Copanion Inc. — GruntWorx Populate

 

Copanion, Inc. - GruntWorx Populate
800-291-2136
www.copanion.com

From the July 2011 Review of Tax Document Automation Systems

Best Fit:
While the GruntWorx Gather, GruntWorx Organize, and GruntWorx Trades services create files that are compatible with almost any tax application or document management tool, the GruntWorx Populate tool integrates fully with GoSystem Tax RS, ProSystem fx Tax or UltraTax CS.

Copanion’s GruntWorx is one of the two independent providers of tax document automation tools reviewed here. Unlike many competitors who license optical character recognition (OCR) engines to convert images to text, Copanion took a more basic approach and wrote its own OCR engine to serve as the backbone of GruntWorx. The company has processed millions of documents through this engine over the last six years, and its OCR engine recognizes and extracts data from thousands of different IRS forms.

Since GruntWorx is sold to end users on a per-use basis, it is an ideal solution for those who would like to try tax document automation before it is implemented across an entire firm.

Strengths

  • Firms can process as few or as many returns as they like, and pay as they use the services. There are no large up-front costs associated with this offering.
  • The GruntWorx web portal is easy to use and makes uploading and downloading documents very easy, even for novice computer users.
  • GruntWorx Gather is one of two offerings in this review that facilitates indirect download of data from financial institutions.
  • GruntWorx is one of two offerings in this review that allows import of information into most major advanced workflow tax preparation applications.
  • Since GruntWorx is a SaaS application, there is no need to purchase and set up a separate server to run the OCR applications needed to extract data from scanned documents.

Potential Limitations

  • The service level agreement (SLA) for Copanion GruntWorx Organize indicates that it may take as much as four hours for GruntWorx to organize and bookmark batches of source documents. This may prevent firms built around the traditional “one-hour interview” model of retail tax preparation from adopting this technology.
  • Firms using document management systems with built-in PDF printers like Doc-It DM and File Cabinet CS may need to follow specialized procedures to retain the bookmarks created by GruntWorx applications.
  • The GruntWorx portal does not integrate with other client portal products, nor does it provide tools for client submission of images into the GruntWorx system.
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GruntWorx Gather, a service that aggregates consolidated 1099 information from numerous financial institutions on behalf of clients, is the newest product in the GruntWorx line, and was launched in 2011. While there is some initial resistance from both accountants and clients to enter client brokerage account passwords into the Copanion website, the GruntWorx Gather product represents a step into automatic aggregation of account data, which many believe is the future of accounting in the internet age.

Core Product Functions/Features:

There are four major products in the Copanion GruntWorx product line:

  • GruntWorx Organize – organizes and bookmarks scanned tax documents into a single PDF file
  • GruntWorx Trades – extracts information on securities trades from scanned 1099-B forms to an Excel spreadsheet
  • GruntWorx Populate organizes and bookmarks scanned tax documents, and also extracts data from all supported tax forms into a file that can be imported directly into GoSystem Tax RS, ProSystem fx Tax, or UltraTax CS. Copanion expects to add support for Lacerte Tax before the end of 2011.
  • GruntWorx Gather – facilitates the indirect download of consolidated Forms 1099 from financial institutions by providing a secure client portal where users can log in to their brokerage account and authorize the transmission of their tax information to Copanion, who will deliver the downloaded information to the client’s tax and accounting firm using Copanion’s secure web portal.

Paperless Workflow:

The GruntWorx Dashboard and portal is easy to use and makes uploading and downloading documents very easy, even for novice computer users. There are new tools to filter the client listing so that firms processing a large number of returns can easily locate the files they need.

The GruntWorx Populate product creates a diagnostic “pointsheet” in a Microsoft Excel file for each group of client documents processed. This sheet identifies inconsistent items in the client’s imaged documents, including documents from other tax years, inconsistent social security numbers, and forms missing from the prior year’s tax return. The pointsheet can also be used to help the administrative staff track down missing source documents before the preparer begins working on a file.

Copanion resells CPaperless’ popular Adobe Acrobat add-in, Tic, Tie, and Calculate, which allows users to make annotations on documents, reorder the pages in documents to be in the same order as the bookmarks, and also provides a calculator that functions like a 10-key adding machine.

Copanion’s studies of its work with top 50 firm WithumSmith+Brown suggest that GruntWorx saved an average of two hours per return, netting an additional $200 to $300 profit per return. For tax season 2010 (2009 returns), WS+B used Copanion’s tools on approximately 65% of their returns, versus 2% of returns just two years earlier.

Integration:

Although the only document management system with supported integration is GoFileRoom ES from Thomson Reuters, the GruntWorx Gather portal makes it simple for anyone to upload and submit scanned tax documents. The organization applied to the documents can help confirm that all of the required documents are present before the preparer begins his or her work.

GruntWorx Populate is one of only two products in this review that will extract information for import into multiple tax products. GruntWorx Populate currently supports data import into GoSystem Tax RS, ProSystem fx Tax and UltraTax CS.

Help/Support/Training:

Copanion offers a number of free training videos and whitepapers on its website, which could be useful for all paperless firms. These include scanning tips, using Adobe Acrobat and more, and they are available at http://copanion.com/resources. Live “Tax Season Training Camp” webinars are offered twice a week for the first five weeks of tax season for users of each of the three major supported tax packages (UltraTax CS, ProSystem fx Tax and GoSystem Tax RS). These training sessions teach users how to navigate the GruntWorx portal and the process for validating and importing data into each of the three tax applications.

Executive Summary & Pricing

The list prices for GruntWorx return processing (before early renewal and volume discounts) are as follows:

  • GruntWorx Organize: $5 per return
  • GruntWorx Trades: $5 for each 50 trades extracted
  • GruntWorx Populate: $30 per return
  • GruntWorx Gather: $10 per return

 

2011 Overall Rating

 

 

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