SurePrep - 1040SCAN Pro and 1040SCAN Organize
From the January 2012 Review of Tax Document Automation Tools.
Best Firm Fit
Firms where more than one person is involved in the tax return preparation process with multiple levels of sign-off. It’s also a good fit for firms using the supported tax software who are willing to use SurePrep’s proprietary data-entry and SPbinder tools.
- SPbinder has an impressive feature set for organizing and annotating PDFs, Word docs, Excel files and Outlook emails.
- Depending on the complexity and variety of source documents for each return, a firm may either use 1040SCAN Organize, 1040SCAN Trades or 1040SCAN Pro, each of these priced accordingly.
- 1040SCAN provides the flexibility to skip certain processes, allowing a firm to use the product in a way that best fits its individual needs.
- Average turnaround time for the 2010 tax season was 22 to 25 minutes, the fastest among the products reviewed where the documents are uploaded by the firm and the OCR completed by the vendor.
- With so many options available, new users may experience a learning curve and take time to discover their preferred settings.
- Data-entry interface used to validate data is proprietary and different from the tax applications. Files created with SPbinder are also proprietary and cannot be modified with other common PDF editing applications like Adobe Acrobat. However, users have the option to skip the verification step and create an Adobe-compliant PDF instead of using SPbinder.
SurePrep has many years of experience providing accounting firms with a product line of scan, organize, and populate tax products that have improved year after year. Among its product offerings are the following:
- SPbinder is a powerful electronic binder and workflow system built for organizing electronic workpapers and managing the tax preparation process. Some of its useful features include a wide selection of annotations, multiple levels of sign-offs, as well as dynamic workpaper referencing and linking.
- 1040SCAN Organize uses form recognition technology to bookmark and organize standard tax documents.
- 1040SCAN Trades extracts an unlimited amount of capital gain and loss detail from brokerage statements to Excel and to Schedule D of supported tax software.
- 1040SCAN Pro exports data from standard source documents into supported tax software with tools to ensure accuracy and prevent duplication.
SurePrep also offers outsourced tax preparation services where the information from standard documents is verified by human eyes, and the document organization process is taken a few steps further. However, these outsourced services are beyond the scope of this review.
Core Product Functions/Features - 5 Stars
A few of 1040SCAN’s components must be locally installed, but all of the back-end processes such as OCR and the data are hosted by SurePrep. Therefore, the firm does not need to install or maintain OCR software on a server. The form recognition capability is very robust, with new forms added every year. A list of the covered documents is provided on SurePrep’s website.
One of the differentiating features of 1040SCAN is SPbinder, a paperless tax preparation workflow tool that also provides the capability to organize and annotate source documents (replacing Adobe Acrobat for firms that decide to do so). SPbinder allows the ability to drag and drop for organizing files, can put different sheets of an Excel spreadsheet into different areas of the folder tree, cross references workpapers with hyperlinks, and performs many other functions not available in Adobe Acrobat and related third-party applications. At the end of the tax preparation process, SPbinder allows users to create a bookmarked PDF of the source documents.
In addition to organizing and bookmarking source documents, 1040SCAN Trades extracts capital gain and loss detail from any of over 270 recognized brokerage statements, and exports that data to either the tax software or an Excel file. The Review Wizard allows for verification of the trades detail before exporting.
Paperless Workflow - 4.75 Stars
Unique to its competitors, the data-entry and verification interface is built into the 1040SCAN application, which shows the input screens in a similar format as the source document. This may be convenient for firm personnel to quickly verify and enter data rather than hunting down the appropriate input screens in the tax software. Alternatively, firms can skip this step and review the imported data directly from the tax software.
One step in the 1040SCAN Review Wizard is to determine the form and activity that certain source documents relate to (such as Form 1098, for which interest may be deducted on Schedule A for a primary residence, or Schedule E for a rental). The associations that the user defines between a specific source document and input form are rolled forward, so this step is not repeated for the source document in future years.
After the source documents are uploaded and processed, the user can either create an SPbinder for the engagement or create a bookmarked PDF document.
Integration - 4.5 Stars
1040SCAN Pro interfaces with GoSystem Tax, Global fx, Lacerte, ProSystem fx Tax and UltraTax CS to import data from scanned tax documents. 1040Scan Trades can integrate with any of these packages or any others that can import Schedule D transactions from an Excel file. And 1040Scan Organize can be used with any tax software since data is not imported into the tax software.
One of 1040SCAN’s greatest strengths is the integration between its scanning function and SPbinder. For firms that opt to use other document management systems, workflow software and portal products instead of SPbinder, SPbinders can be saved as .PBF files (Portable Binder Format). The PBF files can be saved into a DMS or workflow system so that when double clicked within such a system, SPbinder is launched (just like double clicking on a PDF launches Acrobat). So the integration capabilities of the SPbinder PBF file is similar to those of a PDF file for use with a DMS or Workflow system.
Help/Support/Training - 4.75 Stars
Installing 1040SCAN, configuring the scanner settings, and setting up the integration with the tax software is not an easy process. However, clicking on the Help button within the program provides a step-by-step guide with many screenshots that will help a firm get the program up and running according to its preferences. The guide also provides tutorials for submitting documents for processing and the program’s other major functions.
The resource library on SurePrep’s website contains a blog, webinars, whitepapers and CPE opportunities that will be helpful for user firms, not only with SurePrep’s products, but with paperless processes in general. SurePrep also recently added several YouTube videos to its website with information about its various products.
Training videos are provided for free with the software. SurePrep offers an optional workflow and implementation consultation that costs $1,500. Free support is available for registered customers through e-mail, telephone, GoToMeeting, and live chat.
Pricing for SurePrep’s products are as follows:
- SPbinder: $5 per engagement
- 1040SCAN Organize: $10 per engagement (includes SPbinder)
- 1040SCAN Trades: $20 per engagement (includes SPbinder and Organize)
- 1040SCAN Pro: $30 per engagement (includes SPbinder, Organize and Trades)
Discounts to these rates are available to users based on early season and multi-year purchase commitments.