Paperless Workflow - 2.25 Stars
Intuit Tax Online can produce printed, mail-ready returns, but the web-based system is primarily designed for electronic filing, with built-in tools for managing and tracking acknowledgements, receipts and other e-filing processes. Prior year returns are stored in the system’s digital client folders indefinitely or until deleted by a user with administrator access rights, and can be printed or produced as a PDF, with the ability to add notes.
The system encrypts all return and client data, and preparers can email encrypted PDF copies directly to clients from within the program. These tools and options provide for a light document management system for returns, but do not provide storage for associated source documents or other files. Although the client returns are online and accessible to firm preparers, Intuit has not developed client-side access capabilities or portals for firm-client collaboration. Likewise, the multi-user capabilities in the program allow any number of firm preparers to access the program from any location, with lockout of returns that are open by other users. The system does not provide preparer or client grouping options.
The program does not offer a scan and populate tool or automated PDF workpaper organization features, such as are available in the ProSeries Tax Import system, which is available to ProSeries users. Those functions allow preparers to scan in client documents in any order, and then receive a set of digital workpapers in bookmarked PDF format, along with the ability to import data from key source documents or directly from financial institutions.
Integration - 1 Star
Prior-year client data is always available and can be rolled into new returns, and new preparer users can have data from other tax systems converted at no cost. Within an individual return, data is automatically calculated and transferred between associated schedules, forms and worksheets, but the system does not share data between separate returns, such as K-1 export or import. The product will not import data from accounting systems (not even from Intuit’s own QuickBooks or spreadsheets for Schedule D transactions.
Intuit Tax Online does not yet offer invoicing functions, a multi-year tax planning option or integrated tax research, although preparers do have access to the Intuit Live Community, where they can discuss issues with other tax professionals. The program does include a basic asset depreciation utility, and this year Intuit developed an iPhone app for accessing key client data. The iPhone app is compatible with the iPad and other tablet devices. The full program, however, is only compatible withother tablet devices with full web browsers.
Help/Support - 4.25 Stars
The system’s help utility includes links to the Live Community, the e-file help center and the Ask Intuit database, which includes topical guidance and tips on many of features of Intuit Tax Online, along with news and video tutorials on how to perform particular tasks. Users can also access information on how to become an e-file provider and explanations of common IRS reject codes.
Live support is U.S.-based and is included free with use of the program, but it is only offered in web-chat format, with hours of 5am to 7pm, Monday through Friday (Pacific Time) and Saturdays from 8am to 3pm. During the last week of tax season the hours are extended until 10pm. Live phone-based support is not offered for Intuit Tax Online. As a web-based system, all program updates are performed by Intuit, with no program maintenance required by the preparer.
Summary & Pricing
Intuit Tax Online is the only web-based system in this year’s review of professional tax compliance systems, and offers the benefits of being able to access it from anywhere and with no initial startup costs. The easy to use and affordable system offers preparation of individual and business entities, plus all states, but because of lack of integration and import options, is best suited to preparers managing mostly less complex 1040 returns.