2011 Review of BNA, Inc. — BNA Tax and Accounting Center

BNA, Inc. - BNA Tax & Accounting Software


Best Fit:
Tax, accounting and legal professionals who want the practitioner view as well an an editorial view of tax law.


  • Research portfolios authored by respected practitioners & educators
  • Clean, easy-to-use interface
  • High level of program & newsletter customization

Potential Limitations:

  • No native integration with third-party tax preparation products

From the December 2011 Review of Tax & Accounting Research Systems

BNA Tax and Accounting Center is the tax and accounting research offering from BNA. While much of the content is also available in print and on DVD, the online version is the focus of this review. In August 2011, BNA rebranded the logo and various color schemes for the online edition. Most changes were made due to customer feedback, and content was not altered in any way.

Among other ways of accessing content, BNA Tax and Accounting Center can be navigated through a tabbed based system, with each tab representing a predefined research interest area. The initial landing page for each tab section is uniform in structure and design, creating a unified navigation experience by displaying research interest areas in the same location within each respective tab. Links to primary sources and other resources specific to an interest area are displayed on the left part of the screen. Daily news applicable to the tab section is displayed on the right-hand side and is updated throughout the day. Any tab may be setup as the default screen view to display upon login. This allows those that focus on state, international or payroll tax areas to default to those respective screens as their homepage instead of the default federal tax screen.

Searching within the product is easy and may be accomplished many different ways. The broadest and most obvious is through the designated search box at the top of each screen. When searching through this box, users are taken to a screen that details the categories that contain the search term. In addition, users may go directly to specific code sections, revenue rulings, portfolio analysis sections or a host of other options by using the Go To link, also provided at the top of each screen. Searches may also be narrowed through the use of advanced search or guided search options. These searches typically result in more targeted results and may be of use to those with more research experience. Once inside a search, users may easily navigate between all areas of the research software through the provided links.

CONTENT - 5 Stars
BNA Tax and Accounting Center has direct links to a variety of primary sources. The most notable, of course, is the Internal Revenue Code. Other sources include current and proposed legislation changes and court cases dating back nearly a century. The dominant part of the BNA system is the BNA Portfolios. These Portfolios are the backbone of the research and provide a topical look at specific tax subjects. All portfolios are authored by active practitioners and educators and not by the staff of BNA, although BNA’s professional editorial staff assist authors in maintaining the currency of the Portfolios. This generally translates to practical and intended use of the tax code. Many authors also create and share workpapers they have developed along with practical examples. In May 2011, BNA introduced a Fast Answers feature for the federal tax section of its research. Fast Answers focuses on quick answers for day-to-day scenarios and provides direct links to appropriate code sections and analysis for further research.

BNA has introduced a number of enhancements in the state research areas. Newly introduced are Tax Navigators for individual and corporate taxpayers, which provide current, topical information for each state. Detailed information such as tax rates and various definitions as defined by the respective states is provided in an easy-to-navigate layout. Also, customizable charts may be built to compare multiple states, allowing for comparisons of hundreds of tax topics such as nexus and filing requirements across different states. These tools are useful for practitioners that have corporate clients in multiple states or clients residing in other states with which they are not as familiar from a tax standpoint. Each of these charts may be exported to Excel.

BNA Tax and Accounting Center also covers a variety of other topics, including sales and use tax, payroll, and estate, gifts and trusts. A section devoted exclusively to accounting and auditing is available. (BNA is currently developing a separate online product that will be a more robust research service for accountants and auditors, providing more extensive analysis and primary source documents.) An international portfolio section is available that covers general tax guidelines for over 100 countries and more detailed analysis of business operations for over 40 countries.

BNA offers several practice tools within each research section, including a selection of workpapers and client letters that cover a variety of topics. Most are preformatted, and the content may be copied to word processing software for further customization and printed out for clients. All mentioned content may be accessed through modern browsers or through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

BNA Tax and Accounting Center provides a large level of customization. Each user login is unique and may be customized to fit that user’s needs. The homepage may be customized to show only specific practice or interest areas. Displayed news may be tailored to the user’s preferences, and searches may be saved for later use. Additionally, users may change how search results are displayed and grouped and the text size shown on screen. Subscriber content emails are available and may be tailored to a user’s specific practice or interest areas.

BNA Tax and Accounting Center offers links to content contained within the user subscription level, allowing users to navigate to and from portfolios and primary sources, such as the Internal Revenue Code or tax cases. Currently, the system does not offer any direct integration with any third-party tax preparation or accounting systems. This will force users to perform research outside of their current tax and accounting software platforms. All research content may be printed out by section or chapter. Alternatively, research may be saved to the desktop or converted to Word or PDF for inclusion in client workpaper files.

HELP & SUPPORT - 5 Stars
BNA Tax and Accounting Center offers a variety of Help and support options. At the bottom of each screen is a direct link to contact information as well as a toll-free number. The contact link directs users to a screen that details all contact options including the mailing address, phone and fax numbers as well as the opportunity to submit questions via an online form. Self-paced Help is also available through a menu option at the top of the screen and includes assistance on navigation, searching and various preference settings, among other items. Formal introductory training may be provided through telephone or webinar. All Help options are included in the annual subscription costs.

As changes to current tax and accounting laws are formalized, the BNA Tax and Accounting Center content is updated automatically. Also, each portfolio is updated as respective authors generate content, workpapers and updates. All updates to the online system are done without any required user intervention and are included with the annual subscription costs.

BNA is a leader in research, news and guidance for tax, accounting and legal professionals. BNA Tax and Accounting Center includes a comprehensive set of research tools and covers a variety of tax, planning and accounting topics. The core function rests on the BNA Portfolios, each authored by respected leaders and experts within their respective practice areas. These portfolios are exclusive to BNA subscribers and offer a distinctive advantage over other research options. The portfolios, coupled with a clean and easy-to-navigate platform, make BNA Tax and Accounting Center a quality choice for tax, accounting and legal professionals. Pricing is dependent upon the number of users, but a single-user login starts at about $800 for a basic library and about $3,000 for a library including the U.S. Income Portfolios.

2011 Overall Rating 5