From the January 2012 Review of Tax Document Automation Tools.
Best Firm Fit
Firms using the Lacerte and ProSeries tax programs seeking to reduce the time spent on organizing source documents and data entry.
- The new Pre-Import Review feature provides a side-by-side view of electronic values and images from source documents.
- Direct download provides an easy way for clients to provide W-2 and 1099 information and an accurate way for tax practitioners to import that information.
- With per-return, bundled and unlimited pricing options available, it is a good value for firms with varying volumes of individual income tax returns.
- Only direct integration is with the Lacerte and ProSeries tax and document management programs, although customers can submit from and work with any document management solution.
- Some firms and clients may be hesitant to download information from financial institutions due to security concerns, even though Intuit uses 128-bit encryption and does not store credentials for accessing clients’ online financial accounts.
Tax Import, which integrates with both Lacerte and ProSeries, scans and imports data into the individual income tax modules of the tax applications, operating similarly for both systems. While the Tax Import software is included with both Lacerte and ProSeries, a firm must purchase licenses to use it either individually or in bundles. Intuit has made several improvements from last year’s version, including streamlining the data validation process, making the software more efficient and, most importantly, improving the overall accuracy.
Core Product Functions/Features - 4.5 Stars
The Tax Import features are accessed within menu items in the Lacerte and ProSeries programs. In the client list screen, users can add new status columns for scanned documents and financial institution downloads. The interface is simple and should be intuitive for current Lacerte and ProSeries users.
Tax Import supports direct download of tax information from financial institutions. Several major financial institutions are supported for importing interest, dividend, and stock sale transactions from 1099 forms. This service also supports importing W-2 information from both ADP and Intuit Payroll. Although many firms have successfully implemented downloading data from financial institutions on behalf of their clients, some may have security concerns about the process. Even though Intuit uses 128-bit encryption and does not store credentials for accessing clients’ online financial accounts, concerns about phishing attacks and identity theft may cause some to not use this service.
Unlike some of its competitors, Intuit does not offer an add-in for Adobe Acrobat for rearranging and annotating PDF documents. However, third-party Adobe Acrobat add-ins are compatible with the PDFs it organizes, and users could also use either the Lacerte or ProSeries Document Management System (DMS) for many of the same functions with source documents.
Paperless Workflow - 4.75 Stars
Tax documents are submitted for processing by highlighting the client and selecting “submit scanned documents” from the Tax Import menu. After the documents are processed, they are returned to the tax professional in a bookmarked PDF. Though no turnaround time has been guaranteed (customers were told to expect up to 12 hours), it was approximately 10 minutes for the last tax season. This is the fastest turnaround time among the tax document automation products reviewed where the source documents are uploaded to the vendor for processing. Tax Import extracts data from many recognized IRS forms and consolidated brokerage statements, including stock sales, which can then be imported into the Lacerte and ProSeries tax programs.
New in this year’s release is the Pre-Import Review, which allows the user to verify and edit the values derived from the OCR processing side-by-side with snippets of the corresponding text from the image of the source document. Since the user can match the values in such close proximity, there is no need to search for the text in the source document itself, and the verification process is easier on the eyes. The Pre-Import Review also lets the user select the specific form and issuer from proforma information from the prior year if the program is unable to match it up automatically, eliminating the possibility of duplicates being created in the program.
Within the tax program, input fields show the automatically imported text in green. Currently, there is no option to direct the program where to report amounts that may be reported on different schedules (such as a 1099-MISC), although this feature is in development for a future release.
Direct download is a simple process, as there is an option in the client list in the tax program to send an e-mail to a client with a link to the https://taxformdropoff.intuit.com website. The client signs in by simply entering the last four digits of his or her social security number and zip code. After the client selects a brokerage or payroll processor in the screen that follows, the website prompts for a SSN or Customer ID as well as a PIN for the client’s financial institution. The tax preparer is then notified that information is ready for download into the tax program.
Integration - 4.5 Stars
The only tax and document management systems that integrate with Tax Import are Lacerte and ProSeries. The systems are tightly integrated, with the options and document submission status all built within the tax programs. The financial institution download features are also well integrated, with the ability to e-mail clients directly from the tax program using the e-mail address associated with each client. As well, customers can submit documents to Tax Import directly from Intuit’s DMS.
Help/Support/Training - 4.75 Stars
The online Resource Center for Tax Import contains several short videos that explain the program’s functions, which may be helpful for both new users and those investigating the product. Tax Import has its own page within the Intuit Live Community for users to collaborate and ask questions. Intuit offers both telephone and online chat support for Tax Import.
The list prices for Lacerte Tax Import is $9.99 per imported return, $399 for 50 imported returns, $999 for 150 imported returns, and $1,499 for unlimited imported returns. Tax Import for ProSeries is $8.99 per imported return, $299 for 50 imported returns, $499 for 100 imported returns, and $999 for unlimited imported returns. The bundled pricing is for tax year 2011 returns and expires October 31, 2012. This pricing model is a good value for both firms experimenting with the product on a small number of returns and those achieving economies of scale with a large volume of individual income tax returns. The vendor noted that users of Lacerte or ProSeries have the ability to submit an unlimited number of returns to Tax Import, with five free imports before being asked to buy a license.