Figure 1: Tax Import supports data extraction and financial institution download of information.
Figure 2: Extracted data is highlighted on the bookmarked PDF file in Tax Import.
From the July 2011 Review of Tax Document Automation Systems
Lacerte Tax and ProSeries Tax Professional users who would like to reduce time spent entering data into the tax application.
Tax Import for Lacerte and ProSeries, formerly ProLine Tax Import, is the Intuit solution for scanning and importing data into its Lacerte Tax and ProSeries Professional tax applications. The product is included with both Lacerte Tax and ProSeries Tax Professional, and units for processing can be purchased individually or in bulk. While Tax Import is new for 2011, the Intuit team has been very creative in solving common problems faced by practitioners, and has a fresh approach to tax document automation.
Core Product Functions/Features:
Tax Import has a simple user interface, and as mentioned above, supports both data extraction from scanned documents as well as imports from financial institutions. Practitioners can send clients an e-mail message explaining how 1099DropOff.com allows clients to enter their login information for supported financial institutions to authorize them to transmit the client’s tax information to the practitioner’s account at Intuit. When the information arrives, it is downloaded to the practitioner’s computer for import into the client’s tax return in Lacerte or ProSeries. Eleven of the largest financial institutions, representing approximately 70% of the active individual investment trades in America, support direct download of tax information to Intuit through 1099DropOff.com.
While this process works very well, many clients and practitioners have concerns with the security and confidentiality of this information. Even though Intuit is a large provider of payroll services and credit card processing, concerns about phishing attacks and identity theft may cause some practitioners to not use this service. While some firms and clients may determine that they are not ready to implement this service, firms who are using the service report that it eliminates a significant portion of the data entry associated with investment activity.
Information that is not available for download such as W-2 and 1099 forms can be extracted from scanned images. Documents are scanned with a TWAIN or ISIS compatible scanner, are associated with a client, and are submitted to Intuit’s secure data center for OCR processing. The data extracted, as well as an organized, bookmarked, and highlighted PDF file and a spreadsheet of securities trades are transmitted to the practitioner. (An example of the bookmarking and highlighting is shown in Figure 2). The tax preparer then verifies the information to be entered against the source documents, and imports the data into the return.
Intuit offers telephone support, user forums and a searchable support knowledgebase to help users resolve problems. The tools are easy to work with, and the per-return charge paid for using Tax Import covers as many items as the user would like to submit for processing. There are no additional fees for subsequent reprocessing of information.
Documents are organized in the order they would be entered into the respective tax applications. Although users can reorganize documents as they would like using Adobe Acrobat, custom document organization structures are not supported.
Practitioners are told to expect processing times of less than 12 hours for data extraction using OCR, which might make this tool unsuitable for tax preparers who work with the traditional one-hour interview format popular in retail tax outlets.
The only tax and document management systems supported by the application are those associated with Lacerte Tax and ProSeries Tax Professional. Although Tax Import could be used to scan and organize data for other tax applications, the information processing routines require users to have the tax application installed to initiate document processing.
Although there were some unscheduled outages of some Intuit online services during the 2011 tax season, Tax Import was not affected by these issues. The company is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in new data centers in an effort to eliminate all unscheduled downtime and provide additional backup capabilities.
No supported integration with outsourced tax preparation services is available, and therefore automated redaction is not supported.
Intuit operates a marketing and support site for Tax Import at www.taximport.com. It offers some guides and videos to assist new users with the product, but they are not as extensive or as technical as those provided by competitors such as SurePrep.
Training and consulting is available through Intuit, and webinars are available to train new users on how to use the tools. Since the tax document automation tools are embedded in the tax and document management applications, little, if any, change management assistance should be needed to help firms adjust to the new model.
Executive Summary & Pricing
The Lacerte version of Tax Import has a list price of $9.99 per return. Volume discounts are available, and unlimited imported 1040 returns are $1,499. The ProSeries version of the application has a list price of $8.99 per return, and unlimited 1040 returns are $999. These prices are very reasonable, and with the most expensive unlimited return plan costing $1,499 for an entire firm, this application represents an excellent value for small and mid-sized firms.
2011 Overall Rating