2011 Review of CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business — ProSystem fx Planning

CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business — ProSystem fx Planning
800-739-9998

www.cchgroup.com
 

From the November 2011 Review of Professional Tax Planning programs.

Best Fit:
Full-service accounting professionals using the integrated ProSystem fx Suite to serve broad client bases.

 

Strengths:

  • Excellent integration with ProSystem fx Tax & Engagement
  • Up to 30 side-by-side cases
  • Ease-of-use

 

Potential Limitations:

  • Plans limited to four years of projections
  • Aside from exporting into other CCH programs, output is limited to PDF

 

ProSystem fx Planning can be used as a stand-alone system or as an integrated part of CCH’s comprehensive ProSystem fx Suite of tax, accounting and practice management applications. It offers multi-year and multi-case planning, supports all tax treatments, and includes AMT, capital gains calculations and anticipated tax-related phase-outs. The program also provides pre-configured state tax rates, deductions, exemptions and credits for 25 states.

Basic System Functions - 4.25 Stars

ProSystem fx Planning is simple to set up, with a tabbed window offering basic client data and plan information entry, including the ability to quickly import data from clients that exist in the firm’s tax compliance system (if using ProSystem fx Tax). Initial client data entry also offers selection of the number of tax plans/cases to configure for the client, as well as the number of years out. The program’s main interface then opens to an Excel-oriented spreadsheet view with cases and years presented in columns, and income tax information categories as rows. It provides areas for income, AGI, deductions, credits and other items, with automatic calculation of totals and projections as data is entered.

The main toolbar across the top of the screen includes functions for importing client data from returns, copying case or year columns, adding notes to individual fields or to the overall plan, viewing supporting worksheets, and other tools. The toolbar can be customized to include other links with the ability to set some user preferences. The program can support any number of clients and any number of concurrent firm users, with client-level password security. Client selection screens use the Windows Explorer file structure, which provides limited filtering and sorting options.

Core Tax Planning Features - 4.75 Stars

The ProSystem fx Planning system includes tools and calculations for computing regular tax, AMT, capital gains tax, underpayment penalties, the effects of lump-sum distributions, farm income averaging, and premature distributions from IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement accounts. Additionally, the system performs complete calculations of the deductibility of IRA, Simple, SEP and Keogh contributions, and includes phase-out calculations for itemized deductions, personal exemptions and AMT exemptions. All filing statuses are supported, and users can easily switch between MFJ and MFS to see potential differences in treatment.

Users can create as many as 30 tax scenarios for each tax plan, with federal and multiple states, and four years out or backward-looking projections. Supported residential and non-residential state tax information is included for the following states: AL, AZ, CO, CT, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NJ, NM, NC, OH, OR, SC, UT and WV.

Reporting - 4 Stars

ProSystem fx Planning includes all federal 1040 worksheets, as well as those for supported states, with the ability to drill down into worksheets from the case planning spreadsheet view. Cases with all years of projections, as well as summaries, data grids and reports can be viewed on-screen, printed or output to PDF. It also includes the ability to print estimated payment vouchers. Client-ready reports include customizable columnar and table data, but do not offer graphs or charts. The system can be used in conjunction with ProSystem fx Engagement, which includes client portals and more extensive client communication features.

Import/Export/Integration - 4 Stars

ProSystem fx Planning integrates directly with the tax and engagement systems available from CCH, including the new SaaS platform and with the Global fx hosted version of ProSystem fx. Data can also be imported from GainsKeeper Pro, a web-based portfolio management tool that aggregates investment data. The program does not offer direct integration with third-party tax compliance systems, and aside from exporting into other CCH programs is limited to PDF for data output. CCH offers several tax research options that can be used alongside, but not integrated with, the planning program. With the E-fx News email alerts, users can be advised of tax law changes.

Help/Support - 4.75 Stars

The program includes several helpful assistive features, including a broad Help utility with ample how-tos, right-click menu options, field-specific Help, a tutorial and links to the program support website, where users can access product documentation, a knowledgebase, training options and support staff. System updates can also be downloaded, and the E-fx News alerts also notify of program updates. ProSystem fx Planning supports all modern versions of Windows. Live technical support is included in pricing.

Summary & Pricing

As either a stand-alone program or as a part of the broader CCH ProSystem fx suite, ProSystem fx Planning provides comprehensive planning options for professional firms, but lacks graphical elements on reports and is limited to PDF output. Those who use other elements of the ProSystem fx Suite would realize the greatest value, with simple data integration between the planning and preparation systems. The program costs $585 for a single-user license.

2011 Overall Rating: 4.25 Stars

 

Loading