BNA Software -- BNA Tax and Accounting Center

From the Jan. 2009 Review of Tax Research Systems

The BNA Tax and Accounting Center is a hub for all of BNA’s online research products, which include a wide range of materials covering federal, state and international taxation of all entity types, along with analysis and guidance on other business issues. One of the 14 libraries available through the BNA system likely to be of broad appeal to most small and midsize firms is the Tax Practice Library. Starting at around $700, the Tax Practice Library is an expansive collection with source documents and analytical research on all areas of the tax code, plus practice productivity tools such as client letters, weekly state tax reports, forms, line-by-line guides and election statements.

After logging into the BNA website, the Tax and Accounting Center opens into an outstanding customizable home page that offers an instant Quick Search field at the top with links for search tips, search histories and saved searches, while a series of tabs give access to federal, state and international tax libraries, as well as tabs for accounting, the Tax Practice Series, payroll and practice areas. The primary work area offers “Getting Started” tips, including user setup, a quick tour, and training options and materials, while a full Help utility is also a click away at the top of the page. Other panels in the customizable work area allow quick access to favorite documents, favorite research collections and recently viewed documents.

When accessing one of the tabbed collections, the screen displays each of the portfolios in that area, along with modular panels for the Daily Tax Report, News and Commentary and analysis from BNA’s expert editors, in addition to quick access to source documents, other resources and practice tools. For Federal Tax, portfolios include U.S. Income Portfolios; Estates, Gifts and Trusts; the Tax Practice Series; U.S. Tax Overview; and the IRS Practice Adviser. Each of these items includes submenus that allow users to jump quickly to specific topics within them, such as post-mortem planning issues in estate management, S Corp tax issues or compensation planning. Opening a portfolio or subsection provides even further drilldown to expert analysis for specific sections of rules or legislation. Content can then be viewed in full-screen or split-screen mode.

Search functions enable saving of queries and viewing previous searches, with search returns opening into collapsible menus that allow the user to quickly scan for the appropriate reference. The queries can be performed across the entire collection of research sources, within tax collections, or within specific areas or selected groups of specific areas, such as cases, laws, news or entity types. A “Guided Search” function provides additional simplification of the system’s search functions.

CONTENT - 5 Stars
As one of the major providers of news and analysis of taxation and accounting issues at the state, federal and international levels, BNA offers an immense and exhaustive collection of content, all of which is available through the Tax and Accounting Center. The system also houses a comprehensive library of source documents, including the full IRC, regulations (final, temporary and proposed), all IRS documents and publications, state statutes and regulations, treasury regulations and the full text of federal tax cases dating from 1913. The system also has a specialized center focused on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

In addition to income tax content, the Tax and Accounting Center also has an Accounting Policy & Practice Series; a State Tax Research Digest; libraries for Payroll, Real Estate Portfolios and Sales & Use Tax; and portfolios for Business Operations Abroad, Tax Exempt Organizations and Transfer Pricing. Additional content options include dozens of news and commentary sources such as the Daily Tax Report, the North American Tax Handbook, Weekly State Tax Report, payroll news, International Tax Monitor and various tax planning sources.

BNA’s Tax and Accounting Center offers near-total customization of a user-specific home page, with the ability to choose which items and tabs are displayed, as well as the additional content and practice tools. New for 2008, the system also lets users create personalized sets of favorite document/research collections and set search preferences. Print options also have been expanded to allow batch output.

The system does not directly integrate with tax compliance systems, but it’s output options include the ability to view or print documents and other content in a Word-friendly format that can be easily copied and pasted into most documents. It also allows users to print specific sections, subsections or entire titles (portfolios or chapters).

SUPPORT - 5 Stars
Several useful tools and features provide assistance, including the user setup, tour, FAQs and quick access to training materials from within the online program. The Help utility also offers a somewhat traditional searchable index of various program features. BNA’s support website provides many of the same FAQs and self-help options, in addition to CPE-eligible training options and other customer service functions. Tech support is included in the program pricing.

2009 OVERALL RATING: overall rating