Lacerte automatically routes information between related returns as necessary, including K-1 import and information between child-parent returns. The system also integrates with QuickBooks and offers import of data from Excel and other formats. The program’s modules, including the Lacerte DMS, Tax Planner, e-Organizer, Trial Balance and other options, offer good integration with the tax system. Newly integrated research is available via the ProLine Tax Research system, which offers access to BNA’s libraries of primary source materials and analysis, as well as line-by-line guidance and the ability to attach research results to returns.
Lacerte has continued to add technologies that aid in the paperless practice and help optimize workflow processes. The core tax system includes the ability to output forms to PDF, as well as integrated email and fax functions. The Document Management System adds additional abilities by allowing users to store client documents and other files, such as Word, Excel or QuickBooks data files, along with their returns and other engagement products. The Missing Data Utility also offers workflow benefits, allowing professionals to note in a client return if specific information is still needed from the client, then generate a client letter or email to let them know of any/all items they still need to provide. Lacerte offers data import directly from QuickBooks and Excel spreadsheets, with a mapping system that remembers client data paths. Intuit is also currently finalizing a system called ProLine Import, which will let clients electronically send their 1099-B, INT and DIV forms directly to the preparer for import into the program.
The Document eSort add-on pro-vides even more workflow management options by simplifying and reducing the time spent on compiling and arranging workpapers. A staff member simply scans 1040 client source documents into PDF or TIF format and uploads them to the secure Intuit servers, where optical character recognition (OCR) technology is used to identify the forms, automatically arrange them in the appropriate preparation and review order, and return all of the information as a single bookmarked and hyperlinked PDF client binder. The eSort feature can be used as needed for more complex clients at a price of $3 per use for any number of source documents involved in a single upload. Document eSort can identify and organize the following forms: W-2s, 1098s, 1099s 5498, K-1s (1041, 1065, 1120S) and 1042S. It categorizes other scanned statements and documents as miscellaneous.
Although it is normally installed locally, Lacerte can be used in a Citrix/Terminal Server environment, if the firm has access to the IT expertise to set it up, providing remote offices or staff with access to the system. While the system includes several features for client collaboration and communication, Intuit does not specifically offer online portals for transferring of files between the firm and clients.
SUMMARY & PRICING
Lacerte Tax Software has been developed to provide mid-sized full-service practices with comprehensive compliance options for all entity types, along with additional workflow optimization tools that enable professionals to work more collaboratively. The system offers generous data sharing and import capabilities, particularly with Intuit’s other professional and business accounting programs, along with document management, research and client communication features. Integration with ProLine Tax Research is integrated within the Lacerte tax product to provide context-sensitive research. However, the program’s collaboration features are not geared toward multi-preparers and reviewers working within returns simultaneously. The automated scan-and-organize option does not offer auto-population of data. As well, no true remote access capabilities or client portals are currently offered. The all-entity version reviewed here, which also includes most available add-ons, costs about $12,500, but firms can select from other bundles, including an unlimited 1040 individual module for $2,699, or an unlimited business module, such as 1065 partnership, 1120/1120S Corp, or 1041 Fiduciary for $1,529. Other bundles are available starting at under $4,900. The Lacerte system is also available on a pay-per-return basis for individual or any of the business entities.