2012 Review of CCH Small Firm Services — PaperlessPLUS

CCH Small Firm Services - PaperlessPLUS
888-455-0183; www.atxinc.com
888-455-0182; www.taxwise.com

From the January 2012 Review of Tax Document Automation Tools.

 

Best Firm Fit

Firms using TaxWise or ATX that are looking for both a document management and automated tax document tool. It’s a good fit for high-volume retail firms that need a solution housed entirely on premises, especially those that will use the integrated electronic signature pads.

Strengths

  • Clean and intuitive interface. New users should be able to learn how to use the program quickly.
  • Document management portion of the program is easily searchable and integrates nicely with TaxWise and ATX for automatic filing of documents.
  • Only product reviewed here that has built-in integration with the Topaz electronic signature pads.

Potential Limitations

  • Only forms W-2, 1099-MISC, 1099-R, 1099-DIV and 1099-INT may be exported to the supported tax software. Although PaperlessPLUS supports fewer forms than some of its competitors, the list of forms it covers is the most common among simple tax returns.
  • Does not have the capability to populate capital gain or loss activity to schedule D of tax software.

 

This product is available in two versions: PaperlessPLUS and PaperlessPLUS Premier. Since the basic version does not include the forms recognition technology, creation of a bookmarked PDF, OCR or data export to tax programs, this review focuses on the tools included in PaperlessPLUS Premier. (Unless otherwise noted, PaperlessPLUS refers to the Premier version throughout this review.)

PaperlessPLUS, formerly known as Scan&Fill, has a user interface and functionality similar to its predecessor, but its internal workings have been rewritten to make the program more efficient. In addition to its scan, organize and populate functions, PaperlessPLUS also includes digital document storage and integrated e-mail features. All parts of the program, including the OCR and organization of documents, run on a firm’s local computer or network.

Core Product Functions/Features - 3.25 Stars

PaperlessPLUS has a clean and intuitive interface that is easy to navigate. The system searches files by name, social security number and entity type, reducing the time it takes to find a client folder. The default settings organize and group together certain form types, showing the number of forms of each type in parenthesis. Unrecognized forms are grouped together under an “unidentified” folder for the user to rename and categorize.

Paperless Workflow - 4 Stars

Recognized scanned forms (W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, 8879s and Schedule K-1s) are compiled as a bookmarked PDF with a linkable table of contents. For these forms, PaperlessPLUS automatically creates and labels digital folders or properly files them in an existing client’s folder. Files of several different types, including Microsoft Word and Excel files, can be added to a client’s folder, as well.

Before importing data into tax software, PaperlessPLUS has an error and data verification screen where the user can edit the data, if needed. The program highlights questionable scanned characters in red to bring it to the user’s attention for further review.

Automatic recognition of brokerage statements is limited. However, users can scan any statement and manually identify the form, which the program adds to its database. PaperlessPLUS does not have the capability to populate capital gain or loss activity to schedule D of tax software, nor does it currently support data import from financial institutions.

Integration - 4 Stars

No matter what tax software a firm uses, the print driver included with PaperlessPLUS can be used to store tax returns in its document manager, and PaperlessPLUS will create organized source document files. The tax compliance software supported for the populate function are ATX and TaxWise. Only forms W-2, 1099-MISC, 1099-R, 1099-DIV and 1099-INT may be exported. Although PaperlessPLUS supports fewer forms than some of its competitors, the list of forms it covers is the most common among simple tax returns. Additionally, financial statements, fixed asset reports, and tax returns completed in the ATX and TaxWise software suites may be automatically filed and labeled in PaperlessPLUS.

PaperlessPLUS integrates with Microsoft Outlook to send e-mails to clients with a few simple clicks. If Outlook is not installed, e-mails can be sent using SMTP. PaperlessPLUS automatically password protects e-mail attachments. However, it does not contain any portal integration.

Unique among the products reviewed, PaperlessPLUS has a built-in integration with Topaz electronic signature pads. These may be a great convenience because the taxpayer, spouse and preparer can simply sign the electronic pad with a stylus (similar to those used by credit card processing machines) instead of having to print off signature pages such as an 8879. The signature images can then be resized and dragged to the correct places on the tax forms within PaperlessPLUS. The Topaz electronic signature pads are not included with PaperlessPLUS, but they are available to PaperlessPLUS customers at a discounted rate.

Help/Support/Training - 4 Stars

Upon purchasing PaperlessPLUS, new users are scheduled for a required webinar to learn proper scanning techniques and program functionality. CCH Small Firm Services also offers custom training for users with unique demands for implementing a paperless office.

PaperlessPLUS has a good built-in Help menu that explains all of the menu and toolbar items, as well as a guide to using the program. Free technical support is available Monday through Saturday with extended hours during tax season.

After installing PaperlessPLUS, the clients and data used in the Scan&Fill and Document Manager programs may be converted for use in PaperlessPLUS. Program updates are automatic; the user will be prompted to install a newer version when available.

Pricing

The list prices for PaperlessPLUS and PaperlessPLUS Premier are $490 and $790, respectively, for unlimited usage. Additional fees apply for network licenses. Interested users can evaluate the product free for 30 days with Premier functionality.

2012 Overall Rating: 3.75

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