offers write-up, payroll and several other professional accounting applications that offer integration into the Lacerte tax system.
Lacerte uses an interface that is centered around the Client Manager screen as a home base, providing a client list that includes multiple sorting, filtering and search functions that are accessible using the Filter and Views panels on the left. In addition to sorting and filtering by entity types, preparer and status, users can also narrow the list by e-file clients, states and other options. Tabbed navigation allows users to quickly navigate through and prepare a client’s return, with tabs including options for the client tracker, the general client list, client detail, forms, diagnostics, analysis and trial balance. Links to research and in-program Help options are available at the top, including the new “Ask Intuit” feature, which allows users to search the Knowledge Base, ask other users in an online community, and the ability to chat online or talk with a live agent anytime. An icon menu gives access to notes, e-filing functions, calendaring and diagnostics, or opening integrated modules such as document management and research. Lacerte offers the ability to use the mouse, keyboard, hotkeys or any combination thereof.
When working within client returns, the system again offers multiple navigation options. Using interview sheets as the primary method of data entry, a master list of all input screens presents data entry in traditional categories for general, payments, income, deductions, credits, taxes, state and local, and miscellaneous forms, with the ability to jump to those sections or to specific tasks within, such as entering moving expenses, a new W-2 or pass-through K-1s. All forms, schedules and worksheets involved in a client’s return are accessible via tabs at the bottom as they are created. Entry fields use many intelligent features, including pull-down selection lists, auto-population of some items and allowing users to skip over fields that don’t apply to the current client based on prior data entry. A forms-based view is also available for review purposes, offering diagnostics and the ability to add tick marks and notes to form fields.