Lacerte Tax also has extensive built-in help options. The help within Lacerte Tax dynamically changes based on the active form and input screens. Additional assistance is available through traditional phone support, through an online knowledgebase and the newly added chat feature. Also available is the peer-to-peer created video assistance, which is unique to Intuit. Many videos are available through the Lacerte Tax training section on the Intuit website covering a wide range of product assistance.
INTEGRATION - 4.5 Stars
Lacerte Tax offers several integration options through various Intuit product offerings. The product is tightly integrated with QuickBooks and allows direct import of all trial balance data for most business returns, Schedule C filers and rental property management. Lacerte Tax introduced a trial balance utility add-on module in the 2006 product release. For the 2011 release, this trial balance utility is included with each license. The trial balance utility allows import of data from Excel, QuickBooks and Intuit’s EasyACCT client write-up software, but users may also enter data directly. Once data is imported or entered, some accounts are automatically mapped using the SmartMap technology, users will need to map the data to specific tax lines within the return (which SmartMap also remembers for other clients). This step will only need to be completed for the initial setup and for any additional accounts added in subsequent years. After all data is mapped, users may manipulate the data through journal entries prior to importing the data to Lacerte Tax.
Lacerte Tax also tightly integrates with the Lacerte Tax Research offering. The Lacerte Tax Research offers help and research and dynamically changes based on the input screens and forms currently in use. Search queries can be made through the Ask Lacerte search feature which is linked directly to Intuit’s product knowledgebase and Internet community help.
PAPERLESS WORKFLOW - 4.5 Stars
Lacerte Tax is designed as a stepped process workflow solution. This allows preparation of multiple returns by entry and lower level professionals and allows higher end professionals to focus on the review of the returns. For reviewers, tick marks are available in the forms view of the software. As the return is reviewed, the reviewer simply double clicks the field and a green check mark appears to indicate that field has been reviewed. If a subsequent change is made that affects a reviewed field, the tick mark will change to red. Currently the tick marks within Lacerte Tax are limited to the green and red check marks.
For the 2011 release, Intuit has included an electronic organizer to help reduce data entry. This electronic organizer may be sent out to clients in lieu of a paper organizer. The data that is collected from clients may then be directly imported into the software. Each entry that is imported is clearly noted on each of the data input screens allowing reviewers quick access to data that may need more scrutiny. The electronic organizer is included free for renewing customers and new customers purchasing unlimited licensing. Intuit has an additional data input option through Lacerte Tax Import. Lacerte Tax Import is currently available only for individual returns, but allows the direct import of scanned documents. Documents are simply scanned and uploaded to the tax import service where they are converted for import back into Lacerte Tax. The conversion process is usually completed in less than an hour and is available as a per-return charge.
Lacerte Tax has also expanded the K-1 transfer and import utilities. With previous releases, the K-1 data transfer was limited to individuals. Under the 2011 release, K-1 data may be transferred directly between business, trust and individual returns. This has the potential to significantly reduce data entry errors on multi-level entity structures. Also available in Tax Import is the ability to download your client’s 1099-B, 1099-INT and 1099-DIV data directly from participating financial institutions, and download W-2 statements from leading payroll processors such as ADP.
REMOTE CAPABILITIES - 4 Stars
Lacerte Tax is not currently offered through a hosted or web-based interface. However, Lacerte Tax may be installed and used in a Citrix or terminal services environment. This will allow users remote access to the program, but does require appropriate IT staff and/or knowledge to accomplish. Intuit does offer a hosted solution, Intuit Tax Online, but is a lower tiered product and has been reviewed separately with the traditional tax workflow product reviews.