Thomson Reuters — Planner CS
From the November 2011 Review of Professional Tax Planning programs.
With tight integration among the tax preparation, research, document management, portals and other solutions from Thomson Reuters, Planner CS is best suited to users of the vendor’s CS Professional Suite, but can also be valuable as a stand-alone system.
- Includes tax code for federal & all income taxing states
- Special Watch Window & Results Finder Tools
- Seamless integration with tax, document management, portals
- Comprehensive calculations & analysis features
- Unlimited years of projections
- Excellent customizable reporting
- Limited data output formats
Planner CS is a comprehensive individual income tax planning system designed to be used as either a stand-alone program or as an integrated component of the CS Professional Suite from Thomson Reuters. The program includes tools and features for optimizing tax strategies and avoiding penalties, and offers analysis tools and customizable client-ready reporting. When used with the CS Professional Suite, users also benefit from integration with tax preparation, practice management, portal and document management utilities.
Basic System Functions - 5 Stars
Planner CS opens into a home page that includes a list of recently used client plans, links to related guides and research, and system-wide defaults, such as setting up individual users and passwords, using the auto-calculation function, reporting templates and graphics options. When setting up clients, users determine the number of years and alternatives, assign resident and non-resident states and enter other general client information on a simple tabbed entry screen.
The main work screens for Planner CS open into an exceptionally well-designed spreadsheet view with columns displaying years for each of the alternatives/cases, and rows showing calculated or input data for top-level return information, such as filing status, exemptions, income, adjustments, AGI, deductions, AMT, credits, resulting federal and state taxes, and many other items. The screen also provides broad category tabs that let users jump to more detailed data entry for those top-level items, such as income. It also offers the option to move directly to the most detailed screens, which are form worksheets, such as for short-term capital gains and losses, business/farm income, retirement distributions, interest and dividends, and other items. Buttons at the top of the screen also allow movement between federal and state data. From the main planner tab, users can quickly access tax projections, analyses, carry forwards and AMT.
Users can choose to have calculations automatically performed across all plans as data is entered, and the system notes all overrides of fields, and offers a quick list of these items. Other features include Watch Windows, which lets users keep key tax areas in view, such as AMT or Tax. Planner CS can be used to manage any number of client tax plans and supports any number of staff users, with file locking while in use, and the ability to password protect client files.
Core Tax Planning Features - 5 Stars
Planner CS is a planning powerhouse, offering a comprehensive and flexible collection of projection tools and analyses, based on current tax law, enacted future changes, income limit phase-outs, and inflation indexed factors. It can be used to produce plans extending out an indefinite number of years, with up to 50 scenarios each.
The system’s interface and Watch Windows make it easy to quickly see the effects of variables on key tax concerns, and offers tools for filing status comparisons, making incremental percentage or fixed-amount changes to income, and determining estimate tax payments and withholding. The Results Finder feature helps identify ways to reach a desired goal by calculating necessary tax thresholds. Other built-in calculations also help to evaluate taxes resulting from Roth conversions with multi-year distribution, AMT and ACG.