Intuit — ProSeries
From the May 2012 review of professional tax compliance systems (traditional workflow).
Best Fit: Small to mid-sized firms focused on large 1040 client bases, but also with the need for varied business compliance. Firms who require workflow solutions and integration with QuickBooks.
- Optional scan and organize system, plus direct download of tax documents from financial institutions
- Supports for all major types of entities (federal, states and some local taxes)
- Integrated options for research, fixed assets, document management and W-2/1099 reporting
- Integrated client invoicing system and optional credit card payment acceptance
- Lacks client portals or direct file-sharing
- Limited support for multi-preparer return collaboration and review
ProSeries is a well-known brand for small and mid-sized tax professionals, offering packages that cover compliance for all taxed entities and with features for document automation, client billing, client communications, research and integration with accounting programs. For the 2011 tax year the program has added new exporting options, client copy watermarking of returns and more federal, state and local forms.
Core Product Functions/Features - 4.75 Stars
The more comprehensive ProSeries bundles include compliance capabilities for 1040, 1040NR, 1041, 1065, 1120, 1120S, 706, 709, 990 and amended returns, plus all states with income taxation, and city compliance for Michigan, Ohio and New York City. The system can support returns with multiple state filing requirements, with tools for allocation of income between the states. Other features include a quick MFJ vs. MFS comparison, AMT applicability, minor dependent income and K-1 data pass-through. Unlimited e-filing, including to NYC, is included with all versions of the system.
The main user interface in ProSeries is the HomeBase, a multi-paneled screen that provides a client list that can be filtered to show the returns assigned to a specific preparer. Users can sort and filter this spreadsheet view to focus on form type, electronic filing data, bank products and diagnostics information. Other features of the HomeBase include links to core program areas, such as the E-File Center, tax import utilities, customizable system alerts and snapshot overviews. The E-File Center offers an excellent single page overview for managing return submissions, checking their status and tracking receipts and acknowledgements. Options for accessing tax research and an online community of ProSeries users can be accessed through a task pane on the right hand side of the screen.
During return preparation and review, the interface offers a menu tree that displays all forms, schedules and worksheets for the active return. Additional forms can be added by either expanding the menus or using the forms library tool among the menus at the top of the screen. The menu tree groups forms by type and return area, such as income, adjustments, credits, deductions and other categories. Preparers can use either a forms-based entry mode or interview worksheets, and can move between the two options at any time.
Paperless Workflow - 4.5 Stars
The developers of ProSeries have done a good job of building useful workflow tools into the system. These tools include integrated tax research, a utility that alerts users to missing data and makes it easy to send an email reminder to the client, plus return and refund tracking tools. Recently added paperless and digital integration functions also help streamline data entry tasks. With the optional ProSeries Tax Import feature, preparers can scan in client source documents and have them returned as a bookmarked PDF digital workpaper with documents in proper order for reviews, with the ability to add annotations and review notes. Along with the PDF, the preparer receives an Excel file containing line item cost basis details on trades for import into a client’s Schedule D.